Monday, August 21, 2017

Lake Mead side of Hoover Dam with power lines
and towers in the distance.

These are the most important and popular songs about the American working man and working woman. They celebrate the American laborer in all their endeavors. It covers the jobs of the muscled hard hat manual laborer to the stress filled, cerebral sweating desk jockey. Since this is about American workers it is only fitting for all the songs to be composed/written by only Americans.


Everything is on this page. Simply scroll down to what you are looking for, 

       1. Introduction
       2. Directory
       3. Top 100
       4. Top Twenty (with video links)
       5. Honorable Mention
       6. Notable songs from other countries
       >  Comments may be made at the very bottom of the blog.

3. TOP 100
These are songs to celebrate the working men and women of the United States. The title of the song is followed by suggested recording artist or artists. There is also a brief explanation of the song. All artists listed are recommended, but those in bold print get the highest approval from the author.

Travis Easterling magician
serving Central and Southern Indiana
100. T-R-O-U-B-L-E - Elvis Presley or Travis Tritt
     A musician working a Bar/Honky Tonk/Dance Hall sees a beautiful unaccompanied woman enter the place. The song talks about how he grew up poor and works late hours and that he is just barely getting by and then she happens. The song is pretty descriptive about all local entertainers doing his or her job. Local entertainers are not limited to bands. There are also DJ's/VJ's, Magicians, Stand-Up Comedians, dancers and others.

 99. Leah – Roy Orbison
     It is a song about an oyster fisherman. The song is told from the perspective of a dream. He is oyster fishing and hoping to get a pearl for his girl. In the dream he gets trapped under water, but awakes to find he does not have Leah.  Fishing is one of the most dangerous occupations. His dream relays that reality. 

 98. Old Doc Brown – Hank Snow, Merle Haggard or Johnny Cash
     It is a story of a poor country doctor in a poor town during the Great Depression. It is about how he went out of his way to take care of the people in his town and he treated them when they did not have anyway to pay.
File:Cummins Engine (LKW).jpg
Cummins medium duty diesel
photo by selbst
photo from Wikimedia commons

 97. Hummin’ Cummins – Ed Bruce
     This is a commercial for the #1 over the road diesel truck engine.  Cummins is made in America. The song touches on much of what the long haul trucker is concerned about while on the job. Every job has its tools and for the trucker the number one tool is the engine under the hood.

 96. Law & Order Theme - Mike Post
     Theme song to long running popular TV series. Police, lawyers, attorneys in black robes, judges, are central to the story. It is an instrumental. Perhaps the less said the better. That is what an attorney would tell you. Not a word is spoken here.

 95. Kansas City Star – Roger Miller
     It is an ode to the local celebrity. In this case a TV personality. There are uncounted local celebrities on radio, TV or are local singers, bands, Club DJ’s, mobile DJ’s, magicians, actors and so on. All of these jobs require a lot more work than meet’s the eye.

 94. Clara Barton - Country Joe McDonald & Jerry Garcia
Clara Barton (1865) taken by Mathew Brady
Public Domain tags {{PD-US}} &{{PD-1923}}
Clara Barton National Historic Site, 
National Park Service. For more information visit
     This song praises the Civil War nurse who risked her life to save the wounded on the battle field. She was the founder of the American Red Cross and set the standards for the modern nurse who still to this day risks their lives to heal the sick and wounded.

93. The Firefighter Anthem - Carlos A Pozo
     The Hip/Hop song praises firefighters. It is a true tribute to firefighters. It heavily samples Guns & Roses' "Sweet Child Of Mine".   

 92. Busted - Ray Charles. Johnny Cash or Patty Loveless

     It is about a farmer who is broke and down on his luck. The fields are not producing and nether are his farm animals. He can't get help from his brother because he is also busted. 

91. Grillz - Nelly ft. Paul Wall, Ali & Gipp
     The song is about cosmetic dentistry. gold teeth, diamond studded teeth and so on. Dentist are all too often maligned. They provide an essential medical service and yes unessential (cosmetic) dental work. They also provide employment for dental assistants and office staff. The sad fact about dentists is they are under appropriated for the work they do.

 90. American Soldier – Toby Keith
     It is a song about a young man going into the military to defend the United States.  He is willing if need be to give his life for his country because, “Freedom don’t come free”. If that is not a job then we will have to rewrite the definition.
For more on this song CLICK Top 100 (United States) Songs Of American Patriotism scroll down to song 57 on the list.

  89. American Made – Oak Ridge Boys
Young woman by 1957 Oldsmobile
     The song point’s out his girl is American made and she is great. The song opens telling about foreign products sold in America, but he then says his girl is American made.  In it’s off handed way points to supporting the American worker and hints at buying American.
For more on this song CLICK Top 100 (United States) Songs Of American Patriotism scroll down to song 77 on the list.

88. Working For The Japanese – Ray Stevens
     This song lambastes buying Japanese products.  The song essentially says we are sending our money and jobs overseas. The song goes so far as to say we are endangering our culture as well. Some could point all kinds of criticism at this song but before they do they should consider this. A man working at Ford is told there will be new layoffs at the plant.  He then goes home and as he drives through his neighborhood all he sees are foreign cars. He knows that is why his job is in danger.  At one time Indiana was the TV capital of the world. They don’t make TV’s in Indiana any more.  All those jobs have gone overseas.

