I had some fun on Labor Day last year. My husband and I went to a Billy Joel concert on the Saturday before Labor Day, and as I listened to the Piano Man sing some of my favorite songs, I realized, his concert was perfectly suited for Labor Day, given the tone of some of the music. So I woke up on Labor Day, and wanted to share some of my favorite working songs with my Facebook friends, then spent the next few hours digging up facts about workers, songs, and linking to YouTube. I felt like I was educating, in a way. Tony Waters even participated in the fun, and I realized sometime in late afternoon that my multiple posts on FB would be great for Ethnography. So, without further delay, I’ll share my Labor Day musical tribute with you. I hope you enjoy.
Click on the link under each entry to be taken to a video of each song.
In honor of hard working people everywhere, today, I’ll share some of my favorite songs about working.
Did you know that longshoremen have one of the most dangerous jobs in the US? Here’s a shoutout to fisher men and women everywhere.
Btw- this in concert Saturday night was amazing.
Billy Joel – The Downeaster Alexa
Did you know? Coal miners are 6 times more likely to die on the job than the average private sector worker.
Tennessee Ernie Ford – 16 Tons
Did you know? Between 1969 and 1996, the Steel Belt region of the US lost 33% of its manufacturing jobs. Here’s a shoutout to all those men and women working the line.
Did you know? Long haul truck drivers average about 100,000 miles a year, which means they are away from their loved ones much more than the average worker, and they are much more likely to die in a vehicle collision. Of the over 2 million long haul drivers in the US, about 700 a year die in crashes.
Kathy Mattea – 18 Wheels and a Dozen Roses
Our favorite trucker song. Here’s a shoutout to all the big rig drivers delivering our food, clothing, household goods, cars, and toys.
Did you know? When a big box retailer comes to town, independent retailers are more likely to go out of business and unemployment increases because big box stores don’t employ the same number of employees as the displaced workers. Also, wages are lower at big box stores, compared to independent retailers, and cities and towns lose tax revenue for years after a big box comes to town.
Here’s to all the local, independent small business owners out there.
Did you know? There are just over 2 million farms in the US today, down from almost 7 million in 1935. Most farmers can’t survive on the profits of the farm alone so they either sell the farm, or go to work full time somewhere else, then tend the farm after they get off “work.” Less than a third of farmers in the US today have a family member who plans to take over the farm in future generations (For more on American farming, click here).
This is a shout out to all the farmers who toil in the earth, who feed Americans and the world with their labor.
John Mellencamp – Rain on the Scarecrow
In the words of Paul Harvey: A shout out to farmers on this Labor Day.
Paul Harvey – So God Made a Farmer
Did you know? There are over 2 million active and reserve military men and women working all around the world to protect and serve you today?
Here’s a shout out to the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and National Guard, both active and reserve, for your work today and every day.
John Michael Montgomery – Letters from Home
Did you know? The greatest power ballad (don’t question me on this, just go with it) is also a working song?
Shout out to all of the traveling working men and women, whether you are musicians on the road for months on end, or weekly commuters away from home, this one’s for you.
Did you know? The average American worker works 47 hours per week.
Article: The 40 hour workweek is actually longer
Did you know? Country music used to be about the lives of people who grew up in rural America….
I learned a lot about how other people lived their lives from country music. I didn’t know what cotton picking was, but became interested due to this song. I never would have questioned what it was had it not been for Alabama. There’s not much harder farm work than cotton picking; the South’s wealth was largely built on cotton fields and poor people who scraped and scrimped every fluff of cotton to make ends meet.
And for all the families of long haul drivers.
Randy Owens (Alabama) – Roll On
An ode to working housewives everywhere. And yes, this is for the women out there. Sorry guys who stay home and raise the kids: you’ve got my respect, but you’ve never been in this position of pregnant and taking care of several children.
BTW- Tony Waters, this is another Shel Silverstein classic.
Loretta Lynn – One’s on the Way
Happy Labor Day to you all!
Originally Posted at Ethnography.com, Septembe4 10, 2015.
Marianne Paiva, recovering paramedic and adrenaline junky who comes to Ethnography.com after 4 years driving ambulances very, very fast. When she gave up life in the fast lane, she decided to study paramedics instead, and wrote the book, Breathe: Essays from a Recovering Paramedic, which every trauma junky and ambulance chaser should buy multiple copies of from Amazon.com.
A professor told her after she finished her B.A. at Chico State in 1999 that she could study paramedics as a vocation, if not a living. This she has done off and on for ten years or so, while also teaching Introduction to Sociology, First Year Experience, Sociology of Stress, Population, Ethnicity and Nationalism, and other courses for California State University, Chico. On slow days in class, she wakes students up with stories about ambulances, and funny stories about freshmen. In her spare time, she gardens, tends to her children, and writes creative Facebook postings, and Ethnography.com blogs. You can connect with Marianne at her website www.mariannepaiva.com and also purchase her collection of essays here from Amazon.com. Marianne Paiva is a lecturer in the department of Sociology at California State University, Chico. Currently an inactive author, awaiting a poke with a sharp stick.