Big Red Songbook
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In 1905, representatives from dozens of radical labor groups came together in Chicago to form One Big Union—the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), known as the Wobblies. The union was a big presence in the labor movement, leading strikes, walkouts, and rallies across the nation. And everywhere its members went, they sang.

Their songs were sung in mining camps and textile mills, hobo jungles and flop houses, and anywhere workers might be recruited to the Wobblies’ cause. The songs were published in a pocketsize tome called the Little Red Songbook, which was so successful that it’s been published continuously since 1909. In The Big Red Songbook, the editors have gathered songs from over three dozen editions, plus additional songs, rare artwork, personal recollections, discographies, and more into one big all-embracing book.

IWW poets/composers strove to nurture revolutionary consciousness. Each piece, whether topical, hortatory, elegiac, or comic served to educate, agitate, and emancipate workers. A handful of Wobbly numbers have become classics, still sung by labor groups and folk singers. They include Joe Hill’s sardonic “The Preacher and the Slave” (sometimes known by its famous phrase “Pie in the Sky”) and Ralph Chaplin’s “Solidarity Forever.” Songs lost or found, sacred or irreverent, touted or neglected, serious or zany, singable or not, are here. The Wobblies and their friends have been singing for a century. May this comprehensive gathering simultaneously celebrate past battles and chart future goals.

In addition to the 250+ songs, writings are included from Archie Green, Franklin Rosemont, David Roediger, Salvatore Salerno, Judy Branfman, Richard Brazier, James Connell, Carlos Cortez, Bill Friedland, Virginia Martin, Harry McClintock, Fred Thompson, Adam Machado, and many more.



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Date de parution 01 mai 2016
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EAN13 9781629632605
Langue English
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Born into a pro-IWW Finnish farm family in Wisconsin, Jenny Lahti Velsek (1913-2006) joined the union in 1933 and remained a true-blue Wobbly her whole life. A popular accordionist at IWW social events, she was also a longtime member of the Board of the Charles H. Kerr Publishing Company.

This book is dedicated to our friend and Fellow Worker JENNY LAHTI VELSEK (1913-2006)
The Big Red Songbook: 250 IWW Songs!
Archie Green, David Roediger, Franklin Rosemont, and Salvatore Salerno
PM Press 2016
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be transmitted by any means without permission in writing from the publisher
Originally published 2007 by Charles H. Kerr Publishing Company
PM Press
C.H. Kerr Company
PO Box 23912
1726 Jarvis Avenue
Oakland, CA 94623
Chicago, IL 60626
Cover design by Josh MacPhee
ISBN: 978-1-62963-129-5
Library of Congress Control Number: 2016930963
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Printed in the USA by the Employee Owners of Thomson-Shore in Dexter, Michigan.
Tom Morello: Foreword
By Way of Introduction: On Wobblies Their Songs
Archie Green: Preface
Franklin Rosemont: Lost and Found: Other IWW Songs and Poems
David Roediger: Their Horrid Gold : John Handcox and the Uncopyrighted Red Songbook
Salvatore Salerno: Sizzlooks, Scissorbills, Sab Cats and Songs: Language and Image in Wobbly Expressive Art Forms
All the Songs from the IWW Songbook: 1909-1973
Other IWW Songs Poems: Somehow Not Included in the Little Red Songbook
Variants Parodies: How Wobblies Others Adapted and/or Updated Their Songs
Songwriters Tell Their Stories
Jim Connell: How I Wrote the Red Flag
Harry McClintock: On Hallelulia on the Bum
Richard Brazier: The Story of the IWW s Little Red Songbook
Carlos Cortez: Joe Hill the Wobbly Song Tradition
History Commentary: Diverse Reflections on the Wobbly Song Tradition
Archie Green: John Neuhaus: Wobbly Folklorist
A Glossary of Labor Language
Fred W. Thompson: The Older Songs of Labor
Judy Branfman: How Long Are You in Town? : Two Stolen Songs Find Their Way Home
Bill Friedland: Labor Arts and the First Recorded IWW Album
Virginia Martin: Feeling a Thought through Song
Fred W. Thompson: Charles H. Kerr and America s First Socialist Songbook
Utah Phillips: Afterword
A Checklist of IWW Songs Songbooks in Chronological Order
Alphabetical List of Wobbly Songs
Adam Machado: Recorded I.W.W. Songs: A Working Discography
Notes on Contributors

A Note on Mini-Cartoons: Starting in the early 1920s, and continuing through the late 1940s, IWW cartoonist William Henkelman did a series of postage-stamp-size cartoons (see example above) in which well-known capitalist ads and trademarks were subversively and satirically revised, in a Wobbly spirit. Several of these mini-cartoons are reproduced in this book, as space allowed.
T he Industrial Workers of the World invented the protest song for the modern age, and here s the proof: The Big Red Songbook .
The Big Red Songbook is an enlightening and inspiring catalog of protest music and a template for how to do it right . These songs look an unjust world square in the eye, slice it apart with satire, dismantle it with rage, and then drop a mighty singalong chorus fit to raise the roof of a union hall or a holding cell. Then repeat until we win.
The Industrial Workers of the World (or Wobblies as they were widely known) were the shock troops of the early twentieth century labor movement. They practiced revolutionary industrial unionism and their tactics, goals, and credos were truly revolutionary. Unlike other unions of their time they accepted all workers as members: blacks, women, unskilled laborers, sex workers, immigrants of every race and creed. They sought to forge One Big Union of the entire global working class and used direct action, sabotage, and the power of song in their open class war with the ruling class. And while the Wobblies have yet to achieve their ultimate goal of the abolition of the wage system, their reputation as a kickass union fueled by kickass songs remains the stuff of legend.
The IWW literally wrote the book on protest music. These songs, some written many decades ago, address the same issues facing us today: poverty, police brutality, immigrant rights, economic and racial inequality, militarism, threats to civil liberties, union busting. Often set to familiar tunes and popular hymns of the day, these songs united workers from diverse ethnic backgrounds. The music was the message: solidarity. What s the antidote for divide and conquer ? Work together, fight together, sing together. One Thousand Songs, One Big Union.
I ve been a member of Local 47 Musicians Union in Los Angeles for twenty-seven years and I m a proud card-carrying member of the Industrial Workers of the World. My mom was a union high school teacher, and the Morellos were hardworking coal miners in central Illinois. I m a union man and an unapologetic musical rabble-rouser. The cause of workers rights is in my blood. I ve been greatly influenced by many of the songs and songwriters contained in this book, and under my Nightwatchman moniker I ve penned dozens of tunes that owe a significant debt to this union and its remarkable history of song. Much of my career has been one long audition to be included in the next edition of this tome.
The tunesmiths of the IWW laid the sonic and ideological groundwork for those who followed in their footsteps: Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Utah Phillips, Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Bruce Springsteen, The Clash, Public Enemy, Billy Bragg, Ani DiFranco, System of a Down, and Rage Against the Machine. Without the songs in this book there s no This Land Is Your Land, no We Shall Overcome, no Masters of War, no London Calling, no Killing in the Name.
Defiant and hopeful, The Big Red Songbook is People s Poetry. The unapologetic mission statement is emblazoned right there on the front cover: Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent. The goal was (and is) a simple one: boost morale, promote solidarity, and lift the spirits of the working class. Traveling songs, spreading-the-news songs, stirring-folks-up songs-penned by hobos and the homeless, itinerant workers and immigrants these songs combine harmonizing and hell-raising, rhythm and rebellion, poetry and politics, singing and striking. The IWW aimed to create a new world within the shell of the old and you can hear that new world here , where song meets struggle.
Joe Hill, the unofficial poet laureate of the working class, epitomized the IWW s anarcho-poet-warrior. He is my favorite musician of all time even though there are no known recordings of him playing or singing. Why? Because he was a tireless crusader for justice through his music. Joe Hill s greatest hits are included in this volume and are a fine starting point for aspiring rebels. Joe was an IWW organizer and a true musical and political revolutionary. He walked it like he sang it. That s why the powers that be were afraid of him. That s why they killed him. Joe Hill famously said, A pamphlet, no matter how good, is only read once, but a song is learned by heart and repeated over and over. The fact that you are holding this book proves he was right. These songs are still sung today, and will be tomorrow.
I ve traveled far and wide to pay my respects to the heroes of the IWW. I ve placed flowers on Mother Jones s grave in Mount Olive, Illinois. I ve hummed The Internationale at Big Bill Haywood s resting place in the Kremlin Wall. And while on tour in Sweden I made the hundred-mile trek from Stockholm to Gavle, the birthplace of Joe Hill.
I sat by the little old tree in the backyard that blooms because Joe s ashes were spread on the ground beneath it in 1915 and I sang the song I came there to sing, I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night. The tiny room in the building where he and his family lived now serves as a union headquarters and museum. Union guards are posted twenty-four hours a day because fascists regularly try to blow the place up, because one hundred years after Joe Hill s death they re still afraid of him. They re still afraid of these songs, and they should be. Paul Robeson sang it true, Joe Hill ain t dead! Not just Joe s songs but all these songs live on wherever working people stand up for their rights and dream and scheme and struggle for something better than what was handed us.
For over a century the songs contained in The Big Red Songbook have been sung on picket lines, at the barricades, and through the tear gas haze of G8 protests. Facts and feelings set to melody, skewering the oppressors of their day, and ours, with wit and fire. Always a fighting union, the IWW was just as importantly a singing union and their mighty tunes of equality, justice and freedom are both a reminder of struggles won and lost and the battle hymns of struggles to come.
So get out there and start creating that new world. Learn some of these world-changing jams. Then write some of your own.
Tom Morello

