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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Chicken Charlie Who really sings 'occupational songs'? (50) RE: Who really sings 'occupational songs'? 08 Mar 08

Jim--You're right (or whoever you're quoting is right) to a large extent, I suppose. Some "sailors's songs" and "prison songs"--where prison included being on a work gang, were used to keep time doing manual tasks like weighing anchor by hand, or cutting one tree with two axemen or driving a spike with two guys with hammers. See Leadbelly's "Rock Island Line," e.g. The more we automate our lives, the less we need that sort of thing.

On the other hand, some individuals did, or we wouldn't have these songs. We have Leadbelly's prison songs because he was in prison; and Bob Nolan's cowboys songs because he was a cowboy. I think that's where Charlie Noble was going with his comment on jargon. You would practically have to be a logger to know all the trade jargon to put into "Little Brown Bulls," a song about two bull-whackers competing to see who can skid more logs to the mill in a day.

I'll tell you who else sings occupation songs, though, and that's broken down old folkies who go to open mics on Labor Day. Can't imagine who would do that ....

Oh, and it was either Chris Christopherson or somebody in his circle who wrote the one that goes, "You can spend your time a-talkin' to the people who don't listen ...."--an occupational song about:   folk singing. Piano Man. Sultans of Swing. Oh, Susanna. Nicodemus Johnson. Etc. Songs by singers about the occupation of singing.

Chicken Charlie
Not Otherwise Occupied

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