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25 Classic Country Songs For Working Men And Women

For as long as we’ve had country music, we’ve had songs that speak to those in the workforce. Songs that glorify, describe the hard times, the plights, the successes and failures; each song speaks to someone who hears it and can identify exactly with the feelings expressed in the lyrics of these various songs.

What was the first country music hit to discuss the plight of the working man? Short of an incredibly comprehensive study of early recorded music, it’s hard to pinpoint, exactly; one of the earliest could well be Carl T. Sprague’s 1925 release “When The Work’s All Done This Fall”, generally considered the first recorded cowboy song. The song covers the plight of a cowboy who tragically dies from a work-related accident, before he can make it back to see his mother when the job was completed.

Since then, there have been songs that speak for farmers, truckers, train men, factory workers, and more. Below is my play list of some of the best “working” songs in country music history. Please feel free to leave your list in the comment section.

Here they are, in no particular order.

1.Six Days On The Road – Dave Dudley (1963); Sawyer Brown (1997), Steve Earle (1988)                     Country music’s greatest truck driving song.

2.Working Man Blues – Merle Haggard (1969)                                                                                                             The quissential working man’s song.

3.Working Man Can’t Get Nowhere Today – Merle Haggard (1977)                                                                    One that should get more noteriety than it does.

4.Sawmill – Webb Pierce (1963); Mel Tillis (1973); Mel Tillis & Bill Phillips (1959)                                     Mel Tillis wrote this song.  I think his version is also the best.

5.Working Man’s PhD – Aaron Tippin (1993)                                                                                                               If “Working Man Blues” is the greatest working song, ever, then Tippin’s classic is #2.

6.Take This Job And Shove It – Johnny Paycheck (1978)                                                                                     How can you NOT include this one?  Admit it, we’ve all felt this way, at some point.

7.Working Man – John Conlee (1985)                                                                                                                             Another underrated song, from the equally underrated Conlee.

8.Blackland Farmer – Frankie Miller (1959 & 1961)                                                                                                   Three top twenty hits in his career, this song accounts for two of them.

9.Old Rivers – Walter Brennan (1962)                                                                                                                             Some might think I’m stretching by including this one.  But think about it…Old Rivers was a           farmer, plowing the ground.

10. When The Work’s All Done This Fall – Carl T. Sprague (1925)                                                                           Possibly country music’s first working man’s song.  And like the songs of it’s time, a not so pleasant ending.

11. There Ain’t No Easy Run – Dave Dudley (1968)                                                                                                      A song made up mostly of the names of the trucking companies of that era.

12. Looking At The World Through A Windshield – Del Reeves (1968)                                                                There’s not a truck driver on the interstate that can’t identify with this one.

13. Kansas City Star – Roger Miller (1965)                                                                                                                         Even hosting a kid’s television show is a job, right?

14. Truck Driving Man – George Hamilton IV (1965), Red Steagall (1976)                                                         Another of the many odes to truck drivers.

15. Forty Hour Week – Alabama (1985)                                                                                                                            The Hall of Fame group’s tribute to all working men and women.  There was actually a minor        controversy with the line “Kansas wheatfield farmer”, with readers of Farm And Ranch                    Living magazine.

16. Where The Green Grass Grows – Tim McGraw (1998)                                                                                           We’ve all held jobs, where we wind up having a “supper from a sack”.

17. Working Class Man – Lacy J. Dalton (1986)                                                                                                               I’m guessing you’ve forgotten all about this one, a top twenty hit.

18. Runnin’ Behind – Tracy Lawrence (1992)                                                                                                                  Unless you have a 6 figure salary, you likely feel this way.

19. Detroit City – Bobby Bare (1963); Billy Grammer (1963)                                                                                    One of the classics!  Was a pop hit for Bobby Bare, too.

20. Fly Away Again – Dave Dudley (1971)                                                                                                                         Does your job require a significant amount of travel?  This one’s for you.

21. Cafe On The Corner – Sawyer Brown (1992)                                                                                                              Any ex-farmer, who’s an “ex”, not by choice, will identify with this one.

22. Mr. Walker, It’s All Over – Billie Jo Spears (1969)                                                                                                   Nowadays, Mr. Walker would be sued for harassment.

23. Amber Waves Of Grain – Merle Haggard (1985)                                                                                                       Not a huge hit, Haggard’s tribute to farmers.  Released around the time of the first Farm-Aid.

24. Where Corn Don’t Grow – Travis Tritt (1997)                                                                                                           A song that speaks truth.  Remember, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

25. Workin’ Man (Nowhere To Go) – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (1988)                                                                        I’m surprised no one has rerecorded this song.  It’s very appropriate for the times.

MAKE SURE YOU CHECK OUT THESE ALBUMS

Johnny Paycheck – “11 Months And 29 Days”

Alabama – “Forty Hour Week”

Merle Haggard – “Swinging Doors”

“Sawyer Brown”

Mel Tillis – “On Stage”

Webb Pierce – “Sweet Memories”


“Will The Real Dave Dudley Please Sing”


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