Working Tunes

 

Let’s start off March with some of the soundtrack of our lives, songs about work and working. Here are a few tunes that come to mind for me. Are some of these songs that come to mind for you as well, and do you have other tunes in your mental soundtrack?

Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “Sixteen Tons” is the first song that comes to my mind. It is a working man’s lament at a rigged system, while also boasting of great physical prowess, a man among men.

I grew up in the 1970s, my first concert was with our whole family going to see the Carpenters, so it should surprise no one that Jim Croce, with his blue collar folksy sound, would be next in my soundtrack. You know, “those steadily depressing, low-down mind-messing, working at the car wash blues.”

From there, we go uptempo, with a beat that gets us hustling towards the office or factory, with Dolly Parton’s “Working Nine to Five:”

About the same time, Huey Lewis and the News recorded a similarly uptempo tune. Notice that there are some of the same elements of workers’ lament about unfair imbalance of power and exploitation, but it is delivered in such a peppy manner that your mind latches onto “working for a living, working!”

Disco was nearing the end of its run as the Queen of Disco, Donna Summers recorded a song about an older waitress at a diner: “She Works Hard for the Money (so you’d better treat her right).”

Then there is that famous novelty tune, a country and western song recorded by Johnny Paycheck. The song was played on the radio on Friday afternoons and got plenty of jukebox play, with crowd participation at times, belting out the tag line “take this job and shove it!”

On the other hand, at the same time as Dolly Parton’s “Nine to Five” Sheena Easton was singing “9 to 5 (Morning Train)” in which she celebrated the connection between work and love. “My baby takes the morning train” while she keeps their little home and anticipates her man coming home at the end of the work day.

I’ll leave you with a song about workers working the Man, Johnny Cash’s irrepressible toe tapping tune “One Piece at a Time:”

I look forward to hearing your favorite work or working tunes in the comments.

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  1. tigerlily Member
    tigerlily
    @tigerlily

    Here’s a couple-three. First Dave Dudley “Six Days on the Road.”

     

    Next, Chuck Berry “Too Much Monkey Business.”

     

    Dire Straits “Money for Nothing.”

    • #1
  2. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Coolidge
    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo…
    @GumbyMark

    • #2
  3. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Coolidge
    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo…
    @GumbyMark

    • #3
  4. EHerring Coolidge
    EHerring
    @EHerring

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… (View Comment):

    A big favorite at OTS and when on bad deployments.

    • #4
  5. JustmeinAZ Member
    JustmeinAZ
    @JustmeinAZ

     

     

     

     

    • #5
  6. Matt Bartle Member
    Matt Bartle
    @MattBartle

     

    • #6
  7. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    Clifford A. Brown:

    Let’s start off March with some of the soundtrack of our lives, songs about work and working.

    …About the same time, Huey Lewis and the News recorded a similarly uptempo tune.

    We went to see Huey Lewis and the News in Chicago at the Aragon Ballroom, and after the concert we went outside and found a dead body in the bushes across the street. And that is my memory of Huey Lewis.

     

     

    • #7
  8. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Coolidge
    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo…
    @GumbyMark

    • #8
  9. Matt Bartle Member
    Matt Bartle
    @MattBartle

     

    • #9
  10. Matt Bartle Member
    Matt Bartle
    @MattBartle

    Country music has lots of these.

    • #10
  11. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Coolidge
    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo…
    @GumbyMark

    • #11
  12. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    This one is a little different:  What Work Is, Tom Russell:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yIOXPpfHME

     

     

    • #12
  13. B. W. Wooster Member
    B. W. Wooster
    @HenryV

    The honest workin’ man.

    • #13
  14. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    I’ve got a few.

     

     

    • #14
  15. B. W. Wooster Member
    B. W. Wooster
    @HenryV

    It’s my job to be cleaning up this mess

    • #15
  16. B. W. Wooster Member
    B. W. Wooster
    @HenryV

    It’s good work if you can get it. 
    https://youtu.be/d8eVAU82K94

    • #16
  17. B. W. Wooster Member
    B. W. Wooster
    @HenryV

    Workin’ girl. 
    https://youtu.be/An2gW22KTac

    • #17
  18. aardo vozz Member
    aardo vozz
    @aardovozz

    My two favorites are “ Draggin the Line” by Tommy James and “ Five O’Clock World” by the Vogues”( Sorry, still too Luddite to do links🙂)

    • #18
  19. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Bachman Turner Overdrive:  Blue Collar

    • #19
  20. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    And for an anti-work song, there’s Todd Rundgren’s “I Don’t Want to Work” . . .

