Labour day – songs about working people

In Canada Labour Day is September 4. Most of the rest of the world celebrates workers in May on International Workers’ Day.

Folk songs about the working people and their economic welfare have been written a performed for hundreds of years. And folk music has been used to amplify the call for social and economic justice. 

I’ll fit some of my favourite Labour Day appropriate sings into some broad categories below, but first … 

1) Songs about hard work and living hand to mouth

2) Songs about the labour movement

3) Songs about modern alienation from the fruits of labour and the pains of the changes in our modern economic system

4) Songs about the economic oppression specifc groups

Look for the album Bread and Raises (Smithsonian Folkways); it’s a good musical primer on unpaid and under paid economic activity. 

And, an end my musical homage to Labour Day: 







An Irish pub in every town, and an Irish song in every heart

My dad was born a Curry so I’m at least a wee bit Irish. They say everyone is a little bit Irish on St Patrick’s Day, which means today even that tiny bit of Irish blood is a reason to celebrate big.
I can’t share a beer over the internet; instead I’ll share some Irish songs from the Folk-BritIsles playlist on my iPod.

Bing Crosby: Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral (Thats An Irish Lullaby)

John McCormack – When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

The Irish Rovers- The Orange and the Green

Dropkick Murphys – Finnegans Wake

The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem – Wild Colonial Boy

Jim McCann – Grace

The Pogues – Dirty Old Town

The Wolfe Tones – Let the People Sing

And lastly, I’ll leave you with my favourite movie kiss of all time. From The Quiet Man with the beautiful Maureen O’Hara and the handsome John Wayne.
Now go forth, and be Irish.