 87. There’s No Business Like Show Business – Ethel Merman
Photo by Doug Weber
Signage of Britney Spears at Planet
Hollywood, Las Vegas
     Irving Berlin wrote this song saluting the people who work in show business. Many cities economies are profoundly affected by the entertainment industry, Hollywood, Memphis, Las Vegas, Nashville, New Orleans are just a few. There are tens of thousands of entertainers working in cities around the country.

Construction workers
For more on this photo visit

86. Working Man’s PhD – Aaron Tippin
     Ode to the working man who has earned more than his strips doing what ever it is he does.  By working long and hard he has earned his PhD in his field of expertise. If you are a carpenter, truck driver or whatever else it is the years of experience that counts.

 85. High Cotton – Alabama
     It is about a Southern boy growing up on a farm with hard work. The expression “high cotton” in the South meant good times. It was good times despite being poor because of loving family who taught a strong work ethic, high morals and provided a positive religious upbringing. It is the affirmation of the poor,proud, independent working man not expecting a hand out or a hand up.

 84. Hard Workin’ Man – Brooks & Dunn
Hoover Dam Bridge & electric towers.
The official name of the bridge is
Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge
     He wears a hard hat and he works hard and is all business from 9 to 5 but on the weekend he blows all his money on some Cadillac cutie. He says, “I’m Getting really good at barely getting’ by”.
Hoover Dam Bridge under construction.
Sherman Jones, a construction worker,
died from a construction accident.


83. Working Man’s Blues – Merle Haggard
     He has nine kids, and a wife.  He has to work to keep them in shoes. He is a proud man who has never been on welfare. He drinks a little bit of beer. He works his fingers to bone despite having daydreams about dropping everything and moving on.

 82. Boot Scootin’ Boogie – Brooks & Dunn
     This song is about a man who has a good job, but he works hard for his money.  When it comes quittin’ time he heads to a honky tonk hideaway where there is whiskey, women and song.

 81. Why Don’t You Get A Job – Offspring
     It is about spouses who are lazy and don’t have a job, but demand more and more from the one who is working.
Note: There are those who say it serves as a metaphor for those on welfare demanding more and more from those who work.

 80. There Is Power In A Union – Billy Bragg
     This song was penned in 1913 when woman were generally not allowed to work on non union and unionized jobs requiring manual labor. All references are to men in the song. It is in essence a call to join the unions to secure a better life.

 79. Working At The Car Wash Blues – Jim Croce
     A man fresh out of county jail goes looking for an office job only to find they won’t hire him.  He can only find work in a car wash.  He believes he should have a better job. This song reflects the feelings of many workers who want a different job, but feel trapped in the one they have.

 78. Blue Collar Man – Styx
     Tommy Shaw of Styx penned this and there are several interpretations of the song. One is it is an autobiographical song about a guy who is degraded by his wife and family for not getting a good job. He however works nights in a band keeping his eye on the prize of making it big. Another interpretation is about a worker who has lost his job and can’t find work and is ridiculed by his family and wife.

 77. Learn To Fly – Foo Fighters
     The video for the song mocks commercial airline disaster films.  The video and the song draw attention to the jobs of pilots and flight attendants.

 76. Working For The Man – Roy Orbison
     This song is about performing hard labor on the job, but it is also about the hope of one day being the boss.

Photo by Alfred T. Palmer - June 1942
Carpenter working at a TVA dam in Tennessee
Photo in Library of Congress 
 75. If I Were A Carpenter – Bobby Darin, Johnny Cash, Johnny Rivers, Joan Baez, or The Four Tops
     This song asked the question of a woman.  Would she still love him if he were a Carpenter, a Tinker or a Miller? Would she love him if he was a manual laboring man.

 74. I’m Working On A Building – Carter Family, Elvis Presley, B.B. King, John Fogerty, Oak Ridge Boys, or Bill Monroe
     This song has its origins in Spiritual and Gospel music of the American South.  Its earliest incarnation was most likely composed and sung by Americans of African descent. While the song is religious in nature it most likely had its origins in the labor of building.

 73. Hammer And Nails – Johnny Cash
     The song is not about hammer and nails. It is about the teamster who hauled wagons filled with hammers, nails, ribbons, Bibles and more.

 72. Cotton Fields – Lead Belly, The Highwaymen, Elvis Presley, The Beach Boys, or Credence Clearwater Revival
     This blues song which has been recorded as folk, rock and country tells of life farming cotton.

 71. Casey Jones – The Grateful Dead
     This song should not be confused with the song “The Ballad of Casey Jones”. It was written by Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead.  It is about an train engineer who is high on cocaine and heading toward a head on collision.

 70. Here Comes The Judge – Shorty Long
     This is a tongue in check look at Judges in the court room. The song was inspired by a comedy skit on a comedy TV show in the late nineteen sixties. Nonetheless being a Judge is a job.

 69. I Fought The Law – Bobby Fuller Four or The Clash
     This song is about how law enforcement officers caught the central character of the story. The story centers as much around the jobs of law enforcement as that of the  criminal character.

 68. Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler) – Alabama
For more on this photo visit
     It is the story of a family who has been informed the man of the house (truck driver) has been involved in an accident during a snow storm.  The family waits in fear to find out if he is OK. The song confronts the stress the driver and family goes through as the worker is far from home. It is the fear of the unkown

 67. Old McDonald – Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Sesame Street Cast, Gene Autry, Alvin & the Chipmunks, or Nat King Cole
      A nursery rime turned to song about a farmer and his animals.

