," or "Millwork," is a song written by James Taylor. It was originally written for the Stephen Schwartz Broadway musical Working
. Taylor's own recording was released on his 1979 album Flag along with "Brother Trucker
," which Taylor also wrote for Working. According to Taylor, he was inspired to write the song quickly one night at his home in Martha's Vineyard, "about six feet" from where he wrote his earlier song "Secret O' Life
. He was initially impressed with the song and how he was able to write it from the perspective of a woman. He originally started writing the song about a truck driver, rather than a millworker, and according to Taylor the lyrics are not about any particular character in the book by Studs Terkel, Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do which was the basis for the musical Working. However, according to Bruce Springsteen biographer Marc Dolan ( Bruce Springteen and the promise of Rock and Roll ) the lyrics were based on the words of union organizer Grace Clements, who was interviewed for Terkel's book. In the completed song, the protagonist became a young woman in the 1800s, who had been married to a drunken man and was forced to work in the textile mill after he died and left her alone with three children to feed. As relief from her drudgery she daydreams of her father's smile and her grandfather's stories. She recognizes that she is trapped and that her life is wasted because she made some poor choices. As she sings, she is miserable and old before her time, with nothing to look forward to.Taylor biographer Mark Robowsky describes the song as "a transfixing self-portrait through the tired eyes of a female laborer chained by life to her 'machine'.