JACK’s Labor Day Playlist

Happy Labor Day in advance, kids.

We know you’ll be spending Monday gazing out your window complaining about how summer ended too quickly. “Marget,” you’ll say to your non-existent wife. “Where da hell the sun go?”

So in the event that you are camped out in the living room bored with the Law and Order: Special Victims Unit marathon, we thought we’d educate you on Labor Day. You do know that it’s a federal holiday to celebrate the economic and social contributions of workers, right? (Thanks, Wiki, we owe ya one).

Okay, so we’re not gonna pull the education card. Instead, we’re gonna tell you the ten best songs about working.

10. “Working Man” – Rush

You can’t go wrong with, “I get up at 7, yeah / And go to work at 9 / I got no time for living / Yes, I’m working all the time.” It’s hard to make a case that prog-rock is blue collar though.

9. “Maggie’s Farm” – Bob Dylan

If we go with the popular theory on this one, it’s technically not about labor (boy, we’re really off to a good star on this list). The story is that “Maggie’s Farm” represents the folk movement of the 1960s that Bob Dylan was trying to escape. “Maggie” may or may not be Joan Baez too. Nevertheless, the lyrics, if taken literally, involve good ol’ fashioned labor: “it’s a shame the way she makes me scrub the floor / I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more.”

8. “Welcome To The Working Week” – Elvis Costello

It’s hard to tell who Mr. Costello is referring to in this song: a friend, a girlfriend, himself? We just like the rock ‘n’ roll chorus: “Welcome to the working week / Oh, I know it don’t thrill you, I hope it don’t kill you / Welcome to the working week / You gotta do it till you’re through, so you better get to it.”

7. “Factory” – Bruce Springsteen

This song, most definitely, has Labor Day written all over it. “Factory” paints a picture of how Springsteen sees the working class in America.

6. “Unemployable” – Pearl Jam

Alright, we need one for those looking for work. This Pearl Jam tune from the band’s 2006 self-titled album tells the story of a man falling into financial helplessness. As many of us experienced (and are still experiencing), when the economy tanks, nothing sounds better than working 60 hours per week.


5. “She Works Hard For The Money” – Donna Summer

In our office poll, three people said this song is about people who stay true to their beliefs and work hard at jobs they like. …Nine people said it’s about prostitution.

4. “Bang On The Drum All Day” – Todd Rundgren


3. “Money For Nothing” – Dire Straits

Dire Straits sticks it to the music industry in this jam. You could argue it was the beginning of the end for genuine music in the mainstream around the time this tune came out. Singer Mark Knopfler basically serves as the voice of a working class stiff envious of talent-less hacks (on MTV) getting truckloads of money and plenty of sex.

2. “Career Opportunities” – The Clash

We’re just gonna go ahead and post all the lyrics so you can sing along to this punk rock masterpiece:

The offered me the office, offered me the leadership
They said I’d better take anything they’d got
Do you want to make tea at the BBC?
Do you want to be, do you really want to be a cop?

Career opportunities are the ones that never knock
Every job they offer you is to keep you out the dock
Career opportunity, the ones that never knock

I hate the army an’ I hate the R.A.F.
I don’t want to go fighting in the tropical heat
I hate the civil service rules
And I won’t open letter bombs for you

Bus driver….ambulance man….ticket inspector

They’re gonna have to introduce conscription
They’re gonna have to take away my prescription
If they want to get me making toys
If they want to get me, well, I got no choice


Ain’t never gonna knock

1. “Working for the Weekend” – Loverboy

And, here it is: the greatest song to represent Labor Day. There is no feeling that can match getting all your work done just as the clock strikes 5:30 pm on a Friday. Loverboy captures that feeling and explains what’s in store for the weekend.

-Chris Coyle, JACK Seattle


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