Joe Hill Songs

Tribute Songs

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1915 | 2012

Anti-Flag published this song on their album „General Strike“.

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Joe Hill’s Ashes | 2010

By american Folk-singer Otis Gibbs from the album with the same title.

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Ballade pour Joe Hill / Sången om Joe Hill | 2000

Song by Fred Alpi. Recorded and released 2000 in French (Album: „Ici & Maintenant„) and 2006 in Swedish (Album: „Se reposer ou être libre“).

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The Ballad of Joe Hill | 1968

Phil Ochs has written this epic ballad to the same folk melody Woody Guthrie had used for „Tom Joad.“ It appeared on his „Tape from California“. Billy Bragg recorded a brilliant version in the 1980ies.

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I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night | 1936

The lyrics were written by Alfred Hayes, who after many years became a well-known screenwriter, in 1925 for the 10th anniversary of Joe Hill’s execution. The music was composed by Earl Robinson in the communist Camp Unity during the summer of 1936 in New York State, for a campfire program celebrating him and his songs. Before the end of that summer performances in a New Orleans Labor Council were reported, a San Francisco picket line, and it was taken to Spain by the members of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade to help in the fight against Franco. It has travelled around the world since like a folk song, been translated into twelve or fifteen languages. Joan Baez‘ singing of the song at Woodstock brought it to popular attention.

Joe Hill’s Last Will | Nov. 18, 1915

A guard reported that at about 10 p.m., Hill handed him a poem through the bars of his cell. It was his last will, which has become a prized piece of poetry in the heritage of the American labor movement.

Songs written by Joe Hill

The Rebel Girl | 1915

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Should I ever be a soldier | 1913

First published in the 6 March 1913 edition of the Industrial Worker „Little Red Songbook.“ Tune: „Colleen Bawn“ (J. FRED HELF) (1906)

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Nearer my job to thee | 1913

There is power in a union | 1913

Maybe Joe Hill’s best song – according to Utah Phillips. First published in the 6 March 1913 edition of the Industrial Worker „Little Red Songbook.“ Tune: „There Is Power in the Blood“ (L. E. JONES)

The Tramp | 1913

Even for the able-bodied, jobs were often scarce and the futility and disillusionment Hill tried to convey in „The Tramp“ were probably the common experience of many. First published in the Mar 6, 1913 edition (fifth edition) of the Industrial Worker „Little Red Songbook.“ Tune: Tramp! Tramp! Tramp! (GEORGE F. ROOT, 1860s).

We will sing one song | 1913

First published in the 6 March 1913 edition of the Industrial Worker „Little Red Songbook.“ Tune: „My Old Kentucky Home“ (STEPHEN FOSTER)

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Casey Jones – Union Scab | 1912

This union satire of the popular folksong was written by Joe Hill in response to a strike involving 35,000 shopmen of the Harriman and Illinois Central Railroad System (which included the Southern Pacific), Sep 1911 through 1915, and was first published in the 11 July 1912 edition of the Industrial Worker „Little Red Songbook.“

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Where the Fraser River flows | 1912

„Where The Fraser River Flows“… was written to aid construction workers laying track for the Canadian Northern Railroad Company in British Columbia who were striking because of low pay, unsanitary living conditions, bad food, and hazardous working conditions.

Louis Moreau, a Wobbly „camp delegate“ who helped organize the construction workers… remembers that Joe Hill… appeared in the strikers‘ camp in Yale, British Columbia…. Moreau remembers seeing Joe Hill often in the office of the Yale strike secretary writing songs. „Where The River Fraser Flows“ was written during the first few days Hill was in the camp.

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FRAGMENTS AND RUMORED SONGS

(picketline songs from the Fraser River strike)

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DER CHIEF, OF FRESNO (1911)

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The Preacher and the Slave (Pie in the Sky) | 1911

Some consider this song as Joe Hill’s masterpiece. It is a devastating take-off on the baptist hymn „Sweet Bye and Bye.“

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JOE HILL’S „OTHER“ SONGS

Hill’s sentimental love songs never appeared in the „Little Red Songbook.“ Although several of Hill’s I. W. W. songs exhibit a touch of sentimentality, none matches the three which follow. Two of them, „Come and Take a Joy-Ride in My Aeroplane“ and „Oh, Please Let Me Dance This Waltz with You,“ were found by police in his room in the house where he was arrested in Salt Lake City in 1914. The Salt Lake Tribune printed the songs….

Come and take a joy-ride in my aeroplane | 1914

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