Labor Day, 1940s Style

labor day2
Since Monday is Labor Day, I have decided to take the day off and post my pearls of wisdom today. Unlike my previous posts, this one will be a little different in that this post is on a theme rather than a single song.

When I went on the Internet looking for some ideas for a Labor Day music post, almost all of the sites gave examples of music written after my 1945-1955 time-frame. So I searched through my own music library files to find songs with a labor or work theme from this period. I was amazed at the variety of songs that I found. Perhaps I stretched the point on some of these songs, but I think most of them work. In some cases I have added a bit of commentary, but in most cases the songs speak for themselves.

If you take the day off as well, sit back and enjoy the music. The following songs are listed alphabetically. Perhaps you will find something here to your liking. Enjoy.

To listen to a song, click on the song title at the end of each listing. To download a song, right click on the song title, then right click on Save target as


"Rosie the Riveter" by Norman Rockwell (29 May 1943 "Saturday Evening Post" cover

“Rosie the Riveter” by Norman Rockwell (29 May 1943 “Saturday Evening Post” cover)

Arthur Murray Taught Me Dancing In A Hurry (Jimmy Dorsey – about a dancing teacher) Arthur Murray Taught Me Dancing In A Hurry

Banana Boat Song (Day-O) (Harry Belafonte – a traditional Jamaican folk song about dockworkers and bananas) Banana Boat Song (Day-O)

Better World A-Comin’ (Woody Guthrie – one of many pro-union songs that promise the American working class a bright future.) Better World A-Comin’

The Blacksmith Blues (Ella Mae Morse) The Blacksmith Blues

Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company C (The Andrews Sisters – a song about a musician) Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy

Butcher’s Boy (Glenn Miller) Butcher’s Boy/Marie

Cab Driver (The Mills Brothers) Cab Driver

Casey Jones (Johnny Cash) Casey Jones

Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy (Red Foley) Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy

Corns For My Country (The Andrews Sisters – a little ditty about a dance hostess at the USO during World War Two) Corns For My Country

Cowboy Serenade (Glenn Miller) The Cowboy Serenade (While I’m Rolling My Last Cigarette)

Did You Ever See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball? (Buddy Johnson – obviously about a baseball player) Did You Ever See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball?

Dig-a-Dig-Dig/Heigh Ho (The Seven Dwarfs from Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – Remember that the dwarfs were gold miners) Dig-a-Dig-Dig And Heigh-Ho

Doctor, Lawyer, And Indian Chief (Betty Hutton) Doctor, Lawyer, And Indian Chief

Doodletown Fifers (Sauter-Finegan Orchestra – an instrumental depicting musicians) Doodletown Fifers

Down By The Station (Guy Lombardo – trains and train engineers are mentioned in the song) Down By The Station

Fuddy Duddy Watchmaker (Kay Kyser) The Fuddy Duddy Watchmaker

I’m An Old Cowhand (Roy Rogers) I’m An Old Cowhand (From The Rio Grande)

I’ve Been Working On The Railroad (Pete Seeger) I’ve Been Working on the Railroad

It’s In The Book (Johnny Standley – one of the few songs about a preacher) It’s In The Book

John Henry (Woody Guthrie – a classic blues song about an American folk hero who literally worked himself to death driving-steel and laying down railroad) John Henry

Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio (Les Brown – a song about a baseball player) Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio

The Kid’s Last Fight (Frankie Laine – a prizefighter is the subject of this song) The Kid’s Last Fight

The Little Shoemaker (Eddie Fisher and Hugo Winterhalter) The Little Shoemaker

The Man On The Flying Trapeze (Robert DeComier Singers – a daring circus performer is in the center ring of this song) The Man On The Flying Trapeze

McNamara’s Band (Bing Crosby – a song about a group of musicians) McNamara’s Band

Milkman, Keep Those Bottles Quiet (Ella Mae Morse) Milkman, Keep Those Bottles Quiet

Minnie’s In The Money (Benny Goodman – a song about a female welder on the old assembly line “helping Uncle Sam to keep his people free”) Minnie’s In The Money

The Mountaineer And The Jabberwock (John Laurenz) The Mountaineer And The Jabberwock

Mr. Touchdown , U.S.A. (Hugo Winterhalter – a football player is the subject here) Mr. Touchdown, U. S. A.

Mule Train (Frankie Laine – a mule train driver is the center of our attention in this song. Listen for his whip cracking) Mule Train

The Musicians (Dinah Shore, Betty Hutton, Tony Martin, Phil Harris) The Musicians

The Old Lamp-Lighter (Sammy Kaye) The Old Lamp-Lighter

On The Old Assembly Line (Glenn Miller – An assembly line is a manufacturing process in which parts (usually interchangeable parts) are added to a product in a sequential manner to create a finished product much faster than with handcrafting-type methods.) On The Old Assembly Line

On The Swing Shift (Betty Rhodes, Donna Drake, Marjorie Reynolds – The swing shift is the shift between night and morning shifts. Often this will be 4 pm to midnight, but can be 3-11 or 2-10 depending on the business set up. ) On the Swing Shift

Please Play Our Song (Mister Record Man) (Don Cornell) Please Play Our Song (Mister Record Man)

Ragtime Cowboy Joe (Jo Stafford) Ragtime Cowboy Joe

The Rickety Rickshaw Man (Eddy Howard) The Rickety Rickshaw Man

Rosie The Riveter (Four Vagabonds – “Rosie” represents the American women who worked in factories during World War Two, many of whom produced munitions and war supplies.) Rosie The Riveter

Shepherd Serenade (Horace Heidt) Shepherd Serenade

Six Lessons From Madame La Zonga (Jimmy Dorsey – the “lessons” referred to in the song are dance lessons given by a dance teacher) Six Lessons From Madame La Zonga

Sixteen Tons (Tennessee Ernie Ford – tells one man’s story of working as a miner when the scrip systems were still in place) Sixteen Tons

Solidarity Forever (Pete Seeger – perhaps the most famous union anthem. It is sung to the tune of “John Brown’s Body.” Although it was written as a song for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), other union movements, such as the AFL-CIO, have adopted the song as their own.) Solidarity Forever

The Thing-Ummy Bob (Gracie Fields – a song that celebrates the production line worker of World War Two making components for complex weapons to win the war.) The Thing-Ummy-Bob

Union Burying Ground (Woody Guthrie) Union Burying Ground

Whistle While You Work (Adrienne Cosillotti (Snow White) and the Seven Dwarfs – a happy song about going to work) Whistle While You Work

Gone Fishin’ (Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong – maybe they are just two retired guys) Gone Fishin’

"Gone Fishing" by Norman Rockwell (19 July 1930 "Saturday Evening Post) cover)

“Gone Fishing” by Norman Rockwell
(19 July 1930 “Saturday Evening Post” cover)


1 Comment

Filed under Pop Music

One response to “Labor Day, 1940s Style

  1. Thanks Buttsy for a wonderful musically illustrated post. Found your blog via search for Ella Mae Morse. Regards, Bob

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