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by Raymond Cummings

September 1, 2014

Labor Day Songs for the Working Man

by Raymond Cummings  |  September 1, 2014

If you work an office job, Labor Day means you don't have to spend your day at a desk. But if you are a physical laborer, it means you can be blessedly chronic-pain free for an extra day. This playlist goes out to everyone for whom earning a paycheck is an endurance test: the gardeners, carpenters, plumbers, mechanics, farmers and hundreds of others who make our machines work, our cars run and our food tasty.

On "The Carpenter," rapper Homeboy Sandman builds a four-cornered room using little more than attitude and fierce lyrical dexterity. Marianne Faithfull's lacerating take on John Lennon's "Working Class Hero" is all sneering solidarity. The Melvins' "Let God Be Your Gardener" is all piston-pumping thrash-grunge. The Dave Matthews Band's "Digging a Ditch" equates exertion with a meditative escape. Meanwhile, the ragtime jangle of Donald Ashwander's "Moving Man," Louis Armstrong's waggly "Workingman Blues," and Lloyd Cole's telescoping, beat-spattered ambient "Machinist" have a certain implacable solidity to them. And on the more parodic side of things, there's "I Am Friends with a Working-Class Black Woman" by Neal Pollack and the Pine Valley Cosmonauts.

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