Now, my grandfather was a sailor
he blew in off the water
my father was a farmer
and I his only daughter
took up with a no good
millworking man from Massachusetts
who dies from too much whiskey
and leaves me these three faces to feed

Millwork ain't easy
millwork ain't hard
millwork, it ain't nothing
but an awful boring job
I'm waiting for a daydream
to take me through the morning
and put me in my coffee break
where I can have a sandwich
and remember...

Then its me and my machine
for the rest of the morning
for the rest of the afternoon
and the rest of my life

Now my mind begins to wander
to the days back on the farm
I can see my father smiling at me
swinging on his arm
I can hear my grandad's stories
of the storms out on Lake Erie
where vessels and cargos and fortunes
and sailors' lives were lost

(Yes, but its)My life has been wasted
and I have been the fool
to let this manufacturer
use my body for a tool
I ride home in the evening
staring at my hand
swearing by my sorrows
that a young girl ought to
stand a better chance

So may I work the mills
just as long as I am able
and never meet the man
whose name is on the label

It be me and my machine
for the rest of the morning
and the rest of the afternoon, solid gone
and the rest of my life

Lyrics submitted by piecesofcurb

Millworker song meanings
Add your thoughts


sort form View by:
  • 0
    General CommentI actually really enjoy this song. I heard he worked on this for a play and decided to put the track on his CD. Beautifully done... those damn drunken massholes.
    youreatrueblueon August 15, 2008   Link
  • 0
    My OpinionTo take an account of shoe factory worker from the early industrial days in America described in a book, weave that with the reality of generations of laborers and their dreams, and plainly narrate the raw reality of working life in America in this compelling song is what makes James Taylor such a great songwriter.
    “So may I work your mills just as long as I am able And never meet the man whose name is on the label”
    I wonder what the genius muses from the realm of Foxconn will sing about years from now.
    patpatpaton February 15, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is a song about a woman from a stable family environment who for some reason gets involved with "no good millworking man" with a drinking problem. She has 3 children with this man before he dies from "too much whiskey". If he drank that much, I'm not sure why she didn't leave the guy, but he probably did her a favor by dying. Anyway she gets "not hard" job for life from a guy that owns a mill. And somehow the mill owner turns out to be the bad guy of this sad tale. If she's one of those people that sit around feeling sorrow for herself for mistakes she has made, I wouldn't want to meet her either.

    I love the song. I can't get it out of my head.But it is definately a song about a glass half empty when we could be celebrating a glass half full. This is sort of an American version of Les Mis, except some Americans have no idea what real misery is.
    jim1086551on July 31, 2018   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top