By Julie Tisdale Pardi, MA
The 2015 American Music Awards aired last night. Why is NIOSH blogging about this you may ask? Well, we’ve blogged about workplace safety and health themes in: movies twice (three times if you count the recent blog on James Bond’s occupational hazards), books, the theater, and figured it was time we looked at music to see if safety and health is represented in this medium. Turns out, we are not the only ones who have thought about this. In honor of Labor Day, Billboard released a list of 20 songs about Working for the Man, HitFix posted the 15 Greatest Songs About Working for a Living, the Tucson Sentinel collected Songs for Labor Day: Union tunes & working man blues, and NPR shared Labor Day Blues and Grooves. Song Facts’ list of Songs About Working is pretty comprehensive, including the Banana Boat Song, Flamethrower, and Heigh-Ho (yes, by the Seven Dwarfs). There is also Top 10 ’80s Songs About Work, Oldies For Workers, and Taste of Country’s 10 Best Work Songs. In 1999, the Smithsonian’s released Blues Routes: Heroes and Tricksters: Blues and Jazz Work Songs and Street Music and the Colonial Williamsburg website includes Slave Work Songs.
Work is a universal theme and there is truly something for everyone. Admittedly, all of these songs do not delve into safety and health issues but the majority touch on themes that impact workers’ overall well-being (think long hours, stress, unemployment, lack of control over work tasks, and low pay).