Labor Day 2012

In the United States this is Labor Day, since 1894 a national holiday that celebrates working peoples’ contributions to the nation. Although the calendar says that summer doesn’t end until September 21 this year, many Americans consider that Labor Day marks the close of the season. This three-day weekend, they pile into their automobiles despite four-dollars-a-gallon gasoline. They range through the land to camp out, have picnics, visit lakes and ocean beaches, and watch fireworks. This being an election year, some seek out rallies and listen to candidates. It is also a day when many working people go to work because the stores that employ them have huge Labor Day sales. The irony.

There is no official song for this holiday, although Pete Seeger’s “Solidarity Forever,” Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “Sixteen Tons” and Dolly Parton’s “9 To 5” always get Labor Day airplay. From 1962—when the average price of a gallon of regular gas was 31 cents—here is the unofficial Rifftides Labor Day song for 2012. Cannonball Adderley introduces it. His sextet has Nat Adderley, Joe Zawinul, Yusef Lateef, Louis Hayes and Sam Jones.

Happy Labor Day.

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Comments

    • Doug Ramsey says

      “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime,” lyrics by Yip Harburg, music by Jay Gorney (1931)

      Once I built a railroad, I made it run, made it race against time.
      Once I built a railroad; now it’s done. Brother, can you spare a dime?
      Once I built a tower, up to the sun, brick, and rivet, and lime;
      Once I built a tower, now it’s done. Brother, can you spare a dime?

      Once in khaki suits, gee we looked swell,
      Full of that Yankee Doodly Dum,
      Half a million boots went slogging through Hell,
      And I was the kid with the drum!

      Say, don’t you remember, they called me Al; it was Al all the time.
      Why don’t you remember, I’m your pal? Buddy, can you spare a dime?

      Once in khaki suits, gee we looked swell,
      Full of that Yankee Doodly Dum,
      Half a million boots went slogging through Hell,
      And I was the kid with the drum!

      Say, don’t you remember, they called me Al; it was Al all the time.
      Say, don’t you remember, I’m your pal? Buddy, can you spare a dime?

      The link in Mr. Smith’s comment takes you to the Brubeck Quartet recording from their Brubeck Time album (1954). On YouTube, it is decorated, if that’s the word, with depression-era still photos showing working people out of work.

      Here is a little-known film of the quartet playing the piece in a short subject supporting solicitations for the March Of Dimes. The arrangement is the same, but Desmond does not solo.

    • says

      Yes, Terence, beside Benny Goodman’s, respectively Alec Templeton’s “Bach Goes To Town,” or George Shearing’s “Get Off My Bach”, another perfect example for Johann Sebastian Bach’s influence on jazz.

      And now? — Let’s go to work out some other counterpoint:

      Tomorrow will be John Cage’s 100th anniversary :)