    • #20
  21. tigerlily Member
    tigerlily
    @tigerlily

    “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” which I imagine is the first song about work I learned.

    Lynyrd Skynyrd “Workin’ for MCA”

    • #21
  22. danok1 Member
    danok1
    @danok1

    Bruce Springsteen: Factory, from Darkness at the Edge of Town

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plaOhNjJeBg

    • #22
  23. OldPhil Coolidge
    OldPhil
    @OldPhil

    aardo vozz (View Comment):

    My two favorites are “ Draggin the Line” by Tommy James and “ Five O’Clock World” by the Vogues”( Sorry, still too Luddite to do links🙂)

    I can do links, but can’t get the videos to embed. /shrugs/

    • #23
  24. Ontheleftcoast Inactive
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    That Dave Dudley song is great. But “I’ve been passin’ everything in sight?” In a big rig? OK, maybe those little white pills were NoDoz. Except NoDoz aren’t really that little.

    Speaking of drivers you’d just as soon you weren’t in the next lane over, how about Caffeine, Nicotine, Benzedrine (And Wish Me Luck)Gary Stewart and Bud Brewer both did that one.

    (Those songs are on my long list of Great Songs And If You Listen To The Lyrics there’s some seriously worrisome behavior going on. Another one: Two Silhouettes on the Shade (and a bunch of others?) Stalker.)

    I had a construction job in the ’70s, doing labor for a big builder. I spent a lot of time on a jobsite where a large apartment complex was going up. The sexual revolution was in full, er, swing and there was a local radio guy who did a show called “California Girls” in which he encouraged women to call in and describe various sexual encounters in terms that wouldn’t get him banned by the FCC. It was after the morning drive shows.

    During the hour or two that show was on, you basically didn’t hear a saw and any hammering that was done was really quiet. I have no idea how much that show cost businesses in lost productivity but I bet it was a lot.

    But let us return to our muttons:

    Sam Cooke. Chain Gang.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBn5aIfZElE

    • #24
  25. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):
    That Dave Dudley song is great. But “I’ve been passin’ everything in sight?” In a big rig? OK, maybe those little white pills were NoDoz. Except NoDoz aren’t really that little.

    I’ve been through the gorge between Knoxville and Asheville a thousand times.  Any of you who have driven it know that there are some pretty sharp curves in there.  In my younger days, I’d set the cruise control on 70 and go through.  It made it exciting.  I’ve been passed by trucks in some of those curves.

    • #25
  26. repmodad Inactive
    repmodad
    @Repmodad

    I’ve joked with some of my friends that I’m working on a modern sequel to the song “Take This Job and Shove It” titled “Productivity On the Line Is Up 23% Since We Replaced That Insolent Misanthrope With a Robot.”

    • #26
  27. Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. Coolidge
    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr.
    @BartholomewXerxesOgilvieJr

    For those of us in IT:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEBld6I_AKs

    • #27
  28. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Simple song titles are good.

    • #28
  29. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown:

    Let’s start off March with some of the soundtrack of our lives, songs about work and working.

    …About the same time, Huey Lewis and the News recorded a similarly uptempo tune.

    We went to see Huey Lewis and the News in Chicago at the Aragon Ballroom, and after the concert we went outside and found a dead body in the bushes across the street. And that is my memory of Huey Lewis.

    Just one body outside the Aragon?

    Slow night, then.

    • #29
  30. JosePluma Thatcher
    JosePluma
    @JosePluma

    aardo vozz (View Comment):

    My two favorites are “ Draggin the Line” by Tommy James and “ Five O’Clock World” by the Vogues”( Sorry, still too Luddite to do links🙂)

    Two of my favorites.

    • #30
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