Working in the Coal Mine
|"Working in the Coalmine"|
|Single by Devo|
|Label||Warner Bros., Asylum|
|Devo singles chronology|
"Working in the Coal Mine" is a song with music and lyrics by Allen Toussaint.
After Toussaint returned to New Orleans from the Army (from 1963–65), he formed a production company, Sansu, with partner Marshall Sehorn. He produced a number of singles, performed by Lee Dorsey, followed in 1965-66, including "Working in the Coal Mine".
The song is about the suffering of a man who gets up at 5 o'clock in the morning in order to work in the coal mine five days a week, where the conditions are very harsh and dangerous, but it's the only way to make money. The singer repeatedly asks the Lord, "How long can this go on?" In addition, he says that when the weekend rolls around, he's too exhausted to have any fun. In the instrumental section, as in the song's fade, he says: "Lord, I'm so tired/How long can this go on?"
It was a hit for Lee Dorsey, released on Amy Records (catalog no. 958), and entered the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 on July 23, 1966, eventually peaking at #8, while reaching #5 on the Billboard R&B chart. Dorsey's version was used in a Blaupunkt car stereo commercial. The song features the sound of a pick axe clinking, as if they were working in the mineshaft. The song also made an appearance in the 1995 crime-drama Casino, directed by Martin Scorsese.
In 1981, a Devo cover version was included as a bonus 7 inch single packaged with their album New Traditionalists. This version was later included in the sound tracks for the films Heavy Metal and Employee of the Month. It peaked on the Hot 100 at #43 and was a top 10 single in New Zealand.
In 1993, it was featured in "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" when Will and Carlton were attempting to join a college fraternity.
The song has been adapted for Walmart TV commercials, changing the lyrics to "Working on the rollbacks, prices going down down."
- Lee Dorsey (1966)
- The Capitols (1966)
- Booker T and the MGs (1966)
- Eldridge Holmes (c. 1969)
- Allen Toussaint (1971)
- Blue Swede (1974)
- Björn Skifs & Blåblus (1974)
- Pure Prairie League (1978)
- The Hoodoo Rhythm Devils (1978)
- Levon Helm on the b-side to Blue Moon of Kentucky for the Coal Miner's Daughter soundtrack (1980)
- Devo (1981)
- The Judds (1985)
- InsideOut (1998)
- Galactic (2001)
- Chris Bowers and Barry Carl, for the film The Wedding Weekend (2006)
- Harry Connick, Jr. (2007)
- Big Den and The Random Band (an early incarnation of 70's pop band 10cc)
- Jemaine Clement in the film Muppets Most Wanted (2014)
Lee Dorsey version
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||8|
|Australian ARIA Singles Chart||20|
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||43|
|U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play||30 |
|U.S. Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks||53|