The Fourth Edition of the Songbook (1912)
National organizer J. H. Walsh and the IWW Brass Band Industrial Worker , June 17, 1909
Archie Green
F ew workers associations in the United States exist long enough to celebrate their centennials. Trade unions, fraternal organizations, and neighborhood alliances all fall victim to shifts in ideological or physical environments. Before a labor union reaches its hundredth year, it is likely to have merged with parallel or subordinate groups. Thus, members face their anniversaries with diverse feelings: do we honor old age alone; is it only survival that matters; or, alternately, do we elevate a particular symbolic emblem or special formulation to represent our identity?
From its inception in Chicago in 1905, the Industrial Workers of the World chose as its guiding cause revolutionary industrial unionism. To the extent that IWW members concerned themselves consciously with cultural theory, like rival radicals, they relegated expressive material to an auxiliary role. In short, bedrock economic struggle took priority over secondary artistic forms.
Songs, stories, sayings, skits, and related ephemera commented upon class conflict, but did not rise to the level of direct action in mine, mill, forest, or factory. Whether rebels viewed work through Darwinian or Marxian eyes, each job site determined the contour of life itself. A song, however categorized, might ease a worker s pain, help in getting through the day, or, even beyond individual needs, assist in transforming society.
As 2005 approached, in recognition of the IWW s centennial, a group of friends discussed the possibility of publishing the Big Red Songbook , a comprehensive gathering of songs and poems as they appeared in the various editions of the little red songbook. These individuals did not constitute a formal (or even an ad hoc) editorial committee. We undertook to research and write the various portions of the present volume. It is my task, here, to present an overview of IWW songlore.
Even before the IWW s formal chartering a hundred years ago, farsighted industrial unionists spoke in many tongues reflecting different nativities and philosophies. Accepting the responsibility of building a then-new workers movement, labor-union loyalists, anarcho-syndicalists, and socialists framed their messages in a rainbow of voices. Similarly, hard-rock miners, straw cats who harvested wheat, fruit and other crops, lintheads in textile mill, mariners, castaways, and wanderers shouted or whispered as their separate skills demanded.
Some IWW writers and orators both in their journalism and soapboxing mastered high rhetoric; others favored vernacular style. Readers of the IWW press and street-corner listeners encountered language derived from Shakespeare and Shelley, as well as the saloon and brothel. Unlike many radicals before and after 1905, the IWW accepted strange accents, surreal deliveries, zany humor, and pungent cartoons as proper in the organization s discourse.
IWW words declaimed or sung in poem and song functioned similarly to those in writing. Industrial-union pioneers did not create a rich body of songlore either by calculated design or by divine inspiration. Rather, founders came to Chicago well acquainted with plural musical genres: classical radical fare (e.g. items in Socialist Songs with Music , issued by Charles Kerr, 1901); popular hits of stage and parlor (Stephen Foster to Irving Berlin); evangelical hymns (Dwight Moody and Ira Sankey); traditional occupational folksong (not yet gathered in published anthologies but present in plural craft, regional, and ethnic communities).
In short, to understand the IWW s contagious musical blend, one must hear in the mind s ear rebel unionists who knew L Internationale and La Marseillaise, as well as homespun shanties and ballads indigenous to ranch bunkhouse, hobo jungle, or mountain-mining camp. Before and during the IWW s formative years, textile workers literally sang Hard Times in the Mill ; coal diggers and hard-rock ten-day stiffs shared the mournful Only a Miner ; itinerant toilers along countless miles of railroad tracks spun out pieces such as Big Rock Candy Mountain in straight or bawdy form, compensatory vehicles for rootlessness.
Of the many musical idioms available to IWW members, one form dominated: the polemical. With the appearance of IWW newspapers (Industrial Worker , Spokane; Solidarity , Cleveland), readers submitted new texts usually set to then-popular vaudeville tunes or gospel-hymn standards. Editors varied in their reception to minstrel contributions; they printed some items in their journals and others on pocket-size cards, reminiscent of earlier broadsides. In 1909, the Spokane IWW branch gathered two dozen numbers, new and old, into a red-jacketed booklet titled Songs of the Industrial Workers of the World .
In 1968, Richard Brazier reminisced about his role on the committee which prepared the first songbook. A few of his words reveal the editors rationale: to destroy the old myths that have enslaved us for so long. We will have songs that hold up flaunted wealth and threadbare morality to scorn, songs that lampoon our masters. [Our songbook] will exalt the spirit of Rebellion.
Subsequent editors in 1910-11 added phrases to the booklet s title such as Songs of the Workers; On the Road, in the Jungles, and in the Shops; Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent. No one knows who first tagged this gathering the Little Red Songbook. It proved to be the IWW s most popular publication; it caught on beyond the Union s ranks.
The nickname Wobbly began circulating in 1913-1914; it has been joined at the hip to the organization s songbooks. In continuous print from 1909 to the present, these booklets have gone through 37 editions. (Bibliographers still puzzle over the exact number of printings and the sequence of editions.)
Over the years, editors have deleted particular items either for dated content, in response to change by members in personal taste, or in reaction to external issues. At times, behind-the-scenes debate on difficult pieces has revealed switches in position on large conceptual matters: job action, sabotage, lifestyle, gender, relations with other left-sectarian groups.
Although the IWW discouraged personality cults within its ranks, songwriter Joe Hill achieved legendary status initially among industrial unionists and subsequently in a larger group of CIO members, urban liberals, and unaffiliated radicals. Hill s life as a Swedish emigrant to the United States, his capacity to pen two dozen new Wobbly songs within a five-year span, his trial for murder and death by firing squad in Salt Lake City (1915), and unresolved questions of guilt or innocence combined to elevate him into the workers pantheon.
The extensive literature on Joe Hill (by writers such as Ralph Chaplin, Joyce Kornbluh, Franklin Rosemont, Gibbs Smith, Barrie Stavis, and Wallace Stegner) leads readers beyond biography to searching questions on the nature of Wobbly lore and its fit as a chip in the mosaic of labor s heritage. IWW poets/composers strove to nurture revolutionary consciousness. Each piece whether topical, hortatory, elegiac, sardonic, or comic served to educate, agitate, and emancipate workers. Songs were intended as arrows to penetrate bourgeois (in Wobbly parlance, scissorbill ) mentality, and to anticipate a new social order the commonwealth of toil.
In everyday practice as Wobblies sang at jungle campfires, in meeting halls, and during free-speech rallies, much of their repertoire melted away. Some lyrics proved too taxing to sing; in short, they were unsingable.
Others had been set to tunes that lost out in style wars. Still others became irrelevant as the IWW declined. However, a handful entered tradition a few as folksongs, some as labor-union classics. Not all IWW members have enjoyed sharing material across institutional lines, nor upon hearing treasures performed by rivals: pragmatic craft unionists, reformist allies, left partisans.
Wobblies known for militancy on the job and life-defying bravery on the strike front were powerless to control the trajectory of their songs, or to determine life or death for given pieces. As their material reached large society, Wobblies responded ambivalently happy that the Union had gone beyond its ranks; dismayed that strangers might distort the IWW s inherent message.
Three books in particular measure the spread of IWW songlore outside the organization s bounds. In 1909, Paul Brissenden, a California student in Economics, became interested in labor. In 1919, the Columbia University Press published his The IWW: A Study in American Syndicalism which included thirteen songs. In 1923, the University of Chicago Press issued Nels Anderson s The Hobo , an influential study of homeless men. It held four IWW songs.
Carl Sandburg s The American Songbag (1927) appealed well beyond campus walls with three Wobbly numbers. Sandburg conferred folksong rank for The Preacher and the Slave. Under varied titles ( Long Haired Preachers, Pie in the Sky ), Joe Hill s parody of the hymn Sweet Bye and Bye moved out of labor s sphere to comment upon moral values in the American polity.
Ironically, a song introduced outside the IWW orbit yet memorializing Hill achieved more fame than most pieces in the Wobbly canon. Joe Hill opens with I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night alive as you and me. It has been sung by Joan Baez, Billy Bragg, Joe Glazer, Paul Robeson, Pete Seeger, and many others. Alfred Hayes (lyrics) and Earl Robinson (music) offered it initially in 1936 at Camp Unity near New York City. Their gift forged on a Communist Party Popular Front anvil has sometimes been erroneously attributed to Hill himself by commentators who allege that he composed it as a salute to fellow workers and a projection of his immortality.
A few words on the troublesome matter of definition may help new readers in their evaluation of Wobbly songs. Most of the items gathered in the Big Red Songbook are no longer sung, but remain of interest to historians, sociologists, and a few labor-union partisans. Although the very first booklet held a traditional parody cherished by itinerant workers, Hallelujah, I m a Bum (irreverently titled Hellelujah ), the IWW paid no special attention to folklore theory, or the supposed values inherent in folksong.
In the mid-1930s, some American communists touched by Popular Front ideology embraced folksong. This commitment carried through until the 1970s folk boom, but did not hold much appeal to Wobblies. However, the thirty-fourth edition songbook (1973), overturned precedent by including Woody Guthrie s Union Maid. The thirty-fifth edition (1984), extended the process with Les Rice s Banks of Marble. These two pieces represent People s Songs intrusions in time-tested IWW repertoires.
The subject of intrusion has, and continues to be, controversial. During the 1920s and 30s, IWW activists opposed Communist Party policies. However, by the 1970s, with the passing of many old-timers, young Wobblies were less invested in maintaining sectarian differences. In this context, Union Maid became acceptable to the IWW.
Beyond the merits of enlarging a songbook with outside material, labor partisans face a difficult question: pop-culture s influence on Wobbly expression (characterized by Franklin Rosemont in his study Joe Hill , 2003, as revolutionary workingclass counterculture ). I ask: Should Wobblies have resisted Popular Front formulas and folksong revival fare? What are this dilemma s implications for labor unionists in their cultural decisions? How do we navigate between contestational and conciliatory strategies?
Present-day IWW activists divide in assessing their musical heritage. Some assert: Economic forces outweigh cultural expression; we need only to alter conditions at the point of production; class struggle relegates songlore to a derivative role. Others suggest that IWW songs captured the union s spirit better that its manifestoes, pamphlets, and proceedings. We should not apologize for our songs; rather, let s use them as ambassadors to working people wherever they toil.
Today, Wobbly songs seem suspended between cultural domains. Most are obscure; a few live in tradition. Not one has achieved national popularity associated with Broadway, Nashville, or Hollywood. Nevertheless, labor activists treasure the corpus for internal cheer, oppositional message, and humane promise. Essentially, each Wobbly song that carries into the twenty-first century will affirm the linkage of poetry to cause, as well as music s use in defining individual and social identity.
My sketch above offers some generalizations about Wobbly songs. Here, I turn to a few of the issues faced by the informal committee of friends responsible for the Big Red Songbook . First, it is only a fiction that a committee can write a book. All persons listed on our title page have signed their individual contributions. Franklin Rosemont, Salvatore Salerno, David Roediger, and I have provided a bit of continuity between portions. We are aware that any new set of editors would produce a different volume.
To identify myself: I have worked first as a shipwright and later as a teacher. Although sharing many Wobbly values, I am not an IWW member. In studies over the years, I have probed for the IWW s place in creating and extending laborlore. My views reflect trade-union experience and academic folklore training. Others will bring their special backgrounds and disciplines to our explorations.
Elsewhere in our volume, we reprint several essays which sum up key writings in Wobbly songlore. Included is my John Neuhaus: Wobbly Folklorist as I penned it nearly half-century ago. Today, it can be read as a memorial to a friend and fellow worker. Also, it is a road marker on a still-incomplete journey. Do we feel obligated to continue John s exact path, or are we free to set off in new directions?
John Neuhaus was passionate in his belief that Wobblies and friends should continue to sing all the numbers in the IWW songbooks (issued before his death in 1958). With the centennial behind us, I do not share John s vision, for I believe that most of the inclusions retain value as cultural or historical artifacts, but not as songs in the repertoires of living singers.
In the chronological and alphabetical checklists in the Big Red Songbook , we note all songs to date. However, in our main text, we reprint only those items through the thirty-fourth edition. This decision is arbitrary; it will not satisfy all enthusiasts; it raises the puzzling question: What is a Wobbly song? Is it any piece printed in an IWW songbook, or just those that reflect IWW philosophy? Who decides the contours of Wobbly belief?
To print texts without tunes is another problem that has concerned our editors. John Neuhaus religiously tracked down original sheet music for obscure songs. Today, with the availability of sound recordings, it is easier to obtain a disc, tape, or computer version than an out-of-print sheet-music copy. In this connection, we have included Adam Machado s discography of recorded IWW songs, and a reminiscence by Bill Friedland on the first LP album of Wobbly favorites.
Compilers of discographies generally prepare record lists by select artists with emphasis on company labels. By contrast, our discography mirrors the chronological ordering of our book: The Red Flag, Number 1, through Outa Work Blues, Number 190. Although this listing serves mainly as a reference tool, it also functions to call attention to matters of origin, structure, and style.
Almost all Wobbly songs have been recorded by interpreters rather than by traditional singers. This dichotomy has raged in folksong-revival circles; I shall not repeat the tired arguments here. However, I do stress that very few Wobblies made field recordings in traditional style. Does anyone who desires to understand IWW lore not wonder how the songs were performed when first introduced to copper-camp miners, factory-line workers, or their many peers?
Wobblies faced harrowing regional, linguistic, and social barriers among men and women awaiting organization. To cite an instance: when a new little red songbook appeared in an East Texas piney-woods camp or a Louisiana cypress-mill town, did the workers involved sound alike? It defies reason to suggest that individuals of varied descent (Anglo, African, Mexican) in the IWW-affiliated Brotherhood of Timber Workers approached material in a singular voice. By imagining these diverse woods singers in their particular styles, we arrive at a pluralistic view of IWW lore more challenging than the folksong-revival flavored items in the present discography.
For many musical genres, loyal fans have produced LP or CD compilations based on ethnographic and historical research. Such an album of Wobbly songs is long overdue. It might recreate the sounds of a century-old Sousa brass band as well as an early ragtime ensemble. What did Richard Brazier experience when he took in a Spokane vaudeville show? Has any Wobbly commented on his exposure to a barrelhouse piano or a parallel off-color ditty? Fred Thompson has described hearing old Chartist hymns in his native Nova Scotia. Where did other unionists become familiar with camp-meeting hymns and gospel favorites? The challenge is great; the task lies before present enthusiasts.
I see no contradiction between the act of preparing a retrospective IWW album and continued effort to compose and circulate new material. Bibliographic and discographic tools will prove useful in this task of reconstruction. Readers will observe that the Big Red Songbook s two checklists hold only English-language material. Hence, future fans can expand these lists to include IWW songbooks in various tongues. Wobblies printed Swedish songbooks both in the United States and Sweden. However, our present knowledge of other foreign-language editions is incomplete. Similarly our discography cries for expansion. These gaps in documentation are especially ironic in that Wobblies were far ahead of rival trade unionists in organizing immigrants regardless of race or speech.
In closing this overview, I am also aware of the end of a personal journey. Like other children of immigrants, I attended a Workmen s Circle school in the mid 1920s. There we learned labor songs, including IWW classics. Too young to discern the school s politics, I associated these songs with the campaign to save Sacco and Vanzetti from the electric chair. In retrospect, it was a noble cause and a memorable introduction to Wobbly music.
Massachusetts executed the two Italian anarchists on August 23, 1927. I have sung, studied, and puzzled over IWW material in all the following decades. Much of what is stated in this preface repeats earlier formulations. Some of my views are commonplace; others, controversial. I have already alluded above to the thorny matter of definition for Wobbly songs; this problem remains unresolved. I am convinced that some of the Big Red Songbook s pieces proved difficult, if not impossible, to sing at the time of their composition. Others caught on with singers; they circulated widely and were altered in the process.
Scholars fall back on two basic beliefs: a song may enter tradition; folksongs show variation over time and place. Before the popular interest in folksong in the 1970s, IWW members paid little attention to academic issues in defining their music.
Some of these problems in status and meaning are illustrated by The Dehorn, an irreverent parody set to the tune of The Red Flag. It opens:
The dehorn s nose is deepest red,
The one bright spot in his empty head,
To get his booze he begs and steals,
Half naked he goes without his meals.
This piece never made it into a little red songbook; did the editors consider it sacrilegious?
Upon first hearing Joe Murphy sing a bit of The Dehorn (Occidental, CA; 1958), I was intrigued as he related it to an IWW technique in social control. Joe had served on dehorn squads in the Northwest lumber region. These informal committees, in their vernacular, dehorned the dehorns. To interpret during a strike, a few tough Wobblies would close or dismantle the saloons and brothels in order to keep workers focused on vital issues. Thus, Joe recalled this song as much more than a humorous ditty, for it represented a disciplined response by the IWW to forces that destroyed workers consciousness.
With a fragment in mind, I queried John Neuhaus about The Dehorn. He had learned it from Louis Gracey, a shovel stiff, treasured it, and taught it to me. Subsequently, I included the text in my JAF memorial to John (reprinted in this volume). Songs do not parade straight ahead in unbroken ranks. Rather, they slither about, crawl under hedges, or lie dormant for decades. The Dehorn came to life at a time when Wobblies concerned themselves with alcohol as one of the many bourgeois tools designed to weaken a worker s resolve. The song circulated, lodged in a few memories, and seemingly died.
In a sense, The Dehorn was reborn after it appeared in the Neuhaus memorial. Joyce Kornbluh doing research for Rebel Voices (1964) found that it had been contributed to the Industrial Worker (October 11, 1919) by J.B. Perhaps a year later (date unknown), it also appeared in the California Defense Bulletin as The Wino s Nose by Ed Anderson.
Although I lack information on both J.B. and Ed Anderson, the date 1919 is useful in establishing this song s chronology. The term dehorn had been used by cowboys and forest rustlers to describe the act of dehorning young cattle, as well as the cutting off of a branded log s end. The first activity took away a steer s weapons; the second, assisted in theft. An imaginative Wobbly extended the word dehorn to booze which rendered a worker impotent, or robbed him of his spirit.
In the Wobbly lexicon, dehorn in various forms became verb and noun, denoting both action and a state of being. It could mean the drink itself, the besotted drunkard, or the effect after drinking. When Prohibition ruled, many persons used denatured or adulterated alcohol. Thus, a canned-heat bum became a hopeless dehorn James Stevens Northwest woods novel Jim Turner (1048) holds several choice usages for this colloquialism.
The Dehorn deserved full exploration as it challenges students of language and literature, history and philosophy. For instance: how did the dehorn morph into a wino (as in Ed Anderson s variant)? The late Fred Thompson, who served time in San Quentin as a class-war prisoner, told me that his IWW mates relished the parody, The Wino s Nose. I conjecture that Wobblies carried the song South from Washington/Oregon lumber camps to California fields. Itinerants who followed the crops (fruit tramps) after a grape harvest would hang around to buy gallon cans of cheap wine. Today, wino is widely used while dehorn is esoteric.
However we relate The Dehorn s adventures, this excursion into a song s story tells us something of Wobbly creativity. It also points to an unusual portion of our volume. Franklin Rosemont has presented a set of lost Wobbly songs and poems not actually lost but rather not included by former editors in the various little red songbooks. He calls attention to years of unstated (often anonymous) editorial decisions about standards of inclusion and exclusion for selections. IWW stalwarts, not given to authority, were genuinely amused that their songbooks gained such magisterial power regarding text and tune.
Ultimately each Big Red Songbook reader will judge the wisdom of our selections and opinions. Songs lost or found, sacred or irreverent, touted or neglected, serious or zany, singable or not, are here. Industrial Workers of the World and their friends have been singing for a century. May this comprehensive gathering simultaneously celebrate past battles and chart future goals.

