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Unit 20 – Comparing Songs: Elbow, Editors & the Cap’n

Not the best formatting I’ve ever done with WordPress, but anyway… you usually want to spend an average of 1 minute 30 seconds per question on section 1. However, some questions are easier and quicker to complete than others. If you get the easy ones done quicker you can afford to spend more time reading and thinking about trickier ones such as those below. 


Difficulty: Hard

Time: 7 minutes 30 seconds

Song 1:                                                           Song 2:

Elbow Not a Job lyrics for comprehension

Plastic factory by Captain Beefheart, lyrics for comprehension


Song 3

Fingers in the Factories by Editors, lyrics for comprehension

1. Song 1:

  • A      Victimises factory workers
  • B      Personifies nature
  • C      Idolises life outside the factory
  • D      Justifies arson


2. Song 2 is best described as:

  • A      A criticism of working life
  • B      An emotional plea
  • C      A tale of love
  • D      A call to action


3. Compared to Song 3, Song 2 is:

  • A      less sombre
  • B      angrier
  • C      more melancholic
  • D      lacking in imagery


 4. ‘The dirty night’ (Song 3) could be said to represent:

  • A      Oppression
  • B      Loneliness
  • C      Futility
  • D      Insanity


5. All three songs have a different way of expressing a common sentiment. What is it?

  • A      Impatience
  • B      Loss
  • C      Hatred
  • D      Anger
  • Q1: C
    Captain Beefheart is not victimising factory workers in general, he’s simply saying that the factory is no place for him to be and there’s no evidence to suggest that he means ‘get a fire goin’ literally. It is far more likely that he means ‘get a move on’ or something to that effect. Idolising nature is the answer, we see it most prominently in the second verse. He describes a lovely place where he is not cos he is stuck in the factory.

    Q2: B
    The singer isn’t pleading or calling for action and the song is actually about love, not work. The third verse makes it apparent that the pair are breaking up. The job to do is the breakup itself.

    Q3: C
    Song 3 is quite angry; ‘you’re the night, the dirty night’. It would be hard to get more melancholic, sombre or sad than Elbow’s tune. ‘Call when you can tie your lace’ suggests the partner that has been dumped is in such a state that they are unable to steady their hands to tie their shoes. This is a pretty striking image too, along with ‘walking through the long grass on your hands’. Both songs have strong imagery and it would be hard to say which moreso.

    The singer is singing to ‘the dirty night’, that ‘keeps us going’, ‘in our place’ and ‘quiet’. The dirty night is the oppressor

    Q5: B
    The Captain is trapped inside the factory. He describes all the things he is missing out on. The factory workers in Song 3 are missing out similarly. ‘nothing left to waste’ implies lots of wasted time behind the factory walls, time not spent with the ones they love. Song 2 is about losing a lover.
    Anger, hatred and impatience are generally lacking in Not a Job

    Gamsat Sample Questions

    May 31, 2012

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