Joe Hill songs

Should I Ever Be A Soldier (1913)

Tune: “Colleen Bawn” (by J. Fred Helf)
First published in the 1913 edition of the IWW’s Little Red Songbook.

We’re spending billions every year
For guns and ammunition.
“Our Army” and “our Navy” dear,
To keep in good condition;
While millions live in misery
And millions died before us,
Don’t sing “My Country ’tis of thee,”
But sing this little chorus.

Should I ever be a soldier,
‘Neath the Red Flag I would fight;
Should the gun I ever shoulder,
It’s to crush the tyrant’s might.
Join the army of the toilers,
Men and women fall in line,
Wage slave of the world! Arouse!
Do your duty for the cause,
For Land and Liberty.

And many a maiden, pure and fair,
Her love and pride must offer
On Mammon’s altar in despair,
To fill the master’s coffer.
The gold that pays the mighty fleet,
From tender youth he squeezes,
While brawny men must walk the street
And face the wintry breezes.

Why do they mount their gatling gun
A thousand miles from ocean,
Where hostile fleet could never run —
Ain’t that a funny notion?
If you don’t know the reason why,
Just strike for better wages,
And then, my friends — if you don’t die —
You’ll sing this song for ages.

Sung by: Mats Paulson; for sheet music and karaoke file click here.

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