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Playing good music is often the antidote to getting through a long workday. Another option is writing a song about the workday itself.

Still, the average workday for a rock star isn't quite the same as it is for normal people, but that doesn't mean they don't know what it feels like to be stuck on the clock or have to answer to a boss. (Plus, plenty of them worked soul-numbing jobs before pursuing musical careers.)

We can't offer you a raise or make the day go by any faster, but if you're looking for a bit of motivation to make it through your shift, we offer the below list of Top 30 Work Songs.

30. "Working in the Coal Mine," Devo (1981 single)

There have been several versions of “Working in the Coal Mine” recorded over the years, including Lee Dorsey’s original, which was a Top 10 hit in 1966. Devo gave the song their distinctively quirky treatment in 1981, adding synths, reinterpreting the bass line, upping the tempo and generally making the track sound like Devo. Even though the lyrics lamenting a grueling life of labor remained the same, the song took on an upbeat vibe in Devo’s hands. The group’s cover was initially released as a bonus single to 1981’s New Traditionalists before appearing on the Heavy Metal soundtrack. (Corey Irwin)

 

29. "Money, Money, Money," ABBA (from 1976's Arrival)

"I work all night, I work all day to pay the bills I have to pay," Anni-Frid Lyngstad sings on ABBA's lush and dramatic 1976 Top 5 hit "Money, Money, Money." "And still there never seems to be a single penny left for me." Her plan for escaping this predicament is simple if not exactly progressive: find a wealthy man to marry. In real life, finances wouldn't be a problem for Lyngstad or her bandmates ever again. 1976's aptly named Arrival was the album that made them stars across the world, kicking off a staggering run of chart success that would last for the rest of the decade. (Matthew Wilkening)

 

28. "Workin' for MCA," Lynyrd Skynyrd (from 1974's Second Helping)

Lynryd Skynyrd cast a cynical eye on the business side of the music industry with the last track on Side One of their 1974 sophomore album. After years of working in "every joint you can name," the band is finally offered a label deal from Mr. Yankee Slicker. "Suckers too my money since I was 17," Ronnie Van Zant laments, before warning his new bosses that he'll be watching out for their tricks. "I'll sing my contract baby, and I want you people to know that every penny I make, I'm gonna see where my money goes." (Wilkening)

 

27. "Drive My Car," The Beatles (from 1965's Rubber Soul)

It took a little while for "Drive My Car" to take shape — Paul McCartney would later describe it as "one of the stickiest" writing sessions he and John Lennon underwent. They changed the lyrics several times before landing on the final idea: An opportunity for work (and love) is presented to the narrator as a chauffeur for a wannabe movie star. She insists that her offer is the best one: "Working for peanuts is all very fine / but I can show you a better time." Laden with sexual innuendo, "Drive My Car" is an example of turning the tables; it's the woman holding a position of power in this scenario, proposing work in exchange for something else. It ends with a "little sting in the tail," as McCartney later put it. The narrator takes the job, only for the woman to admit: "I got no car and it's breaking my heart / But I've found a driver and that's a start." (Allison Rapp)

 

26. "Workin' for a Livin,'" Huey Lewis and the News (from 1982's Picture This)

Huey Lewis wrote “Working for a Livin’” while he was doing exactly that. “I remember I had the idea for the song way back when I was delivering yogurt,” the singer recalled to UCR. “I had a Natural Foods Express Company as I was trying to get my band together. I was delivering [the yogurt] to Natural Foods stores. That was my vision of it. I’m driving and I thought, ‘Workin’ for a Livin.’’ I wrote the whole thing in one sitting.” The song was included in 1982’s Picture This and hit No. 41 as a single. It soon became a mainstay of the band’s live shows. (Irwin)

 

25. "Working on the Highway," Bruce Springsteen (from 1984's Born in the U.S.A.)

