The Contemporary Roles of Labor Songs
24 Pages Posted: 18 May 2011 Last revised: 16 May 2012
Date Written: August 10, 2010
Music has played a critical role for workers throughout the history of the labor movement. Music gives an opportunity to rebel. It gives an opportunity to argue policy. It gives an opportunity to be heard. Songs written in protest, or in furtherance of a cause, give a sense of historical and political climate of a particular era. This article, “The Contemporary Roles of Labor Songs” draws attention to three especially important periods in the shaping of labor history, the 1930s, 1960s and 1980s, highlighting the representative impact a particular song - “Which Side Are You On?,” “Salt of the Earth,” and “There is Power in a Union" - had in each of these decades.
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