Song of the Day: Billy Bragg “There Is Power In A Union”
Today is Labor Day in the US: an important holiday that commemorates labor. The holiday was originally proposed by trade unionists in the early 19th century. Oregon became the first state to officially recognize the Holiday when it held Labor Day celebrations in 1887. While presently, we tend to think of the holiday in terms of the last day of summer and the long weekend that it provides, it is important to think about the struggle for Labor rights from which the holiday emerged. “There Is Power In A Union” is an appropriately pro-Labor Union song from English singer/song-writer Billy Bragg.
Bragg (who has said that he always thought of himself as a one-man version of punk-band The Clash) has always had a strong sense of history and occasion. His songs often combine political observation with humor but reach for anthem status. Often armed with just an electric guitar, he combines the fury of punk rock with the tunefulness (and sense of group solidarity) of folk music. His politics have always been worn front and center in his music and skew firmly Socialist. “There Is Power In A Union” is not one of Bragg‘s wittiest songs, but it is one of his most rabble-rousing. It combines not only a celebration of the power of organized labor, but also includes a strong anti-war message.
I hope that you have a lovely Labor Day. Hopefully this song will inspire you to take a minute to think about the struggle of the 19th Century workers who fought, at times putting their lives on the line, so that we can all enjoy a shorter work week, weekends and public holidays.