The bones of Bruce Springsteen’s “Working on the Highway” can be connected to “Child Bride,” an outtake from 1982's Nebraska sessions. As Brian Hiatt detailed in his book on Springsteen’s songwriting, he even carried over the bulk of the lyrics. But the New Jersey legend took the structure of his previous composition, originally acoustic and melancholy in tone, and turned it into an organ-drenched rockabilly rave-up that will have you tapping your foot in search of the nearest weekend. As Springsteen would later prove with acoustic performances of the song, its energy lost none of its jubilances. (Matt Wardlaw)

 

24. "Pink Houses," John Mellencamp (from 1983's Uh-Huh)

1983’s Uh-Huh album marked a shift for John Mellencamp. “That was the first time John decided that, ‘We’re not making records in L.A.,’” drummer Kenny Aronoff told UCR in 2014. “Fuck L.A.!” Songs like "Pink Houses" reflected the spirit of what transpired as Mellencamp took his band back to Indiana, where he built a studio on the grounds of a pig farm. Mellencamp wrote from his heart, directing his words to the plight of the nation, as seen through the eyes of working men and women. “Pink Houses,” catchy enough to become a pop hit, had a deep message that still cuts to the core. (Wardlaw)

 

23. "Peace of Mind," Boston (from 1976's Boston)

Every time you suck up to the corporate overlords, you lose a piece of your soul. That seems to be the core message behind "Peace of Mind," the free-spirited rock anthem from Boston’s self-titled debut. Throughout the track, penned by guitarist and sonic sculptor Tom Scholz, Brad Delp yelps about the tedium of climbing "the company ladder" and the joylessness of "livin’ in competition." The key here is that the narrator, having hopped off that merry-go-round, has already earned his peace of mind — and, it seems, we can, too. As those crunchy guitars carry us into the harmony-rich post-chorus ("Take a look ahead"), Delp sounds like he’s cruising with the top down, with only adventure in sight. (Ryan Reed)

 

22. "Uh! All Night," Kiss (from 1985's Asylum)

Paul Stanley shares an unfavorable view of office life on the closing track to 1985's Asylum: "Everywhere around the world, everybody's doing time. Freedom comes at 5:15, prison starts at quarter to nine." He's got a solution for all the hard-working Kiss fans out there, and naturally it involves lots of sex. The "Uh! All Night" video finds the band at the peak of '80s cheesecake excess, but the song is catchy and features great guitar work by the newly recruited Bruce Kulick. (Wilkening)

 

21. "Livin' on a Prayer," Bon Jovi (from 1986's Slippery When Wet)

Generations of rock fans are familiar with Tommy and Gina, the characters at the center of “Livin’ on a Prayer.” Tommy, as everyone is aware, worked at the docks until a union strike caused him to lose his job. Gina, meanwhile, is a diner waitress, doing everything she can to make ends meet. The story of this blue-collar couple resonates because it’s relatable, a factor that greatly contributed to its creation. "It deals with the way that two kids – Tommy and Gina – face life's struggles," Jon Bon Jovi explained to Classic Rock in 2006, "and how their love and ambitions get them through the hard times. It's working class and it's real.” (Irwin)

 

20. "Feel Like a Number," Bob Seger (from 1978's Stranger in Town)

Bob Seger reacted with nervous laughter when an interviewer surmised that he had grown up “as a townie in a college town” during a 1979 chat. But unlike other songwriters who had never really lived the life they wrote about, Seger penned songs like “Feel Like a Number” with blue-collar experience that stretched back to his Ann Arbor, Mich., childhood. His father, who worked for Ford Motor Company, also instilled a love for music into his son, teaching him to play ukulele early on. Seger never forgot his Michigan roots and continued to fuse his music with working-class ideals. “Feel Like a Number” stands as one of rock's best songs about punching the clock. (Wardlaw)

 

19. "Bang the Drum All Day," Todd Rundgren (from 1982's The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect)

If Todd Rundgren's "Bang the Drum All Day" were even 1% less outrageous, it would fail spectacularly. Instead, the same man who wrote the melancholy ballad "Hello It's Me" and power-pop confection "I Saw the Light" delivers an all-time anti-work anthem that transcends cheap novelty status by its infectious, almost cartoonish enthusiasm. With its fist-pumping synth riff, peppy hand claps and dance floor-ready beat, "Bang the Drum All Day" was destined for football stadium singalongs and Friday-morning news sign-offs from the jump. The fact that it appeared on the contractually obligated 1982 album The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect only further proves that Rundgren is one of pop's most gifted mad scientists, tossing off classics almost by accident. (Bryan Rolli)

