Joe Hill songs

Don’t Take My Papa Away From Me (1915)

Words and music written by Joe Hill in the Salt Lake City jail.
First published in the 1916 Joe Hill Memorial Edition of the IWW’s Little Red Songbook.

A little girl with her father stayed, in a cabin across the sea,
Her mother dear in the cold grave lay; with her father she’d always be —
But then one day the great war broke out and the father was told to go;
The little girl pleaded — her father she needed.
She begged, cried and pleaded so:

Don’t take my papa away from me, don’t leave me there all alone.
He has cared for me so tenderly, ever since mother was gone.
Nobody ever like him can be, no one can so with me play.
Don’t take my papa away from me; please don’t take papa away.

Her tender pleadings were all in vain, and her father went to the war.
He’ll never kiss her good night again, for he fell ‘mid the cannon’s roar.
Greater a soldier was never born, but his brave heart was pierced one day;
And as he was dying, he heard some one crying,
A girl’s voice from far away:

For sheet music and karaoke file click here.

Joe Hill songs

Coffee an’ (1912)

Tune: “Count Your Blessings” (Johnson Ottman/E. O. Excell)
First published in the 1912 edition of the IWW’s Little Red Songbook.

An employment shark the other day I went to see,
And he said come in and buy a job from me,
Just a couple of dollars, for the office fee,
The job is steady and the fare is free.

Count your pennies, count them, count them one by one,
Then you plainly see how you are done,
Count your pennies, take them in your hand,
Sneak into a Jap’s and get your coffee an’.

I shipped out and worked and slept in lousy bunks,
And the grub it stunk as bad as forty-‘leven skunks,
When I slaved a week the boss he said one day,
You’re too tired, you are fired, go and get your pay.

When the clerk commenced to count, Oh holy gee!
Road, school and poll tax and hospital fee.
Then I fainted, and I nearly lost my sense
When the clerk he said: “You owe me fifty cents.”

When I got back to town with blisters on my feet,
There I heard a fellow speaking on the street.
And he said: “It is the workers’ own mistake.
If they stick together they get all they make.”

And he said: “Come in and join our union grand.
Who will be a member of this fighting band?”
“Write me out a card,” says I, “By Gee!
The Industrial worker is the dope for me.”

Count your workers, count them, count them one by one,
Join our union and we’ll show you how it’s done.
Stand together, workers, hand in hand,
Then you will never have to live on coffee an’.

For sheet music and karaoke file click here.

Joe Hill songs

Nearer My Job to Thee (1913)

Tune: “Nearer My God To Thee” (Lowell Mason)
First Published in the 1913 edition of the IWW’s Little Red Songbook.

Nearer my job to thee,
Nearer with glee,
Three plunks for the office fee,
But my fare is free.
My train is running fast,
I’ve got a job at last,
Nearer my job to thee
Nearer to thee.

Arrived where my job should be,
Nothing in sight I see,
Nothing but sand, by gee,
Job went up a tree.
No place to eat or sleep,
Snakes in the sage brush creep.
Nero a saint would be,
Shark, compared to thee.

Nearer to town! each day
(Hiked all the way),
Nearer that agency,
Where I paid my fee,
And when that shark I see
You’ll bet your boots that he
Nearer his god shall be.
Leave that to me.

Performed by: Mathias ÅbergSheet music and Karaoke file.

Commemorations Concert tour

Joe Hill Road Show: Midwestern Leg

roadshow.smallJoe Hill Road Show. Concerts in Chicago, Madison, Milwaukee, Oshkosh, St. Paul, and more.

Friday, May 1: Chicago: HideOut, 1354 W Wabansia Ave.

Sunday, May 3: Batavia, IL: Fox Valley Folk Society

Tuesday, May 5: Sheboygan WI: Paradigm Café, 1202 N 8th St.

Wednesday, May 6: Madison, WI: Barrymore Theater, 2090 Atwood Ave.

Thursday, May 7: Green Bay, WI: Luna Café, 330 Main Ave.

Friday, May 8: Milwaukee, WI: Anodyne Café, 224 W Bruce St.

Saturday, May 9:  Oshkosh, WI: New Moon Café, 401 N Main St.

