Category Archives: Joe Hill songs

Joe hill still stirring up rebellion

A recent article in the Chicago Reader ends:

“The melodies in The Little Red Songbook continue to ring out in the streets. And Chicago’s ingrained activist streak creates new forms of resistance to old ills. No matter how much the world changes, some things—the power of music, the power of the people—never will.”

Despite its headline the article is more about the Little Red Songbook than about Joe Hill, but it gives many examples of labor and other movement songs continuing to inspire workers to this day.

We have secured several discounted copies of Franklin Rosemont’s magisterial volume on Joe Hill’s legacy, available while supplies last (along with Wm. Adler’s more biographical work). We also have the expanded edition of The Letters of Joe Hill, edited by Philip Foner and Alexis Buss, which was expanded to include the text of all Hill’s surviving songs, letters and articles.

Also available, while supplies last, is the 2019 Solidarity Forever Labor History Calendar. This year’s edition focuses on great strikes, from the 1919 general strikes in Buenos Aires, Seattle and Winnipeg to the strikes that brought down apartheid, demanded an end to discrimination in Iceland, and mobilized millions of workers against austerity.

Joe Hill’s legacy: a fighting labor movement, rebel culture

The Chicago Reader (a shadow of its former self) features an article on Joe Hill and his legacy, “The protest songs that drove the Wobblies a century ago are still lighting fires,” that’s worth a read despite getting the IWW’s name wrong on the second reference (oddly, it’s right at the beginning of the piece). It notes that Joe Hill’s songs continue to inspire workers around the world, and quotes Tom Morello:

These songs look an unjust world square in the eye, slice it apart with satire, dismantle it with rage, and then drop a mighty sing-along chorus fit to raise the roof of a union hall or a holding cell…

https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/little-red-songbook-iww-wobblies-joe-hill-may-day/Content?oid=46456670#.WuPo0RVsi3k.facebook

Two Joe Hill shows in Nashville, Tennessee

14788453_1475036769-0384_funddescriptionTuesday, Oct.  25, 2016. Musical History of Joe Hill & the Early Labor Movement Tour with the Shelby Bottom Duo (Michael August and Nell Levin) United Auto Workers Local 737, 6207 Centennial Blvd, Nashville TN, 2 pm.
Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016. SPECIAL ALBUM RELEASE SHOW! Musical History of Joe Hill and the Early Labor Movement Tour with Shelby Bottom Duo, Nashville Peace & Justice Center, Friends Meeting House, 530 26th Avenue N., Nashville, 7 pm.

Support Joe Hill CD/Tour

Nashville-based Shelby Bottom Duo (Michael August and Nell Levin)  have launched a fundraising campaign with a goal of raising $5,000 to fund their Musical History of Joe Hill and the Early Labor Movement Tour and a companion CD of Joe Hill songs.

The project includes live performances of Joe Hill songs recorded on the CD along with a talk about Hill’s life, early labor struggles and the influence of the IWW’s innovative organizing strategies on movements today. Their goal is to share this vital slice of labor history with a wide range people so that we can all better understand why the revolutionary creativity exemplified by Joe Hill and the Wobblies is still relevant.

To support the project, visit: https://www.gofundme.com/shelbybottomduo

Joe Hill Roadshow in Lansing, Michigan

The Joe Hill Roadshow makes a return appearance in Lansing Friday, Sept. 30, 2016, at 7:30 p.m. at the MSU Community Music School. Tickets are $18, $5 for students.  Performing are Magpie (Greg Artzner and Terry Leonino), Charlie King and George Mann.

If you haven’t heard these songs before, you’ll be surprised how funny and singable they are—and how much the lyrics ring true today.

“The IWW has always seemed to me to be remarkably free of ideological blinders,” King says. “They were clear-eyed about the owning class and the working class, and knew that at times of crisis your worst enemies may be found among the latter. They have been consistently pragmatic in their strategies—and their songs reflect that.”

“Joe Hill created a body of very practical, well-crafted songs that wear very well a century later,” says Charlie King. “The 1% are as tenacious as then, and the 99% need the demystifying reminders found in Wobbly songs. An injury to one is still an injury to all.”

 

Joe Hill in Detroit

Photo on 10-23-15 at 3.06 PMAt this moment, the North American Labor History Conference is hosting a roundtable on Joe Hill and his legacy.

Tonight, Friday Oct. 23, the Detroit Branch of the IWW, the Michigan Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, and the Sugar Law Center for Economic & Social Justice host An evening of Rebel Music. Performing are Len Wallace, The Adrays, and The Slowdown.

Oct. 23, 8 pm, Cass Commons, 4605 Cass at Forest, Detroit. $10 donation. (Sorry for the late notice; we had heard rumors of this event but were unable to get the details…)

Joe Hill on Labor Day

This weekend is looking to be a busy one for Joe Hill centennial events.

