posts and bio
Daniel Graff is Director of the Higgins Labor Program and Professor of the Practice in the Department of History at the University of Notre Dame.
The great John Prine, a victim of the coronavirus last week, spent a career penning and performing songs about his own death, many of them winningly whimsical, from 1973’s “Please Don’t Bury Me” to 2018’s “When I Get to Heaven.” Prine’s vision of death was irreverent, and over a half-century of songwriting he optimistically anticipated an afterlife filled with wonderful encounters and experiences straight out of … well, the best John Prine songs. Read more →
I write this in the midst of the longest government shutdown in US history — 25 days and counting — idling 800,000 federal workers, disrupting public services, and threatening to push the economy into recession. How did we get here? Read more →
Increasing inequality is a pressing problem requiring serious research and vigorous debate as we strive for policies that improve people’s opportunities and outcomes. One direct way to tackle this challenge is to confront the problem of pay, especially in the United States, where our public culture has long correlated hard work with personal worth and our public policies have wedded social benefits to employment via tax credits, health care insurance and pensions. Read more →
While Margo Price’s concerns are political through and through, she isn’t hosting any pity parties. Many of her songs rock, countering the sobering lyrics. Read more →
Dollar General is everywhere.
The most visible manifestation, of course, is the proliferation of their concrete block stores littering the landscape. But it’s more than that. After twenty-seven consecutive years of sales growth, Dollar General is attracting increasing attention from investors as the brick-and-mortar retailer most likely to survive the onslaught of online juggernaut Amazon. Read more →
Stevie Wonder is flat out the greatest American musician of the 1970s (I’m talking about the field of popular music broadly conceived — pop, rock, r&b, punk, etc.). As both a singles artist and an album maker, as a vocalist and a multi-instrumentalist, Wonder simply had no peers, whether in terms of productivity or creativity. Read more →
Greetings from the Higgins Labor Program at the University of Notre Dame, where we are actively building our online presence with original content. One of our signature features is the Labor Song of the Month, a vehicle for lovers of labor and music to riff on a work-related tune — a classic protest song, a pop ditty about work, a rock rant about class, etc. Read more →
Usually I fear that the enterprise we call social media presages worldwide doom, but once in a great while I find it promises whimsical delight, as when a Facebook friend recently began posting seemingly random snippets of song lyrics. It’s been a fun diversion identifying the songs and coming up with witty rejoinders while ignoring posts from others demanding that I “like” the American flag and join boycotts of the National Football League (NFL). Read more →
Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad has now won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for fiction, and it’s a fitting choice for our current political moment. Read more →