Brooklyn folkie sings ‘Unemployment Blues’

John Munnelly sings the Unemployment Blues.
John Munnelly sings the blues.

“I was laid off last week, don’t know what I will do, I’m gonna go online with the unemployment blues…” Sound familiar? If so, at least be comforted by the fact that you’re in the good company of fellow Brooklynite and singer/songwriter John Munnelly. Bensonhurst-by-way-of-Ireland musician Munnelly recently won the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Foundation’s Jay Gorney Award for his recession-era lament “The Unemployment Blues.” Written in a contemporary “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime” vein, the song touches on all your standard laid-off woes: sending out 346 bajillion resumes to no avail, college degree with nothing to show for it, and of course, food stamps.

For Munnelly, the inspiration for “The Unemployment Blues” came from his co-writer Christina Lord’s layoff rather than his own. The pair penned the ditty at a monthly songwriting meeting and the rest is prize-winning history. According to their website, ASCAP doles out $1,000 to an ASCAP member or unaffiliated songwriter who crafts an original song with a message of social conscience and/or social significance. What better time than the biggest economic slump since the 1930s to get such inspiration?

“Brother, Can You Spare a Dime” was Jay Gorney’s most successful song and Bing Crosby’s recording of it was one of the best-selling records of 1932. Munnelly recognizes that songwriting is not “the obvious place to go to make money,” and though the music biz can be slim pickings he still sticks it out for the love of it. So spare some of your own dimes and check out John Munnelly’s set at the Duplex Songwriters Night at the Duplex Cabaret Theatre (61 Christopher St. @ Seventh Ave., Greenwich Village).

John Munnelly
Photo by Christina Lord.


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