Lee Dorsey

Working in the Coal Mine

Song Review by

Lee Dorsey was a guy with a pretty strong work ethic -- when he wasn't cutting R&B hits, he ran a body and fender repair business in New Orleans, and proudly proclaimed himself to be "The best body man in the Ninth Ward." Because of (or in spite of ) this, Dorsey sang more than a few songs about the indignities of holding down a job, and the best known was "Working in the Coal Mine," written by the great New Orleans pianist and songwriter Allen Toussaint. Held in place by Chuck Badie's bass line and punctuated by some clanking percussion, Roy Montrell's stinging guitar interjections, and soulful but subtle punctuation from the horn section, "Working in a Coal Mine" may be the ultimate working stiff's anthem, with its lyrics about some poor guy who works from break of day to gloom of night hauling coal out of the ground, leaving him too tired to go out when Saturday finally comes. However, Dorsey's fatigue has a pretty lively feel for a guy who's supposed to be running on fumes, and his frequent exclamations of "Lord, I'm so tired! How long can this go on!" are more comic than anything else, all in the great tradition of New Orleans R&B, where very little is taken seriously beyond having a good time. "Working in a Coal Mine" was, with the exception of "Ya Ya," Dorsey's biggest hit, though he wasn't the only artist to tackle Toussaint's classic; Devo cut the tune for the animated sci-fi epic Heavy Metal in 1981, and mother-and-daughter country stars the Judds put their own stamp on the number when they cut it on their 1985 set Rockin' With the Rhythm.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
The New Lee Dorsey 1966 Rev-Ola Records 2:50
No Image 1972
Various Artists
Bell 2:47
No Image 1985 Charly Records
No Image 1987 Charly Records
No Image 1987 Charly Records
No Image 1987
Various Artists
Rhino
More Party Classics 1987
Various Artists
Warner Bros. 2:50
Golden Classics 1990 Collectables 2:46
History of Rock: The 60s, Pt. 3 1990
Various Artists
Collectables 2:50
Rhythm & Blues: 1966 1990
Various Artists
Time / Life Music
Great Googa Mooga 1991 Charly Records
Rock Stars on LP, Vol. 4 1994
Various Artists
Hollywood / IMG 2:48
Walkin' to New Orleans 1994
Various Artists
Ripete Records 3:05
Classic Soul [Stardust] 1994
Various Artists
Stardust Records 2:49
No Image 1994 Charly Records 2:46
20 Greatest Hits of 1966 1994
Various Artists
Deluxe 2:55
The Best of Charly Groove [2 CD] 1995
Various Artists
Charly Records 2:45
Casino [Original Soundtrack] 1995
Original Soundtrack
MCA 2:43
No Image 1995 Pickwick
Crescent City Soul: The Sound of New Orleans 1996
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution / Capitol 2:50
Working for a Living 1997
Various Artists
Zomba 2:50
Wheelin' and Dealin': The Definitive Collection 1997 Arista 2:49
The New Orleans Hit Story 1997
Various Artists
Charly Records 2:43
Greetings from New Orleans 1998
Various Artists
Beacon Records 2:48
The Number Ones: The 60's 1998
Various Artists
Simitar Distribution 2:50
Great Voice of Soul [Rivie're Int'l] 1998
Various Artists
Riviere International Records
The Great Voice of Soul [Cleopatra] 1998
Various Artists
Cleopatra 2:48
Cleveland Rocks!: Music from the Drew Carey Show 1998
Original TV Soundtrack
Rhino 2:51
Wolfman Jack: Let's Cruise, Vol. 2 1998
Various Artists
Big Ear Music 2:48
Greatest Soul Album of All Time [Dressed to Kill] 1999
Various Artists
Dressed To Kill 2:48
Jukebox Hits of 1966, Vol. 1 1999
Various Artists
Jukebox Records 2:48
Sweet Soul Music [Dressed to Kill] 1999
Various Artists
Dressed To Kill 2:34
The Great Soul Classics 1999
Various Artists
Dressed To Kill 2:48
Rock Stars on CD 1999
Various Artists
Starday Records / King 2:47
Cold Feet [Global] 1999
Various Artists
Varèse Sarabande 2:44
Soul Monty 2000
Various Artists
Dressed To Kill 2:46
The EP Collection 2000 See For Miles Records 2:45
The Essential Cult Movies [9 Disc Box] 2000
Various Artists
Dressed To Kill 2:46
No Image 2000
Various Artists
Disky 2:51
Working in a Coalmine: The Very Best of Lee Dorsey 2001 Music Club Records 2:45
Mega Soul 2001
Various Artists
Wagram Records 2:43
Complete Collection 2001
Various Artists
Disky 2:51
Soul Love, Vol. 2 [Dressed to Kill] 2001
Various Artists
Dressed To Kill 2:48
History of Rock Box 2003
Various Artists
Collectables 2:19
1966: The Soundtrack 2003
Various Artists
Castle Music Ltd. 2:45
The Soul Man: 16 Kings of Solid Gold Soul 2003
Various Artists
K-Tel 2:45
Let the Good Times Roll, Vol. 1 2004
Various Artists
Liberty 2:51
Soul Explosion [Dynamic] 2004
Various Artists
Dynamic 2:44
Smash Hits of the 60's 2005
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:47
Greatest Hits of the 60's 2006
Various Artists
Disky 2:51
Spirit of Soul [Spirit Of] 2007
Various Artists
Spirit Of (UK) 2:45
Soul of New Orleans
Various Artists
Charly Records