And whether you’re keeping the red flag flying here, celebrating the Internationale or just twirling around a maypole it’s Mayday Bravo today.
It was, of course, an Irishman, Jim Connell, who came up with the emotive words in 1889 to go with the tune O Tannenbaum.
He had been travelling by train, where you can do a lot of your thinking, in London.
So to mark May Day we’ll revive our Rainy Days and Songdays occasional series with these May Day tunes.
Way to go, Joe
Joe Hill – Joan Baez: And this workers anthem relates to a union leader, framed on a murder charge and executed in Salt Lake City.
But the organiser stands for everyman and of course returns to the narrator in a dream.
When they would congregate at the Lennon wall to protest.
Sixteen Tons – Tennessee Ernie Ford: This ditty of a song with the catchy refrain derives from Kentucky’s Merle Travis in 1947.
And the line ‘You load sixteen tons and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt” came from a letter written by Travis’s brother John.
We’ve taken Tennessee Ford’s 1955 version which hit the top of the Billboard charts and was inducted into the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry.
The New Boss
Won’t Get Fooled Again – The Who: And the Cockney Four whose shows were as much about menace as music nail it here.
And they captured the working class fascination of the Mods in Quadrophenia in their odyssey to Brighton.
But it’s this anthem against The Man and its clarion call: ‘Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.’
She Works Hard For The Money – Donna Summer: Now you might not associate the Queen of Disco with a societal message.
And a reminder too for all that while music is replete with messages of working men, working women have had it just as bad and worse.