Five Work Songs


It’s the Friday before Labor Day (or, if you’re in Canada, Labour Day), the unofficial last weekend of summer. In the old days, we went back to school the Wednesday after Labor Day, so we spent this weekend getting ready for school, shopping for clothes and school supplies and getting back on a school-year sleep schedule. In other words, it was a real drag. Mom started school on Tuesday, because she was a teacher and had to get her classroom ready for the new year, so we had a day off from her. Now school begins in early August, at least in this neck of the woods, so Labor Day isn’t the day of dread and mourning for the passage of summer it used to be.

So, in honor of the upcoming holiday, the Friday Five theme is

Songs with “Work” in the Title

Work Song – Butterfield Blues Band: “Work Song” was written by Nat Adderley and was the title track for his album of the same name. Lyrics were added and performed later by Oscar Brown, Jr. This version, from the Butterfield Blues Band, was on their 1966 album East-West. It features guitar solos by Mike Bloomfield (first) and Elvin Bishop (second) as well as by Butterfield and keyboardist Mark Naftalin.

(Workin’) 9 to 5 – Dolly Parton: Technically, this doesn’t have “work” in the title, but it’s a favorite of mine, and Dolly Parton is a tremendous singer for whom I have a lot of respect. Dollywood, her theme park in eastern Tennesee, is a fun place, and it brought a lot of jobs and revived the area. She deserves to be included here.

Workin’ in the Coal Mine – Lee Dorsey: This was the third of Lee’s 1966 singles, and the most successful, reaching #8 on the Hot 100 and #5 on the R&B chart. Something I didn’t know: his first single that year was “Get Out Of My Life, Woman,” covered on the Butterfield Blues Band’s East-West album.

Work To Do – Average White Band: Originally a single for the Isley Brothers in 1972, it was the US B-side to the Average White Band’s first hit, “Pick Up The Pieces” in 1974 and was featured on their AWB album that year.

Workin’ for the Weekend – Loverboy: This was on Loverboy’s second album, Get Lucky, and reached #2 in the US and #10 in their native Canada in 1981. Radio station WKLS (96 Rock) used to play this on Friday afternoons at 5. It’s especially appropriate this weekend…

Have a good Labo(u)r Day, or a good weekend if you won’t be celebrating. That’s your Friday Five for September 4, 2015.

8 thoughts on “Five Work Songs

  1. “Working in the Coal Mine” is one of those songs that has never been buried in my brain since the days it was on the charts. Frequently the song pops into my mental playlist and I’ll be singing it to myself. It’s a pretty cool song.

    Canadian artist Murray McLauchlan wrote and sang many songs about jobs and working, but the only song of his that actually includes the word “Working” in the title is his bittersweet “Shoeshine Workin’ Song”. He’s a fine songwriter and artist that you might want to check out if you don’t know about him already. He’s been sadly neglected in the U.S.

    Another one of my favorite songwriters Steve Forbert did “New Working Day”.

    Have a great Labor Day!

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out


    1. Chastain Park here in Atlanta, an outdoor venue, has the same bad memories for me. Only there, it was drunk, obnoxious adults. I swore it would take a reunion of The Beatles (including John and George) and a special guest appeearance by the Pope to get me back in there. You get them at any concert.


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