UB40 – One In Ten (1981)

UB40 are a British Pop / Reggae group that formed in December 1978 in south Birmingham, England. The ethnic makeup of the band’s original line-up was diverse, with musicians of English, Irish, Jamaican, Scottish and Yemeni parentage. UB40 have sold over 70 million records.

One in Ten was a single by UB40 released in 1981 from their second album Present Arms. It reached No. 7 on the UK Singles Chart. The song title refers to the number 9.6, being the percentage of the local workforce claiming unemployment benefit in the West Midlands in the summer of 1981 when the song was released.

UB40 – One In Ten – Lyrics

I am a one in ten
A number on a list
I am a one in ten
Even though I don’t exist
Nobody knows me
But I’m always there
Statistical reminder of a world that doesn’t care*


My arms enfold the dole queue
Malnutrition dulls my hair
My eyes are black and lifeless
With an underprivileged stare
I’m the beggar on the corner
Will no one spare a dime
I’m the child that never learns to read
Because no one spared the time


I’m the murderer and the victim
The license with the gun
I’m a sad and bruised old lady
In an ally in a slum
I’m a middle aged businessman
With chronic heart disease
I’m another teenage suicide
In a street that has no trees


I’m a starving third world mother
A refugee without a home
I’m a house wife hooked on Valium
I’m a pensioner alone
I’m a cancer ridden specter
Discovering the earth
I’m another hungry baby
I’m an accident of birth


(Taken from UB40 – One In Ten Lyrics)