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The Workers’ Song

[ Roud - ; DT WORKERS ; Mudcat 167842 ; Ed Pickford]

Tom Gilfellon sang Ed Pickford’s The Workers’ Song on his 1976 Topic album In the Middle of the Tune. He noted:

Once in a while I visit my old friend Ed Pickford to plunder his ever increasing stock of songs. And he, never failing in his generosity, gives them to me so that I can attempt to sing them half as well as he. Ed’s background is very similar to my own and I feel great admiration and sympathy with his work and I hope I can treat it as well as it deserves. This, his Workers’ Song is a reply to those who blame Britain’s present economic and social ills on the greed of the working man while overlooking the monumental greed of capital. How come, the paragons of European economic virtue are the countries with the highest paid workers? Liz Sobell again does the honours with the missionary-model harmonium.

Dick Gaughan sang Workers’ Song on his 1981 Topic album, Handful of Earth, and on his 1985 album Live in Edinburgh. A 1892 live recording from the Old Cambridge Baptist Church, next to Harvard University Campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was released in 2019 on his Greentrax album The Harvard Tapes. Gaughan noted on the first album:

Ed Pickford always says what I want to say, but better then I could. This speaks for itself, and for me.

Jim Malcolm sang The Workers’ Song in 2000 on his Beltane album Resonance. He noted:

I may be accused of “doing a Jimmy Gaughan”, but I had to sing this song. It has always made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. It’s such a true picture of how the poor have been used and abused throughout history—and it’s still going on.

Denny Bartley sang The Workers’ Song on his 2002 album Midnight Feast. He noted:

Dick Gaughan has, without doubt, been the biggest influence on both my approach to arrangements and my style of delivery. This song is on his album Handful of Earth, and the arrangement is effectively his. Ed Pickford’s brilliant and relative social comment on even the “third way”.

Ed Pickford sang his own The Workers Song on the 2018 anthology of North East singers celebrating this North East songwriter, The Hooky Mat Project.

Rachael McShane & The Cartographers sang Workers’ Song on the 2019 anthology celebrating the first 80 years of Topic Records, Vision & Revision.

Beth Malcolm sang Workers’ Song in 2023 on her album Kissed and Cried. Her credits include:

To Davie Robertson and Ed Pickford whose writing lives inside of me.


Please find the lyrics for this song at Ed Pickford’s website.