The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

December 22, 2009
'Cubicle Cowboy' releases 'State Worker Blues 2009'

091221 Jack Hastings.JPGHe's back. John "Happy Jack" Hastings, The Cubicle Cowboy, has a new version of his signature "State Worker Blues" tune for the 2009 holidays and a companion parody of John Prine's "Christmas in Prison" titled, "A Capitol Christmas Carol."

Here's Hastings' e-mail to The State Worker:

That's right. I'm back with a revised version of the State Worker Blues for 2009. Performed at the Health Services Food Drive Talent Show again this year. For the first time, we're offering a "professionally recorded" CD of the song (and a companion piece, "A Capitol Christmas Carol") with proceeds going to benefit the California State Employees Food Drive. The songs will not be available for download but, because of your continuing commitment to and incisive coverage of State Employee issues, I'm attaching a full-length MP3 if you want to post it on your blog or whatever. Haven't had an opportunity to do a video but if it happens, you'll be the first to know. Information on ordering the CD is available at Anyway, wishing you continued success and happy holidays, ~ Happy Jack Hastings

Long-time State Worker blog users will recall we wrote about Hastings a few times last year. (Click here for one of those posts.) Once again, we're happy to point people to And, Jack, we hope you sell out of CDs.

Click the following link to read the lyrics and listen to "State Worker Blues 2009" and "A Capitol Christmas Carol."

State Worker Blues 2009
By Jack Hastings
(Listen to the mp3 audio file by clicking here.)

When I was a kid, my Momma said, "Son,Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for cowboyhound.gif
Don't work for the State like your Daddy done
It ain't a lot of money and it ain't a lot of fun
And you'll owe your soul to the Golden One"

But Civil Service appealed to me
Thought I could make a dent in the bureaucracy
So I took me a test, got on a list
Started pushing that paper and I done my best

I got the State Worker blues
I been paying my dues
Have you heard the good news?
... Well, there ain't none

Now, year after year we done more with less
And the less got less now there's nothing left
If you want a paperclip you gotta get your chief to sign
And they're handing out staples one at a time

Now we never throw anything away
'Cause we're saving it up for State Garage Sale day
I look around the corner and what do I see?
They're getting ready to recycle me


Three Fridays a month, not much to do
Try to sing a little song for a nickel or two
Or look for empty bottles and trade 'em for cash
My California dream is feeling kind of sad

I got a target on my back for every cheap shot
Though I never done nothing except my job
But I got a little tip for the blood-thirsty mob
If you want to cut government, start at the top


Politicians speechifying, thumping their chests
Gonna solve this problem, gonna fix that mess
But they just keep digging us a deeper hole
As around and around the drain we go

Now we're coming up on election year
Maybe they'll pretend to lend an ear
When we tell the politicians and make it real clear
If they want someone to blame, just look in the mirror


Now, I'm not complaining about my fate
The food at the potlucks is always first-rate
And I'll tell Saint Peter at the Pearly Gate
I was proud to be a worker for the Golden State

Now, my fellow State Workers are as good as gold
Helping out the people who are hungry and cold
So to the best civil servants in all the land
This is for you, give yourselves a hand



A Capitol Christmas Carol
Music by John Prine (adapted from "Christmas in Prison")
Lyrics by Happy Jack Hastings
(Click this link to hear the mp3 audio file.)

It's Christmas in the Capitol
And the elves are feelin' blue
'Cause the ink is as red
As a Santa Claus suit

From Scrooge and his minions
The pronouncements are grim
No schooling, no healthcare
For poor Tiny Tim

And it's wait awhile, catastrophe
The ghosts of the past,
Are still haunting me
There's years of bad budgets
And ol' Prop Thirteen
The Grinch is a'coming
And he's looking real mean

Even Santa's not jolly
His sleigh's on the fritz
Guess that's what you get
When you go with low bid

No Dasher, no Dancer
No Rudolph's red nose
They're not working tonight
'Cause they've all been furloughed

And it's wait awhile, catastrophe
The ghost of the present
is laughing at me
The boys in the back room
Don't care how it plays
When times get tough
They give their elves a raise

Now the dome looks real pretty
On a cold winter night
And the tree is all lit up
With them LED lights

So remember the season
And find you some joy
There's always next year
If we're still employed

And it's wait awhile, catastrophe
The ghost of the future is winking at me
Says things will get better
'Cause they can't get no worse
I'm not holdin' my breath, though
That's the end of this verse

IMAGES: Courtesy of John Hastings / 2008 Sacramento Bee file;

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at


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