Songs and Lyrics by Joe Hill

The music of Joe Hill was a uniting force that captured the spirit of the radical Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.) labor movement.

Although he never electronically recorded his songs, Hill's music was passed from voice-to-voice across the American landscape with certain songs emerging as anthems for struggling bands of men and women seeking to redefine opportunity in this nation at the turn of the last century.

Written by Hill in 1911 for a strike in California, this song parodied a popular tune.

Casey Jones - The Union Scab

The workers on the S. P. Line to strike out a call;
But Casey Jones, the engineer, he wouldn't strike at all;
His boiler it was leaking, and its drivers on the bum,
And his engine and its bearings, they were all out of plumb.
Casey Jones, kept his junk-pile running,
Casey Jones was working double time;
Casey Jones, got a wooden medal, for being good and Faithful on The S. P. Line. S. P. Line

The workers said to Casey: "Won't
You help us win this strike?"
But Casey said: "Let me alone, you'd better take a hike."
Then Casey's wheezy engine ran right out of track,
And Casey hit the river with an awful crack.

Casey Jones, hit the river bottom,
Casey Jones broke his blooming spine,
Casey Jones became and angeleno,
He took a trip to heaven on the S. P. Line.

When Casey Jones got up to heaven to the Pearly Gate,
He said: "I'm Casey Jones, the guy that pulled the S. P. freight."
"You're just the man," said Peter,
"Our musicians are on strike;
"You can get a job a-scabbing any time you like."

Casey Jones got a job in heaven;
Casey Jones was doing mighty fine;
Casey Jones went scabbing on the angels,
Just like he did to workers on the S. P. Line."


Joe Hill's humorous song tells the story of a common worker who fails to take a stand for his rights and falls into error upon error.

Mr. Block

Mister Block Please give me your attention, I'll introduce to you,
A man that is a credit to our Red, White and Blue;
His head is made of lumber, and solid as a rock;
He is a common worker and his name is Mister Block.
And Block thinks he may be President some day

-Chorus-

Oh, Mr. Block, you were born by mistake,
You take the cake, you make me ache;
Tie a rock on your block and then jump in the lake;
Kindly do that for Liberty's sake.

Yes, Mr. Block is lucky; he found a job, by gee!
The shark got seven dollars, for a job add fare and fee.
They shipped him to a desert and dumped him with his truck,
But when he tried to find his job, he sure was out of luck.
He shouted, "That's too raw, I'll fix them with the law!"

-Chorus-

Block hiked back to the city, but wasn't doing well.
He said, "I'll join the union-the great A. F .of L."
He got a job the next morning, got fired in the night,
He said, "I'll see Sam Gompers and he'll fix the foreman right."
Sam Gompers said, "You see, you've got our sympathy."

-Chorus-

Election Day he shouted, "A Socialist for Mayor!"
The "comrade" got elected, he happy was for fair.
But after the election, he got an awful shock;
A great big socialistic "bull" did rap him on the block.
And comrade did sob,
"I helped him to his job."

-Chorus-

The money kings in Cuba blew up the gunboat Maine,
But Block got awful angry and blamed it all on Spain.
He went right in the battle and there he lost his leg,
And now he's peddling shoestrings and is walking on a peg.
He shouts, "Remember Maine, Hurrah! to hell with Spain!"

-Chorus-

Poor Block he died one evening, I'm very glad to state;
He climbed the golden ladder up to the pearly gate.
He said, "Oh, Mr. Peter, one word I'd like to tell,
"I'd like to meet the Astorbilts and John D, Rockefell."
Old Pete said, "Is that so?
"You'll meet them down below."

-Chorus-


In this motivational song, Hill ostensibly mocks the Salvation Army's preachers, who offer solace for suffering only to those who wait patiently, rather than fighting for relief.

The Preacher and the Slave

Long haired preachers come out ev'ry night,
Try to tell you what's wrong and what's right;
But when asked, how 'bout something to eat, (Let us eat)
They will answer with voices so sweet; (Oh so sweet)
You will eat, (You will eat)
Bye and bye, (Bye and bye) in that glorious land above the sky;
(way up high)
work and pray, (work and pray) live on hay, (Live on hay)
you'll get pie in the sky when you die. (That's a lie)

And the starvation army they play,
And they sing and they clap and they pray.
Till they get all your coin on the drum,
Then they'll tell you when you're on the bum:

-Chorus-

Holy Rollers and Jumpers come out,
And they holler, they jump and they shout
"Give your money to Jesus," they say,
"He will cure all diseases today."

