I suppose people have used music as a means to get themselves through monotonous and back breaking labor for thousands of years. I mean even the galley slaves in ancient Rome rowed to a beat and in coal mining towns, rice paddies, cotton fields, along railroad tracks work songs became a genre.
There are cowboy work songs and the songs sailors sang called sea chanties. Of course, my favorite work song is ‘Whistle While You Work” as sung by the Seven Dwarfs – they really got down on that one.
Now people just listen to the radio or CDs while they work and sing along but the principle is still the same – it gets you through the day and helps you feel better about it.
Nat Adderley and Oscar Brown, Jr wrote “The Work Song” made famous by Nina Simone. People like Woody Guthrie started singing about getting a fair shake while you’re working – a decent wage and decent treatment. Guthrie made a record entitled ‘Struggle’ and I guess that says it all.
Heartland Rock, which I still love, gave us Bruce Springsteen and John MellenCourgarCamp singing about working class hardships and let’s not forget the classic Bruce Hornsby tune, “That’s Just The Way It Is.” People still need a fair shake and people still struggle but nobody’s singing about it anymore.
Well, that’s not entirely true. Here’s a link http://www.unionist.com/big-labor/labor-song. Check it out.
On October 24th 1940 the 40 hour work week was enacted under the Fair Labor Standards Act signed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt by 1945 the minimum wage had risen to 40 cents an hour. http://www.unionist.com/big-labor/today-in-labor-history
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