 

18. "Slave to the Grind," Skid Row (from 1991's Slave to the Grind)

Despite scoring a multiplatinum debut album and landing tours with the likes of Bon Jovi and Aerosmith, the members of Skid Row were not far removed from their blue-collar New Jersey roots in 1991. The millionaires-in-the-making lift a defiant middle finger to the ruling class on the title track off their blistering sophomore LP, Slave to the Grind, consummating their shift from glam-metal good-time boys to mean-mugging metalheads. Complacency is a lethal drug that Sebastian Bach is desperate to kick, and he rails against the 9-to-5 status quo with ear-piercing screams and fierce proclamations that he "won't be the one left behind / can't be king of the world if you're slave to the grind." Skid Row ended up using the pre-production demo of "Slave to the Grind" on the album after they failed to match its intensity during their proper recording sessions — proof that their righteous fury at the prospect of a day job was utterly sincere. (Rolli)

 

17. "Allentown," Billy Joel (from 1982's The Nylon Curtain)

Billy Joel started writing "Allentown" in the late '70s under the title "Levittown," named after the New York town that neighbored his native Hicksville. He found inspiration to finish the song, however, after reading about the decline of the steel industry in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley. "Allentown" could have easily lapsed into offensive, stereotypical cliche, but Joel sells the naggingly catchy track because he never let go of his sense of suburban, blue-collar ennui. When the superstar visited the Soviet Union for a series of historic concerts in 1987, he used the song's evergreen themes to bridge the gap between the East and West. "This song is about young people living in the Northeast of America. Their lives are miserable because the steel factories are closing down," he told the audience. "They desperately want to leave ... but they stay because they were brought up to believe that things were going to get better. Maybe that sounds familiar." (Rolli)

 

16. "Factory," Bruce Springsteen (from 1978's Darkness on the Edge of Town)

Even though Springsteen never held a regular 9-to-5 job, he developed a respect for blue-collar workers by watching his father, even though the two men had a complicated relationship. Those observations inspired several songs on 1978’s Darkness on the Edge of Town, including the poignant “Factory.” “The subjects I was drawn to, the issues I was moved to investigate, the clothes I wore, wear ... when I went to work, I really went to work in my dad’s clothes,” Springsteen explained to Rolling Stone. “And it became a way, I suppose, that I honored him and my parents’ lives and a part of my own young life. And then it just became who I was.” (Irwin)

 

15. "She Works Hard for the Money," Donna Summer (from 1983's She Works Hard for the Money)

Donna Summer indeed worked hard for her money, but the inspiration for her 1983 hit came from a Grammys afterparty she attended that year. Heading into the ladies' room with her manager, Susan Muneo, Summer noticed a female attendant asleep with a TV set blaring nearby. "And I looked at her and my heart just filled up with compassion for this lady," Summer later recalled. "And I thought to myself, 'God, she works hard for the money, cooped up in this stinky little room all night.' Then I thought about it, and I said, 'She works hard for the money ... She works hard for the money ... Susan! She works hard for the money! This is it! This is it! I know this is it!'" The video for the song featured a woman working in a diner who gave up her dream of becoming a ballet dancer so she could provide for her children. "It's a sacrifice working day to day," Summer sings. (Rapp)

 

14. "Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)," Styx (from 1978's Pieces of Eight)

Singer and guitarist Tommy Shaw wrote this tribute to the blue-collar spirit, tipping his cap to a recently laid-off friend, Pete. "He was having to go stand in line at the unemployment office," Shaw recalled on the Ultimate Classic Rock Nights radio show. "It just drove him nuts, because he’s like, ‘I wanna work! I don’t wanna be standing around here, asking for a handout." Styx channels that grit throughout the hard-hitting single, with keyboardist Dennis DeYoung hammering out some of the heaviest organ work this side of a Deep Purple LP. (Reed)

 

