Happy Labor Day – Workin’ Songs

Labor Day got me to thinking about great songs about work.  After starting out with a pool of forty or so, I narrowed it down to the following 25 (alphabetical by artist):

1. “King Harvest” by The Band. Off The Band (1969). “…And men, that’s when you gotta go on strike.”

2. “Paperback Writer” by The Beatles (1966). “Sir or Madame, will you read my book; It took me years to write, will you take a look?”

3. “Banana Boat Song (Day O)” by Harry Bellafonte. Off Calypso (1956) “Getting dark and I wanna go home.”

4. “I Like to Sleep Late in the Morning” by David Bromberg. Off The Player: A Retrospective (1998). “She said, It’s bad how I spend my time; I never make a dime.”

5. “Cash Talkin’ (The Working Man’s Blues)” by Albert Collins. Off Cold Snap (1986). “Landlord’s knockin’ and he wants the rent; and I’m lookin’ for the money that my wife just spent.”

6. “Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits. Off Money for Nothing (1988). “…that ain’t workin’… that’s the way you do it… you play your guit-tar on the MTV.”

7. “My Girlfriend is a Waitress” by Diesel Doug & The Long Haul Truckers. Off Mistakes Were Made (2005). “I love her and I’m gonna pick her up from work tonight.”

8. “Workingman’s Blues #2” by Bob Dylan. Off Modern Times (2006). “The buying power of the proletariat’s gone down”

9. “The Graveyard Shift” by Steve Earle & Del McCoury Band. Off The Mountain (1999). “I work the graveyard shift; I stay out all night long.”

10. “Workin’ for the Man” by Joe Ely. Off Live @ Antone’s (2000). “You’re workin’ for the man, you ain’t  breakin’ even.”

11. “Army” by Ben Folds. Off The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner (1999). “Grew a mustache and a mullet; got a job at Chick-fil-A.”

12. “Bright Future in Sales” by Fountains of Wayne.  Off Welcome Interstate Managers (2003). “I had a line on a brand new account, but I can’t seem to find where I wrote that number down.”

13. “Cumberland Blues” by Grateful Dead.  Off Workingman’s Dead (1970). “Lotta poor men got to walk the line, just to pay his union dues.”

14. “Trouble in the Fields” by Nanci Griffith. Off The Dust Bowl Symphony (1999). “Baby, I know that we’ve got trouble in the fields; When the bankers swarm like locust out there turning away our yield.”

15. “Chattanooga Shoeshine Boy” by Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks. Off Beatin’ the Heat (2000) “…charges you a nickel just to shine one shoe.”

16. “Broken Plow by” Chris Knight. Off The Jealous Kind (2003). “…too proud to beg for charity; too poor to make a stand.”

17. “Clean Up Woman” by Al Kooper. (Instrumental)  Off Rekooperation (1994).

18. “Do You Want My Job” by Little Village. Off Little Village (1992). “From the land of the rising sun, They bring their old plutonium; And we unload it in the bay, For 2 dollars forty cents a day.”

19. “6 Days on the Road” by Taj Mahal. Off Giant Step/De Ole Folks at Home (1969). “My rig’s a little low, but that don’t mean she’s slow.”

20. “Cleaning Windows” by Van Morrison.  Off Beautiful Vision (1982). “Baby, don’t let it slide; I’m a workin’ man in my prime.”

21. “Take This Job and Shove It” by Johnny Paycheck (1977). “… I ain’t workin’ here no more.”

22. “Grandpa was a Carpenter” by John Prine. Off Prime Prine (1976). “… He voted for Eisenhower, ‘cuz Lincoln won the war.”

23. “Factory Girl” by Rolling Stones. Off Beggar’s Banquet (1968). “She ain’t come out yet…waitin’ on a factory girl.”

24. “Working on the Highway” by Bruce Springsteen.  Off Born in the USA (1984).  “I work for the county out on 95…”

25. “Millworker” by James Taylor. Off Flag (1979).  “So, may I work your mills just as long as I am able, and never meet the man whose name is on the label.”

Hope you like these, and remember to always “whistle while you work.”

Onward,  Malcolm Gauld