Top Ten Labor Day Songs: Workers, Wobblies, Commies, and Weekend Warriors
Workers of the world, unite!
And while you're at it, would ya mind bringing along some tunes?
You know the old saying: "Whistle while you work."
After the jump, check out Crossfade's top ten songs about grindin', hustlin' and fighting for your right to be properly compensated.
10. Sam Cooke's "Chain Gang"
This classic R&B ditty about incarcerated day laborers was inspired by a run-in that Cooke had with a bonafide chain gang. The singer and his brother were on tour when they spotted the men working on the highway, and donated a few cartons of cigarettes to their cause.
9. Dolly Parton's "9 to 5"
Included on the soundtrack for the film of the same name (which was also Parton's debut on the big screen), "9 to 5" has become one of Dolly's most adored classics. Her depiction of the daily grind made her the first female country singer to top both the U.S. country singles chart and Billboard's Hot 100 with the same song.
8. Bob Dylan's "Maggie's Farm"
Dylan's account of a farmhand who can't take it anymore has a double meaning. In addition to detailing a working man's discontent, "Maggie's Farm" has also been interpreted as a protest against the dogmatic folk scene of the 1960s.
7. Huey Lewis and the News' "Workin' For a Living"
Goddamn, could Huey Lewis be anymore relatable? Doesn't he seem like the kind of guy you could sit down with and have a beer? Huey Lewis for President!
6. Johnny Cash's "Casey Jones"
The legend of Casey Jones describes a train conductor who took his job so seriously that he lost his life. Now that's commitment to workaday duty.
5. Donna Summer's "She Works Hard for the Money"
You go girl! Get what's yours sista!
4. Pete Seeger's "Solidarity Forever"
This union anthem was written by Ralph Chaplin in 1915. But it didn't become a North American workers standard until Pete Seeger added it to his repertoire in the 1960s.
3. Bachman Turner Overdrive's "Takin' Care of Business"
Is there a better soundtrack to unwinding at the bar after a hard day of kissing your boss's ass? "TCoB" may very well be the blueprint for dad rock circa 5:30 p.m. any day of the week
2. Woody Guthrie's "Union Burying Ground"
To get extra-special serious for a moment: Labor Day honors the brave individuals who stood up to their bosses, their bosses' bosses, and the federal government, allowing contemporary society to enjoy the concept of a "weekend," not to mention saving little kids from having to work in coal mines and/or limb-ripping factories.
1. Todd Rundgren's "Bang The Drum All Day"
In other news, pass the spinny-caps and the bongos! It's Labor Day and we're throwin' a parade!!!!
Get the Music Newsletter