13. "Working Man," Rush (from 1974's Rush)

Rush’s salute to the working-class spirit helped them break out beyond their native Canada. When Donna Halper, music director for Cleveland radio station WMMS, first heard this speaker-rattling rocker, she knew it would resonate with the city’s blue-collar demographic: "Back then it was a factory town," she recalled in the 2010 Rush documentary Beyond the Lighted Stage. "The song 'Working Man’ — every listener in the audience felt like that." Even though singer and bassist Geddy Lee had just barely entered his 20s, he sang every line with the wisdom of a weathered factory lifer, one whose only reward after punching out is the buzz from an "ice cold beer." (Reed)

 

12. "Working for the Weekend," Loverboy (from 1981's Get Lucky)

Work weeks typically feel like endless, soul-sucking drudgery. Most of us spend Monday through Friday pining for the weekend, a feeling perfectly captured by Loverboy’s 1981 hit. Penned after guitarist Paul Dean noticed that a gorgeous midweek day was being missed by workers stuck inside their offices, the song boasts loud guitars, plenty of ‘80s synths and an instantly catchy chorus. That formula proved powerful, as “Working for the Weekend” reached No. 29 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became one of Loverboy's most popular tracks. (Irwin)

 

11. "Summertime Blues," The Who (1970's Live at Leeds)

We’ve all been there: the desire to go out and have fun gets sidelined by workday responsibilities. In “Summertime Blues,” the young narrator faces off against his parents and boss as they strip away his freedom. First written and recorded by Eddie Cochran in 1958, the song gets a feedback-soaked cover courtesy of the Who, who adapted some of the fuzzy psychedelic found in Blue Cheer's 1968 take. "Summertime Blues" was a bar-band staple and a favorite for artists like Bruce Springsteen and Rush to perform over the years. (Wardlaw)

 

10. "Synchronicity II," The Police (from 1983's Synchronicity)

Is there a more disturbing tale of the 9-to-5 grind? Over Andy Summers’ grinding guitar chords and swaths of unruly feedback, Sting introduces us to an average Joe’s slow-creeping middle-class anxiety — a life where every work meeting with a superior is a "humiliating kick in the crotch" and the rush-hour commute feels like a "suicidal race." Worse still, this man’s benign activities, tapping into the Jungian principle of synchronicity, seem to have unleashed a literal monster from a "dark Scottish lake." Some days you just can’t catch a break. But, hey, at least they fixed the water cooler. (Reed)

 

9. "Maggie's Farm," Bob Dylan (from 1965's Bringing It All Back Home)

Bob Dylan begins his classic work song by declaring that he's had enough of it. It can be taken in a literal sense – after all, who would want to work for a boss who pays you in spare change and puts his cigar out on your face — or interpreted more broadly. Woven among the absurd scenarios Dylan describes in "Maggie's Farm" is more relatable material. "I got a head full of ideas that are driving me insane," he sings in the first verse. The inescapable monotony of the workday not only takes a physical toll but affects personalities, too, Dylan laments: "I try my best to be just like I am / But everybody wants you to be just like them." (Rapp)

 

8. "Career Opportunities," The Clash (from 1977's The Clash)

Released on the Clash's self-titled debut album, "Career Opportunities" helped bolster the band's reputation as working-class punk heroes. In less than two minutes, Joe Strummer lines up and shoots down a parade of thankless jobs thrown in front of Britain's youth: policeman, soldier, bus driver, toymaker and errand runner at the BBC. "Career opportunities, the ones that never knock / Every job they offer you is to keep you out the dock," Strummer sings in the chorus. The song was later rerecorded by the Clash on 1980's Sandinista! with a prepubescent boy singing lead. (Michael Gallucci)

 

7. "Manic Monday," The Bangles (from 1986's Different Light)

The first two lines of "Manic Monday" sum up the universal feeling of waking at the top of the week only to realize it's time to get back to the grind: "Six o'clock already / I was just in the middle of a dream." Prince wrote the song, but the Bangles made it a hit in 1986. "It has a lot of the elements of emotion and style that [the Bangles] connect to," singer and guitarist Susanna Hoffs later said. "And [young people] really pick up on the nursery rhyme appeal – like ‘Sally Go 'Round the Roses,' [there's] a nice simplicity to it." On a hectic Monday morning, it all comes down to the simple things: "These are the days when you wish your bed was already made." (Rapp)