An IWW birthday cartoon by C.E. Setzer (X 13)
Franklin Rosemont
F rom the start, those of us who undertook the task of compiling and annotating the Big Red Song Book were convinced of the historic importance of these songs. Numberless working-stiffs between the 1910s and the late 1960s regarded the Wobbly song book as their most treasured possession, second only to their red IWW membership card. Sung around hobo jungle campfires, in boxcars, in Wobbly halls, in the streets, on picketlines, at strike rallies, in court, on the way to jail, and in jail, these songs made history, and their singers knew it. The songbook s place in IWW history has been recognized by all of the union s historians, as well as by novelists, playwrights, film-makers, memoirists and journalists. From 1909 on the songbook has been a crucial aid in recruitment and a major source of the union s revenue. It also has the distinction of being the U.S. labor movement s all-time best-seller. But here s the kicker: There are far more IWW songs than the ones that found their way into the famous little red songbook.
Many readers will no doubt be surprised to learn that the 192 lyrics that make up the bulk of this volume-that is, every song published in the IWW songbook between 1909 and 1970-are in fact only a part of the truly vast corpus of Wobbly song. Scores, probably hundreds, of additional IWW songs, many of them unknown even to the most persistent students of IWW history and lore, await discovery: in the IWW press, in IWW-friendly periodicals such as Charles H. Kerr s International Socialist Review and the Los Angeles New Justice; in books and pamphlets by individual Wob poets (Eugene Barnett, Ralph Chaplin, James Kelly Cole, Carlos Cortez, Agnes Thecla Fair, Arturo Giovannitti, Covington Hall, Henry Pfaff and others); in widely scattered manuscripts (in libraries as well as private collections); and, not least, in oral tradition.
In the course of preparing this book, lost songs became the catch-all term for IWW songs (and poems) that for one reason or another were never included in any edition of the IWW songbook. When our friend Henry Anderson and others pointed out that these little-known songs were not truly lost -for after all, we found them-we decided to call them simply Other IWW Songs.

Long before we decided to add some lost songs to this collection, they played a not inconsiderable role in our discussions. As it happened, each of us involved in the Big Red Song Book project had a favorite lost song or two, which made us wonder: Why was this particular song never featured in the Wobbly songbook? This in turn provoked further questions: How did the editors of the songbooks over the years go about their editing? What were their criteria for inclusion and exclusion? How were decisions made?
Our speculations on these matters were abundant, but verifiable answers were as rare as the good boss you sometimes still hear about. In plain truth, just about nothing is known about the editing, or about the editors, of the first fifty years of the IWW songbook. The predominant role of Fellow Workers J. H. Walsh and Dick Brazier in getting out the first songbook is well-established, but the details are missing, and our questions multiplied. Were songs solicited from particular writers? Did editors alter submitted lyrics? Did the Songbook Committee vote on the selections, or was that left to an editor-in-chief ? Who knows? The fact that so little information is available on the subject may be largely credited to the U.S. government functionaries and vigilantes who, in their 1918-1919 raids, seized (and never returned) the IWW s massive files. In any case, there is plenty of work here for future researchers, and we wish them well!

Readers of the songs in the Wobbly songbook can hardly fail to notice the complete absence of songs by African Americans, the paucity of songs by women, and the infrequency of translations of songs by members of the IWW s many foreign-language groups.
In one of our phone discussions concerning the Big Red Song Book , Archie Green pointed out that no group of American workers has contributed more or better songs about work than African Americans, and particularly African American hoboes.
From Day One the IWW welcomed working people of color into its ranks, and many thousands of African Americans took out red cards during the union s first couple of decades (Spero and Harris, in their 1931 study, The Black Worker , put the figure at 100,000). Several of them-including Roscoe T. Sims, Lucy Parsons, Charles Carter, Hubert Harrison, Robert Hardoen, and above all Ben Fletcher-became prominent Wobbly organizers and agitators.
Surely the African American IWW membership also included songwriters, singers, and musicians to put the songs to music. But who were they, and what became of their songs? This is a complex matter, indeed. With few exceptions, biographical information on IWW songwriters is sparse, and in many cases non-existent. Christina Reynen has recently found evidence that two songbook contributors-Cliff Hughes and Ed Jorda-may have been African American, but further research is called for. In the present state of our knowledge, the only IWW song known for sure to have been written by an African American is Paul Walker s A Wobbly Good and True, which never appeared in the songbook.
Perhaps one day someone will uncover a sheaf of African American Wobbly songs in a trunk in a Louisiana attic or Baltimore basement. Stranger things have happened! Meanwhile, readers are referred to Paul Garon s What s the Use of Walking if There s a Freight Train Going Your Way? Black Hoboes and Their Songs (Charles H. Kerr, 2005), which contains the lyrics of over a hundred extraordinary songs along with a wealth of cultural/historical background.
In this superb study, Garon points out that, back in the day, a mixed group of hoboes around a jungle campfire would have been more likely to sing Wobbly songs than blues, country or vaudeville songs. But he goes on to note an important exception: If the group happened to include a blues artist, the other boes would almost certainly have been glad to listen and/or join in. Stressing the Wobblies strong affinity for poetry and song, he argues further that creative and imaginative artists like blues singers and other free spirits could not help but be attracted to the IWW.
Women, too, were a strong force in the IWW from the very beginning, and their activity and influence expanded appreciably over the years. Unlike the genteel Women s Auxiliaries of the conservative trade unions, women Wobblies took part in the class war as organizers, strategists, soapboxers, and all-round hell-raisers. Mary Marcy, Laura Payne Emerson, Jane Street, Vera Moller, Laura Tanne, Matilda Robbins and Agnes Thecla Fair were among the union s best thinkers, poets, and songwriters. How then did it happen that so few of the songs published in the songbook between 1909 and 1970 were by women? Egalitarian as the IWW was in most respects, the songbook editors-whoever they were-appear to have been afflicted with at least a tinge of masculine prejudice.
It also seems odd that so few songs from the IWW s flourishing foreign-language groups were translated for the English-language songbook. Several groups issued songbooks of their own, in Finnish, Swedish, Russian and Yiddish-some of them much larger than the English-language volume. Poems and songs also appeared in the union s Italian, Spanish, Czech, Hungarian, Romanian, Polish and Bulgarian periodicals. Two well-known Swedish IWW poets-Ture Nerman and Signe Aurell, both of whom lived in the U.S. for a time-translated lyrics by Joe Hill, T-Bone Slim and others, but as far as we have been able to tell, their own work has not appeared in English.
In this book s selection of Other IWW Songs Poems we have attempted, in a small way, not only to rectify some of the little red songbook s imbalances, but also, by revealing some less known lyrics, to expand readers appreciation of the Wobbly song and poetry tradition.

From brief remarks in a few published documents and, more rarely, personal correspondence, we know that rank-and-file IWW members were serious about their songbook, and that now and then it became a bone of contention among the union s competing factions. At the Eighth General Convention (Chicago, 1913), for example, during a long drawn-out debate on decentralizers and disrupters in this organization, G.E.B. member J. M. Foss (a supporter of Vincent St. John and the centralist majority) deemed it important to inform the delegates that at one time the Spokane locals controlled the song books, and that Fellow Worker [Walker C.] Smith [a decentralizer] was behind the referendum vote to take those song books away from the Spokane locals.
Fifty-odd years later, in the 1960s, Fred Thompson-unhappy with the many misspellings, arbitrary changes, and overall lack of contemporary relevance in recent editions of the songbook-discussed the matter of revision with old-timers as well as younger members. In a letter dated August 25, 1968, the veteran Wobbly Evert Anderson replied: I am happy to hear that meaningful improvement will be made in the forthcoming editions of the little red song book. It s about time, too, let me tell you. Much crap could be cut from the present edition to make room for something better.
Chicago in the mid- and later 1960s witnessed a youthful and multiracial IWW resurgence, which resulted in a greatly increased membership, the union s first strike in decades (Michigan blueberry pickers, 1964), a new IWW magazine (The Rebel Worker) , a new IWW bookstore and meeting-place, Solidarity Bookshop, and a revival of street-meetings. In the course of this heightened activity Fred Thompson, the IWW s in-house historian, and another old-timer, Jack Sheridan, suggested that the young newcomers try their hand at writing some new songs. A few song ideas were kicked around, and some fragments perhaps jotted down, but neither Rudolph the Two-Card Wobbly nor our attempts to fit Wob lyrics into Chuck Berry or Beatles tunes proved successful. One modest exception was a simple detournement: In big civil-rights and antiwar marches we sometimes sang We shall overthrow the State some day instead of the traditional We shall overcome some day.
It was around that time that I first heard Fred Thompson sing what I assumed was part of a chorus of a Wobbly song:
Oh, Karl Marx s whiskers they were eighteen inches long,
Karl Marx s whiskers they were eighteen inches long.
This was a song, Fellow Worker Thompson explained, to poke fun at Left sectarians who were always squabbling about the fine points of Marxist dogma. Years later, when he sang it at Charles H. Kerr Company Board of Directors meetings, where several divergent socialist tendencies were represented, the effect was always to quiet heated arguments. I never heard him sing any more of the song-if, indeed, there was more of it, aside from changing the length of Karl Marx s whiskers.
Thompson also told us of another song that he learned in his youth in Halifax from Donald Stewart, an old-timer so old he could remember Chartist meetings and their troubles with the police. This six-line bit of irony was sung by radical youngsters posted at each of the four intersections from which police could march in and arrest an outdoor speaker:
Our good friends the police,
Our dear friends the police,
Our good kind friends,
Our dear kind friends,
Our dear friends the police.
A group warning in the guise of a song!
The 1960s were still the Golden Age of hitchhiking, and that is how most of us young Wobblies got around, though some of us also hopped freights now and then. In 1963 I spent a little over a week hanging around the storefront IWW hall in Seattle, talking with the old-timers there. One day a white-haired, white-bearded gent-a Santa Claus who had seen better days-came in to pick up a bundle of the Industrial Worker and left, with a friendly wave to all of us. Oscar N. Peterson, Seattle Branch secretary, told me later that our visitor was Guy B. Askew, also known as Skidroad Slim.
When we started The Rebel Worker in spring 64, Fellow Worker Askew was one of its most enthusiastic boosters. He had joined the IWW in 1917 and had not mellowed with age. For several years he deluged us at Solidarity Bookshop with letters he wrote in his room at the dilapidated Fremont Hotel in Seattle. Much of his correspondence was repetitious-he constantly quoted the old Wob slogan, You can t fight the boss and the booze at the same time, and signed off Yours for a fighting anarchist IWW. But he also wrote us interesting reminiscences of the IWW in the old days. It was Guy Askew, for example, who told us about Paul Walker and his song, A Wobbly Good and True, and thus rescued that song from oblivion. In an especially moving letter, Fellow Worker Askew wrote that the IWW old-timers owed us young Wobblies an apology for not having recorded the beautiful voices of Joe Hill, Ben Fletcher, Paul Walker and other IWW songsters and orators.
In another letter (dated March 6, 1964) he told us about the 1916 Free Speech Fight in Minot, North Dakota, where over 500 IWW members had filled the jails and stockade. It was a hard battle, but the IWW won and reopened its hall in Minot. Askew even recalled two lines of a song from that struggle:
Back, back to Minot, North Dakota,
There s a fight in Minot town.
Jack Sheridan had been the IWW s leading soapboxer in Chicago in the 1930s, and still held that position in the 60s. Like Thompson and the other old-timers in the Chicago Branch, he had also hoboed quite a bit. A powerful reciter of poetry and a veteran of the old Dil Pickle Club, he was a poet himself, well known locally as the Byron of Bughouse Square.
Sheridan s ability as a reciter was remarkable; Fred Thompson used to say that his rendition of Chaplin s Red Feast invariably brings down the house. This reminds us that reciters of poetry were important figures in the IWW. Wobs who cold recite a poem from memory, with just the right voice inflections, dramatic gestures, and good timing were always in demand at IWW hall events, street meetings, picnics, and jungle campfires. In the years when vaudeville audiences thrilled to good recitations of The Shooting of Dan McGrew and Casey at the Bat, Wobblies enjoyed hearing the latest poem by T-Bone Slim and Dublin Dan. Of the highly skilled Wob reciters, Chaplin, Giovannitti, James P. Thompson and Jack Sheridan were regarded among the best.

