Q Music News

Q Music News

Labor Day: The last hurrah of summer and the universal salute to the workforce.

Per History.com, Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894. The holiday’s roots are based on the fights from American unions during the Industrial Revolution. Among the things those workers fought for were a liveable wage, safe working conditions and reasonable work hours. Many of the protections and rights those unions fought for still impact the workforce today. They are reflected in the Fair Labor Standards Act. Congress passed this legislation in 1938. It helped establish the minimum wage, banned most child labor and helped establish the 40-hour workweek.

The spirit of those unions is alive and well today. That spirit is reflected in the ongoing strikes by the Writers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

Furthermore, the fight for a four-day workweek has also reemerged, and it’s been a concept embraced by some surprising figures. For example, The Intercept points out that then-Vice President Richard Nixon once touted the four-day workweek. He did this in 1956 when he and President Dwight Eisenhower were running for re-election.

“The time is not far distant when the working man can have a four-day week and family life will be even more fully enjoyed by every American,” said Nixon. “[These are] not dreams or idle boasts, simply projections of the gains we have made in the past four years.”

The fight for a four-day workweek continues, as does the reexamination of a living wage. However, take a moment this Labor Day to remember the many brave workers who sacrificed so much to make this holiday possible. Whatever you’re doing for Labor Day, do yourself a favor and blare at least one of these five tracks in their honor.

  • Styx – “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)”

    Written and sung by Tommy Shaw, this Styx track never fails to resonate. We have to agree with Big Daddy: Styx is one of the greatest American rock bands, and they only caught a bad rap because most critics are cynical a–holes.

  • Bachman-Turner Overdrive – “Takin’ Care of Business”

    Sure…we’d all like to work at nothing all day, but things cost money. Not all of us can be self-employed like Randy Bachman! Of course, if you ask anyone that’s self-employed, they’d tell you they work like crazy.

  • The Pretenders – “Back on the Chain Gang”

    Alright, so the song’s more about relationships, but it’s just too good not to include. Plus, few singers have hustled and fought for their respect quite like Chrissie Hynde, who still manages to be one of the coolest people in music today.

  • Loverboy – “Working for the Weekend”

    Aren’t we all, really?! Also, it’s hard not to imagine the late, great Chris Farley dancing like no tomorrow in the classic Chippendales sketch from Saturday Night Live.

  • Huey Lewis & The News – “Workin’ For A Livin’”

    Not to go all pop culture again, but does anyone else can’t help but think of Tom Hanks in Big when you listen to this track? Anyway, who hasn’t related to the song’s first verse: “Somedays won’t end ever and somedays pass on by/I’ll be working here forever, at least until I die/Dammed if you do, dammed if you don’t/I’m supposed to get a raise next week, you know damn well I won’t.”

  • Rush – “Working Man”

    Come for the rousing track; stay for Alex Lifeson’s awesome solo. And sure, this was pre-Neil Peart, but “Working Man” still rules.

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