Whether you work outdoors in all weather or a cubicle in an office block, work is one of the most time-consuming aspects of your daily life.
It’s such a universal experience that there are plenty of songs about work, from celebrating achievements to reminders of how hard it can be.
Read on and discover the best songs about work you can listen to, from country music classics to catchy 1980s pop songs.
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The 23 Best Songs About Work
Singers and songwriters of all types have penned songs about work covering the experience of a stressful job and the anticipation of new career opportunities.
We’ve compiled this list of the best work songs to cover a range of musical expressions and bring you the definitive guide to the subject.
With that said, let’s dive into our playlist of the 23 best songs about work:
23. Work Hard, Play Harder – Gretchen Wilson
Gretchen Wilson’s song Work Hard, Play Harder stands as an anthem to the need for downtime after a busy week of hard work.
This fun song’s lyrics show her objection to materialistic things, singing, “I don’t waste my time on manicures and spray on tan.”
The track is featured on her fourth studio album, I Got Your Country Right Here, which reached number 3 on the U.S. Billboard Independent Albums chart.
22. She Works Hard For The Money – Donna Summer
Donna Summer has performed some truly memorable songs, including some of the best prom songs played at high schools throughout America.
Her song She Works Hard For The Money dives into the good and bad times and the need to “Never sell out … Not for a dollar bill.”
The pumping bass and catchy lyrics helped propel the song up the charts, peaking at number one on the Billboard US Hot Black Singles chart in 1983.
21. Workingman’s Blues #2 – Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan is no stranger to singing about work and living a productive life, revisiting the theme with his 2006 song, Workingman’s Blues #2.
This poetic tune highlights the stark difference between hard workers and others, “Some people never worked a day in their life, don’t know what work even means.”
Dylan’s hugely popular songs have helped him win an impressive ten Grammy Awards and more than 125 million record sales.
20. Money For Nothing – Dire Straits
Dire Straits released the pop rock song Money For Nothing as part of their 1985 studio album Brothers In Arms.
The song describes a hardware department store worker and was written by band member Bill Flanagan while shopping for an appliance.
In 2008, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it 94th on their top 100 list of the greatest guitar songs of all time, and it’s also considered one of the best songs of all time.
19. Morning Train (9 To 5) – Sheena Easton
Scottish singer and actress Sheena Easton transitioned from television to singing with two singles in 1980, one of which was 9 to 5.
Otherwise known as Morning Train, Easton describes her partner’s lifestyle as “Work all day to earn his pay, so we can play all night.”
Easton’s only chart-topping song reached number one in several countries, including Australia, Canada, and the United States.
18. Cumberland Blues – Grateful Dead
With its risque lyrics about life working in a mine underground, Cumberland Blues is a quintessential powerful tune from Grateful Dead.
Singing, “Make good money, five dollars a day, If I made any more, I might move away,” the upbeat production acts as a counterpoint to the downtrodden life it describes.
It was featured on the appropriately titled album Workingman’s Dead, released in 1970 to critical and commercial acclaim.
17. Busy Man – Billy Ray Cyrus
Billy Ray Cyrus is no stranger to writing catchy music and is responsible for quite a few songs everyone knows and loves.
Busy Man is a song about striking the best work-life balance and avoiding working weekends because “I got plans with the kids and a date with my wife.”
It’s a classic country music song that anyone with a packed schedule can appreciate.
16. Sixteen Tons – Tennessee Ernie Ford
Tennessee Ernie Ford enjoyed a hugely successful career straddling television and singing, releasing pop, gospel, and country music over many years.
The vocals capture a long and hard day’s grafting, “I was born one mornin’ when the sun didn’t shine, I picked up my shovel, and I walked to the mine.”
The song was initially recorded in 1946 by Merle Travis, with Ford’s 1955 cover becoming an unexpected hit on the pop charts.
15. Working On The Highway – Bruce Springsteen
Working on the Highway, released on his hugely successful 1984 album Born In The U.S.A., perfectly captures the anticipation of the weekend while working at manual labor.
Springsteen’s lyrics, “Friday night and a guy’s fresh out of work, Talking ’bout the weekend, scrubbing off the dirt,” are entirely relatable to anyone who’s worked in the elements.
Born In The U.S.A. was certified 17x platinum, earning Springsteen a Grammy Award nomination for best album, one of 50 total nominations he’s received.
14. 9 To 5 – Dolly Parton
Our second song about work, titled 9 to 5, needs little introduction; it’s one of the most well-known songs from one of the best 80s female singers, Dolly Parton.
Her lyrics, “They just use your mind, and they never give you credit,” ring true for anyone who’s felt exploited in the workplace.
A massive hit in the charts, 9 to 5 won two Grammy Awards and was used as the theme song for the 1980 movie of the same name.
13. Five O’Clock World – The Vogues
If you’re looking for a classic oldie about the experiences of working life, The Vogues have you covered with their 1965 song, Five O’Clock World.
The lyrics describe the morning commute in familiar terms, singing, “I gotta fight my way through the hustling mob!”