Sunday, May 10: St. Paul, MN: East Side Freedom Library, 1105 Greenbrier St.


Please check tour listings for additional special guests:

Anne Feeney is the best labor singer in North America,” according to the late great Utah Phillips. This Pittsburgh-based activist has a dozen critically acclaimed recordings embodying her bottomless songbag, as well as her own inspiring and often hilarious original songs.  Audiences love Anne’s humor, hope, and her high-energy performances. Celebrating 45 years of comforting the afflicted, and afflicting the comfortable.

Since emerging on the new folk scene in Sweden in 1972, Jan Hammarlund’s songs of struggle, liberation and love have garnered him the admiration of acoustic music fans and activists all over Scandinavia. In addition to his popular original compositions, Jan has translated the songs of Violeta Parra, Bertolt Brecht, Malvina Reynolds and various French cabaret-style composers. Jan Hammarlund is more than a musical storyteller, he is a singing historian.

Fusing folk, blues, honky-tonk country, straight ahead rock, and jazz, Bucky Halker has recorded a dozen albums, including his double-CD, The Ghost of Woody Guthrie (2012), an original music tribute to Guthrie, and Welcome to Labor Land (2007), his renditions of labor protest songs from Illinois. Bucky, a Ph.D. in labor history, is the author of For Democracy, Workers, and God: Labor Song-Poems and Labor Protest, 1865-1895 and the producer-scholar for the Folksongs of Illinois CD series. He is currently recording a CD of Joe Hill’s songs to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Hill’s execution in 1915. Rick Kogan recently referred to Bucky as a “missionary, spreading the words and redefining folk music in new and vital and exciting ways.”  Chicago Tribune (March 23, 2014)

Lil Rev is an award-winning storyteller, entertainer and rooted multi-instrumentalist. A former teacher, bus driver and self-proclaimed music historian, he has been called “A Wisconsin Treasure” by the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Folk Center and Pete Seeger said, “Listen to this! Lil Rev is great!” Lil Rev tours North American teaching ukulele clinics, performing his one-man shows of Jewish Cultural Heritage and concertizing at traditional arts venues from coast to coast. 

JP Wright is a singing Locomotive Engineer and union activist. His music centers around his work at the railroad as well as his involvement in the Rank and File reform labor movement. His music is influenced by folk and traditional Kentucky mountain music. He is currently Co-Chair of Railroad Workers United and a delegate for the Kentucky IWW General Membership Branch. 

Commemorations Concert tour

Songs of Joe Hill Tour: Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland

Songs of Joe Hill: April 3-May 17: Joe Hill Tour in Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland with David Rovics and Kristian Svensson. Details at

Songs of Joe Hill tour: April 3: Nordsjællands Efterskole, Aggebovej 34, Helsinge, Denmark

April 7: Lilla Kulkturhuset, Lund, Sweden

April 8: Gemenskapen, Spånehusgatan 83, Malmö, Sweden

April 9: Medborgarhuset, Lönsboda, Hässleholm, Sweden

April 10: Oktober Bogcafé, Vesterfælledvej 1B1750, Copenhagen, Denmark

April 11: Perrong 23, Hässleholm, Sweden

April 13: Metropol Hörby, Lund, Sweden

April 14: ABF Huset, Trelleborg, Sweden

April 15: Folkets hus, Ängelholm, Sweden

April 17: Kulturhuset, Jönköping, Sweden

April 18: Cyklopen, Stockholm, Sweden

April 19: Joe Hill Museum, Gävle, Sweden

April 20: Runö Conference Centre, Åkersberga, Sweden

April 21: Kafé 44, Stockholm, Sweden

April 23: Folkets Hus, Copenhagen, Denmark

April 28: Langsøhus, Silkeborg, Denmark

April 29: Kulturhuset Silkeborg, Silkeborg, Denmark

April 30: 1000 Fryd, Aalborg, Denmark

May 2: Klub – Bildung & Kultur am Besenbinderhof 62, Hamburg, Germany

May 15: Landquart, Switzerland

May 16: Wallhalla, Davos, Switzerland

May 17: Rössli Bar, Bern, Switzerland