Song of the Great Recession

Local Musicians John Munnelly and Christina Lord Develop Award-Winning Song for the Great Recession

“The Unemployment Blues” Wins the National Jay Gorney Award From ASCAP

"Never thought I'd end up with food stamps to redeem...I've got the blues"

Dec 13, 2009 – NEW YORK CITY – They say music is often influenced by the times. For local musician John Munnelly, he took the unemployment strife of his co-writer Christina Lord and turned it into an award-winning song that could truly be called an anthem for the current economic crisis.

“People are having a tough time finding a job in this economy and we captured in the song what it feels like to be unemployed,” Munnelly said. “Christina and I wrote a song that speaks to today’s audience but also retains historical echoes to a previous popular song depicting the 1930’s Great Depression.”

The original Depression Era anthem “Brother Can You Spare a Dime?” written by Jay Gorney and “Yip” Harburg.

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Foundation Inaugural Jay Gorney Award was established by Jay’s wife and son Sondra and Rod. The award was “for an original song based on its message of social conscience/social significance as well as overall craft, artistry and compositional elements."

Lord and Munnelly were presented with their prize at the ASCAP Awards ceremony held at Jazz at Lincoln Center on December 9.

“The Unemployment Blues” covers many of the real-life issues facing unemployed Americans today, such as recovering from excessive spending, sending out resumes without even receiving a phone call, and even ending up on food stamps.

“I worked with Christina to create a song that expressed some details about what it is like to be unemployed in these tough economic times,” Munnelly said. “It was so true to life that some of her experiences actually made it in the song.”

As an example, the song includes a line about when Lord accidentally took the subway the wrong direction to a job interview (in Manhattan) and unintentionally ended up in Queens.

Even though Munnelly has not lost his job, he knows what it feels like having experienced many of the same struggles to find work after he came to this country as an immigrant from Ireland. “There were some tough times when I arrived in this country,” he said.

“Because of the success of the song, some good actually came of the experience,” Munnelly said. “The Unemployment Blues” may be remembered as the “Ode to the Great Recession.”

For more information about John Munnelly, or his upcoming shows, please visit his MySpace page at and view the video at


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