Commemorations Joe Hill songs

Joe Hill’s Last Will (1915)

First published in the March 1916 edition (9th edition; “Joe Hill Memorial Edition”) of the IWW Little Red Songbook.

(Written in his cell, November 18, 1915, on the eve of his execution)

My will is easy to decide,
For there is nothing to divide.
My kind don’t need to fuss and moan —
“Moss does not cling to a rolling stone.”

My body? Ah, If I could choose,
I would to ashes it reduce,
And let the merry breezes blow
My dust to where some flowers grow.

Perhaps some fading flower then
Would come to life and bloom again.
This is my last and final will.
Good luck to all of you.

— Joe Hill

Introduced and read by Utah PhillipsSteve Earle,  discussed by Tom Paxton; introduced and sung (to new tunes) by Fred Alpi and Chico Schwall.

Joe Hill songs

Oh, Please Let Me Dance This Waltz With You (1914)

When I hear that melody, with its rhythmic harmony,
Then I feel just like I’d be in a dream entrancing,
And I’d like to float through space, softly glide from place to place,
With the fascinating grace of a fairy dancing.

Oh, please let me dance this waltz with you,
And look in your dreamy eyes of blue.
Sweet imagination, smooth, gliding sensation,
Oh, love, I would die just for dancing this waltz with you.

Listen to that mellow strain, come and let us waltz again.
Please don’t let me ask in vain; I just feel like flying,
Put your head close to my heart, And we’ll never, never part.
Come my darling, let us start, from joy I’m nearly dying.

Joe Hill songs

Come and Take a Joy-Ride in My Aeroplane (1914)

If you will be my sweetheart, I’ll take you for a ride
Among the silv’ry clouds up in the sky.
Then, far away from sorrows like eagles we will glide,
And no one will be there but you and I.
Say, darling, if you’ll be my little honey dove,
We’ll fly above and coo and love.
I’ll take you from this dusty earth to where the air
Is pure and crystal clear — and there
I’ll give my promise to be true,
While gliding ‘mong the silv’ry clouds with you.

Come and take a joy-ride in my aeroplane tonight,
Way beyond the clouds, where all the stars are shining bright.
There l’d like to look into your loving eyes of blue,
And if I should fall, then I know I’d fall in love with you.

If you will be my sweetheart, I’ll take you to the stars,
The man in the moon will meet you face to face.
We’ll take a trip to Venus, to Jupiter and to Mars,
And with the comets we will run a race.
We’ll go to the milky way, where all the milk is sold
In cups of gold, so I was told.
Our little honeymooning trip shall be a scream,
A sweet and lovely dream.
Come, put your little head close to my heart,
And promise that we’ll never, never part.

Joe Hill songs

My Dreamland Girl (1914)

Would you like to get acquainted with my Dreamland Girl divine?
Never was a picture painted fairer than this girl of mine.
Sweet and graceful like a pansy, bright and charming like a pearl,
She’s the idol of my fancy, she’s my own — my Dreamland Girl.

Charming Fairy Queen of my dreams,
Ever before me your face brightly beams:
Night and day l’m dreaming of you,
Some day my sweet dreams perhaps will come true.

She is coy and captivating, Venus-like in grace and pose,
With an air more fascinating than the fragrance of the Rose.
Like the stars her eyes are shining ‘neath a wealth of golden hair,
And my heart is ever pining for my Dreamland Girl so fair.

Watch it sung by Bucky Halker.

Joe Hill songs

What We Want (1913)

Tune: “Rainbow” (Percy Wenrich)
First published in the March 1913 edition of the IWW’s Little Red Songbook.

We want all the workers in the world to organize
Into a great big union grand
And when we all united stand
The world for workers we demand
If the working class could only see and realize
What mighty power labor has
Then the exploiting master class
It would soon fade away.

Come all ye toilers that work for wages,
Come from every land,
Join the fighting band,
In one union grand,
Then for the workers we’ll make upon this earth a paradise
When the slaves get wise and organize.

We want the sailor and the tailor and the lumberjacks,
And all the cooks and laundry girls,
We want the guy that dives for pearls,
The pretty maid that’s making curls,
And the baker and staker and the chimneysweep,
We want the man that’s slinging hash,
The child that works for little cash
In one union grand.

We want the tinner and the skinner and the chamber-maid,
We want the man that spikes on soles,
We want the man that’s digging holes,
We want the man that’s climbing poles,
And the trucker and the mucker and the hired man,
And all the factory girls and clerks,
Yes, we want every one that works,
In one union grand.

For sheet music and karaoke file click here. To purchase John McCutcheon’s recording of this song click here.

Joe Hill songs

The Old Toiler’s Message (1912)

Tune: “Silver Threads Among the Gold” (Hart Pease Danks)

First published in the August 1913 edition of the IWW Little Red Songbook.

“Darling I am growing old” —
So the toiler told his wife —
“Father Time the days have tolled
Of my usefulness in life.
Just tonight my master told me
He can’t use me any more.
Oh, my darling, do not scold me,
When the wolf comes to our door.”

To the scrap heap we are going
When we’re overworked and old —
When our weary heads are showing
Silver threads among the gold.