 66. She Thinks My Tractor Is Sexy – Kenny Chesney
     The song is as much a fantasy of women loving a hard working man as it is about the work being down by the man on the tractor. Of course there certainly could be some serious double entendre. It does mention the job of plowing and the sun tan one gets from working out doors. One can say this about the hard work done by farmers.

 65. Bumper Of My SUV – Chely Wright
     This song is correctly perceived as a patriotic song, but it is also a song pointing out what service people can face when returning home. Taking the hatred pointed at them for what the government has ordered them to do. While most people recognize the sacrifice of the service person not everyone does. There are other jobs, police, fire fighters, postal workers, teachers, etc who often have to bear the brunt ridicule and derision.
For more on this song CLICK Top 100 (United States) Songs Of American Patriotism scroll down to song 73 on the list.

M-G-M still to promote the
film "Jailhouse Rock".
 64. Fame And Fortune – Elvis Presley
     It is about how fame and fortune mean little if you don’t have love. The big recording artist, movie star or any media hero or heroine don’t have anything if they don’t have a heart full of love.

 63. The Ballad of Tom Joad – Woody Guthrie
     The song was influenced by the John Steinbeck novel “The Grapes of Wrath”. The song is set in the 1930’s Dust Bowl era. It centers on unemployed workers seeking a better life and jobs and the resistance they meet. It is about Oakies (California name for people from Oklahoma and other Dust Bowl states) who migrated to California looking for jobs and farming opportunities. Tom Joad is a parole from the Oklahoma State Prison.

 62. Drink In My Hand – Eric Church
     This is essentially a song about a working man who on the weekend wants to blow his money on “wine, women and song”. Put a drink in his hand. He is a simple man.

 61. The Legend Of John Henry’s Hammer – Johnny Cash
     It is an updated tale of the famous American of African decent who raced a steam powered drill in hammering spikes laying railroad tracks. John Henry won but died shortly after from over exertion. John Henry is apart of American folk lore on par with Daniel Boone and David Crockett.

 60. Casey Jones (The Union Scab) – Pete Seeger
     The song is sung to the tune of Casey Jones but the lyrics are of him crossing union lines. He was as the unions called those who did not honor union strikes, a scab. The song tells of the workers getting even by laying railroad ties on the track causing his train to derail killing Casey Jones.

 59. Turn The Page – Bob Seger
     This is a quasi-biographical song written by Bob Seger about musicians on the road. The song deals with the long grueling nights of travel only to be heckled by people in restaurants about their hair and how they looked. The song points out it is not all glamour and glory on the stage. It is clear while you may be famous to some others don't know or care who you are. 

 58. If I Don’t Make It Back – Tracey Lawrence
     It is a song about a soldier getting ready to be deployed to a war zone. It tells how he wants his Camaro driven and for his friends to drink a Miller beer in his memory and to find a good man for his girl. In the end it is about soldiers facing the dangers and possible realities of their job.

Heavily used 45 label of Only In America
57. Only In
– Jay and the Americans
     While the song is focused on a man getting his girl it is also about America providing the opportunity through hard and persistent work of rising to great heights.
For more on this song CLICK Top 100 (United States) Songs Of American Patriotism scroll down to song 32 on the list.

56. John Henry – Bruce Springsteen
     This song is based on a tall tale about an American of African decent who worked on the railroad. The legend surrounds him in a race against a machine. He wins but then dies from the excessive stress on his heart.  He is a folk hero much the same as Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone.

 55. Factory – Bruce Springsteen
     It is the story of man who confronts his fears and pain to work at a loud factory that will take his hearing, but provides his livelihood.  When the end of shift whistle blows the people come out dead tired only to do it all over again the next day.

 54. Chain Gang – Sam Cooke
     This Sam Cooke composition was inspired by Cooke seeing an actual prison chain gang at work. While the song is about prisoners doing hard labor many a working man could identify with the same feelings about their job, hard work, bleak future and imprisoned in their on world.

 53. Money Honey – Elvis Presley, Clyde McPhatter, The Coasters, The Jackson Five or Eddie Cochran
     It is about an unemployed man wanting his woman to give him her money. In the end she cuts him lose in favor of another a man who has money and presumably a job.

 52. Letters From Home – John Michael Montgomery
     This is the story of a soldier receiving letters from his mother and girlfriend. It points to the military person being separated from loved ones as apart of the job.
For more on this song CLICK Top 100 (United States) Songs Of American Patriotism scroll down to song 58 on the list.

 51. The Only Way I Know – Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and Eric Church
     It is about growing up in a small town with strong a work ethic and you don’t get something for nothing. You have to earn your way.

Mishawaka High School, Mishawaka, Indiana
Photographer - Derek Jensen,
For more information visit
 50. School Days – Chuck Berry, The Beach Boys, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Jan & Dean or Gary Glitter
     The first job anyone has in life is school. The better they do, the further they go. This usually results in better pay in their jobs for the rest of their life. The story is of school from a pupil's point of view but also tells of the teacher and implies what they do.

 49. Which Side Are You On – Natalie Merchant, Pete Seeger or Florence Reece
     The song is about organizing and growing a coal miners union in Kentucky. It is a classic miner’s union anthem.

 48. Blowin’ Smoke – Kacey Musgraves
     This is about being a waitress and wishing for something better. Her friends come and also want a better life and talk of dreams but they too are just blowing smoke.  One of them has a child graduating from college perhaps she, the mom, did not do so bad. Oh, that’s right she put on weight and could not lose it. Their all just blowin’ smoke.  This is something everyone can identify with at one time or another in our lives.

