Friday Five: Bossman

Juli Thanki | October 16th, 2009

There are many, many country songs about work. A common element in these songs is the hatred of the bossman. You know, that guy who lets you dream just to watch ‘em shatter. In fact, you’re probably just a step on his ladder (unless you happen the boss, in which case you’re probably great. You’re certainly cool, if only for the fact that you read The 9513.). Today is National Boss’s Day, so let’s pay tribute, if by “tribute,” you mean “a list of five songs which feature rotten authority figures.”

  • 5. “Down on Penny’s Farm” – The Bently Boys
    That George Penny sure sounds like a prince: “he’ll work you all summer and rob you in the fall”. The Bently Boys recorded this sharecropping song in 1929; Gid Tanner & His Skillet Lickers later recorded it as “Down on Tanner’s Farm.”

  • Kentucky Headhunters - Big Boss Man 4. “Big Boss Man” – Kentucky Headhunters
    The Kentucky Headhunters cover Elvis Presley covering Jimmy Reed. Turns out that a few country artists liked “Big Boss Man” enough to record their own versions, and one pro wrestler liked it enough to use it as his ring name.
  • Johnny Paycheck - 16 Biggest Hits 3. “Take This Job and Shove It” – Johnny Paycheck
    The foreman’s a meanie with a new flattop (the preferred hairdo of staid authority figures everywhere), but one day Johnny’ll make him pay. How? I’m a little afraid to ask.
  • Bruce Springsteen - We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions 2. “John Henry” – Bruce Springsteen
    It was the boss who brought that steam drill around in the first place. Based on my years of watching Law & Order, I think that makes him somewhat culpable in ol’ John Henry’s death.
  • 1. “Oney” – Johnny Cash
    When it comes to boss songs, “Oney” is the best; Cash sings about a new retiree and his plans on getting revenge for 29 years of mistreatment. The song ends before the plan is actually enacted, but Cash’s cackle as “Oney” fades out leaves the listener with a good mental picture of what’s about to go down.

  1. stormy
    October 16, 2009 at 9:44 am

    The foreman’s a meanie with a new flattop (the preferred hairdo of staid authority figures everywhere), but one day Johnny’ll make him pay. How? I’m a little afraid to ask.

    I think the Pogues covered that in The Boys from County Hell.

  2. Juli
    October 16, 2009 at 9:51 am

    Well, mess with Shane McGowan and you deserve what you get.

  3. Leeann Ward
    October 16, 2009 at 10:15 am

    I expected the Cash song to be at the top. One of my favorite songs directed toward the boss is Todd Snider’s “Looking for A Job.”

    I have a great boss though, by the way, who happens to be a bosswoman.

  4. Mike Parker
    October 16, 2009 at 10:54 am

    2nd “Looking for a Job”

    I also liked the Linde-penned “Down In a Ditch.” I think Joe Diffe recorded it.

  5. Sam G.
    October 16, 2009 at 11:06 am

    RIP Big Boss Man (Ray Traylor), was was an actual prison guard before he got into wrestling (sue me, I loved the WWF as a kid).

    I don’t have any songs to add to the list, I just thought ol’ Ray needed a shout-out.

  6. Juli
    October 16, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Good call on the Todd Snider, Leeann and Mike; I totally forgot that one.

  7. Rick
    October 16, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    The Cherryholmes song “Working Girl Blues” (which was written by a friend of Sandy’s) takes quite a shot at the boss man, who lives in a big house because he under pays his workers! Sounds like the gal who wrote that song has bought into the whole “class warfare” mindset propagated by union thugs, marxists, and of course Obamavoters…(lol)

  8. Jon
    October 16, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    “The Cherryholmes song “Working Girl Blues” (which was written by a friend of Sandy’s)…”

    Um, wrong.

  9. Juli
    October 16, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    Rick, next week’s Hazel Dickens-centric Friday Five will be just for you ;-)

  10. Jon
    October 16, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    Just for you, Rick: . Hazel, Jack Liederman (fiddle), Richard Underwood (banjo), Robert Gateley (guitar, vocals), David Long (mandolin) and moi.

  11. Nicolas
    October 16, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    Someone actually named a song “Oney” ?

  12. Stormy
    October 16, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    Jon: How, exactly, do you know that Sandy and Hazel aren’t friends?

    Nicholas: Pronounced Own-E.

  13. Steve Harvey
    October 17, 2009 at 12:20 am

    I’m another fan of the Snider song.
    Bob Dylan’s Maggie’s Farm would make a great addition to this list, too.

  14. Jon
    October 17, 2009 at 9:09 am

    From knowing them.

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