Wednesday, 3 September 2014

10 Great Songs About Working

Jobs, bosses, the daily grind. Work. Everybody does it in one shape or another. Whether it's a career you own or merely a place you go for 40 hours a week that pays the bills, there is no reason to feel shame. It's a war that everyone must wage. The war of work. I originally conceived this post as a list of songs that are about telling off your boss and making a huge scene as you quit your job. It eventually morphed into simply a list of songs about working. Here are 10 great ones.

1. "Sons Of Hostage Life" - Hostage Life

"Train took forever at Union Station" haha such a great channeling of the frustration that comes from working the 9 to 5 in a huge city. Hostage Life were an explosive punk group from Toronto. Union Station is the city's Grand Central. This song works as such a great release for those people who countdown the minutes at the end of the work day and just cut loose after five O'clock. Sadly Hostage Life played their last show in 2009, but if you can find a copy of their debut Walking Papers, I highly recommend you pick it up.

2. "Layin' Pipe" - David Wilcox

Wilcox has crafted a great song here about not only following in a family's labouring footsteps, but a man's struggle to keep a gold digging woman by his side. Physically demanding work, night shifts and Union dues are a lyrical diamond here. Hmmm? You say the title "Layin' Pipe" could refer to something a little more blue than an overnight shift on a construction site? Nahhh can't be...

3. "Shove This Jay-Oh-Bee" - Canibus

Office Space is perhaps the best film ever made about the American work day. With such a relatable subject it's no surprise that the main theme, provided by rapper Canibus, is an extension of the American dream in a song called "Shove This Jay-Oh-Bee". It's an obvious homage to the David Allen Coe song "Take This Job And Shove It" and lives out the fantasies of a lowly office worker telling off his boss.

4. "Civil Twilight" - The Weakerthans

From Winnipeg here we have The Weakerthans. "Civil Twilight" is a great song that is sung from the perspective of a city transit worker. It makes reference to Confusion Corner which is a well known intersection in Metropolitan Winnipeg that is notoriously difficult to navigate thanks to various ramps and turning lanes.

5. "My Music At Work" - The Tragically Hip

In the 90's and early 2000's The Tragically Hip were on a tear releasing albums. In 2000 they released Music @ Work, and though it only spawned one single (the title track), it has become one of their most well known songs. Bruce McCulloch from the Kids In The Hall directed the video.

6. "Allentown" - Billy Joel

So far 4 of the 5 songs have been by Canadian artists...hmmm think we work too much up here? But that's nothing compared to the struggle many people endured after coming back from the Vietnam war or being children of Second World War veterans and trying to enter the suffering and overcrowded workforce in many parts of the US. To shed a little light on that subject here's sh'boy Bill Joel and "Allentown"

7. "Re-Education Through Labor" - Rise Against

For another jolt of blunt realism here are punk rock commentators Rise Against with an anthem for those who had dreams far beyond the demands of society and their lifestyle afforded them. "Re-Education Through Labor" has some great lines in it like "The engine roars and then it gives, but never dies 'cuz we don't live we just survive on the scraps you throw away". A great testamonial to many people doing the day-in day-out of modern life in the western world.

8. "Boiled Frogs" - Alexisonfire

Alexisonfire's singer George Pettit's father worked for a company that designed refrigerator parts. as he neared retirement the company seemed to be trying to get him to forfeit his pension and constantly reviewing his own position. It reminded the band about an old analogy of the workforce. If you put a frog in boiling water it will jump out immediately, but put that frog in warm water and slowly raise the temperature to boiling the same frog won't jump out. Our lives flash before our eyes before we even realize it.

9. "A Hard Day's Night" - The Beatles

Perhaps the best known song about working is The Beatle's "A Hard Day's Night". Leave it to the Beatles to spin even a song about working a grueling job into one about a girl. Serious one track minds.

10. "She Works Hard For Her Money" - Donna Summer

In what would go down as one of the Disco era's greatest hits, Donna Summer also created an anthem for the women in the workforce movement of the 70's and 80's. She was inspired to write this song after seeing a waitress at a cafe asleep on a table through an open door. When the waitress was startled awake she explained that she worked a day and night job to make ends meet. The exchange made Summer think to herself that the waitress worked really hard for her money. The song practically wrote itself.



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