 47. A Change Is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke
     This song is a civil rights anthem and there are those who say it does not belong here.  The song does not mention a particular vocation or union. It does call out for justice of Americans of African decent. Part of that justice is the right to be treated fairly in seeking work. It is also the right to be treated fairly while on the job. It is also the right to be treated equally by business and unions.
For more on this song CLICK Top 100 (United States) Songs Of American Patriotism scroll down to song 86 on the list.

 46. Warrior – Kid Rock
     This song is about the National Guard and the men and women who serve theier states and country in times of disaster and war.
For more on this song CLICK Top 100 (United States) Songs Of American Patriotism scroll down to song 82 on the list.

 45. Bread And Roses – John Denver or Judy Collins
     This is a rare early 20th. Century song associated with women in the work place. This song is closely related to a textile workers strike with a strong presence of women. It remains a union anthem.

44. Freeze Frame – J Giels Band
     Whether they are, photographers, in a union or not, it is a job. More goes into the finished picture than meets the eye. There are endless jobs in the profession, school pictures, weddings, models, advertising, demonstrative documentation, TV cameramen, motion pictures, studio portraits, are just some of the jobs where photographers are needed.

 43. Union Burying Ground – Woody Guthrie
     They are burying a union organizer and it is implied he was killed by company men. The union men believe it will only strengthen the union by causing more to join.

 42. The Ballad Of Casey Jones – Johnny Cash, Burl Ives, Pete Seeger, Spike Jones & His City Slickers or New Christy Minstrels
     Casey Jones has risen to the status of a person with mythological abilities on the par with John Henry, Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett. The song relates his staying with a speeding train while he was trying to stop it as it headed toward another train. He died in the resulting crash. There are multiple variants to the lyrics surrounding the basic story.

 41. Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show – Neil Diamond
     The song deals with the traveling minister. There are still a few traveling revival ministers today. The televangelist has for the most part replaced them. This song is nonetheless focused on the ministry.

  40. Working In A Coal Mine – Lee Dorsey or Devo
     This song is about hard labor and dangerous working conditions presumably in a deep shaft coal mine. The worker gets up at 5 A.M works hard all week and is too tired to enjoy the weekend.

 39. Amarillo Sky - McBride and the Ride or Jason Aldean
     The song is the story of a farmer facing hardships from the high cost of diesel fuel, hailstorms and drought. He is getting by on a shoestring and asks God to help him out.

 38. A Piece Of The Pie – Randy Newman
     A bitter song of the American working person who feels the rich are getting richer and the working person struggles. The lyrics suggest things are better in other countries (the grass is greener syndrome), but one has to wonder if people in other countries don’t think the same.

  37. North To Alaska – Johnny Horton  
     The song is about gold miners going to Alaska. It was the title song to the John Wayne movie of the same name. The story is set in the late 19th. Century. It should be noted Alaska was the last great American frontier and the song could also be viewed as much about the pioneer settlers who through back breaking work forged a nation. It's the story of men confronting the mountains, rivers and climate to get the gold. It also tells of loneliness.
Photo by Russell Lee
Miners reporting to work in West Virginia
in 1946.  Photo is in the National Archives and
Records Administration.
(NARA record: 2489414) 

 36. Coal Miner’s Daughter – Loretta Lynn
     This Country Classic has become a Standard. It is an autobiographical song about Loretta Lynn’s youth growing up with a father who was a coal miner.  It was a hard life but there was love in the household.

 35. Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy – The Andrews Sisters, Bette Midler, or En Vogue,
     It is the story of a pre-World War II – World War II street musician who was drafted into the army. He is frustrated because he can’t use his talents as he would like. He plays reveille to wake the troops. He wants to do more.
For more on this song CLICK Top 100 (United States) Songs Of American Patriotism scroll down to song 48 on the list. 

 34. Against The Wind – Bob Seger or Brooks & Dunn
     At first it seems to be a song about a man who was na├»ve and foolish in love. As the song progresses he talks about deadlines and commitments. He is running against the wind in his work and life.

Maryland Army National Guard
For more on this phot visit
 33. Citizen Soldier – 3 Doors Down
     It is a song about the National Guard service person that is there to help in the event of disaster. The song implies they are there to help following hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and so on. They are often called weekend warriors but they are the year round saviors.
For more on this song CLICK Top 100 (United States) Songs Of American Patriotism scroll down to song 83 on the list.

 32. Hawaii Five-O – The Ventures 

     It is the instrumental theme to the popular TV series about police in Hawaii. The show portrays an elite state police team dealing with major crimes. It highlights police work in a positive manor. The show is so identified with police work the expression “Five-O” has come to mean police all across the nation.
For more on this song CLICK Top 100 American Instrumentals Scroll down to song 40 on the list.

 31. Livin’ On A Prayer – Bon Jovi
     This song deals with a two income household hanging by a thread as the man is not working because his union is on strike. The woman puts in long hard hours working at a diner.

 30. One Piece At A Time – Johnny Cash
Bruce Fitzpatrick, of Nashville, built
the car for Johnny Cash.
For more on this picture visit
     It is a song about a man stealing from the car factory where he works and building a car at home one piece at a time. There are legends still circulating in South Bend, Indiana the home of what once was Studebaker cars and trucks about union employees stealing parts from the factory. According to the local legends they did pretty much what is said in the song. Since the mid 1960’s Studebaker has been gone.  Today military Hummers are made in a former Studebaker factory in nearby Mishawaka, Indiana. On the same grounds a new factory was built to build commercial Hummers by General Motors. Hummers were discontinued by GM and now Mercedes SUV's are made there.

