Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)

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"Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)"
Single by Styx
from the album Pieces of Eight
B-side"Superstars" / "Aku-Aku"
ReleasedSeptember 1978 (US)[1]
GenreProgressive rock, hard rock
Songwriter(s)Tommy Shaw
Styx singles chronology
"Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)"
"Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)"
"Sing for the Day"

"Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)" is a song by American rock band Styx, released as the first single from their eighth studio album, Pieces of Eight (1978). Released in 1978, the single came in two 7" vinyl formats: one with the b-side "Superstars" (a track from The Grand Illusion) and a second single with the instrumental album track "Aku-Aku" as the b-side. Some printings of the single were also issued in a translucent blue vinyl, which are now highly sought after collectors items.

Lyrics and music[edit]

Tommy Shaw recalled that a friend of his was laid off from the railroad. "He was having to go stand in line at the unemployment office. It just drove him nuts, because he’s like, ‘I wanna work! I don’t wanna be standing around here, asking for a handout…’ It really bugged him, and that was the inspiration for that song.”[2] As read in a Circus magazine (or the like) of the time, the music was composed by Shaw after hearing the sound of his motor boat engine when it failed to start.[3] He said it sounded like a good riff to a song.

The song is in D natural minor, with moments of D harmonic minor due to the use of the V chord, A major.[4]


According to Billboard, it has "riveting high energy guitar licks and a powerful lead vocal."[5] Cash Box said that "rhythm guitar work provides a gritty, rough and tumble bottom which highlights the bright lead guitar passages and the upper register vocals."[6] Allmusic critic Mike DeGagne said that it best represents "Styx's feisty, straightforward brand of album rock," who called it "an invigorating keyboard and guitar rush -- hard and heavy, yet curved by Tommy Shaw's emphasized vocals."[7] Classic Rock critic Malcolm Dome rated it as Styx 5th greatest song, saying that it is "very [Bruce] Springsteen in philosophy, but very Styx in execution."[3]

The song reached #21 in the United States in November 1978, and spent two weeks at No. 9 on the Canada RPM Top 100 Singles chart.[8]

Chart performance[edit]


Music video[edit]

A promo video for this song was filmed by director Bruce Gowers of the band performing on a soundstage. Videos were also shot for the Pieces of Eight songs "Sing for the Day" and "I'm OK".

In popular culture[edit]

The song was used in the Season 8 episode of The Middle titled "Trip and Fall". A re-recorded version of the song has been released as downloadable content for the Rock Band video game.


  1. ^ Strong, Martin Charles (1995). The Great Rock Discography. p. 866. ISBN 9780862415419.
  2. ^ "How Tommy Shaw's Laid-Off Pal Inspired 'Blue Collar Man'". August 31, 2019. Retrieved January 14, 2021.
  3. ^ a b Dome, Malcolm (February 18, 2022). "The 10 best Styx songs". Classic Rock. Louder Music. Retrieved 2022-06-19.
  4. ^ Stephenson, Ken (2002). What to Listen for in Rock: A Stylistic Analysis, p.89. ISBN 978-0-300-09239-4.
  5. ^ "Top Single Picks" (PDF). Billboard. September 9, 1978. p. 66. Retrieved 2020-07-09.
  6. ^ "CashBox Singles Reviews" (PDF). Cash Box. September 9, 1978. p. 20. Retrieved 2022-01-01.
  7. ^ DeGagne, Mike. "Pieces of Eight". Allmusic. Retrieved 2022-06-16.
  8. ^ "Styx: Billboard Singles". All Music Guide. Retrieved 7 June 2011.
  9. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 299. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  10. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Archived from the original on 2016-03-13. Retrieved 2016-10-13.
  11. ^ "Lorelei" Billboard Hot 100 Chart history., Accessed May 27, 2012.
  12. ^ "Top 100 1978-11-18". Cashbox Magazine. Retrieved 2015-09-30.
  13. ^ "Image : RPM Weekly - Library and Archives Canada". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 2016-10-13.
  14. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1999). Pop Annual. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. ISBN 0-89820-142-X.

External links[edit]