Fellow Worker Sheridan also helped shed some light on what is surely the most curious and colorful lost Wobbly song of them all. What survives of We Flopped is a four-line fragment:
We flopped in the jungles together:
The wise guys, the hoosiers, the punks,
The winos, the dinos, the dingbats,
The gazooney, gazook and gazunk.
As Peter Tamony tells it, Archie Green in November 1959 recited those four lines to a group of Chicago Wobs, including Sheridan. The result was lively:
Sheridan was quite excited and said that while he had not heard the words for years he knew them well as part of a song. Sheridan recalled that he had heard the chorus sung at Wobbly street meetings in Chicago between 1911 and 1913 by a Fellow Worker known as Cassidy, the Wobbly songbird. Sheridan was nine years old at this time; his father took him to the meeting. He could not recall any of the verses, but said there were at least five. As Sheridan recalls, the fourth line referred to homosexuals or punks.
Sheridan also confirmed that the song was sung to the tune of Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.
Fellow Worker Charles Velsek, another mainstay of the Chicago Wobbly Branch (and a former chairman of the union s General Executive Board), also recalled the song from his own hoboing days.
Like Lionel Moise s fine poem, The Working Stiff (1910), the compelling charm of We Flopped lies largely in its rich profusion of hobo slang. The fact that most of the terms were unknown to outsiders-and no doubt even to younger migrants-adds to its special mystifying character, a little like Lewis Carroll s Jabberwocky and other nonsense verse.
Importantly, however, We Flopped also reflects an all-inclusive and distinctively IWW workingclass solidarity: a friendly acceptance of fellow workers of every description. To flop, moreover, signifies to sleep, thus connoting a real intimacy: outcasts of all kinds, sleeping together in jungle or boxcar. In any case, it is the only IWW song that welcomes homosexuals, workers with drinking problems, and other so-called misfits.

When Archie Green first called my attention to We Flopped, he called it surrealist, and the song s raucous, almost incomprehensible word-play would seem to justify the adjective. Interestingly, decades earlier, Fred Thompson referred to Hallelujah, I m a Bum as a surrealist rendering of the IWW Preamble. Another song that many Wobblies surely sang, The Big Rock Candy Mountain, has also been considered in a surrealist light, most perceptively in Hal Rammel s far-ranging study, Nowhere in America: The Big Rock Candy Mountain and Other Comic Utopias (1990).
I have argued elsewhere in some detail that the IWW counterculture-especially its songs, poems, jokes and cartoons-abound with what some of us long ago began to call vernacular surrealism. It is a strong current in the work of Wobbly poets as different as Covington Hall, Arturo Giovannitti, and Laura Tanne. You can t miss it in the outrageous linocuts of C. E. Setzer (X 13), Ern Hanson s scissorbill cartoons, and Bill Henkelman s hilarious detournements of mass-media advertising. And it reaches its exalted peak in 31,680 Hotcakes Per Mile and other masterpieces by the one and only T-Bone Slim: humorist, philosopher, and in Archie Green s fine expression: word alchemist.
To T-Bone we owe some of the best-and best-loved-songs in the IWW songbook. In Other IWW Songs we have included a few of his less-well-known and even previously unpublished lyrics.

Our chief aim in preparing the Big Red Song Book has been to make a contribution to the history of the IWW, and more generally to the history of American labor song and poetry. Of course we have also tried to hold fast to the old-time Wobblies radical spirit. Never have we intended this book to be a mere compendium for antiquarians. Even the songs that are least popular today tell us something of the IWW past, especially in regard to the union s-or at least the General Executive Board s-shifting strategies, priorities and moods. Significantly, however, despite the old age of most of these songs, you can still hear many of them sung today-on picketlines, protest marches, and other activist occasions. Several of them, indeed-especially Joe Hill s Preacher and the Slave and The Tramp, Ralph Chaplin s Solidarity Forever, John Brill s Dump the Bosses Off Your Back, T-Bone Slim s Mysteries of a Hobo s Life and The Job I Left Behind Me -have retained their popularity, not only among IWW members and other unionists, but also among students and rebels of all kinds.
The selection of Other IWW Songs Poems in this book is meant to drive home the point that the IWW song and poetry tradition is far richer than historians, musicologists, or even IWWs themselves have heretofore realized, and that the union s body of song greatly exceeds the contents of the little red songbook. The hard-hitting lyricism of Arturo Giovannitti, the haunting imagery of Laura Tanne, and the passionate defiance of Jane Street-to name only three-expand our appreciation of the breadth, scope and audacity of Wobbly poetry.
Some of these other poems may not be singable-but then, neither are some of the old songbook s songs. But many of these poems could easily be set to music, and an effective reciter could work wonders with the rest.
Few of these other songs and poems were ever really lost -most of them were published in one or another of the IWW s periodicals. With rare exceptions, however, these lyrics disappeared long ago from the repertoires of labor songsters and have not been anthologized. By making this sampling accessible to a wider audience, we hope to encourage readers (as well as singers and reciters) to further explore the Wobbly counterculture on their own.
The recovery of lost songs in the course of compiling this Big Red Song Book leads us to anticipate that still more songs-hopefully, many more-will yet turn up. Already it is clear that the IWW legacy of poetry and song is greater than even we had believed.
Perhaps what is most appealing about the lost and other songs is that they are, in effect, new songs-new songs from long ago that inspire us to think of the IWW and its counterculture in new ways.
Quoted letters are in the author s possession.
Stenographic Report , Eighth General Convention. Chicago: IWW, 1913, p. 147 .
Ellington, Richard: Fellow Worker Guy Askew: A Reminiscence, in Archie Green, 1993, 303-315.
Garon, Paul: What s the Use of Walking if There s a Freight Train Going Your Way . Chicago: Charles H. Kerr, 2005, pp. 50-51 , 200.
Rammel, Hal. Nowhere in America: The Big Rock Candy Mountain and Other Comic Utopias . Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1990.
Rosemont, Franklin. Joe Hill: The IWW the Making of a Revolutionary Workingclass Counterculture . Chicago: Charles H. Kerr, 2003. See especially: The IWW Counterculture and Vernacular Surrealism, pp. 523-558.
Rosemont, Franklin, ed. Juice Is Stranger Than Friction: Selected Writings of T-Bone Slim . Chicago: Charles H. Kerr, 1992.
Tamony, Peter Hobo Vocumentary. Caravan , June-July, 1960.
David Roediger
When the union s inspiration through the worker s blood shall run
-Ralph Chaplin in Solidarity Forever (1915)
When the Workers Inspiration Through the Unions Blood Shall Run
-Title of the 30th Anniversary Conference of the Association for Union Democracy, created by Matt Noyes rewriting of Solidarity Forever (2000)
It s funny, the line seems so natural to me that I have trouble remembering which version is the real one.
-Noyes, reflecting on the change (2005)
I n 1989 the late, great singer, songwriter and poet John Handcox visited University of Missouri in one of his last major public appearances. Resplendent in a mocha-colored suit, his beard and hair white, Handcox had lost little of his energy, or his sly sense or humor, well into his eighties. He brought a passion born of a belief that, as he once told interviewers Joe Glazer and Mike Honey, Singing to me is the most inspirational thing that you can do to organize labor. If you re making a speech, that s just you doing it. But when you get all of them singing, they have a different feeling. They have a feeling that they re a part of what s going on.
The large crowd heard wonderful words from the laborlorist Archie Green, the historian Arvarh Strickland and others, but it was Handcox who brought them out and who brought down the house. As advertised, he drew on his role as the troubadour of the Southern Tenant Farmers Union (STFU), choosing songs he wrote in nearby Arkansas and in the Bootheel region of Missouri during union struggles in the Great Depression. Some sang along on (STFU) classics like Raggedy, Raggedy, Roll the Union On, and There Are Mean Things Happening in this Land. But Handcox also ventured further in time and space, aptly singing the fabulous song of emancipated slaves, Oh, Freedom as if the lines Before I ll be a slave/ I ll be buried in my grave were written for 1930s sharecropping sitdown strikers, and for us. (Handcox s masterful performance of that song is available on the fabulous CD John L. Handcox: Songs, Poems, and Stories of the Southern Tenant Farmers Union , distributed by West Virginia University Press). Time moved forward when he improvised a new verse for Roll, promising If Bush gets in the way, we re gonna roll it over him, jabbing at the first, and remarkably enough in long run the less criminal, president by that name.
Repeated encores required more songs and at one striking point Handcox produced a well-thumbed red songbook. By the time he found it, he had already launched into his version of Solidarity Forever. He punctuated the song s performance with pauses and searches for the right page of the book, at last announced that he had found the song, and just as quickly lost it and resumed searching while still singing. The departures from the text far exceeded in artistry those of the hosts of union officials who have never quite learned the words but nevertheless feel impelled to join in when it is sung. They even surpassed the studied decisions of folksingers choosing whether the might of armies or the might of atoms better bears lyrical emphasis in these times. (Handcox sang, even in the brief moment that the song s text was in front of him, greater than the mighty armies. )
Over the years, Solidarity Forever seemed to have come to belong to Handcox, and with wonderful results. It appeared possible that he wanted the songbook there as a prop, and as a place where his young listeners could find the text from which to make their own departures. One of the changes Handcox made was decisively revolutionary in its poetic power. While the song s creator, Ralph Chaplin, had written of the hoarded gold of capitalists, Handcox castigated their horrid gold.
We all have favorite examples of Wobbly songs being used for exalted new purposes. Freedom singers in the civil rights movement, for example, retooled T-Bone Slim s The Popular Wobbly to let it speak to their own experiences with the cops and Klansmen who went wild, simply wild over efforts to integrate lunch counters and buses. Civil rights singer Candie Anderson Carawan s version ended with a question that still lacks an answer:
Will my children go wild or grow free
When it s time for them to go to town for tea?
Will those bedsheet wearin whites,
still yell Down with civil rights
Or will justice have come to Tennessee?
The process reversed itself when the historic Wobbly-supported 1985-86 strike at Austin, Minnesota s Hormel P-9 local reprised and recreated the Black freedom movement standard If You Miss Me at the Back of the Bus as Proud to March with P-9. The version on the cassette of Boycott Hormel: Live from Austin features steelworker Dennis Jones lyrics:
You been lookin for a song to sing
Can t seem to find one nowhere,
Come on over to the picket line,
We ll be a-singin over there.
At the bottom of the Great Depression in 1932, the Industrial Worker itself generalized Hallelujah, I m a Bum to convert it to Hallelujah! We re All on the Bum! with added lyrics directly addressing a demand beginning to get a new hearing in 30s:
Twelve hours a day !
Don t you know any tricks?
Two men could have jobs
If you d only work six!
In 1933, Hallelujah! I m a Bum -whose origins are controversial and whose bawdy variants are legion-gave its title to an Al Jolson/Harry Langdon feature film, one which tackled class issues and which uncharacteristically found Jolson not performing in blackface makeup. Predictably enough, there was almost immediately a variation. Deferring to very different British sensibilities concerning the meaning of bum, the studio released the film there as Hallelujah, I m a Tramp .
The adaptation of Wobbly songs by other movements is worth a study in itself. In the 1980s heyday of Earth First!-often called the IWW of the environmental movement -EF! songster Walkin Jim Stoltz wrote There Is Power in the Earth, based on Joe Hill s There Is Power in a Union (based in turn on the hymn, There Is Power in the Blood ). Ralph Chaplin s Solidarity Forever has inspired numerous variants. Jack Langan s 8-stanza Sixties countercultural version (1970) invokes the Black Panthers, student rebellion, ecology, and the anti-war movement. A decade later, California Earth-Firster and IWW organizer Judi Bari came up with Aristocracy Forever, a satire on the labor bureaucracy in much the same spirit as Leon Rosselson s Battle Hymn of the New Socialist Party. That same decade, Yale University s clerical and technical workers heard a new Solidarity Forever tailored to their bitter 1984 and 1985 strike. It began
It is we who push the papers, put the paychecks in the mail;
It is we who type the letters, mind the office without fail.
More exotically, the song rhymed out a threat that Chaplin probably could never have anticipated:
We work with agar-agar, pour chemicals in vats
But until we get a contract, we won t feed your stupid rats.
When workers choirs teamed with such star performers as Hugh Masekela and Sibongile Khumalo to sing and record at a recent Congress of South African Trade Unions meeting, Solidarity Forever crossed oceans to become a CD title.
Joe Hill s expression, Pie in the Sky, has also been heard round the world. In England, John Lennon quoted the words in his 1970 recording I Found Out, and it turned up again in the title-song of Jamaican Jimmy Cliff s 1972 movie and reggae classic, The Harder They Come :
Well they tell me of a pie up in the sky
Waiting for me when I die
But between the day you re born and when you die
They never seem to hear even your cry.
Sometimes, as Archie Green suggests in introducing this collection, the results of borrowings from IWW songs were more unhappy; indeed in the hands of authoritarians and reformists they might be so dire that copyright protections could almost seem a good idea. At a recent Central Illinois antiwar rally, for example, I heard a new variant of Solidarity Forever urging greater sympathy and tolerance for, of all things, strikebreakers:
So we ve got to feed the kids here, but you will not let us pass.
You call yourselves a union, yet you bully and harass.
You call us fucking scabs, and then you kick us in the ass.
Is that how Union makes you strong?
However, as the inspired responses of libertarian socialists and anarchists to Popular Front attempts to commandeer IWW songs and heroes make clear, the cure for misplaced creativity is more creativity, not more copyrights. For example, the engaging song I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night, whose Communist/fellow traveling origins are discussed in Green s introduction to this collection, became wicked parody in London Solidarity in the 1960s. Memorializing and deploring both Josef Stalin and labor fakers of the capitalist world in Old Joe, the parodists captured in song the same affinities of Stalinism and procapitalist unionism that C.L.R. James and his associates dissected in such books as State Capitalism and World Revolution and Facing Reality . Surveying a landscape From Brest-Litovsk to Vladivostok/In every mine and mill, it raised Stalin s specter in a world of private capitalism and state capitalism:
Big Joe ain t dead, he says to me,
Big Joe ain t never died.
Where bureaucrats drive Cadillacs,
Big Joe is at their side.
When the Popular Front-associated folk music revival efforts came in for critique, the vehicle was a Protestant hymn, turned labor anthem, turned into this damnation of vanguardist pretensions in culture and in politics:
Organize and fertilize
And sing your little song.
You are right on every issue,
All the rest are wrong.
Such lines illustrate Utah Phillips point that IWW songs have always borrowed and have always remade-taking what they needed from the church, or from Tin Pan Alley, or even from The Battle Hymn of the Republic, adding more sense to familiar tunes. When IWW songs are themselves borrowed and changed, we will sometimes be tempted to wince. But the risks are more than worthwhile. Every so often a John Handcox comes along.

