♪ I smiled cos I loved you both
So, I put the apron on
I put the apron on ♪
— The Once and Future Wesley Stace
Think British folk rockers with a deep catalog of paeans to proletarians, and the brain brings forth Stephen “Billy” Bragg. As it surely should. The William whose real and actual surname toots his own horn titled albums Talking Poetry With the Taxman and Workers Playtime, fer Chrissakes. Nor did he kid when it came to mixing pop and politics or ruminating after becoming an internationally1 acclaimed millionaire, “Should I vote red for my class or green for our children?”
Still and all, your audiophilic Weekend Politics Thread host comes to you headphones in hand importuning for recognition of the also-worthy John Wesley Hardin. Not merely because he plowed the same half-furious furrows of class-meets-coitus as Bragg. Also because his songwriting proves a larger point about every song existing as a labor song. “Red Rose the Briar” alone presents mini bios of a waitress, an aspiring actress, an auto mechanic and a lunchtime rush of folks on their midday breaks from employments unspecified.
Would Looking Glass’s “Brandy” even make sense narrated by anyone other than bartenders, longshoremen and merchant sailors? Would Steve Earle, Uncle Tupelo and George Jones mean as much to the masses had they never praised or panned the particularities of moonshining? “This Woman’s Work” breaks the hardest heart. Does no less a light than Rihanna implore us to “Work, work, work, work”?2
Would the long-ago college student-slash-standup comic who became the Avocado’s own generally tolerated Uvular revel in-slash-rue his past half as much if he never again called to mind the first verse of Harding’s “Same Thing Twice”? Namely
♫ He’s done it all a million times
The gags, the repartee, the little crimes
“Every audience is special, and that goes for you!”
He looks into your eyes again
He never does it but he tries again
That old boy lost look could bruise you black and blue
Everybody’s looking for a single row so they can be alone
’Cause every time the lights go up, they’d rather be at home
I looked through all the wanted ads with a fine-toothed comb
And all I came up with was another evening
Doing the same thing twice
That’s what I was doing ♫
Pick any pursuit or profession. More than one song features a character or story about said personage. From knitter to knave and royal to roustabout—every noun3 in this header could link to a dozen or more exemplars of poesy peregrinations set to good beats you could dance to.
Proof of point:4
Share your own jobs’ clarion calls in the comments. After the week we had, we could use a dance party. Remember how Flashdance only ever showed Jennifer Beales sweating during her routines, not while welding? Let’s get a full-on Michael Sembello montage going.