 29. Six Days On The Road – Dave Dudley or Johnny Rivers
     It is about a trucker on his last leg home. His truck is over weight but he knows how to avoid the scales He is tired but he is going to make it home. It is about fighting exhaustion, fear, time to get home to his loved ones. Some think this is the ultimate trucker song. It certainly is one of the better ones.

 28. Bad Girls – Donna Summer
     This song deals with the most dangerous form, street walker, of the world’s oldest profession. It is not only dangerous for the seller but also for the buyer.
NOTE: Illegal professions such as con artists, drug dealers, thieves, and etcetera do not belong on this list. The world’s oldest profession is illegal in 49 states but is legal in the state of Nevada except for two counties. Because of this it has been included.

 27. Shiftwork – Kenney Chesney & George Straight
     This tells of a person working shifts at a 24hr. convenience store.

 26. She Keeps The Home Fires Burning – Ronnie Milsap
     This was a monster Country hit about a man struggling at work and copping with life. He has one bright light and it is his girlfriend/wife at home.

 25. The Rev. Mr. Black – The Kingston Trio
     Sitting in church listening to a sermon you only see the tip of the iceberg as to what it is to be a pastor/priest. This song is about an itinerant preacher. The ministry is far more than the Sunday sermon. This song salutes the men and women of the cloth for their backbone and hard work.

 24. Solidarity Forever – Pete Seeger
     The lyrics were written by a Kansan, but the tune is taken from John Browns Body/Battle Hymn of the Republic. This union anthem calls for strength in numbers and accuses big business of taking unfairly from the working man.  As this song predates the era of large scale participation in the work force by women additional lyrics have been added to address women’s concerns.

 23. Three Wooden Crosses – Randy Travis
     The song is about the death of three out of four passengers on a bus. One was farmer, another was a teacher and another was a preacher. The song references their occupations and then there was the lone survivor, a prostitute. As the preacher lies dying he gives her his bible and asks “can you see the promise land”. The story is told by her son who grew up and become a preacher.

 22. Shuttin’ Detroit Down – John Rich
     This song is about the working man fearing for his job due to corporate outsourcing and his fellow Americans buying foreign cars. The song touches on the government not stopping this and its failure to protect the working man. The big shots are still getting their bonuses but the working man is getting a kick in the pants out the door.
For more on this song CLICK 100 Most Important and Influential American Songs Scroll down to song 89 on the list.

 21. Capitalism - Oingo Boingo
     The individual entrepreneur starting a business not only puts his/her back into the job but they also risk his or her own money. They gamble on themselves.  The song says there is nothing wrong with that and it is OK to try and get ahead. The song says for those who are always trying to find fault, “Your mouth is bigger than your entire brain”.  This song is a rare one which praises the individual who through capitalist incentives invests his/her labor and money in trying to bring something positive to the consumer.

4. TOP TWENTY (with video links)

 20. Five O’Clock World – The Vogues, Hal Ketchum or Bowling For Soup
VIDEO  Five O'Clock World by The Vogues (Drew Carey Video)      The song center’s around an urban worker presumably a retail sales person, clerk or office professional.  They don’t like their job, but looks forward to going home to their girlfriend or wife.
NOTE: It was the theme song to the Drew Carey Show.

 19. Detroit City – Bobby Bare or Tom Jones
VIDEO  Detroit City by Bobby Bare
    The song starts “I wanna go home” it is mournful lament of a Southern man going north to work in the car factories of Detroit.  He so wanted to go home to his family and girl. He sings about his letters home “If only they could read between the lines”. Many Southerners did.
Note: This hit a cord with many Southerners who had gone north to find work.  They felt like they were looked upon as backwoods bigots. It is a form of stereotyping prejudice that still exists today.

18. Big Boss Man – Elvis Presley, B.B. King, Charlie Rich, Jerry Lee Lewis, Steve Miller Band, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, The Kentucky Headhunters or Jimmy Reed
VIDEO  Big Boss Man by Elvis Presley (Remix)    
     The song is about a laborer who is resentful of a boss that does not listen. In the Elvis Presley 1969 Singer (sewing machine) TV Special the song is presented as a man protecting a prostitute from her pimp.

17. Sixteen Tons – Tennessee Ernie Ford or ZZ Top
VIDEO  Sixteen Tons by Z.Z. Top & Jeff Beck
     This song is about a hard working coal miner who can’t keep his head above water economically no matter how hard he works.  He was the epitome of why there was a need for coal miner’s unions. The most notable today is the UMWA (United Mine Workers of America). This union represents more than just coal miners. The union and the
Companies which mine coal are being hit hard by strong anti-coal mining actions by the United States government.

 16. Working Day And Night – Michael Jackson
VIDEO  Working Day and Night by Michael Jackson
     This is the story of a man trying to please his woman by making enough money for her. The result was he was working day and night to please her.

 15. Lady Marmalade – Labelle, Sabrina(Italy), All Saints(U.K.), Christina Aguilera, Lil Kim, Mya & Pink or En Vogue 
VIDEO  Lady Marmalade by Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya and Pink
     It is essentially the story of a woman at a bordello soliciting business. 
NOTE: Illegal professions such as con artists, drug dealers, thieves, and etcetera do not belong on this list. The world’s oldest profession is illegal in 49 states but is legal in the state of Nevada except for two counties. Because of this it has been included.

