For nearly 150 years, May 1 has been an international day to celebrate and defend the rights of the working class. This year, with the Occupy movement taking full advantage of May Day's historic importance, May 1, 2012 could see the greatest explosion of outrage at the excesses of capital since the first mass May Day protest in the US in 1886, when more than 300,000 workers nationwide walked off their jobs on behalf of an eight-hour work day.
In tribute to all those planning actions for May 1, here’s my stab at the impossible task of naming the best songs ever written about working people. A playlist for May Day, if you will. Please use the comments field to let me know my most egregious omissions.
1. Florence Reese, "Which Side Are You On?"
2. Tennessee Ernie Ford, "Sixteen Tons"
3. Billy Bragg, "There is Power in a Union"
4. Dolly Parton, "Working 9 to 5"
5. Bruce Springsteen, "Youngstown"
6. Pete Seeger, "Solidarity Forever"
7. Hazel Dickens, "Fire in the Hole"
8. Loretta Lynn, "Coal Miner's Daughter"
9. Gil Scott-Heron, "Three Miles Down"
10. The Clash, "Clampdown"