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Work and Sing

A History of Occupational and Labor Union Songs in the United States

An incisive history of the work songs that united and roused American laborers

In this wide-ranging and accessible survey of American labor songs, Ronald D. Cohen chronicles the history behind the work songs of cowboys, sailors, hoboes, and others, as well as the singing culture of groups ranging from the Industrial Workers of the World to Pete Seeger's "People's Songs." He discusses protest songs, the links between labor songs and the Left, the importance of labor song leaders such as Joe Glazer, labor musicals and songsters, and the folk music movement from Lead Belly and the Almanac Singers through Woody Guthrie.


"As entertaining to read as it is comprehensive. . . . Performers and collectors will relish the additional bonus of a 250-songbook bibliography. Recommended."--Sing Out!

"Work and Sing is the product of exhausting and skillful scholarly labor, and it is something to sing about. Fascinating and definitive."--David Hajdu, music critic for The New Republic

"Music was the universal language that brought workers together no matter what their backgrounds or native tongues. Ronald D. Cohen tells this story better than anyone in Work and Sing, capturing the diversity and power of these songs and celebrating the people who made them."--Ted Gioia, author of Work Songs

Ronald D. Cohen is a professor emeritus of history at Indiana University Northwest and the author of many books on radical history and folk music.

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