 

6. "Money for Nothing," Dire Straits (from 1985's Brothers in Arms)

After a Top 5 album and single in 1978, Dire Straits were settling into a career as a respectable art-rock band with dedicated fans but little commercial appeal. Then Brothers in Arms and its hit single "Money for Nothing" happened. Leader Mark Knopfler was inspired to write the song after hearing an appliance store worker complaining about the long-haired rock stars seen in the MTV videos being beamed from the stores' televisions. MTV star Sting was recruited to sing the hook, and both the song and album reached No. 1, hurtling Dire Straits into the big league. (Gallucci)

 

5. "Working Class Hero," John Lennon (from 1970's John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band)

John Lennon’s classic 1970 track is a scathing criticism of social class structure. “I think it’s a revolutionary song – it’s really just revolutionary,” the former Beatle declared to Rolling Stone. “I think it’s for the people like me who are working class, who are supposed to be processed into the middle classes or into the machinery. It’s my experience, and I hope it’s just a warning to people.” Released on 1970’s John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album, “Working Class Hero” became one of the best-known songs of Lennon’s solo career. (Irwin)

 

4. "Welcome to the Working Week," Elvis Costello (from 1977's My Aim Is True)

The "welcome" of the title is no accident: The opening song on Elvis Costello's 1977 debut serves as an introduction to My Aim Is True and Costello's jagged but direct form of songwriting. But he's not clear on the song's subject or subjects. The first line - "Now that your picture's in the paper being rhythmically admired" - is a masturbation reference, but the track later seems to adopt a more general unhappy-at-work tone. Either way, even at less than a minute and a half, there's a lyrical weariness to "Welcome to the Working Week" that undercuts its melodic punk base. (Gallucci)

 

3. "Takin' Care of Business," Bachman-Turner Overdrive (from Bachman–Turner Overdrive II)

Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s 1973 classic was inspired by another legendary cut, the Beatles’ “Paperback Writer.” Guitarist Randy Bachman loved the earlier song and used a similar structure to create what was initially called "White Collar Worker." Still, the track sat incomplete for years, with Bachman needing a hook to finish it. When he overheard a radio DJ using the phrase “taking care of business,” lightning struck. Bachman eventually rewrote the lyrics of "White Collar Worker," creating verses comparing the life of a rock star to that of a working man. Released on Bachman–Turner Overdrive II, “Takin’ Care of Business” became the band's second most commercially successful song, ranking behind only “You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet.” (Irwin)

 

2. "The Load-Out," Jackson Browne (from 1977's Running on Empty)

A sense of exhaustion permeates Jackson Browne's Running on Empty, a concept album about the rigors of the road that the singer recorded on tour buses, onstage, backstage and in hotel rooms between gigs. Its penultimate track, "The Load-Out," is a loving tribute to the touring industry's unsung heroes: the crew members who set up and tear down the stage every night, hustling in silence and solitude to ensure the artists are ready for their moment of glory. It's a thankless job (though road-dogging at a pre-fame level isn't much better), but as "The Load-Out" transitions into the album-closing "Stay," both band and crew bask in the glow of an approving crowd and receive their much-needed reminder that all their toil was not in vain. (Rolli)

 

1. "A Hard Day's Night," The Beatles (from 1954's A Hard Day's Night)

From the chiming guitar chord that opens the song to the repeated arpeggio that brings it full circle at the end, "A Hard Day's Night" helped usher in a new Beatles era. It was the title song of their first movie, the first track to ever hold the No. 1 spot simultaneously in the U.S. and U.K. and, most importantly, the first time a Beatles album was entirely written by the band. The inspiration came from Ringo Starr, who uttered the title after a particularly grueling work schedule. The Beatles were indeed hard at work at the time: A Hard Day's Night was the third of four albums they released during a busy 21-month period. (Gallucci)

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