We kick off with a commemoration in Salt Lake City, at the site of the execution:

9/5/2015 Concert: The Joe Hill Organizing Committee hosts a day-long celebration of Joe Hill’s life and work Saturday, Sept. 5, at Sugarhouse Park (which stands on the site of the prison where Joe Hill was held and executed) in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Noon to 8 p.m. Judy Collins, Mark Ross, Anne Feeney, David Rovics, Mischief Brew, Joe Jencks, and many more. Free.

9/6/2015 Exhibition on life and legacy of Joe Hill opens at American Swedish Historical Museum, Philadelphia. A report with photos (on the website) will air Labor Day on WHYY-FM.

through Sept. 7: Exhibit: Joe Hill – martyren från Gävle. Länsmuseet Gävleborg, Gävle, Sweden. The Museum website offers photos of the exhibits alongside an extensive text offered in English and Swedish. The Swedish version has a much richer array of photographs, both from the era and of the exhibit itself.

9/7/2015 Labor Day Concert: Bucky Halker sings labor songs at the historic Pullman site in honor of Labor Day and Joe Hill. Pullman Historical Site (Chicago suburbs), Noon – 2:00 p.m., free.

Joe Hill 100 Roadshow launches in Sweden next Friday!

Bucky Halker’s new album, Anywhere But Utah: Songs of Joe Hill, is being released. Here’s a link to an article about the CD that has appeared in several papers, including one issued in Salt Lake City. We hope to have copies to sell through JoeHill100.com soon.

The Events page is being continuously updated; in the last week we have added shows throughout the midwest and the south, and we hope to get details up on the West Coast leg of the Roadshow in the next several days.

We Never Forget! Joe Hill Lives! Don’t Mourn, Organize!

Joe Hill Events at LaborFest, San Francisco

July 2015

7/5/2015 Concert: David Rovics, Joe Hill Commemoration Concert, opening LaborFest 2015 at ILWU Local 34 Hall in San Francisco.  On July 5, 1934,  two longshore strike supporters  were gunned down by police, igniting the 1934 San Francisco general strike.  LaborFest is an annual working class cultural, music and film festival. www.laborfest.net

7/14/2015: Poetry & Music:  Bastille Day, Words on the Anniversary of Joe Hill’s Death. LaborFest, San Francisco. Tuesday, July 147:00 p.m. Free. First Unitarian Universalist Church – 1187 Franklin Street. Poets Judith Ayne Bernard, Dorothy Payne, John Curl, Mahmaz Badihian, Jack Hirschman, Agneta Falk, Karen Melander Magoon and others. Music with Troubadour Vic Sadot.

7/15/2015: Film:  The Ballad of Joe Hill”(1971, Sweden) by Bo Widerberg. San Francisco. FilmWorks United International Working Class Film & Video Festival. Wednesday, July 15, 7:00 p.m. Free. ILWU Local 34 Hall, 801 2nd St. next to AT&T Ball Park. Parking available at the union hall parking lot. The entrance is at the corner of King St. and 2nd, right next to the ball park.

This dramatic film tells Joe Hill’s story as an immigrant coming to the United States. This rarely seen Academy Award-nominated film is about an ingenious immigrant labor organizer who is framed on a murder charge in a highly sensationalized trial with little evidence.  Despite worldwide appeals, Hill is martyred by a Utah firing squad after one of the most controversial capital punishment trials of the 20th Century. Today, on the hundredth anniversary of his death, the state of Utah has reinstituted the firing squad. Despite the bullets that ended his life, his legacy, humor, principles and solidarity with workers of the world live on.

http://www.laborfest.net/2015/2015schedule.htm

Der Chief, of Fresno (1911)

A poem first published in the Industrial Worker’s February 2, 1911 edition during the IWW’s Fresno Free Speech Fight.

Who is the freak that had the cheek,
The crawling, slimy, cringing sneak,
That prohibits us the right to speak?
—— Der Chief.

Who gave the workers the loud Ha! Ha!
Who tried to trample down the law?
Who handed us the deal so raw?
—— Der Chief.

Who is the most notorious liar?
Who had stool pigeons in his hire?
Who mobbed our speakers, camp did fire?
—— Der Chief.

Who is this grey-haired guy so wise?
Who winks and blinks his bleary eyes?
Thinks he has the workers hypnotized?
—— Der Chief.

Who was the czar with haughty frown?
Who gave us floaters out of town?
And was surprised when we turned him down?
—— Der Chief.

Who recommended the cat-o’-nine
And wished to have it soaked in brine,
To make the workers fall in line?
—— Der Chief.

Who said the working men were scum?
That we were tramps and on the bum?
And that he had us on the run?
—— Der Chief.

Who was the despot who used his might?
Who broke the backbone of our fight?
Vagged all our leaders in one night?
—— Der Chief.

Who wears that worried look of pain,
When he finds the fight is on again?
Leaders coming on every train.
—— Der Chief.

Who is the mutt with shiny pate,
Who tried to chase us from this state,
And is surely going to meet his fate?
—— Der Chief.

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:

CHORUS:
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.