Here it is, our first round-up of songs nominated for the Rabble Rousers Playlist! Keep ’em coming– send your pick with 100 words or less, prose or poetry, to firstname.lastname@example.org with the heading PLAYLIST: [Song title].
Misty Skaggs: “9 to 5,” Dolly Parton
In my dreams, the nighttime ones they can’t take out from under me, the world is draped in patchwork and dripping sequined sparkle. Mountain women add red lipstick to their aprons and overalls and wrap Wall Street wolves up in honeysuckle, tight, till they pant and beg. In my dreams there are sweet half-smiles and shakin’ heads and bless your hearts, but no mercy. And little girls wearing hand-me-down clothes with dirty, glittery faces sing along as they sharpen up the guillotine with Granny’s whetstone. And the boss man, he can’t never bend low enough to lick the righteous, rhinestone boots of our busty, homegrown queen.
Emily Blair: “Fortunate Son,” Creedence Clearwater Revival
I first heard this song around the time I started learning how to drive. My dad taught me how to drive, and he only listens to country and classic rock, and classic rock stirs up something in him that I never saw much of – something like a rebel spirit, a sticking-it-to-The-Man attitude that factory work does not encourage. I once picked this song for a “This Is America” playlist assignment in college, and the looks I got as it blasted after several “We are the world, We are the children” kinds of ballads, I’ll never forget.
Erin Langley: “Working Man,” Rush
My dad would come home from work at night covered in drywall and sweat. We ran to hug him even before he took a shower. He always had a treat for us in his lunch cooler. My brother liked Almond Joy, I liked KitKat. Early Sunday mornings, he’d take me to skating practice, and we’d eat Hardee’s biscuits and hash browns while listening to Rush. My dad is hard of hearing, so we played it loud. Sometimes I’d ride around with him in his truck while he talked on his CB radio. I still say ten-four every chance I get.
I thought I saw Geddy Lee in the grocery store the other day. He looked tiny and old. I still wanted him to sign my chest.
Anna Lea Jancewicz: “Allentown,” Billy Joel
sometimes grandfathers die of black lung on bright April days/ you
place the needle in the groove/ sometimes
the songs that are about you aren’t the kind of songs you
dance to/ but you keep dancing
Tiffani Hill-Patterson: “Livin’ On a Prayer,” Bon Jovi
“Livin’ On A Prayer” hit No. 1 when I was 15, driver’s permit in my billfold, 1985 Impala steering wheel in my hands, big plans in my head. I’d be a famous writer, find love like Tommy and Gina, leave the struggle behind.
Thirty years later, I’m a secretary by day, writer by night, stretching every paycheck. Romance came and went; a greater love took its place. As my daughter drives our 2008 Kia to the dollar store, the ink barely dry on her driver’s permit, she blasts “Livin’,” and I head-bang in the passenger’s seat, buckling up.
Sheldon Lee Compton: “Small Town,” John Cougar Mellencamp
I was born in a small town during Hillbilly Days when rational Kentuckians went to town as hayseeds in overalls and straw hats. Maybe I’ll die in the same small town, surrounded by Hatfields and McCoys and the vitrified scent of overpriced funnel cake. And all my friends are in a small town that, yes, provides little opportunity. One even became a police officer, though he used to have himself a ball in a small town, daydreaming of L.A. dolls, despite the fear of Jesus, who wants to be just what he wants to be, another boring romantic like me.
Christopher Dorsey: “Pins and Needles,” Deadguy
Punk and hardcore have eternally despised corporate life. And Deadguy—the influential Jersey noisemongers—actually hated your job more than you ever could. “Pins and Needles” likened the daily grind to a spiritual car crash. Any time you thought the workplace was OK, Tim Singer was there to remind you it wasn’t.
You Tell Me to Take it Home / From 9-5 You’re Not Alive / You’re Killing Time / Get in Line to Die
Lyrics barked at many-a steering wheel, mine included, en route to the office. Tim and DG were right, just too bad we’re all tone deaf.
Header Image: Creative Commons, photo by Kmeron, modified.