Ern Hansen s Scissorbill exemplified the boorish, racist, anti-union worker

The black cat of sabotage was a favorite theme of Ralph Chaplin (a.k.a. Bingo)
The sting of Ernest Riebe s IWW Bug made workers class-conscious rebels
Salvatore Salerno
I n his Short Treatise on Wobbly Cartoons, Franklin Rosemont pointed out that labor cartooning had virtually no tradition behind it before the arrival of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Individual cartoonists now and then defended labor s cause, but they had no body of agreed-on customs to back them up. While this was not the case for songs, there nevertheless were important ways in which labor songs and their usage changed after the introduction of the IWW s little red songbook. Wobblies continued a tradition of song inherited from the American labor movement while absorbing new songs and traditions carried by the emerging transnational labor force. When we add images to songs, or consider the ways songs engendered Wobbly visual culture, we again encounter a relationship without parallel in the labor movement.
The earliest IWW s songbooks did not carry a graphic on the cover. Occasionally, we find among the foreign language locals an IWW cartoon or a graphic on the cover of their own traditional labor songbooks. Images would occasionally adorn sheet music or decorate the borders of song sheets, pamphlets and books. When songs were handed out on picket lines, they sometimes were accompanied by graphics. The combination of image with song functioned not only as a means of enhancing the aesthetics of songs, but also as a way to commemorate a fallen comrade or to celebrate a particular event. IWW expressive art forms also functioned in a deeper, less obvious way.

Ernest Riebe s Mister Block portrayed the uneducated workingstiff who considered himself the boss s friend
Their amalgam represented interventions into the contested terrain of the organization s internal politics and the politics of the larger left. Songs combined with graphics as a means of creating coded communication.
The IWW s use of syndicalist symbols, for example, appeared widely in songs and graphics, but only rarely-and briefly-in the organization s official documents or programmatic literature. Cartoon characters or symbols reinforced by songs amplified the importance of tactics and strategies, or gave rise to new symbolic forms. A short poem by Joe Hill is a good example.
A Swedish immigrant and itinerant worker whose poems and songs came to be known internationally, Joe Hill employed the symbols of French syndicalists in his work. The Rebel s Toast, provides an interesting example of the incorporation of French syndicalism, while reflecting the language of the midwestern floater as a means of communicating the emerging tactic of striking on the job:
If Freedom s road seems rough and hard,
And strewn with rocks and thorns
Then put your wooden shoes on, pard,
And you won t hurt your corns.
To organize and teach, no doubt,
Is very good-that s true,
But still we can t succeed without
The Good Old Wooden Shoe.
Wobblies typically incorporated forms of symbolism, whether derived from French sources or popular tunes, to illustrate the lived experience of their struggle. The use and mixture of derived and inherent forms of knowledge and symbols by Wobbly artists indicate the complex nature of the interpenetration of European syndicalist beliefs into the IWW s political culture. These examples also demonstrate the important role played by the combination of expressive arts in politicizing work culture. This can be especially seen in the Harvest Song written by Ralph Chaplin in 1915. This song praises the French syndicalist tactic of sabotage and at the same time introduces a uniquely Wobbly symbol of sabotage:
The ripening grain is waiting for us now,
And they need us all in all the land.
The guy who turns it into gold
Is the hobo harvest hand.
Get rich in a hurry-we re the ones you rob
And so we wear our sabots on the job.
The Wobbly is the boy to reap the harvest-
The one prepared to do it right.
The cockroaches and hogs who d like to starve us,
Will give us what we want or fade from sight.
The wooden shoe is the proper method
To make them run their hold-up at a loss;
Each sizzlook of a boss
Gets next and come across-
The Wobbly is the boy to reap the harvest!
The fields and jungles now are full of slaves
They are waiting to be put wise,
And the one big union is the way
That all workers should organize.
Line them all up solid, union makes us strong;
And better hours and wages is our song.
Some day we ll take the good things of the earth
That the parasites hoard and sell;
We ll keep our products for ourselves,
And bosses can go to hell.
The earth is on the button that we Wobblies wear;
We ll turn the sab cat loose or get our share!
Such wobbly symbols as the wooden shoe and sab cat appear widely in graphics, cartoons and songs. Sab cat is a term of uncertain origin. It first appeared in a poem published in Solidarity in 1913. Later, Wobblies extended the sab cat figure visually to illustrate striking on the job, sabotage, direct action, and the general strike. Sizzlook is a term even more obscure, and may well have been made up by Chaplin himself. Incorporating something of sizzling, dirty looks, and the slow burn popularized in early comedy films, the word evokes the boss s arrogance. Unlike sab cat, however, sizzlook did not catch on. (Folklorists designate such fly-by-night additions to the vocabulary as nonce-words. )
The wobblies way with words-sab cat and wooden shoe, Dehorn and Gyppo-was inventive and colorful. Cockroach, hog, Mr. Block, and Scissorbill also introduce complex cartoon characters and expressions that combine image with vocalization to form symbols whose codes are deeply rooted in the specificity of particular trades and regional conditions. As the anthropologist James C. Scott has noted, when oppressed groups challenge those in power by constructing a hidden transcript, a descendent political culture manifests itself in daily conversations, folklore, jokes, songs and other cultural practices.
Within IWW movement culture, symbols reinforced through image and song, while meaning to serve revolutionary ends, also backfired. The Brotherhood of Timber Workers (BTW) preached sabotage more than any other IWW affiliate. In his insightful essay on Covington Hall and the BTW, David Roediger has shown how revolutionary tactics could also serve to reinforce the status quo in matters of race and gender. Roediger found that the BTW had two ways of spelling sabotage. The first narrowly focused on confrontation with strike breakers:
Scabs Attention
Brotherhood of Timber Workers
On Strike at Merryville, La
Take Warning
American Lumber Co.
Going Crazy
Everybody doin it!
Doin what? Nawthin
The second demonstrated the versatility of sabotage as a means of creatively striking on the job.
Soap stops water from making boiler steam.
A safetida keeps patrons from struck theaters.
By working slow profits are greatly reduced.
Oil containing emery makes machines strike.
Telling trade secrets wins battles for workers.
Accidents often are an aid in winning strikes.
Guerilla warfare always gets the bosses goat.
Ends that are revolutionary justify the means.
Graphically these two meanings of sabotage were connected to the image of the rattlesnake, not the sab cat, wooden shoe or black cat that symbolized sabotage in other regions of the United States. When IWW leader Vincent St. John, Roediger writes, argued that the rattlesnake s warning before attack made it an inapt symbol of sabotage, Hall replied that the warning made it a manly, honorable symbol. For the BTW, manhood was the foundation for building biracial unity. Hall and other leaders of BTW insisted that there were no niggers or white trash (i.e ., scabs)-only men- (i.e . militant unionists). The emphasis on manliness created enthusiasm for the tactic, but deflected attention away from race, and therefore only widened the gap between whites and blacks. A greater appreciation for African American patterns of resistance, Roediger continued, might have argued for using Brer Rabbit as the symbol for sustained, creative, gritty struggle. Instead, the BTW not only sought confrontation, but like the rattlesnake, made noise about doing so.
We have gathered together in the Big Red Songbook a compendium of IWW songs that represent the complexity of the IWW s contribution to labor culture. We hope the illustrations scattered throughout these pages will help add another dimension to the songs. In my short essay I have pointed to the new and elusive levels of meaning the IWW introduced into the labor culture with their wordplay, humor, cartoons, and other graphics. In compiling these songs, we hope to pass on both the mystery and vitality in the Wobbly tradition. We have included songs that remain problematic, songs whose sheet music seems incomprehensible, songs whose tunes are no longer imaginable, and songs whose words now grate on political sensibilities. It is in this complexity that the spirit of the IWW can be found, as Jack Malloy tried to explain in James Jones s From Here to Eternity:
You don t remember the Wobblies. You were too young. Or else not even born yet. There has never been anything like them, before or since. They were workstiffs and bindlebums like you and me, but they were welded together by a vision we don t possess. It was their vision that made them great. And it was their belief in it that made them powerful. And sing! You never heard anybody sing like these guys sang!
Green, Archie, Wobblies, Pile Butts, and Other Heroes: Laborlore Explorations (Univ of Illinois Press, 1993)
Hall, Covington, Labor Struggles in the Deep South Other Writings , edited by David, R. Roediger. (Charles H. Kerr Pub Co. 2000).
Jones, James, From Here to Eternity , (Avon Books, 1979).
Kelley Robin, D. G., Race Rebels: Culture, Politics, and the Black Working Class . (Free Press, 1994).
Roediger, David, R., Towards the Abolition of Whiteness: Essays on Race, Politics, and Working Class History , (Verso Books 1994)
Rosemont, Franklin, A Short Treatise on Wobbly Cartoons, in Joyce Kornbluh,, Rebel Voices: An IWW Anthology , (Charles H. Kerr Publishing Co., March 1998).
-, -, Joe Hill: The IWW and the Making of a Revolutionary Working class Counterculture , (Charles H. Kerr Publishing Co. 2003).
Salerno, Salvatore, Red November, Black November, Culture and Community in the Industrial Workers of the World , (SUNY Press, 1989).
-,-, (ed.), Direct Action and Sabotage: Three Classic IWW Pamphlets of the 1910 s (Charles H. Kerr Publishing Co., 1997).
James C. Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts , (Yale University Press, 1990).

Joe Hill edited and illustrated this 1912 Los Angeles edition of the Songbook. Proceeds went to the Mexican fellow workers active in the Baja Revolution.

