How Tommy Shaw’s Laid-Off Pal Inspired ‘Blue Collar Man’
Styx frontman Tommy Shaw recalled how he came up with 1978 track “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)” after seeing the experiences of an old pal who’d been laid off from his job.
Shaw and his friend Pete used to mess about in their trucks while times were good, as the singer and guitarist told Uncle Joe Benson on the Ultimate Classic Rock Nights radio show.
“That was inspired by a friend of mine, Pete, who worked for the railroad in Michigan,” Shaw said. “He and I had four-wheel drive trucks and we used to go out all the time and just beat the hell out of them… I just ruined mine! Pete was smarter than me; he knew how to keep his. I drove mine just holding on the steering wheel, pulling to the left so it would go straight.”
He continued: “One day he got laid off, and 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.”
“Blue Collar Man” was the first single to be released from Styx’s eighth studio album, Pieces of Eight, and it went on to reach No.21 in the U.S., helping its parent LP achieve a No. 6 placing.
Styx - ‘Blue Collar Man’
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