“Workin’ Woman Blues” starts with thirty seconds of an intricate, frenzied rhythm on acoustic guitar, interspersed with little bluesy riffs. Then, Valerie June’s voice cuts in. There’s a twang to her words. She has a toughness and attitude when she says, “I ain’t fit to be no mother. I aint’ fit to be no wife, yeah. I been workin’ like a man, y’all. I been workin’ all my life, yeah. All my life.”
After she sings these words, a snare joins the mix and bass underneath the acoustic rhythm that’s still chugging away. And after another verse where June laments the realities of being a workin’ woman, the vocals take a rest, and a jazz trumpet part comes in. It’s amazing how this song melds three distinct genres into something that works so well. It’s got folk. It’s got blues. It’s got jazz.
It’s the kind of music that encourages stomping and clapping. It encourages whoops and hollers. When I’m feeling tired or overwhelmed, I put this song on. There’s something empowering in the knowledge that there are thousands of other women just like me, hustling and working themselves to the bone. The way that June vocalizes and uses her voice transports me and allows me to shake off my woes, allows me to get rid of those workin’ woman blues.
June’s conclusion makes me smile. “Lord, you know that I am ready for my sugar, my sugar daddy.” In a weak and tired moment, it’s nice to imagine someone coming in and giving us everything we need, but the truth is we workin’ women want to do it all. We want to push ourselves. We want to work hard, and we want to take all the credit.
If you like “Workin’ Woman Blues,” also check out “Trials, Troubles, Tribulations” and “Shotgun” by Valerie June.