JOE HILL

Posted on Posted in Breedloves's Folk Songs
  • JOE HILL
    Joe Hill, born Joel Emmanuel Hägglund, and also known as Joseph Hillström was a
    Swedish-American labor activist, songwriter, and member of the Industrial Workers of
    the World (IWW, also known as the “Wobblies”). He was executed for murder after a
    controversial trial. After his death, he memorialized by several folk songs. A widely-
    circulated story, which was included in the 1971 movie Joe Hill, is that Hill was in bed
    with a married woman on the night of the murder. He refused to use this iron-clad alibi,
    because in Utah in 1914, it would have ruined her reputation and her life. His discretion
    ended his life. Paul Robeson and Pete Seeger often performed this song and are
    associated with it, along with Irish folk group The Dubliners. Joan Baez‘s Woodstock
    performance of “Joe Hill” in 1969 is the most well-known recording.
    I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
    alive as you and me.
    Says I “But Joe, you’re ten years dead”
    “I never died” said he,
    “I never died” said he.
    “The Copper Bosses killed you Joe,
    they shot you Joe” says I.
    “Takes more than guns to kill a man”
    Says Joe “I didn’t die”
    Says Joe “I didn’t die”
    “In Salt Lake City, Joe,” says I,
    Him standing by my bed,
    “They framed you on a murder charge,”
    Says Joe, “But I ain’t dead,”
    Says Joe, “But I ain’t dead.”
    And standing there as big as life
    and smiling with his eyes.
    Says Joe “What they can never kill
    went on to organize,
    went on to organize”
    From San Diego up to Maine,
    in every mine and mill,
    Where working men defend their rights,
    it’s there you find Joe Hill,
    it’s there you find Joe Hill!
    I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
    alive as you and me.
    Says I “But Joe, you’re ten years dead”
    “I never died” said he,
    “I never died” said he