 14. Wichita Lineman – Glen Campball
VIDEO  Wichita Lineman by Glen Campbell
     This song is about the linemen who keep the telephone lines up and running. It could also be about the linemen who work on power lines keeping them up. Today the song could also apply to the people keeping cable lines operational.

 13. Summertime Blues – Eddie Cochran, The Beach Boys, The Who, or Alan Jackson
VIDEO  Summertime Blues by Alan Jackson     
     This is a teenager’s lament about working. It seems between his parents and his boss he just does not stand a chance. The song confronts the reality there is more to life than a teenage romance and school.  In essence welcome to the real world. The song dates back to the early Rock Era when Eddie Cochran had the first hit.

12. Born In The U.S.A. – Bruce Springsteen
VIDEO  Born In The U.S.A. by Bruce Springsteen
     It is one of the most misunderstood songs. When people hear the chanting of “Born In The U.S.A.” Thoughts of patriotism and fireworks come to mind. The song in reality is a song about the loss of American lives in Vietnam and the bleak future so many soldiers faced upon returning to the States. They did not get the parades nor were there great job opportunities waiting. At the end of the song the returning service man does not crumble but stands tall.
For more on this song CLICK Top 100 (United States) Songs Of American Patriotism scroll down to song 35 on the list.

 11. The Ballad Of The Green Berets – SSgt. Barry Sadler
VIDEO  Ballad Of The Green Beret by SSgt. Barry Sadler
     It was from the John Wayne movie “The Green Berets”. It was one of the biggest hit songs of the 20th. Century. It praises the men who are good enough to earn the right to wear the Green Beret. The song was a Vietnam era hit.
For more on this song CLICK Top 100 (United States) Songs Of American Patriotism scroll down to song 22 on the list.

 10. Take This Job And Shove It – Johnny Paycheck
VIDEO  Take This Job And Shove It by Johnny Paycheck
     The tune is a bout a man making plans to quit his job and is working on how to say it and do it. His wife has left him and he no longer has a need for the job. He implies the poor pay is why she left. He thinks his bosses are fools or mean.

  9. Car Wash – Rose Royce or Christina Aguilera & Missy Elliot
VIDEO  Car Wash by Rose Royce
     The title pretty much sums up the song. It was a big disco hit off the soundtrack of the movie with the same name.  The song and movie is about what happens to employees of a car wash. The Aguilera & Elliot version is also from a film, “A Sharks Tale” and their version from this animated film takes on a different meaning. Rap is also integrated into the song by Elliot in the 2004 version.

  8. Manic Monday – The Bangles
VIDEO  Manic Monday by The Bangles
     It is a story of a woman recovering from all she did Sunday and facing the work day. She has to do good because employment is down and she needs to keep her job.

  7. Get A Job – The Silhouettes
VIDEO  Get A Job by The Silhouettes
     This Doo Wop favorite is about an unemployed man being harassed by his girlfriend/wife. She nags at him about looking for a job and when he comes home and does not have a job she says he is lying. She is implying he never looked for a job.

  6. Allentown – Billy Joel
VIDEO  Allentown by Billy Joel
     This song captures the feeling of loss and impending doom over the decline and fall of the traditional American Steel industry. Workers were at best displaced and at worst lost jobs they could not replace.
NOTE: An entire industry (steel) collapsed from corporate mismanagement, government apathy, union intransigence, aggressive foreign competition and modern automation. There remains a native steel industry but it is a shadow of what it once was.

  5. Forty Hour Week (For A Livin”) – Alabama
VIDEO  40-Hour Week (For A Livin") by Alabama  
     This gives a shout out and thank you to the auto worker, the steel mill laborer, the policeman, farmer, coal miner, waitresses, truck drivers etc. It salutes Americas working men and woman.

  4. It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere – Alan Jackson & Jimmy Buffett
VIDEO  It's Five O'Clock Somewhere by Alan Jackson & Jimmy Buffett
     The person in the song is feed up with his job and needs to relieve some stress. Even though it is the middle of the work day he is taking off to have a drink to relax. He works a 9 to 5 job and it is five o’clock somewhere.

  3. Workin’ For A Living – Huey Lewis & the News or Huey Lewis and Garth Brooks
VIDEO  Workin' For A Living by Huey Lewis & the News
     It is a Rock song about never making enough money. Pay raises don’t come but the bills do. It lists several occupations saying it is all the same. They are working for a living and it just does not pay for everything.
  2. She Works Hard For The Money – Donna Summer
VIDEO  She Works Hard For The Money by Donna Summer
     This song tells the story of countless number of female restaurant workers. The official video goes onto show a variety of jobs performed by women. With increasing numbers of single mothers there has also been a steady increase of women in the work force.

  1. 9 to 5 – Dolly Parton

VIDEO  9 to 5 by Dolly Parton
     This song has been used in a movie and was the basis of a Broadway musical. The song, movie and musical all tell the story of women working in a n office and they have a lecherous boss who is also mean. It is an urban fantasy of getting even with the boss.


Where The Corn Don’t Grow – Waylon Jennings or Travis Tritt
     A young man longs for something better off the farm and in the big city. He finds life is also hard in the big city “Where The Corn Don’t Grow”.

Old Rivers – Walter Brennan

     It is a story song about an old dirt poor farmer looking to the day he is in heaven.  Here on earth he and his mule plow the soil in harsh conditions.

Follow That Dream – Elvis Presley
     This song is about the person who is unsettled and still seeking that place in love and life. It is also about following a dream about seeking a career.

Proud to Be By Your Side - George Dare
     This song has been called the "International Firefighters Theme song". The song is about helping people in need directly related to a fire.

