Music to find jobs by

Work Songs

There’s no reason your job hunt has to be a silent affair. Next to love, work may be the most common topic for popular music. Here’s a list of some work–related songs that should brighten your day (if that’s possible) while you plot your job search strategy and write your resume and cover letters.

Work Songs or Songs for the Job Quest

Good Work — The BoDeans. It really is good work if you can get it. If this song can’t boost your spirits, nothing will. Album: Home, 1989.

Out of Work — Gary U.S. Bonds. With a little help from the Boss, Mr. Bonds briefly revived his career with this satire of the Ford Administration’s sad efforts to “whip inflation now” (remember the “Win” buttons that proliferated during that recession?). Album: On the Line, 1982.

Chain Gang — Sam Cooke . The live version of this tune about working on a chain gang is a revelation.

Get a Job — The Silhouttes first recorded this — before Sha–Na–Na revived it.

Five O’Clock World — The Vogues. This was the song for teenagers with jobs in the mid–Sixties. During the 1996–1997 television season it served as the opening theme song for the “Drew Carey Show.” 1965.

Government Center — Jonathon Richman. The perfect song for anybody who works in government from the founder of punk rock who became rock’s leading man–child.

Shangri–La— The Kinks. Arguably one of the greatest songs in rock history, this tune reminds us why we work when it isn’t a job we love. Album: Arthur or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire, 1969; and the Kinks' Kronikles.

Get Back in Line — The Kinks. An extraordinarily poignant tune tells the tale of working stiffs who have to wait to be picked by the union to work that day. “All I want to do is make some money and bring you home some wine,” sings Ray Davies. It’s songs like these that raise the Kinks far above the songs for which they are most famous. Available on what many critics consider to be one of the very best compilations ever published, The Kink Kronikles. Reprise 6454. Check it out!

Salt of the Earth — Rolling Stones. A low–key gem about working people.

Big Boss Man — Jimmy Reed. ’nough said.

The Work Song — Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass. The first 45 r.p.m. single (remember them?) your humble author bought in his early teens. Purely instrumental, but a gas. Circa 1964.

Work to Do Isley Brothers and Vanessa Williams. The original version was one of the Isley Brothers biggest hits. Twenty five years later Vanessa Williams added hip-hop, and we’ve still got work to do. Circa 1967 and 1992.

Minimum Wage — They Might Be Giants. A cute piece of filler from their 1990 album Flood. Contributed by Reb Holems.

Working on the Highway — Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band. Album: Born in the USA, 1984.

Maggie’s Farm — Bob Dylan. He may not have wanted to work on Maggie’s farm no more, but Dylan used this song to introduce his folk audience to his rock and roll side amid boos.

Welcome to the Working Week — Elvis Costello. An incendiary tune from back when Elvis had fire. Album: My Aim is True, 1977.

Here Comes the Weekend — Dave Edmunds. Another artist from the obscure, but legendary Stiff label, Edmunds anticipates the end of the working week in an all–out rocker.

Sweet Cream Ladies — The Box Tops. Before he became THE Alex Chilton, this teenager sang about the oldest profession.

Hard Times in America — Willie Nile. Now this should have been the Clinton–Gore theme song for their first campaign. One of the most articulate and rocking songs about the state of the nation and employment. Album: Hard Times in America, 1992.

Rain on the Scarecrow — John Mellencamp. Working on the farm has never been so bad since the large combines started putting the small farmer out of business. Album: Scarecrow, 1985.

Just Got Paid — Johnny Kemp. Everybody’s pay day theme. Is Johnny still getting paid? 1988.

Not Nothing Going on But the Rent — No romance without finance. If money doesn’t motivate you to get a job maybe love will!

I Go to Work — Kool Moe Dee. Pre–historic rap with a working person theme. 1988.

Two Hangmen — Mason Profit. A very pointed melodious tune about the suppression of dissent during the late Sixties, this tune asks you to identify who the hangmen in the title actually are. Album: Come & Gone, 1973.

Deportee — Pete Seeger and others. This folk song tells the tale of migrant workers killed in a crash.

Working Day and Night — Michael Jackson. Home of Afros and pinto’s, Mike’s working for his lady…and it’s not manual labor, or is it? Album: Off the Wall, 1980.

Sam Stone — John Prine. All the money goes through the hole in daddy’s arm.

Government Cheese — The Rainmakers. Don’t accept that “government cheese” if you want to retain your dignity and independence. Album: The Rainmakers, 1980.

Money — The Loving Spoonful. Even if you love your job or career, we still have to make the money to survive in this era long before establishment of the United Federation of Planets. (We had to get in something for Star Trek fans.)

Julie McBride, Next Steps Facilitator, suggests:
Working for the Weekend (BTO)
Money for Nothing (Dire Straits)
Working 9 to 5 (Dolly Parton)
Take This Job and Shove It

A few more songs from one of our readers:
— Bruce Springsteen
Ten Men Workin’
— Neil Young
Bang the Drum
— Todd Rundgren

Work, Work, Work; Working in a Coal Mine; and Gotta Find a Job — three songs by Lee Dorsey. Contributed by Bob Pruter.

I Can't Work Any Longer — Billy Butler and the Chanters. Contributed by Bob Pruter.

Shade Tree Mechanic — Z.Z Hill. The south in the Seventy’s and this blues mechanic say’s he knows how to fix it all. Circa 1977.

Soon as I Get Home — Babyface. This man works all day and he’ll cook dinner, buy your clothes, pay your rent, and more … as soon as he gets home from work. Who said there are no good men left anymore? Album: Babyface, 1989.

Poor People — Alan Price. Former Animals keyboardist, Price wrote the haunting and challenging songs for the film O Lucky Man! If you’ve never been poor, this tune may help open your eyes to their plight. Album: O Lucky Man!, 1973.

Sixteen Tons — Tennessee Ernie Ford. Contributed by Bob Pruter.

Got a Job — The Miracles. Contributed by Bob Pruter.

Working Class Hero — John Lennon. It’s not about a sandwich. Album: Plastic Ono Band, 1970. Contributed by Sue Bicknell.

Tunes for commuters:

Rush Hour Blues — The Kinks. Anybody who has ever met the rush hour head on will appreciate this rockin’ tune. Album: Soap Opera, 1974. Check out the whole album since it all deals with career dreams.

D Train — The Washington Squares. If you’ve ever been to Manhattan, you’ve no doubt journeyed upon this fabled subway.

This has been a sampling of all the work–related songs out there (and we didn’t even touch pre–rock music). If you’ve got more to add, email them to us. If you know of a Web site for any of the artists included here, please let us know about it so we can add a link. Hope you’ve enjoyed this page which is intended to give you a vacation from the seriousness of the typical job hunt.

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