Whether they’re on night shift, on overtime or just working a regular 9-to-5, a lot of music lovers want to hear a song they can relate to. There are so many tunes out there that glorify jet-setting and the finer things in life, but what about the songs that champion the ordinary folk, relate to their plight, and understand their struggles?
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There are bands that have built entire careers on crafting such songs with the working class in mind, making their everyday lives brilliantly spun narratives set to song. Here are six of our favorite blue-collar bands that know all of our hard work deserves a song or two.
6. Huey Lewis and the News
Huey Lewis and the News have been overflowing with blue-collar charisma since the very beginning. A band with a barroom to big stage story, they’ve made good with their brand of no-frills rock ‘n’ roll and odes to the working man.
While working as a truck driver, Lewis wrote what would be one of the band’s biggest hits, “Workin’ For A Livin’,” penning a semi-autobiographical and all-too-relatable song. Lewis understood the everyday working stiff because he had been one himself. It was something that found its way into his music because it was a way of life that never left him even after seeing success.
Before the spotlight reached Alabama, they were working hard as a band to stay afloat, taking on odd jobs and playing weekend gigs whenever they could. Later on, they would turn those experiences into musical homages to the nine-to-fivers like themselves.
Their song “Forty Hour Week (For A Livin’),” especially, was a celebration of hard workers working hard. There are people in this country / Who work hard every day / Not for fame or fortune do they strive / But the fruits of their labor / Are worth more than their pay / And it’s time a few of them were recognized, they sing in the anthemic country tune.
4. Drive-By Truckers
The Drive-By Truckers have carried a blue-collar charm with them throughout their decades-long career. With a true-to-their-roots approach to music, they’ve gifted fans with complex musical narratives that often shine a light on the characters of the South they sing about.
Their song “Outfit” is a great example of this. Don’t call what you’re wearing an outfit / Don’t ever say your car is broke / Don’t worry about losing your accent / A Southern man tells better jokes, the chorus plays as a reminder to never forget those working man roots.
3. John Mellencamp
John Mellencamp’s homespun brand of heartland rock has always rooted for the average Joe, writing songs that evoke images of sweat-covered brows and calloused hands. His catalog brims with songs that shine a light on everyday American life. And while his work is often perceived as patriotic and prideful, he actually regularly critiques the distorted vision of the “American Dream” and instead champions the ordinary people who work hard to get by.
2. Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band
Messiah to the Midwest working man, Bob Seger qualifies for a genre all his own. For decades, his roots rock style has perfectly soundtracked hard-working America, making epic heroes out of average Joes. His brand of blue-collar poetry can be found in songs like “Mainstreet,” “Roll Me Away,” and “Night Moves.”
1. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
No one’s collar is bluer than Bruce Springsteen’s. He built a career out of turning working-class narratives into songs beloved the world over, with anthems like “Factory,” “My Hometown,” and “Working On The Highway” in his repertoire as proof. However, with a recent debacle over ticket prices, many have speculated whether that blue-collar of his has begun to fade.
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