Peoples Court - Ray Stevens
     It is a spoof of the TV show Peoples Court which has spawned a relentless series of similar shows featuring a judge passing down rulings on cases brought by the less than admirable of American society.

The Plumbing Song - Weird Al Yankovic
    In his ever humorist spin he sings of the plumbers abilities.

Patches - Clarence Carter
     It is the story of young mad pushed to premature manhood by the death of his farmer father. He has to go to school and take of the farm. In the end he is successful.

Storefront Lawyers - The Ventures
     It is the instrumental theme song to a classic TV series about lawyers who sacrificed big law careers to help the underprivileged. Lawyers often get a bad rap, but whether you like what they have done or not, it is a job.  There is work and it is not always easy. What a lot of people don’t think about is all the work (college), Time (seven or more years of schooling) and expense (It can be well over $250,000) that goes into becoming a lawyer before a dime is ever made. Many a mother has admonished their children, "If you can't say something good don't say anything". This song does not say a thing!!

Daddy Was An Old Time Preacher Man - Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton
     Told from the perspective of the preacher's offspring the song goes through what their father did as a preacher.

Guitar Man – Elvis Presley or Jerry Reed
     It is a song about a musician looking for work. He finally makes it but in the end decides he wants to shoot higher.

Get Over It - The Eagles
     "Lets kill all the lawyers", is not what a lawyer wants to hear. The line appears in the song. It is the story of a man and a friend/s?? who are working the system using lawyers. He is tired of their complaints and the unscrupulous lawyers and their law suits. 

You Didn't Build That  - Ray Stevens
     This is a take off on a comment President Obama made about business. The song points out all the roadblocks and hurdles the government puts in the path of a person trying to start or build a business. The song mocks the statement "You didn't build That". It in essence says it is foolish think that all the sweat, time and labor put into building a business does not account for anything.

Labor Day (It’s A Holiday) – The Black Eyed Peas
     Labor day, it’s an excuse to party.

Concrete Sailor - Jerry Reed or Ray Stevens
     It is a truck driver song and tells the story of what it is to be a over the road trucker.

Day Drinking – Little Big Town
     The song says you have to wait for the workday to end (sun go down) to tilt a brew. You don’t need to wait for the weekend to have a drink or two. It is time to do some Day Drinking.

Look For The Union Label
     It is a song promoting the ILGWA union. It was a part of an essentially losing effort to stop Americans from outsourcing their cloths.

Wonderful World – Sam Cooke, Herman’s Hermits(U.K.), Art Garfunkel or Johnny Nash
     This song is a love song directed at a fellow student, but mentions all that he has to learn and all that is taught. The song covers the job of the student and the teacher.

Oney – Johnny Cash
      Oney is a boss in a factory who is stern and unforgiving.  The worker who is retiring intends to extract revenge on his mean boss following a retirement dinner. This song resonates with any worker who has had a boss they cannot stand.

Beer On The Table –Josh Thompson
     A self described simple man who works 9 to 5 on a non-descript job.  It is enough to meet his basic needs plus it puts gas in his truck and beer on the table.

Working Man – John Conlee
     It is a Country song about the assembly line worker. He is frustrated by his boss, his day to day expenses, and those ever present taxes.

National Working Woman’s Holiday – Sammy Kershaw
     A husband admitting they need her income, but she is working too hard. He is not upset with the company and the union.  He wants to spend some alone time whit his wife. She works too hard.

Working Woman – Rob Crosby
     An anthem aimed at saluting the working woman, “work is never done”.  It praises the woman who is a wife, mother and income earner. Sung from a man’s point of view it details the toils she goes through every day. The song is related in respect, awe and love. Of course maybe he could a little more on the home front.

Get A Hair Cut (And Get A Job) – George Thoroughgood
     This song is about the unconventional individual who rejects society’s 9 to 5 work ethic.  This person chooses to work in a band and skips the office job or working in a factory. This person is lucky and hits it big.
Soldier Boy – The Shirelles
     Serving in the armed forces is one which the service person is often separated from their loved ones.  This song addresses the issues from the point of view a woman who promises her love and loyalty to her soldier while he is away.

 Spinout - Elvis Presley
    This song is about a professional race car driver as depicted by Elvis Presley in the movie of the same name. The song has very strong double entendre. 

The Cattle Call – Eddy Arnold, Elvis Presley, Tex Ritter, Slim Whitnman, LeAnn Rimes & Eddy Arnold, Boxcar Willie, or Dwight Yoakam
     This song is about the job of a cowboy.

Will Your Lawyer Talk To God – Kitty Wells
     The song deals with a brokenhearted spouse talking about the divorce lawyer and the other spouse. The song suggests what is going on my be legal but is it morally right. It questions the other spouse and by extension the lawyer as to what they are doing.

Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys – Willie Nelson & Waylon Jennings or Ed Bruce
     The songs is not flattering to the cowboy of today., but it does acknowledge the job is still out there and did not die with the end of the American frontier. It also mentions your children would be better off if they were doctors or lawyers.

My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys – Willie Nelson
    It talks of the job, but the focus is cowboys can not be trusted when it comes to matters of the heart.

All American Boy – Bill Parsons a.k.a. Bobby Bare
     The song loosely tells the story of the rise of Elvis Presley, but on a broader context applies to the aspiring musician.

I’m Movin’ On – Ray Charles, Hank Snow or Elvis Presley
     The song is about a man leaving his woman behind. He asks for the fireman on the train to shovel that coal and for the engineer to keep throttle up.