-Chorus-

If you fight hard for children and wife-
Try to get something good in this life-
You're a sinner and bad man, they tell,
When you die you will sure go to hell.

-Chorus-

Workingmen of all countries unite,
Side by side we for freedom will fight!
When the world and its wealth we have gained,
To the grafters we'll sing this refrain:

-Final Chorus-

You will eat, bye and bye,
When you've learned how to cook and to fry.
Chop some wood, 'twill do you good,
And you'll eat in the sweet bye and bye.


After meeting Elizabeth Gurley Flynn in the spring of 1915, Joe Hill composed a song in tribute to the women who served the Industrial Workers of the World.

Hill titled the music "The Rebel Girl" because he was inspired by Flynn's passionate commitment to the cause. "You was right there with me all the time," said Hill. An artist used Flynn as the model for the cover art on the sheet music when the song was published by the I.W.W.

The Rebel Girl

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.

-Chorus-

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 harden'd 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 kind.
Ans the grafters in terror are
Trembling when her spite and
Defiance she'll hurl. For the only and
Thoroughbred Lady is the Rebel Girl.

-Chorus-

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


Set to the music of the well-known Christian hymn, "There is Power in the Blood of the Lamb," this recruitment song features inspirational phrases.

There is Power in a Union

Would you have freedom wage slavery, then
Join in the Grand Industrial Band; Would you from mis'ry and hunger be free?
Then come! Do your share like a man. There is pow'r, there is pow'r in a band of
Working men, when they stand, hand in hand. That's a pow'r, that's a pow'r tht must rule in ev'ry land-
One Industrial Union Grand.

Would you have mansions of gold in the sky,
And live in a shack, way in the back?
Would you have wings up in heaven to fly,
And starve here with rags on your back?

-Chorus-

If you've had 'nuff of the "blood of the lamb,"
Then join in the Grand Industrial Band;
If, for a change, you would have eggs and ham,
Then come! Do your share like a man.

-Chorus-

If you like sluggers to beat off your head,
Then don't organize, all unions despise,
If you want nothing before you are dead,
Shake hands with your boss and look wise.

-Chorus-

Come all ye workers, from every land,
Come, join in the Grand Industrial Band,
Then we our share of this earth shall demand.
Come on! Do your share like a man.

-Chorus-


One of Hill's most memorable ballads takes its inspiration from striking construction workers in British Columbia.

Where the Fraser River Flows

Fellow workers, pay attention
To what I'm gonna mention,
For it is the fixed Intention
Of the Workers of the World,
And I Hope you'll all be ready,
Truehearted, brave and steady,
To rally 'round the standard
W hen the Red Flag is unfurled.

Where the Fraser River flows,
Each fellow worker knows,
They have bullied and oppressed us,
But still our Union grows.
And we're going to find a way, boys;
For shorter hours and better pay, boys;
And we're going to win the day, boys;
Where the River Fraser flows.

For these gunny-sack contractors
Have all been dirty actors,
And they're not our benefactors,
Each fellow worker knows.
So we've got to stick together
In fine or dirty weather,
And we will show no white feather,
Where the Fraser River flows.

Now the boss the law is stretching,
Bulls and pimps he's fetching,
And they are a fine collection,
A s Jesus only knows.
But why their mothers reared them,
And why the devil spared them,
Are questions we can't answer,
Where the Fraser River flows.


Written while Joe Hill was in prison, this song speaks to workers on an international level.

Workers of the World, Awaken!

Workers of the world, awaken!
Break your chains, demand your rights.
All the wealth you make is taken
B y exploiting parasites.
Shall you kneel in deep submission
F rom your cradles to your graves?
Is the height of your ambition
To be good and willing slaves?

Arise, ye prisoners of starvation!
Fight for your own emancipation;
Arise, ye slaves of ev'ry nation, in One Union Grand.
Our little ones for bread are crying;
And millions are from hunger dying;
The end the means is justifying,
'Tis the final stand.

If the workers take a notion,
They can stop all speeding trains;
Every ship upon the ocean
They can tie with mighty chains;
Every wheel in the creation,
Every mine and every mill,
Fleets and armies of the nation,
Will at their command stand still.

-Chorus-

Join the union, fellow workers,
Men and women, side by side;
We will crush the greedy shirkers
Like a sweeping, surging tide;
For united we are standing,
But divided we will fall;
Let this be our understanding-
"All for one and one for all."

-Chorus-

Workers of the world, awaken!
Rise in all your splendid might;
Take the wealth that you are making --
It belongs to you by right.
No one for bread will be crying,
We'll have freedom, love and health,
When the grand red flag is flying
In the Worker's commonwealth.

-Chorus-

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