Most of us have probably dreamt of becoming rockstars or music icons. They live their lives so extravagantly, and it seems as though they enjoy every single minute of it. That’s probably one of the best rewards of building a successful career in music.
However, there’s a huge chance that those musical legends you look up to were once, or still are, the hardest workers, just like you. Here are some songs about working hard that prove they earned their fair share of sweat and tears.
Songs About Working Hard
1. “A Hard Day’s Night” by The Beatles
There’s probably no better way to start this list than with a classic from The Beatles. We all try to work as hard as we can for the person or people we love, and that’s what “A Hard Day’s Night” is talking about;
“It’s been a hard day’s night, and I’ve been working like a dog
It’s been a hard day’s night, I should be sleeping like a log
But when I get home to you, I’ll find the things that you do
Will make me feel alright”
The title of the song came from a real-life expression of none other than Ringo. After working all day with the band, Ringo said, “It’s been a hard day…,” but upon seeing that daytime has actually passed without them noticing, he quickly followed it up with, “Night!”
2. “Busy Man” by Billy Ray Cyrus
There are millions of people all over the globe who unknowingly neglect their families because of their desire to be successful in their jobs. “Busy Man” talks about this rather common dilemma of chasing victory but missing important events and familial milestones in the process. The song starts out with a simple yet profound narration and example of this;
“There’s a little boy out in the driveway
His basketball in hand
Saying, ‘Daddy, could we play a little one-on-one?’
You pat him on the back and say, ‘Not now, son,
I’m a busy man.’”
Most of us will understand how important it is to earn decent money and provide a comfortable life for our families, but that shouldn’t mean that we forget our other roles and responsibilities. Fortunately, the persona in this song from Cyrus realizes that early on and chooses his family over work instead.
3. “Manic Monday” by The Bangles
“Manic Monday” talks about a girl who spent the previous day having fun with her boyfriend, and now she’s late for work. It’s about the usual trepidations of the working class where you just can’t have as much fun as you want because you need to be on time the next day.
However, did you know that this song was actually written by Prince? That’s a bit surprising, considering that Prince’s lifestyle is very unlike the woman in the song. Prince wrote the song, made a demo track with a woman, and gave a cassette recording to Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles to have them record the song.
4. “Dear Mama” by Tupac Shakur
Being a mother is hard work, and it’s even more challenging when you’d have to do it alone. “Dear Mama” is a song written by Tupac to thank his mom for raising him and his sister. In the song, he talks about all of his life struggles and how his mother must’ve had it worse.
5. “Working Man’s Ph. D.” by Aaron Tippin
Before Aaron Tippin became a musician in Nashville, he was a South Carolinian mechanic, welder, and pilot. That’s probably why he knows so much about the difficulties of a working man.
He goes on further to say that his career as a musician focuses more on the life of a blue-collar worker than it is about kissing, hugging, or what the usual love song talks about. “Working Man’s Ph. D.” is Tippin’s salute to all those who work hard on their jobs.
“Now, there ain’t no shame in a job well done
From driving a nail to driving a truck
As a matter of fact, I’d like to set things straight
A few more people should be pullin’ their weight
If you want a cram course in reality
You get yourself a Working Man’s Ph. D.”
6. “Working Class Hero” by John Lennon
This song talks about going through the hardships in life to reach the top and be successful. It was originally written by John Lennon and recorded with the Plastic Ono Band, but you will also see videos, records, and performances from Green Day.
“There’s room at the top they are telling you still
But first, you must learn how to smile as you kill
If you want to be like the folks on the hill
A working-class hero is something to be”
On the third line of this verse, Lennon also pays homage to one of The Beatles’s songs, “The Fool on the Hill”
7. “40 Hour Week” by Alabama
Here is another song to salute all the hard workers out there. “40 Hour Week (For a Livin’)” talks about how a lot of people in the country have to work 40 hours every week to survive. The band Alabama wrote this song to thank each and all of them because the world, or at least their country, would probably not be where it’s at without these workers.
“You can see them every morning in the factories and the fields
In the city streets and the quiet country towns
Working together like spokes inside a wheel
They keep this country turning round”
8. “Smoke Break” by Carrie Underwood
Carrie Underwood wrote this song with Chris DeStefano and Hillary Lindsey. It’s about a hardworking woman in the city. Underwood said that she knows how all of us tend to feel down and exhausted from working and how it would be nice to take a break once in a while.
9. “Work Song” by Hozier
Hozier is one of those artists who write one line and can mean a hundred other things. “Work Song” is one of his tracks that have dozens of interpretations. Some say it’s about addiction, while others believe it’s about a person close to death who made a lot of mistakes in life.
Nonetheless, the lyrics, taken at surface level, seem to be talking about a person working hard and finding his/her purpose of providing for the person he/she loves even after death. We can find this in the song’s chorus, which goes;
“When my time comes around
Lay me gently in the cold dark earth
No grave can hold my body down
I’ll crawl home to her”
Before he became famous for the song “Take Me to Church,” Hozier had already made rounds on Twitter after Taylor Swift tweeted her friend from Victoria’s Secret saying, “Have you heard Hozier’s ‘Work Song’? It’s the perfect song.”
10. “Epiphany” by Taylor Swift
Speaking of Taylor Swift, perhaps the best way to end this list is to feature her song dedicated to all the frontliners battling the Covid-19. She likened them to World War II soldiers who have to work through exhaustion just to keep the world safe and at peace.
Aside from her current experiences of the pandemic, Swift was also inspired by her grandfather, who was a soldier in the second world war.
Life is undoubtedly challenging. However, what we must always keep in mind is that all of the difficulties we face will soon come to pass.
What matters more is that we emerge stronger and holistically better people. If you feel as though life is getting a bit difficult and you are exhausted from working hard, just grab your phone or speaker and play these songs to help you get by.
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.