I’m A Roustabout – Elvis Presley
    The roustabout was in essence the Circus/Carnival roadie.  The same kind of work is done by the rock concert roadie. It’s hard work.

Carney Town – Elvis Presley
     It is about the traveling Carnival shows and the people who work them. It is told from the pitchman hyping the shows.

The Ghost of Tom Joad – Bruce Springsteen or Rage Against The Machine
     The songs roots lies in John Steinbecks’s book “The Grapes of Rath”. It also owes much to the Woody Guthrie song “The Ballad of Tom Joad”. The Springsteen song is set the late 2oth. Cenury and is focused on the unemployed working man seeking a job and a future.

The Factory – Kenny Rogers
     The son writes about his father who works in a factory to support his family. The son in turn does the same thing. He wants more for his children than working in a factory.

The Factory – Warren Zevon
This song should not be confused with the Kenny Rogers recording or the Bruce Springsteen recording.  It has a different tune and lyrics.  The story of the song is about a man whose father worked in an auto factory until he got hurt and is now on disability. The son works in a factory filled with seen and unseen hazards.

Handy Man – Jimmy Jones. Del Shannon or James Taylor
     There is a not so subtle metaphor of a “Handy Man” and that of the playboy lover in this song. The handy man is a person who can fix most anything, generally around a home. The protagonist in the song mends broken hearts.

Crushin' It - Brad Paisley
     What ever you do there is the week of have to's at work and home, but "every week has a weekend". For the guy in the song that means downing more than a couple of cold brews.

It’s Finally Friday – George Jones
     It’s the song of a working man looking to having a good time over the weekend. Come Monday he will be broke again and he work all week for another wild and free weekend.

Beer Money – Kip Moore
     It is about a man who has worked all week and has little to show for it. What little he has is going to be spent on Beer, a woman and song.

G.I. Blues - Elvis Presley
     The song is about the soldiers who were involved with the occupation of Germany following World War II. The song talks of endless marching drills, G.I. hair cuts and clothing. Oh, and the food. It touches on things about the job most people don't think about.

The Firefighter Song - Paul Cummings
     It is the story a firefighter doing his job.

Johnny 99 – Bruce Springsteen
     The song is about an auto worker who is laid off and in a drunken stupor he kills a clerk. He is caught and sentenced to 99 years, but he wants to be executed.

500 Miles – Bobby Bare
     He reworked a folk song of the same name. It is the story of a young man away from home presumably looking for work but failed. He is trying to get back home but is still 500 miles from home.

The Work Song – Herb Alpert
     It is an instrumental, but the video for the song is set in a musical instrument factory.

Talk To My Lawyer - Chuck Brodsky
     This is the story of a man very willing to use an ambulance chaser. He is getting the crutches, neck brace and what ever else it takes to sue. In the end he and his attorney are willing to do and say anything to win.

The Ballad Of Joe Hill 
     It is a song about the Swedish immigrant who became a writer in favor of unions. He was also a union organizer. It is a telling of his life in song.  He was convicted of murder in Utah and executed. There is great doubt as to him being guilty.  He refused to testify at his trial. He wrote songs which are on this list, “There Is Power In A Union” and “Casey Jones (The Union Scab)”.

Three Miles Down - Gil-Scott Heron
     This song is about deep shaft coal miners. It tells of the ever present dangers and how so little has changed over the years for the coal miner.

Truck Drivin’ Man – Toby Keith, Aaron Tippin, Buck Owens or Willie Nelson
     His semi ran on diesel but he ran on coffee. Give him another cup of coffee because he is a truck drivin’ man.

Fort Lauderdale Chamber Of Commerce - Elvis Presley
     University Spring Break brings in money to cities like Fort Lauderdale. The businessmen, its there job to keep the money flowing in, want the college students to be happy.

Working Man (Nowhere To Go) - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
   This song is about an unemployed man the victim of a recession. He is unemployed because he lost his farm and was looking for work. He is broke but not broken.

Thank The Nurse - Country Joe McDonald
     This song lists what a nurse does to save a person's life.

Ruby Ann - Marty Robbins
     Ruby Ann married a poor working man, the story teller of the song.  She once dated another man who presumably became a wealthy businessman. In the end though she stayed with the poor man.

We're Coming In Loaded - Elvis Presley
     One of the most dangerous profession is fishing. This song is about a fisherman coming in with a full load of fish

Lord Have Mercy On the Working Man – Travis Tritt
     It is a working man’s lament about the rich getting richer and the government taking too much of his hard earned money.  There are lurking questions about whether God is looking out for him. While it is not directly said there is the ghost of those living on the doll off of the taxes taken from him by the government.  He is still working and seeking a break.

Manual Labor - Billy Joe Shaver
     It is about earning a living by the sweat of the brow.  The rich man gets richer and the government taking the money from the working man and making him poorer. The song also takes on the issue of immigrants (implied as Illegal) taking the laboring man’s jobs.

Men & Women In Blue - George Dare
     It is about the call to duty of the police officer.

Battle The Blaze - Carlos A. Pozo
     This Hip/Hop song describes what firemen do to battle fires. it mentions the gear, clothing and actions of firefighters saving lives and battling blazes.


Important songs not on the list because they were not composed by Americans
We Built This City (U.K.)
Taking Care Of Business (Canada)
Working For The Weekend (Canada)
9 to 5 (Morning Train) (U.K.)
A Hard Day’s Night (U.K.)