Work Is a Four-Letter Word

While Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour is my number one BBC 6 Music program to listen to, there are some others I like quite a lot, too. Amy Lamé, whose program comes on right after Garvey’s Sunday time slot, is another presenter I like. I’ll occasionally listen to Sean Keaveney on weekdays, too. Sometimes Liz Kershaw on weekends.

On Lamé’s February 28 show, “Scouser-delica,” she played songs from England’s Merseyside area. As I’ve mentioned before, that’s my ancestral home, and a place that produced some high-profile musical acts like the Beatles, A Flock of Seagulls, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Echo & the Bunnymen, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and so many more.

Another performer from Merseyside and one Lamé featured on the February 28 program singing “Work Is a Four-Letter Word” was Cilla Black (born Priscilla Maria Veronica White, 1943-2015).

The song, produced by longtime Beatles producer George Martin (1926-2016), is the theme music from the 1968 comedy, Work Is a 4-Letter Word. The movie was part of a short stint for Black in comedy film (including a brief appearance in the 1965 musical film, with Gerry and the Pacemakers, Ferry ‘Cross the Mersey). She worked for many years in TV as a presenter of several series and was a highly popular and successful singer, as well as an author. She was even honoured in a TV drama series Cilla, about her early career.

The Manchester-based band the Smiths covered “Work Is a Four-Letter Word.” The British music magazine Record Collector reported in a 1992 interview with Johnny Marr that Morrissey’s insistence on recording it was final motivation for Marr to leave the group as he hated the song.

Black received her big break in music thanks to the Beatles with whom she had a long association, notably John Lennon, who encouraged Beatles manager Brian Epstein (1934-1967) to audition her in 1963. Epstein later became her manager. Her musical career was impressive, performing songs by Burt Bacharach, Randy Newman, and John Lennon and Paul McCartney, among others. Black was honoured in 1997 with the Order of the British Empire, and a statue of her stands outside the original entrance to Liverpool’s Cavern Club.

I thought today’s song would be meaningful for all you folks out there working, particularly here in my city, Winnipeg, Canada, where the sun is shining, and the temperature has been above freezing through the week. Too lovely to be “in work,” as my Scouser relatives say. (And I’m sure they know even more about Black’s career as she appears to have been quite famous and influential throughout her life.)

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from Cilla Black’s official YouTube channel:

Full, unofficial lyrics are available courtesy of

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