By Vernell Hackett
NASHVILLE (Reuters) - Country duo Burns & Poe are not taking today's high unemployment and lack of government action sitting down. They are standing tall and belting out a tune to Washington politicians, telling them, "I Need A Job."
"I need a job/not a government plan/all I want to do is work with my two hands," the pair sing in a video posted on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-Cfbl9SUF4).
Keith Burns and Michelle Poe, formerly of the trio Trick Pony, pulled the song and video together in just over a month, something almost unheard of in today's country music industry. Then again, desperate times -- marked by a stubborn 9.1 percent unemployment rate -- call for fast action.
"I just thought that was a great thing to say, straight to the point, I need a job. Don't want welfare or a hand-me-down. You know, a job is more than a paycheck. It is dignity, respect and all those things that come with it. Hopefully we got that out," Burns told Reuters.
He penned the tune with his friend John Ritter on a day when the pair didn't have a topic in mind. Burns said the idea popped into his head as Ritter was telling him about his brother who is one of millions of Americans out of work.
Burns and Poe went into the studio the next day to record "I Need A Job" and one week later shot the video.
Although it hasn't yet gone viral on the Web and the song hasn't officially been released to radio, stations in 30 major markets are already playing "I Need a Job," Burns said.
Early on, the duo has found that people either love it or hate it. "The ones who hate it like the administration the way it is; the ones who love it don't like what's going on in Washington right now," Burns said.
The song hits close to home for Poe, who has a brother graduating from college in December. "He has nothing lined up, no work," she said. "But my sister says the song and everything it stands for (is bad). She says if we ask the government for more jobs, then you're calling for more government."
"We didn't write it to draw political lines, it is just about the people who are out of work but who want to and are willing to work," Burns added. "The bottom line is the song is getting a reaction, and that is what we wanted it to do."
Burns said the two are seeing a lot of messages on their Facebook page that say "Great song, very timely, you had me in mind when you wrote it," or "Great song, thank you so much, I'm one of those people who needs work." Fans also say things like "You wrote this song about me" or "You are talking to me."
"I think as the song gets played more and more we will begin to hear more personal stories, because people will start opening up to us and talking to us a little more," Burns said.
(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)