“Darling, I am growing old –”
He once more his wife did tell —
“All my labor pow’r I’ve sold
I have nothing more to sell.
Though I’m dying from starvation
I shall shout with all my might
To the coming generation.
I shall shout with all my might –”

For sheet music and karaoke file click here.

Joe Hill songs

Stung Right (1912)

Tune: “Sunlight, Sunlight” (W. S. Weeden)
First published in the March 1913 edition (fifth edition) of the IWW Little Red Songbook.

When I was hiking ’round the town to find a job one day,
I saw a sign that a thousand men were wanted right away,
To take a trip around the world in Uncle Sammy’s fleet,
I signed my name a dozen times upon a great big sheet.

I was stung right, stung right, S-T-U-N-G,
Stung right, stung right, E. Z. Mark, that’s me
When my term is over, and again I’m free,
There’ll be no more trips around the world for me.

The man he said, “The U. S. Fleet, that is no place for slaves,
The only thing you have to do is stand and watch the waves.”
But in the morning, five o’clock, they woke me from my snooze,
To scrub the deck and polish brass, and shine the captain’s shoes.

One day a dude in uniform to me commenced to shout,
I simply plugged him in the jaw, and knocked him down and out;
They slammed me right in irons then and said, “You are a case.”
On bread and water then I lived for twenty-seven days.

One day the captain said, “Today I’ll show you something nice,
All hands line up, we’ll go ashore and have some exercise.”
He made us run for seven miles as fast as we could run,
And with a packing on our back that weighed a half a ton.

Some time ago when Uncle Sam he had a war with Spain,
And many of the boys in blue were in the battle slain,
Not all were killed by bullets, though; no, not by any means,
The biggest part that were killed by Armour’s Pork and Beans.

Sung by: Barbara Dane. For sheet music and karaoke file click hereTo purchase John McCutcheon’s recording of this song click here.

Joe Hill songs

The White Slave (1912)

Tune: “Meet Me Tonight In Dreamland” (Leo Friedman)
First published in the March 1913 edition (fifth edition) of the IWW Little Red Songbook.

One little girl, fair as a pearl,
Worked every day in a laundry;
All that she made for food she paid,
So she slept on a park bench so soundly;
An old procuress spied her there,
And whispered softly in her ear:

Come with me now, my girly,
Don’t sleep out in the cold;
Your face and tresses curly
Will bring you fame and gold,
Automobiles to ride in, diamonds and silks to wear,
You’ll be a star bright, down in the red light,
You’ll make your fortune there.

Same little girl, no more a pearl,
Walks all alone ‘long the river,
Five years have flown, her health is gone,
She would look at the water and shiver,
Whene’er she’d stop to rest and sleep,
She’d hear a voice call from the deep:

Girls in this way, fall every day,
And have been falling for ages,
Who is to blame? you know his name,
It’s the boss that pays starvation wages.
A homeless girl can always hear
Temptations calling everywhere.

Swedish version sung (with a Hawaiian flavor) by Lucas Stark.  For sheet music and karaoke file click here.

Joe Hill songs

Let Bill Do It (1912)

Hey, all you girls and fellows
That do depend on Bill
To do your work and duties,
I’ll put you next, I will.
I’ll put you next to Billy,
I’ve known him since the ‘Quake;
Of all the Weary Willies,
That guy, he takes the cake.
He is so gol durn lazy
He wouldn’t do a tap’
I rather would depend on
Some fool Missouri yap.
Now take my tip, you workers
That slave in mine and mill,
And never do depend upon
That good for nothing Bill.

First published in Industrial Worker, October 1912. Underneath the title appeared, in parentheses: “Written by J. Hill, and dedicated to those who have nothing to lose but their chairs.” (That last word is not a typo.)

Joe Hill songs

The Rebel Girl (1915)

Words and music written by Joe Hill in Salt Lake City Utah prison 1915. First published in 1916 edition of the IWW’s Little Red Songbook

There are women of many descriptions
In this queer world, as everyone knows.
Some are living in beautiful mansions,
And are wearing the finest of clothes.
There are blue blooded queens and princesses,
Who have charms made of diamonds and pearl;
But the only and thoroughbred lady
Is the Rebel Girl.


That’s the Rebel Girl, that’s the Rebel Girl!
To the working class she’s a precious pearl.
She brings courage, pride and joy
To the fighting Rebel Boy.
We’ve had girls before, but we need some more
In the Industrial Workers of the World.
For it’s great to fight for freedom
With a Rebel Girl.

Yes, her hands may be hardened from labor,
And her dress may not be very fine;
But a heart in her bosom is beating
That is true to her class and her kind.
And the grafters in terror are trembling
When her spite and defiance she’ll hurl;
For the only and thoroughbred lady
Is the Rebel Girl.

Links to performances of the song by: Magpie (uses Joe Hill’s music), Hazel Dickens, Janne LaerkedahlJoe GlazerHanna Fearns & Rahel Beißel, Cathy Richardson, Bucky Halker, and the New Jersey State Industrial Union Council’s Solidarity SingersFor sheet music and karaoke file click hereTo purchase John McCutcheon’s recording of this song click here. To purchase Magpie’s recording, click here.