The Songbook s 28th edition (1945) featured IWW cartoonist William Henkelman s portrayal of the workers of the world marching under the red flag. The same cover also appeared on several subsequent editions, well into the 1970s.
James Connell
The informal committee of Spokane workers who edited the first IWW songbook in 1909 chose their opening piece wisely. Shared by rebels across national, cultural, and occupational boundaries, The Red Flag had become a radical-movement favorite as the twentieth century dawned. Responding to its warm acceptance in Britain, James Connell (1852-1929) wrote a reflective article for the Call , an English Socialist Party weekly (May 6, 1920), dating his song s genesis to 1889 (reprinted here, see p. 367 ; also summed up by Joyce Kornbluh (p 15).
Connell s essay is exemplary in placing The Red Flag in a setting of events and ideas. He assumed that his readers possessed an intelligent grasp of history. This very assumption underscores the annotations in our Big Red Songbook . To help understand individual IWW lyrics our notes decode dated polemics and illuminate obscure language. Songs played a vital role in the union s unfolding, and offered a glimpse into the creative impulses of worker/artists.
Many of the Wobbly compositions which followed The Red Flag are no longer sung (some were silent at birth). Because this song is still alive, the matter of its tune remains relevant. Connell, an Irish native, intended The White Cockade s music (as sung in Ireland before 1870) to be used for his composition. Presumably, he referred to a traditional version of the Jacobite classic that had crossed over from Scotland. It invoked memories of Bonnie Prince Charlie, Robert Bums, and My Love Was Born in Aberdeen. It distressed Connell when Adolphe Smith Headingley induced singers to use the tune O Tannenbaum or Maryland, My Maryland rather than that of The White Cockade.
Connell objected to the changed melody in that it did not, indeed could not, fit his poem s voice. Beyond this bedrock conviction that a tune had to suit a text, he disliked the melody of Maryland, My Maryland because it derived from an old (German) religious carol, O Tannenbaum, memorializing a Christmas tree. Connell doubly objected to the Maryland, My Maryland s text as a patriotic anthem linked to our War of Secession. (James Ryder Randall wrote a poem to his native Maryland in 1861, articulating Confederate passions.)
I have not unearthed the circumstance for Headingley s tune switch, and appeal for readers help in this mystery. We look to his life story for clues to his interest in music: Adolphe Smith (1846-1925); born in Headingley, Yorkshire; devoted to radical causes. Smith s Life in London (1877-78) is an important ethnography of workers in urban trades. Al though Connell and Smith both subscribed to socialism, their difference over a simple tune may have had a significance, now lost to us.
To my knowledge, no American ever performed The Red Flag as Connell meant it to be sung. Fortunately, Billy Bragg, in England, did record it with Connell s tune (released on a 7 inch EP; reissued in Australia and America on CDs titled The International.) Subsequently, several musician/activists in Dublin, including Des Geraghty, recorded The White Cockade version of The Red Flag in 1998 (released on Songs of Irish Labour , (a Bread Roses CD). Such belated recognition in England and Ireland was long overdue. Previous to the Irish album s debut, labour partisans dedicated a monument to Jim Connell at Crossakiel, County Meath, near his birthplace Kislkyre.
American singers have yet to catch up to their overseas cousins in recognizing James Connell s intentions. Despite his strictures, IWW members liked The Red Flag, using its music for other numbers in their songbag. However, the issues raised by Connell continue to haunt Wobbly artists (as well as other labor singer/songwriters). We ask of all items in our anthology: does a new song s lyrics fit its source tune; does an early song s association taint a rebel s cause?
The People s flag is deepest red.
It shrouded oft, our martyred dead;
And ere their limbs grew stiff and cold
Their life-blood dyed its every fold.
Then raise the scarlet standard high
Beneath its folds, we ll live and die.
Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,
We ll keep the red flag flying here.
Look round! the Frenchman loves its blaze,
The sturdy German chants its praise;
In Moscow s vaults, its hymns are sung,
Chicago swells its surging song.
It waved above our infant might
When all ahead seemed dark as night;
It witnessed many a deed and vow,
We will not change its color now.
It suits today, the meek and base
Whose minds are fixed on pelf and place;
To cringe beneath the rich man s frown,
And haul that sacred emblem down.
With heads uncovered, swear we all,
To bear it onward till we fall;
Come dungeons dark, or gallows grim,
This song shall be our parting hymn!
Richard Brazier
If the Man in the Moon Were a Coon
Richard Brazier detailed his role in the publication of the initial IWW songbook in a 1968 Labor History article (reprinted here on p 375). Joyce Kornbluh (p 72) highlights his story: born in England, emigrated to Canada in 1903, joined the IWW in Spokane in 1907.
During a 1960 interview with me, Brazier recalled his compositional methods. Listening to popular vaudeville/saloon hits of the day, he would memorize tunes before creating new union texts. He selected themes mainly out of the experience of migratory workers in agriculture, lumber camps, hard-rock mines, and the construction trades. His message of workers unity still resonates today.
Sadly, Brazier s plea in If You Workers Would Only Unite was not cast in a memorable or singable mode. Its present interest lies in the original audience addressed-workers on the hog (broke); traveling by foot (hit the pike); riding the rods on freight trains (count the ties). Exploited by employment agents (sharks), itinerants saw in the IWW a vision beyond wage slavery.
In retrospect, it is ironic that Brazier s opening piece reminds present readers of a now-embarrassing genre, Coon Songs. In the decades 1880-1900, thousands of pieces circulated that built upon previous minstrel-stage images-comic, crude, suggestive, demeaning-of African-American life. Usually performed in dialect with a bit of syncopation, these songs continue to echo in Hollywood movies, radio series, and television shows. If the Man in the Moon were a Coon, composed in 1903 by Fred Fisher (Fischer), reached home parlor and entertainment palace alike via sheet music. Its publishers issued various pictorial covers, some more garish than others. Attempting to wring additional sales for their chestnut, Fisher s heirs resuscitated it with loon replacing coon. Finally, Tommy Dorsey recorded the modified text in 1937 (Victor 25676).
Richard Brazier lived until 1974. Ever loyal to the IWW, he remained active in labor causes to the end. Like others of his youth, he had accepted racial stereotypes without much thought. Happily, he and fellow workers welcomed humane views of race as times changed. In my only visit with Brazier (1960), he exhibited a keenness of spirit characteristic of old Wobblies I had encountered. He accepted the fact that most of his compositions were dated; he believed that workers could aid their movement with song.
Oh, workingmen, say when, oh when
Will you wake up from your dreams
And unite so that you can fight
Your masters crafty schemes?
They do intend your power to bend
And work you till you re nearly dead.
So get wise, come now and organize
Beneath our flag of red.
If you workers would only unite, unite In one union grand,
Against your masters you could win your fight, fight, fight,
Throughout the land.
No need to be always on the hog
Or pay a shark two dollars for a job,
If you workers would only unite, unite.
The Industrial Workers of the World
Ask if you ll organize.
Every day they point out the way
By which you workers can get wise.
They say to you to your class be true,
Unite in one union grand.
Come and try; never say die,
But give us a helping hand.
Chorus To the Last Verse
Then our masters will have to hit the pike, pike, pike
And count the ties.
All over the country they will hike, hike, hike,
To their surprise.
They will have to work or starve
And the workers then will have the laugh
If you workers will only unite, unite.
The Wearing of the Green
Walking on the Grass represents IWW songs with authors unknown. Probably composed in response to a Missoula, Montana ordinance prohibiting public assembly, it addressed issues raised in free-speech campaigns waged by Wobblies in the Northwest and California. Trade (craft) and industrial unionists understood the song s Pinkerton reference as recalling the infamous behavior of armed guards during the Homestead, Pennsylvania steel strike of 1892. Such conduct continued to plague labor for decades.
My mentor in IWW lore, John Neuhaus, was as intrigued by the background of source melodies as by the Wobbly parodies themselves. Tasking himself with a search for old sheet music, song folios, pocket songsters, and hymnals, he patiently reconstructed individual song histories. He applied his considerable machinist s skill to his hobby.
The Wearing of the Green holds a more interesting story than its many derivatives. Beginning life as a traditional Irish ballad, it was incorrectly attributed after 1865 to playwright Dion Boucicoult. His Arrah Na Pogue featured the old song as arranged by S. Behrens. Whether heard in a stage drama, a Dublin pub, or a Wobbly hall, The Wearing of the Green thrilled rebels with its invocation of the Irish struggle for independence.
In this blessed land of freedom where King Mammon wears the crown
There are many ways illegal now to hold the people down.
When the dudes of state militia are slow to come in time
The law upholding Pinkertons are gathered from the slime.
There are wisely framed injunctions that you must not leave your job
And a peaceable assemblage is declared to be a mob,
And Congress passed a measure framed by some consummate ass,
So they are clubbing men and women just for walking on the grass.
In this year of slow starvation, when a fellow looks for work,
The chances are a cop will grab his collar with a jerk;
He will run him in for vagrancy, he is branded as a tramp,
And all the well-to-do will shout: It serves him right, the scamp!
So we let the ruling class maintain the dignity of law.
When the court decides against us we are filled with wholesome awe,
But we cannot stand the outrage without a little sauce
When they re clubbing men and women just for walking on the grass.
The papers said the union men were all but anarchists,
So the job trust promised work for all who wouldn t enlist;
But the next day when the hungry hoard surrounded city hall,
He hedged and said he didn t promise anything at all.
So the powers that be are acting very queer to say the least
They should go and read their Bible and all about Belshazzar s feast,
And when mene tekel at length shall come to pass
They ll stop clubbing men and women just for walking on the grass.
Richard Brazier
Cheer Up, Mary
Richard Brazier contributed 15 of the 24 items in the first IWW songbook. Unfortunately, many of his compositions did not achieve either the power or humor of succeeding Wobbly songs by others. Despite Brazier s noble intentions, his pieces were often stillborn. Some failed to overcome pedestrian texts; others suffered from mediocre tunes. Alfred Bryan (words) and James Kendis and Herman Paley (music), collaborated on Cheer Up, Mary, a Tin Pan Alley sentimental number in 1906.
Workingmen, do you hear coming near, more near,
An army s mighty tread?
Tis the Industrial Band marching through
the land,
And great truths are by them spread.
They do not speak to the mild and meek-
They only ask all men
Who will unite to win the workers fight
And overthrow their masters might.
Then the workers will cease sighing, sighing,
Joy will beam from every eye.
No more will we be toiling, toiling,
From morn till night draws nigh,
When you join the Industrial Workers.
Workers of the world, you must unite,
To gain your rights and win your fights-
You will win them by and by.
The workers heard and their hearts were stirred,
When asked to join this union grand.
They said with a cheer, we will join right here
And give the Industrial Workers a hand.
For we can plainly see the end of slavery
If we join you in your fight.
So one and all we swear to do our share
To overthrow our masters might.
Richard Brazier
In fashioning these notes, I am aware that a reader s response to a song may differ substantially from that of a listener. Further, I assume that most of our book s inclusions will only be read. How then do readers confront Brazier s grammar? Masters is a plural noun; class is a singular noun. Accordingly, I would alter his title to The Master Class is Feeling Fine.
With this detail out of the way, I note that Brazier s source tune, Dan Emmett s Dixie, is exceedingly well-known. Since minstrel-stage days, an extensive body of commentary has surrounded this song. The best recent work is Cheryl Thurber s thesis. Dixie : The Cultural History of a Song and Place, (University of Mississippi, 1993).
The master-class are feeling fine,
As they gloat with joy o er the long bread-line,
For they like to see the workers starve,
And if you murmur aloud for bread.
They send the soldiers to feed you lead,
They do, it s true, and you know it, too.
What care they for your women s cry, their tears or sigh,
Or if from hunger your children die?
For lives are cheap and there s more to buy,
All they want is gold and the blood and lives of the workers.
All they want is gold and the blood and lives of the workers.
These days the masters are filled with joy,
For labor power is cheap to buy,
So many men are looking for a job.
They work you all the hours of the day
And give you as low as possible pay,
While you look on and not a word to say.
The boss has got us up a tree, you and me
For we re not organized you see;
That s why we live in slavery.
But the boss has got a strong industrial union,
But the boss has got a strong industrial union.
Oh workingmen, it is a shame,
But for these conditions you are to blame;
Be game, stick together, organize, get wise-
Do the same as your masters do-
Organize in a union true.
Then the boss will toil with a number two.-
Yes the boss will work, and work hard too, he will, you bet,
For he worked us hard and we can t forget,
So we ll make him dig till his brow does sweat
When you organize in the Industrial Workers,
When you organize in the Industrial Workers.
Thomas Borland
How Can I Bear to Leave Thee
In his retrospective article for Labor History (1968), Richard Brazier recalls young Tom Scotty Borland as the best Wobbly singer I ever heard. Tom led singing at IWW meetings, served on the first songbook s editorial committee, and composed Unite, Unite to a Scottish tune. Brazier reports that Borland s career was cut short by death in Montana of tick fever. However, the third songbook (C) adds a note that Borland died as the result of Spokane prison treatment after a free-speech fight.
John Neuhaus (in his scrapbook sheet-music collection) included How Can I Bear to Leave Thee composed by G. Hubi Newcombe (words) and J.L. Molloy (music), published in 1885 by Chappell in London. One question for today: who will replicate Neuhaus efforts in tune searches with attention to early IWW texts?