Five O’Clock World has been covered numerous times since it was initially recorded, including by The Proclaimers, Julian Cope, and country singer Hal Ketchum.
12. Working Class Hero – John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
John Lennon enjoyed massive success as a Beatles member, but his solo career also paved the way for some iconic songs.
Working Class Hero is a fitting song from Lennon, who championed the people and stood up against authoritarian governments.
The song debuted on his first solo album, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, which sold 500,000 copies in the States to achieve gold certification.
11. Workin’ For A Livin’ – Huey Lewis & The News
Garth Brooks and Huey Lewis collaborated on the hit song Workin’ For A Livin’ and explored the harsh reality of living on the breadline.
This hard and stressful life is reflected in the lyrics, “Hundred dollar car note, two hundred rent. I get a check on Friday, but it’s already spent.”
The group wrote one of the most famous songs about time, Back In Time, which was featured in the hit movie, Back To The Future, released in 1985.
10. Hard Hat And A Hammer – Alan Jackson
There are no prizes for guessing the topic of the Alan Jackson song, Hard Hat and a Hammer, which extols the virtues of a hard day’s work.
“But there’s nothing wrong with a hard hat and a hammer, kind of glue that sticks this world together,” is a sentiment many agree with.
It was released on the album Freight Train, which peaked at number 2 on the Billboard Country Albums chart in 2010.
9. Workin’ In The Coal Mine – Lee Dorsey
Lee Dorsey picks up where Alan Jackson left off with another song that laborers accustomed to a lot of heavy lifting will appreciate.
Workin’ in the Coal Mine’s lyrics explain how”‘Course I make a little money Haulin’ coal by the ton” and feeling too tired to enjoy time off.
Released in 1966, it was a hit single globally and was later covered by the band The Judds in 1985.
8. Shiftwork – Kenny Chesney
Kenny Chesney and George Strait released the song Shiftwork in 2007, a popular country music song about the working week.
The lines, “Work seven to three, three to eleven, eleven to seven,” captures the never-ending feeling of working shifts back to back.
Well received by fans and critics, the duet is a tongue-in-cheek look at the life of the everyday worker.
7. Hard Way To Make An Easy Living – Toby Keith
Another country song that blue-collar workers can relate to is the Toby Keith hit Hard Way To Make An Easy Living.
“Life’s a tough old row to hoe; trust in God with the seeds you sow” is a sentiment felt by anyone who’s worked in nature to earn a living.
Toby Keith is also responsible for one of the best happy songs, Beer For My Horses, which he sang as a duet with Willy Nelson.
6. Heigh-Ho – The Seven Dwarfs
Walt Disney movies have introduced the world to many catchy songs, although few are as well-known as Heigh-Ho, featured in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
The dwarfs’ efforts pay off: “We dig up diamonds by the score, a thousand rubies, sometimes more.”
The 1937 movie from which it is taken was added to the National Film Registry in 1989.
5. Take This Job And Shove It – Johnny Paycheck
When a job gets too much to handle, Johnny Paycheck’s message in the song Take This Job And Shove It has a ring of truth to it.
The title phrase from this commercial hit has since become a hugely popular expression, repeated in movies and television shows ever since.
Its popularity was reflected in its chart-topping performance, reaching number one on the US Hot Country Songs Billboard charts.
4. Welcome To The Working Week – Elvis Costello
There’s more than a hint of dry humor to Elvis Costello’s Welcome To The Working Week, released on his 1977 album, My Aim Is True.
Costello describes the working week as “You gotta do it till you’re through, so you better get to it.”
It’s a tightly composed pop classic that is praised as one of Costello’s best songs of all time.
3. Working Girl – Cher
Cher has had multiple hit albums and singles throughout her career, with Working Girl one of her many popular songs.
It features aspirational lyrics about a strong-headed woman. “Someday she’s breakin’ the chain.”
Once referred to in the media as the “Goddess of Pop,” Cher has sold over 100 million records worldwide.
2. Manic Monday – The Bangles
Monday mornings aren’t known for being relaxing, and Manic Monday by The Bangles describes just how unwelcome they can be.
“Six o’clock already, I was just in the middle of a dream” is something anyone who’s worked a regular week will have experienced.
The Bangles are also well-known for one of the best songs about walking, Walk Like An Egyptian.
1. A Hard Day’s Night – The Beatles
The Beatles have stood the test of time; one of the best 60s rock bands, still a household name worldwide today.
A Hard Day’s Night is a song about the blurred line between night and day when working long consecutive shifts.
One of many chart-topping hits from the band, A Hard Day’s Night, was remixed into a comedy song by the iconic English comedian Peter Sellers.
That wraps up this complete guide to the best songs about work, capturing the working week and all its ups and downs.
These songs come from a wide range of music genres and include some of the most famous songs released in the last few decades.
Whatever your taste in music, there’s no doubt that these songs sum up the satisfaction of a long day grinding away while waiting for the weekend.
What’s the best song about work, in your opinion? Leave a comment below.
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