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Published: 2014/11/28
by Mike Gruenberg

Featured Column: Black Friday

In My Life

Thanksgiving 2014 is now officially over. For me, Halloween and Thanksgiving continually reign as my most favorite holidays, although the day of my birthday every January is still very special, to me. With the turkey carved and devoured, much attention is now being paid to the Friday after Thanksgiving, affectionately called “Black Friday.” Don’t know if it’s just my perception, but the term “Black Friday” seems to have taken on a more significant meaning over these past few years.

The term was created by merchants attempting to reach more customers by using the term as an inducement to lure shoppers to partake in discovering the most incredible bargains in their stores the day after Thanksgiving. For the merchants, the term “black” means that the shoppers will spend money which becomes revenue for the store and therefore will be a positive, in the black as opposed to being a negative, in the red. For me, the term, Black Friday means that this is signal for me not to enter any mall or store until after the New Year.

The term, “Black Friday” to me, simply means a song written and performed by Steely Dan on their “Katy Lied” album. “Aha,” I reasoned to myself, maybe the lyrics which can be described as being somewhat obtuse may be the forerunner of this new “Black Friday” shopping craze that causes people to temporarily lose their minds just to buy merchandise at supposed significant savings. I am bewildered to see people camp out in tents literally for days and sometimes weeks so as to be the first on line when the doors open on the appointed day. So I decided to check out the lyrics of “Black Friday” as Fagan and Becker wrote it to see for myself if their words actually inspired this new breed of shoppers. After all, the album was released in 1975 which was well before the current Black Friday shopping has taken the country by storm.

In examining the lyrics, it was clear to me that no matter how I view it, the Steely Dan song has virtually nothing to do with shopping, bargains, standing on line or buying anything. Perhaps the only relevant lines in the song that can be attributed to the Black Friday shopping phenomenon lies in the first two lines of the song that talks about standing by the door when the day arrives. But that’s a stretch. (See lyrics)

Apparently, the song makes reference to an event that occurred on Friday, September 24, 1869 in the United States in relation to a failed plot to artificially inflate the price of gold. A group of investor’s bought as much gold as possible to drive up the price and as a result hoped to corner the market for this precious commodity. The plot failed and many wealthy investors became bankrupt. The bottom line is that neither the song nor the event that inspired the song has any relation to the current event. It was a black day back in 1869 for those who lost all their money

Of course, using a song title as a lead-in to suggest more shopping in the future, we may soon hear about “Blue Monday,” a song that was sung by Fats Domino. The song could be marketed as describing a nice day to cheer us up and frequent the stores of our choice. That in turn could then blend into the Van Morrison Classic, “Blue Money” to describe the appropriate funds related to Blue Monday being available to spend on the bluest of days which undoubtedly will be brightened up by more shopping.

No matter the day of the week or the color attributed to a particular day, I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Shopping, no matter what day of the week it is.

When Black Friday comes
I’ll stand down by the door
And catch the grey men when they
Dive from the fourteenth floor

When Black Friday comes
I’ll collect everything I’m owed
And before my friends find out
I’ll be on the road

When Black Friday falls you know it’s got to be
Don’t let it fall on me
When Black Friday comes
I’ll fly down to Muswellbrook

Gonna strike all the big red words
From my little black book
Gonna do just what I please
Gonna wear no socks and shoes

With nothing to do but feed
All the kangaroos
When Black Friday comes I’ll be on that hill
You know I will

When Black Friday comes
I’m gonna dig myself a hole
Gonna lay down in it ‘til
I satisfy my soul

Gonna let the world pass by me
The Archbishop’s gonna sanctify me
And if he don’t come across
I’m gonna let it roll

When Black Friday comes
I’m gonna stake my claim
I’ll guess I’ll change my name
Songwriters: BECKER, WALTER CARL / FAGEN, DONALD JAY
Black Friday lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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