Well I can’t outdo Peter Rothberg’s “Top Ten Labor Day Songs” at The Nation, but I’ll add these to your holiday playlist.
First, an obvious choice for me: “Clampdown,” by the Clash:
The men at the factory are old and cunning
You don’t owe nothing, boy get running
It’s the best years of your life they want to steal …
(Here’s a great live version of “Clampdown” that can’t be embedded, unfortunately.)
And speaking of the Clash … “Career Opportunities”:
Career opportunities, the ones that never knock
Every job they offer you’s to keep you off the dock …
Here’s Los Lobos with a reminder that American workers come from all walks of life: “Will The Wolf Survive?” from their 1984 album of the same name.
And, yeah, I can’t leave Bruce Springsteen off the list. With Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello doing “The Ghost of Tom Joad”:
No home no job no peace no rest …
Because on Labor Day it’s worth remembering the millions of Americans who lack adequate work and the dire consequences that flow from it.
Okay, but it is still a holiday, after all, so we have to end on a high note – and for the record, I make no apologies for this. It’s 1980s camp rock at its finest: The BusBoys, “American Worker”:
And, of course … “Minimum Wage”:
Happy Labor Day!