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 22 this year, many Americans and our close neighbors in Canada consider that Labor Day, or Labour Day, marks the close of the season. This three-day weekend, they pile into their automobiles. Now that regular gasoline averages around $2.20 per gallon, motor trips are considerably less of a pain in the wallet than they were as recently as 2012, when gasoline hovered well above four dollars. Americans range through the land to camp out, have picnics, visit lakes and ocean beaches, get sunburned and watch fireworks. This being an election year, some in search of enlightenment or entertainment go to 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. Cannonball Adderley introduces it. His sextet has Nat Adderley, Joe Zawinul, Yusef Lateef, Louis Hayes and Sam Jones.
Happy Labor Day. Try not to get sunburned.