Uncle Bardie’s Weekly Music Pick: Rox in the Box

It’s Thursday again. You know what that means. Uncle Bardie’s Weekly Music Pick. Uncle Bardiie gives a double thumbs up to this week’s selection. It’s in honor of Labor Day coming this Monday. The Decmbrists give us “Rox in the Box”:

Like so many songs I love, I can remember exactly where I was when I heard this one over the speakers in Borders Bookstore. That was before Borders went bankrupt and closed its doors. Every Saturday I met there with a group of writers for a critique group. We met there for years.

After the group meeting, I often walked around the store, perusing through the opening paragraphs of the latest and the greatest to get a sense of what the big boy publishers were putting out. Often I didn’t like what I read. But there was always hope I might discover some novelist that wet my whistle. From time to time, I found one. I would line up and make my purchase, then go over and have a muffin or a cookie or a pastry and a cup of joe and enjoy my new treasure.

One afternoon I was rambling through the store, doing my normal perusing thing. “Rox in the Box” came on and I stopped in my tracks. When you hear a song that makes you float, it is magical. The Decembrists had hit the nail on the head with the hammer of their music.

Few bands these days sing of what working people have always known. Reaching all the way back to those Egyptians lying down brick for the latest god king’s pyramid, the song gives the listener a taste of the life of the common laboring folk and the lack of hope for a way out. So many of our brothers and sisters in so many lands live out this hopelessness. And often they are forgotten.

The Decembrists reminded me, and still reminds me, of the kind of life I don’t have to live. For that I am grateful. But every so often when I get full of myself, I pull this one out and listen.

Let me take you

Let me take you on a pilgrimage to the labor that working men and women have done and continue to do for a long, long time.

Let me take you to the cotton fields of Alabama where my mother chopped the cotton and labored in the mills no longer there, her fingers worked to the bone.

Let me take you to the coal mines of West Virginia where the black lung kills man after man. Let me take you to the grape vineyards of California, the apple orchards of Washington and the orange groves where the migrants pick so that the rest of us will have our breakfast juice.

Let me show you the steel mills no longer alive with the fire that once breathed into men’s souls.

Let me take you to assembly lines of Henry Ford.

Let me show you the men who laid the steel rails hewn through the valleys and mountains to create the land that was America.

Let me sing of the men that climbed to the crow’s nest to spot the big whales. Let me tell you of the garments sewn with the sweat and blood of immigrant labor.

Let me show you the Mohawk high walkers throwing the skyscrapers into being.

Let me take you to the men and the women who work in the slaughterhouses and in the poultry houses to bring the rest of America a meal.

Let me sing to you of the porters who work the railroads and the truckers who drive the eighteen-wheelers from one end of the earth to the other.

Let me introduce you to the maids who mop the floors and make the beds and clean our toilets.

Let me sing of the waitresses who serve our meals and the dishwashers who wash our dishes.

Let me take you to those who dig the diamonds and the gold out from the earth.

Let me introduce you to all that have and continue to do the backbreaking labor. It is from these folks I have been hewn, I have been birthed. The peasants, the serfs, the blue collar workers who work with pride and raise their heads up, knowing that their children will have a better life if only ….

Let me sing to you of the poetry of their work.