Thomas Hobbes wrote awhile back that, in the state of nature, "the life of man" tends toward the "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."
Kentuckian Merle Travis translated the Hobbesian view into the brief candle of a bituminous miner. Travis sang:
You load sixteen tons [of hard coal], what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt. Saint Peter, don't you call me 'cause I can't go. I owe my soul to the company store.
Update: "Tennessee" Ernie Ford made "Sixteen Tons" nationally famous in 1955. His recording sold 2,000,000 units within two months after its release.