Oh, workingmen, do organize
For freedom and for liberty!
Cut loose the bands that now bind you fast;
Unite or death will be your last.
Unite, unite to win your fight for freedom,
Onward, onward to liberty.
The Industrial Workers of the World
Are putting up a brave manly fight,
To give the working class their rights
And overthrow the greedy parasites.
Hail to our noble martyrs brave and true,
Who hoisted the emblem for me and you.
Some they bled and others died,
Their lives did they not sacrifice?
7. A SONG FOR 1910
The IWW editors failed to identify A Song for 1910 s author or melody. Retitled A Song for 1911 and then A Song for the Wage Slave, it did not live beyond 1913. However, John Neuhaus, in his intended comprehensive songbook, named The Old Oaken Bucket as the appropriate tune. Unless a musical source for subsequent Wobbly pieces is of special interest, I shall confine following notes to essential facts. For example, we credit the early U.S. printing-trade unionist, novelist, and poet Samuel Woodworth (words, 1818) and George Killmark (music, 1870) for this ode to a pastoral past symbolized by an iron-bound bucket.
While searching tunes, Neuhaus gave priority to those he had actually heard sung by fellow workers. When no one could recall a melody, he used his judgement. I do not know which method he applied to A Song for 1910. I doubt that anyone remembered its tune in the decade 1949-58, when Neuhaus pursued Wobbly lore.
Long in their bondage the people have waited.
Lulled to inaction by pulpit and press;
Hoping their wrongs would in time be abated,
Trusting the ballot to give them redress,
Vainly they trusted; a high court s decision
Swept the last bulwark of freedom away;
The voice of the people is met with derision,
But a people in action no court will gainsay.
Then up with the masses and down with the classes,
Death to the traitor whom money can buy.
Co-operation s the hope of the nation,
Strike for it now or your liberties die.
Hark to the cries of the hungry and idle,
Borne on the breezes from prairie to sea;
Patience their fury no longer can bridle,
Onward they re coming to die or be free.
Hear and grow pale, ye despoilers of virtue,
Corporate managers, masters of slaves.
Fools, did ye fancy they never could hurt you?
Ye were the cowards and they the braves.
Hail to the birth of the new constitution-
Laws that are equal in justice to all.
Hail to the age of man s true evolution,
Order unfolding at Liberty s call.
Buried forever be selfish ambition,
Cruel fomenter of discord and strife.
Long live the commonwealth Hope s glad fruition,
Humanity rises to news of life.
Richard Brazier
The Shade of the Old Apple Tree
Richard Brazier focused on early Wobbly themes: wage slavery s abolition, workers unity, industrial unionism. This song holds a symbol infrequently encountered in labor song: Damocles sword. Harry H. Williams (words) and Egbert Van Alstyne (music) collaborated on In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree in 1905.
The workers of the world are now awaking;
The earth is shaking with their mighty tread.
The master class in fear now is quaking,
The sword of Damocles hangs o er their head.
The toilers in one union are uniting,
To overthrow their cruel master s reign.
In one Union now they all are fighting,
The product of their labor to retain.
It is a union grand-
It is the best in the land
For I can see, it s the best for me
So come join the Industrial Band.
It stands for true liberty-
The end of all wage slavery-
So workingmen true, it is now up to you
To join the Industrial Band
The master class in fear have kept us shaking,
For long in bondage they have held us fast;
But the fight the Industrial Workers are now making
Will make our chains a relic of the past.
Industrial Unionism now is calling,
The toilers of the world they hear its cry,
In line with the Industrial Workers they are falling,
By their principles to stand or fall and die.
The Star Spangled Banner
In 1931, Congress elevated The Star Spangled Banner to become the national anthem of the United States. Its story is familiar; its tune, To Anacreon in Heaven, is also fully explored. Apparently, The Banner of Labor s unnamed author felt no pain in parody. Most IWW songwriters freely used gospel, national, or patriotic numbers as sources for caricatures, as well as for serious pieces based on previous literary or musical styles.
Oh say, can you hear, coming near and more near
The call now resounding: Come all ye who labor?
The Industrial Band, throughout all the land
Bids toilers remember, each toiler s his neighbor.
Come, workers, unite! tis Humanity s fight;
We call, you come forth in your manhood and might.
And the Banner of Labor will surely soon wave
O er the land that is free, from the master and slave.
The blood and the lives of children and wives
Are ground into dollars for parasites pleasure;
The children now slave, till they sink in their grave
That robbers may fatten and add to their treasure.
Will you idly sit by, unheeding their cry?
Arise! Be ye men, see, the battle draws nigh.
Long, long has the spoil of labor and toil
Been wrung from the workers by parasite classes;
While Poverty, gaunt, Desolation and Want
Have dwelt in the hovels of earth s toiling masses.
Through bloodshed and tears, our day star appears,
Industrial Union , the wage slave now cheers.
Richard Brazier
The Anheuser-Busch
Unfortunately, worthy causes do not guarantee good songs. Nor are composers of parodies always fortunate in their tune choices. Despite radical opposition to private enterprise and its commodification of goods, Brazier chose a shameless beer commercial popular in 1903, Under the Anheuser Busch, by Andrew Sterling (words) and Harry Von Tilzer (music) for the tendentious Come and Get Wise.
Talk about the swell way the workers don t live
And the fine wages our masters don t give;
Rave about the good cream that s high up above
If we ll work for nothing and the boss we ll all love;
Speak about the bread lines and soup houses, too,
Who sometimes feed workers when no job s in view;
But, workingman, really the power s in your hand
To change these conditions and rule this fair land.
Come, come, come, and get wise
To the boss who is now robbing you.
Come, come, come, hear what we say
To workingmen, honest and true.
We re the only union, and that is no lie;
You can join us without fear,
Come, come, come, and put the grafter
Dead on the hog right here.
Talk about the mansions where we don t reside,
And the splendid Pullmans in which we don t ride;
Speak about the good clothes that we never wear,
The jewels and luxuries our masters don t share;
Talk about the swell dumps where our masters dine
Their friends, their lackeys and ladies so fine;
But if you need these things one thing you must do-
All come together in one union true.
Talk about our friend, the employment shark,
Who robs the poor workingman daylight and dark.
And those fat policemen who batter our head
If we go on strike for a few crumbs of bread,
And those fat preachers, so sleek and well fed,
Who say we ll be happy after we are dead;
But if you ll unite in the Industrial Band,
You can drive these grafters out of this land.
Richard Brazier
Blue Bell
It is difficult in the IWW s centennial year to assess the significance of Brazier s early songs. Many were polemical in content; others, awkward in form. Yet, at their inception, Wobblies must have welcomed them for their message cast in such fervent rhetoric. Presently, we confine both Workingmen, You Are Called Upon and its source tune, Blue Bell (words and music) by Theodore F. Morse, 1904, to the archives.
Workingmen, you are called upon a duty to perform-
Your masters have exploited you, and still do, night and morn.
They intend that you must work till you are nearly dead,
So take a tumble and unite beneath our flag of red.
The Industrial Workers are calling you
To come together in one union true.
Workingmen, remember, you ve a world to gain,
And nothing to lose but your chains, your chains.
The Industrial Workers of the World ask you to organize
And force our capitalist masters our rights to recognize.
We intend that they must work for their daily bread
Instead of living off our toil and the sweat and blood we shed.
Workers, come join the union-the union of your class-
Then this system of slavery from our midst will pass.
Come join the Industrial Workers, who stand up for the workers right;
Come help your fellow workers by fighting the workers fight.
Revive Us Again
The first IWW songbook held two dozen items. Most were somber commentaries on wage slavery; some, visionary calls for a new society. By contrast, Hellelujah was totally irreverent. It anticipated the ability by Wobblies to poke fun at their collective lot. Working stiffs when banded together under the industrial union banner, more than other radicals, could subject their cherished movement s philosophy to satiric art or sardonic wit.
Subsequent songbook editors corrected Hellelujah s title to Hallelujah, On the Bum and Hallelujah, I m a Bum. (Below, I clip the song title to Hallelujah. It deserves an extended case study, more thorough than I can provide here.)
William P. Mackay (words) and John J. Husband (music) composed the gospel hymn Revive us Again in 1863. Years later, Harry Kirby McClintock (1884-1957) known as Haywire Mac, and possibly others now unknown, voiced humorous or ribald verses set to Husband s tune. Mac had started work as a teen-age pony punk (dog-and-pony-show groom) and continued in a kaleidoscope of occupations: busker, railroader, radio star, pulp-magazine writer. The Big Rock Candy Mountain -where workers dream of the absence of short-handled shovels-is McClintock s signature piece.
We lack an exact date, but guess 1907 as the year in which Mac met James H. Walsh, a charismatic Wobbly organizer/jawsmith (soapboxer), down from Alaska. Their paths crossed either in Portland, Oregon or Spokane, Washington. Walsh had formed a brass band mimicking Salvation Army Street bands. Mac played the E-flat baritone horn; additionally, in the year of planning the first IWW songbook, he introduced Hallelujah to his fellow workers.
When Walsh organized an industrial Union Singing Club (Overalls Brigade) to travel via boxcar to the IWW s Fourth Convention in Chicago (September 21-25, 1908) Hallelujah became the theme song of the westerners while on route and at the gathering. Decked out in crisp blue denim overalls, black shirts, and scarlet ties, the pesky go-abouts taking pleasure in performance, infuriated those delegates who viewed life thru doctrinaire lenses.
During the floor battles-Vincent St. John (workers) vs. Daniel DeLeon (intellectuals)-the latter charged that the bum brigade or bummery (rabble, slum proletariat, lumpenproletariat) had hijacked and ruined the new union. DeLeon, of course, paid unintended tribute to the impious ditty which glorified the exploits of tramps, hoboes, and bums. In short, a particular song had come to personify a movement.
Prior to the convention, the IWW had printed Hallelujah with three other favorites on a songcard, which functioned as previous broadsides for topical ballads. (I have never seen this early Wobbly songcard. Does one survive in an archive?) Hallelujah also appeared in a printed dispatch by Walsh to the Industrial Union Bulletin (April 4, 1908). Thus, Mac s song circulated in two related domains: itinerant workers, organized Wobblies. It continued to accrete both clever and scurrilous verses improvised during its journey. In 1927, Carl Sandburg included it in his influential The American Songbag (p 184), giving it folksong status. Unfortunately, he failed to reveal his source.
In San Francisco (April, 1925), McClintock opened a new radio show, The Blue Monday Jamboree, with Hallelujah. On March 31, 1928, he recorded it in an Oakland field studio for the Victor Talking Machine Company. The disc sold exceedingly well; other hillbilly and country-western artists covered it. When Hallelujah became profitable to record companies, sheet-music firms, and song-folio publishers, Mac, claiming copyright protection, sued in federal court. Fortunately, he appealed to radio fans for the original songcards that had preceded the initial IWW songbook. Loyal listeners dug up a few cards; the song, perhaps transcribed or printed by Walsh, won the court case as well as royalties for McClintock.
Most ballad scholars and Wobblies alike, were loath to recognize Mac s claims. George Milburn, in The Hobo s Hornbook (1930, p 97), attributed Hallelujah to a colorful, rot-gut sotted One-Finger Ellis, and provided valuable additional stanzas from oral tradition. Eventually, John Greenway, a doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote to McClintock asking for his recollections. Mac s reply appeared in Greenway s American Folksongs of Protest (1953); it is reprinted in our anthology (see p. 371 ) as one of the few accounts of a Wobbly song s genesis.
I trust that Mac s letter to Greenway will stimulate further study of Hallelujah. We particularly need material on Mac s copyright case and details on Walsh s crucial role in the song s dissemination. For additional reading see: Kornbluh, Meade, Rammel, and Young. Two useful LP albums are: Harry K. McClintock Haywire Mac (Folkways 5272); Hallelujah! I m a Bum (Rounder 1009). A current CD is: Harry Haywire Mac The Great American Bum (British Archive of Country Music 082).
Hallelujah s history does not end with these references. Among the song s numerous offshoots, we reprint a six-stanza IWW variant from the Great Depression, Hallelujah! We re all on the Bum. Ultimately, after reading and listening, we ask of this piece, under its various titles, the questions which surround all our Big Red Songbook s items: Does Hallelujah live? Where? Why? Who constitutes its present audience? What does it mean to today s listeners?
O, why don t you work
As other men do?
How in hell can I work
When there s no work to do?
Hallelujah, I m a bum!
Hallelujah, bum again!
Hallelujah, give us a handout-
To revive us again.
O, why don t you save
All the money you earn?
If I did not eat,
I d have money to burn!
O, I like my boss
He s a good friend of mine.
That s why I am starving
Out in the bread-line!
I can t buy a job
For I ain t got the dough;
So I ride in a box-car,
For I m a hobo.
Whenever I get
All the money I earn,
The boss will be broke,
And to work he must turn!
Richard Brazier
Dolly Gray
In this conversation between a working stiff and a job shark (previously encountered), Brazier offers a vignette of actual employment practices he faced. The IWW used a whole anti-shark arsenal: songs, cartoons, direct action at skid road agencies, striking the job itself.
The point is small, but must be made: Wobbly authors and editors did not always present song titles accurately. The source tune for this parody was Good-bye, Dolly Gray, a marching song of 1900 which told of a soldier leaving his lady love. Will D. Cobb (words) and Paul Barnes (music) penned this tear-jerker.
Looking at the job signs, one winter s day,
I saw a working stiff, and heard him say:
I m fairly on the hog, and I ll have to buy a job.
And for the job my last two dollars pay;
I guess I ll take a look inside, and see
If there is any job that will suit me.
He said: What little dough I have got will have to go,
And as he went inside he murmured low:
Good-bye, dollars; I must leave you,
For a job with you I ve got to buy.
Something tells me I will need you.
