Songs about working are a staple in country music. Whether it's celebrating the virtues of a hard day's labor, or telling the boss to go to hell, these tunes are the best of an illustrious lot. You can't get away from working, but you'll probably feel better after listening to these songs about being on the job.
10. "Working Man's Ph.D." - Aaron Tippin
Aaron Tippin doesn't need a college diploma. He's already a graduate of a very different sort of school. It doesn't take five years locked in an ivory tower -- just shedding your blood, sweat, and tears every day on the job.
Work Song Lyric: "As a matter of fact I'd like to set things straight: A few more people should be pullin' their weight. If you wanna cram course in reality, you get yourself a working man's Ph.D."
9. "Workin' Man (Nowhere To Go)" - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Few experiences can be as soul-draining as wanting to work and not being able to. This great country song from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band paints a stirring portrait of a man who, after losing his job, feels completely abandoned by the world. But he soon realizes he's far from alone.
Work Song Lyric: "Had me a job til the market fell out. Tried hard to borrow but there was no help; now I've got nowhere to go. I need a job for these two hands. I'm a workin' man with nowhere to go."
8. "Forty Hour Week (For a Livin')" - Alabama
Alabama give a shout-out to the ordinary people who work hard to put food on the table and keep the country running. Mechanics, waitresses, farmers, police officers, and Detroit auto workers (that remain!), we salute you.
Work Song Lyric: "Hello Pittsburgh steel mill worker, let me thank you for your time. You work a forty hour week for a livin', just to send it on down the line."
7. "Manual Labor" - Billy Joe Shaver
Honest work doesn't pay; that's Billy Joe Shaver's lament in this satiric tune. But don't despair. The singer-songwriter soon finds a little solace in televangelism. Really.
Work Song Lyric: "Manual labor you, you old back breaker you. I must have mistaken you, for a true friend you've never been."
Travis Tritt doesn't mince words in this blistering song about being shortchanged by politicans, the rich, and maybe even God. The stakes are life and death. Class warfare has never been so danceable.
Work Song Lyric: "Why's the rich man busy dancing, while the poor man pays the band? Oh they're billing me, for killing me. Lord have mercy on the working man!"
5. "Working Man Blues" - Merle Haggard
With its jangly guitar riffs and chain-gang percussion, "Working Man Blues" is Bakersfield Country at its finest. Merle Haggard has a lot of great songs about working, including the incendiary "A Workin' Man Can't Get Nowhere Today" (which I nearly included), but this is the classic that slighty edges out the competition.
Work Song Lyric: "I'll be working long as my two hands are fit to use. I'll drink my beer in a tavern, sing a little bit of these working man blues."
4. "Coal Miner's Daughter" - Loretta Lynn
Loretta Lynn tells the true story of her impoverished, hard-working parents in Butcher Holler. As always, Lynn supplies all the poignant details that turn this tune into a classic portrait of growing up with nothing, but finding happiness where it counts.
Work Song Lyric: "We were poor, but we had love. That's the one thing my daddy made sure of. He shoveled coal to make a poor man's dollar."
3. "Sixteen Tons" - Tennessee Ernie Ford
A coal miner is caught in an endless cycle of servitude and debt. No matter how hard he works, the company always makes sure he's a little behind. Jaunty music and depressing lyrics are part of the curious magic of this classic from early county artist Tennessee Ernie Ford.
Work Song Lyric: "You load sixteen tons, what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt. Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go: I owe my soul to the company store."
2. "9 To 5" - Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton rails against the glass ceiling in this crossover hit that percolates to life with the sound of typewriters as the singer gets ready to face another day at the office. "9 to 5" appeared in the comedy of the same name, and earned Parton an Oscar nomination for Best Song. Interestingly, she wrote the tune by using her long fingernails as a makeshift washboard.
Work Song Lyric: "Workin' nine to five, what a way to make a livin'. Barely getting by, it's all take and no giving. They just used your mind and they never give you credit. It's enough to make you crazy if you let it."
For those who have stayed on a bad job too long, Johnny Paycheck's song-length tell-off will be so much sweeter. In it, a factory worker finally gives his boss man what's been coming to him for years. Although the 1977 tune became the singer's biggest hit, it was actually written by fellow outlaw country artist David Allan Coe.
Work Song Lyric: "Ya better not try and stand in my way, cause I'm walkin' out the door. Take this job and shove it! I ain't working here no more."