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Sixteen Tons and What Do You Get? Songs and Stories of Work in America


with Bill Rossiter

retired instructor of literature and folklore, chair of the Humanities Division at Flathead Valley Community College

From "I’ve Been Working on the Railroad" to "Take This Job and Shove It," Americans have sung about work, whether they’re nine-to-fivers or dawn-to-duskers. The songs from union halls, mines, fields, factories, picket lines and jail cells are the soundtrack to an important part of American history, and they can still stir us. As one old-timer put it, "The boss had all the money, but we had all the songs." At a time when the nation is debating about what rights workers have, these songs are worth remembering, reexamining, and perhaps re-singing. Bill Rossiter sings some of these songs and accompanies them on guitar, banjo and autoharp.