In celebration of today’s Labor Day in the US and Canada, thenation. has come up with its own version – with videos – of the top ten songs commemorating workers’ struggle. As always with personal choices, there’s always room for debate about inclusions and omissions – but it’s good to see something from Phil Ochs in there. And the Dolly Parton is an inspired choice.
Having had my own bash at this a couple of years ago, I know how difficult it is to come up with much from the last couple of, well, decades. RATM/The Nightwatchman apart (from thenation‘s commentators – to which I might also add Diana Jones and indeed, Ry Cooder – thanks to @billybragg!), there’s just not a lot of people out there writing memorable modern songs about labour. A reflection of the – surely temporary – decline in collectivism no doubt, but, with work remaining central to the preoccupations of millions of us and with no shortage of issues to concern us, where indeed have all the good songs gone?
(thenation.com‘s list came to me courtesy of Labourstart – whose Labor Day solidarity campaign features the continuing struggle to get T-Mobile to allow workers in the US free choice of being represented by unions. Add your words to the e-mail deluge here.)