When I m hungry and get dry.
Hark, the employment shark is bawling,
For that job he wants his pay.
Soon to the boss I will be crawling.
To make wealth for him each day.
He went inside, and this I heard him say:
I ve come to buy a job of you today.
The employment shark said: Yes I ve got a job, I guess,
But two dollars for that job you ll have to pay;
The job I ll send you to is far away
The board is high and wages low, they say;
The camp is full of bums and the bunks are full of crumbs.
Then again I heard that sucker softly say:
La Marseillaise, the French national anthem, served also as a revolutionary rallying cry across borders. Charles H. Kerr published it (English translation) in his first Socialist Songs (1900). Most anthologies of radical song tell its story; Joyce Kornbluh (p 173) is useful. Words and music by Rouget De Lisle.
Ye sons of toil, awake to glory!
Hark, hark, what myriads bid you rise;
Your children, wives and grandsires hoary-
Behold their tears and hear their cries!
Behold their tears and hear their cries!
Shall hateful tyrants mischief breeding,
With hireling hosts, a ruffian band-
Affright and desolate the land,
While peace and liberty lie bleeding?
To arms! to arms! ye brave!
The avenging sword unsheathe!
March on, march on, all hearts resolved
On Victory or Death.
With luxury and pride surrounded,
The vile, insatiate despots dare,
Their thirst for gold and power unbounded
To mete and vend the light and air,
To mete and vend the light and air,
Like beasts of burden would they load us,
Like gods would bid their slaves adore,
But man is man, and who is more?
Then shall they longer lash and goad us?
O, Liberty, can man resign thee,
Once having felt thy generous flame?
Can dungeon s bolts and bars confine thee?
Or whips, thy noble spirit tame?
Or whips, thy noble spirit tame?
Too long the world has wept bewailing,
That Falsehood s dagger tyrants wield;
But Freedom is our sword and shield
And all their arts are unavailing!
E. S. Nelson
Red Wing
Here, I pause to comment on the term tradition as a used by folklorists. Ballad scholars might agree that The Red Flag or La Marseillaise are traditional within left movements, but not folksongs. By contrast, Hallelujah, I m a Bum is a folksong. Entering tradition, it left a trail marked by variation. Such a distinction did not trouble early Wobblies who faced larger challenges than those confronting literary or musical explorers. However, in the IWW s centennial year, we look back at songs that lived, and those that did not.
E.S. Nelson was a Swede active in IWW eight-hour-day campaigns, and author of the 1913 Four-Page Leaflet, Appeal to Wage Workers, Men and Women , which also appeared in Swedish, Hungarian, and Slovak translations. Working Men Unite, written in 1908, caught on at once; the Overalls Brigade sang it while traveling to the IWW Convention in Chicago. Although I did not grow up in a Wobbly family, my parents enrolled me in a Workmen s Circle class after public-school hours. There I learned classic IWW songs, including one I knew only as Conditions They Are Bad. Decades passed before I accepted the correct title. Clearly, Nelson s piece has lasted over time, but it has not evidenced any variation. How do we place it in a meaningful category?
Long before I understood Working Men, Unite s lyrics, the song appealed because of its catchy tune. Thurland Chattaway (words) and Kerry Mills (music) offered Red Wing in 1907. Its sheet-music cover announced An Indian Fable and reinforced the message with a drawing of a winsome maid in feathers and beads. Such sugary portraits of Native American life were cousins to Tin Pan Alley s Coon Songs. Obviously, Nelson was more interested in Red Wing s melody than its narrative. Although our anthology presents songs in chronological sequence, I ll occasionally jump ahead. Woody Guthrie penned Union Maid in 1941, borrowing Red Wing s familiar tune as Nelson had done long before him. This book s readers may enjoy comparing the story line of these two union songs.
Conditions they are bad,
And some of you are sad;
You cannot see your enemy,
The class that lives in luxury.
You workingmen are poor-
Will be for evermore
As long as you permit the few
To guide your destiny.
Shall we still be slaves and work for wages?
It is outrageous-has been for ages;
This earth by right belongs to toilers,
And not to spoilers of liberty.
The master class is small,
But they have lots of gall .
When we unite to gain our right,
If they resist we ll use our might;
There is no middle ground,
This fight must be one round.
To victory, for liberty,
Our class is marching on!
Workingmen, unite!
We must put up a fight,
To make us free from slavery
And capitalistic tyranny;
This fight is not in vain.
We ve got a world to gain.
Will you be a fool, a capitalist tool?
And serve your enemy?
Richard Brazier
San Antonio
Some of Brazier s compositions can be read today as period vignettes without regard to their intent as songs. They Are All Fighters holds several strong lines. Horrors of the bull-pen conjured the physical corral in which company guards or police herded striking workers. Wobblies who faced Pinkertons and Gatling guns knew this to be more than a metaphor. Again, the contrast between coffee and doughnuts and porterhouse steak reminded readers or listeners of ever-present class differences. Unfortunately, Brazier selected an insipid piece of 1907 for his melody: Harry Williams (words) and Egbert Van Alstyne (music) cobbled a Cowboy-and-Indian song, San Antonio.
There is a bunch of honest workingmen;
They re known throughout the land;
They ve see the horror of the bull-pen,
From Maine to the Rio Grande.
They ve faced starvation, hunger, privation;
Upon them soldiers were hurled.
Their organization is known to the nation
As the Industrial Workers of the World.
Then hail to this fighting band!
Good luck to their union grand!
They re all fighters from the word go,
And to the master
They ll bring disaster,
And if you ll join them
They ll let you know
Just the reason the boss must go.
They ve faced the Pinkertons and Gatling guns
In defense of their natural rights;
They proved themselves to be labor s sons
In all of their workers fights;
They have been hounded by power unbounded
Of capitalists throughout the land,
But all are astounded, our foes are confounded
For we still remain a union grand.
Then hail to this fighting band!
Good luck to their union grand!
You live on coffee and on doughnuts;
The Boss lives on porterhouse steak.
Your work ten hours a day and live in huts;
The Boss lives in the palace you make.
You face starvation, hunger, privation,
But the Boss is always well fed.
Though of low station you ve built this nation-
Built it upon your dead.
Then when will you get wise;
When will you open your eyes?
Richard Brazier
We Have A Navy
Brazier s compositions ranged from stark portraits of toilers oppression by capitalists to cheerful messages of ultimate victory by the underdogs. Generally, he succeeded in matching melody to lyrics. Although he named We Have a Navy as the source tune for It Is the Union, John Neuhaus (in a scrapbook) corrected it to the upbeat The Lads in Navy Blue. Harry Daccre (words and music) penned this jingoistic salute to sailor Jack in 1899 when Britannia ruled the waves.
Sing a song in praise of toiling masses,
Sing a song about our sons of toil;
Sing of wrongs done to the working classes,
Wrongs that make our hearts boil.
We have always borne the blows and lashes-
No more we ll patient stand,
But on every hand, throughout this splendid land,
We sons of toil will make our stand.
Then in our glory will we tower,
What will be the secret of our power?
It is the Union, the Industrial Union-
Our banner is unfurled.
We will unite in all our splendid might
In the Industrial Workers of the World
We have a union, a fighting union,
And our masters know that too.
It will keep them in their place
When they know they have to face
Our union of workingmen that s true.
For countless years and ages we ve been enslaved
Beneath the capitalistic rule;
We, the strong, cringing to those men depraved,
In whose hands we have ever been a tool.
But the day of liberty is dawning-
Freedom now draws nigh.
We must unite to win the fight-
Wage slavery then will die.
Then in our glory will we tower;
Great then will be the workers power.
Richard Brazier
French voyageurs established a trading post at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers in 1784. With the Louisiana Purchase and American Expansion, St. Louis became the Gateway to the West. In 1904, the city marked its centennial by staging an exuberant exposition. To celebrate, Andrew B. Sterling (words) and Kerry Mills (music) contributed Meet Me In St. Louis, Louis. An instant hit, this waltz had more topical appeal than many Tin Pan Alley numbers. Judy Garland revived the song for new audiences in a technicolor film of 1944.
Along with Hallelujah, I m a Bum, Brazier s most successful song portrayed an aspect of migratory workers experience. Itinerants depended on jungles (improvised camps along railroad right-of-ways where they slept, bathed, cooked, and socialized). A vernacular speech detail: Brazier first used the pejorative term scissorbill in a Wobbly song by noting the booster/rooster practice. Hobo boosters assumed that rich farmers and home owners with handy chicken coops were scissorbills.
Louie was out of a job,
Louie was dead on the hog;
He looked all around,
But no job could be found,
So he had to go home and sit down.
A note on the table he spied,
He read it just once, and he cried.
It read: Louie, dear, get to hell out of here,
For your board bill is now over due.
Meet me in the jungles, Louie,
Meet me over there.
Don t tell me the slaves are eating,
Anywhere else but there;
We will each one be a booster,
To catch a big fat rooster;
So meet me in the jungles, Louie,
Meet me over there.
Louie went out of his shack,
He swore he would never come back;
He said; I will wait and take the first freight,
My friends in the jungles to see;
For me there is waiting out there,
Of a Mulligan stew a big share.
So away I will go and be a hobo,
For the song in the jungles I hear.
Last Chorus
Meet me in the jungles, Louie,
Meet me over there.
Don t tell me the slaves are eating,
Anywhere else but there;
We will each one be a booster,
To catch the scissor-bill s rooster;
So meet me in the jungles, Louie,
Meet me over there.
Richard Brazier
The Holy City
An anthem filled with joy sums up Brazier s A Dream. His melody came from the 1892 sacred piece, The Holy City by Frederick E. Weatherly (words) and Stephen Adams (music). Dramatic contrast between the two songs is startling: one deals with hosannas to old Jerusalem; the other hails an industrial union.
One day as I lay dreaming, this vision came to me:
I saw an army streaming, singing of liberty;
I marked these toilers passing by, I listened to their cry.
It was a triumphant anthem-an anthem filled with joy;
It was a triumphant anthem-an anthem filled with joy.
One union, industrial union;
Workers of the world unite,
To make us free from slavery
And gain each man his right.
I saw the ruling classes watching this grand array
Of marching, toiling masses passing on their way;
With pallid cheeks and trembling limbs they gazed upon this throng,
And ever as they marched along the workers sang this song;
And ever as they marched along the workers sang this song:
Methought I heard the workers call to that ruling band-
Come into our ranks, ye shirkers, for we now rule this land.
Work or starve, the workers said, for you must earn your bread.
Then into their ranks came the masters and joined the workers song;
Then into their ranks came the masters and joined the workers song.
Richard Brazier
I Remember You
I ll Remember You helps us recall an employment practice railed against by Wobblies. Often called the three job system, it permitted sharks (in collusion with bosses) to send one crew to a distant job; keep the crew just long enough to pay fees; fire the crew and hire a new one. In short: one coming, another working, a third going - perpetual motion.
Brazier approached the practice with folksy humor. His job seeker is at once a Missouri yap, jay, rube, or sucker. The victimized worker intends to comb the shark s hair with a piece of pipe. Here is the first hint in an IWW song of a theme that caused the Wobblies much trouble a decade later-violence either against individuals or institutions.
The song s melody derives from I Remember You by Vincent Bryan (words) and Harry Von Tilzer (music), copyright 1908.
A Missouri yap came in to see the town,
Dressed up fine in his suit, a hand-me-down.
Employment shark saw him coming across the way,
Took him for a sucker or Missouri jay;
Says, How do, rube; I seem to remember you;
I ve got a good job I ll send you out to.
Sucker seemed delighted, said That will just suit me,
And these words he whispered as he handed him his fee:
I ll remember you, I ll remember you;
You seem to be a pretty decent feller
For a common job seller,
For on that job you ve sold me I ll make a hundred or two.
I ll remember you: there s nothing wrong with you;
Gee, I m awfully glad you told me
About that job you have sold me;
I ll remember you.
Missouri yap went out on the job-
Found he d been fooled by that employment hog;
He worked hard for a day or two, you see,
When the boss fired the big yap from Missouri.
Sucker beat his way back in to town,
For that shark at once began to look around;
Went in to a plumber s shop and bought a piece of pipe,
Then said as he waited for the shark he meant to swipe:
I remember you, I remember you;
Mr. Shark, you grafter;
You re the feller I am after,
For I mean to comb your hair with this piece of pipe.
Oh I remember you, and you ll remember me.
See the shark to me is walking,
Soon this gaspipe will be talking,
Then he ll remember me.
Richard Brazier
Where the Silvery Colorado Wends Its Way
In The Suckers Sadly Gather Brazier returned to two concerns previously touched in his songs: employment practices by sharks in shipping out workers; hoboes dining on ranchers chicken stew. Where the Silvery Colorado Wends Its Way, a song about loss, laments Nell who sleeps beneath the lilacs. G.H. Scoggins (words) and Charles Avril (music) penned this tearjerker in 1901.
The suckers sadly gather round the Red Cross office door,
And at the job signs longingly they gaze;
They think it s time they shipped out to a job once more,
For they haven t bought a job for several days.
So inside they go and they put down their dough
We ve come to buy a job from you, they say.
The employment shark says Right, I will ship you out tonight,
Where the Silvery Colorado wends its way.
Now those suckers by the score
Are hiking back once more,
For they didn t get a job out there, they say.
So to town they re hiking back
O er that bum old railroad track,
Where the Silvery Colorado wends its way.
The hobos quietly gather round a distant water tank,
While the bulls are safely resting home in bed.
And they sadly sit and ponder on the days when they ate pie
And occasionally some moldy punk instead.
But now they re living high when a chicken coop is nigh,
For the ranchers send them chickens every day
So to the jungles they skidoo there to dine on chicken stew,
Where the Silvery Colorado wends its way.
Chorus to Last Verse
There s a Bo neath every tree,
And they re happy as can be,
For the chewings round that place are good they say,
For they have chicken galore
And they know where there is more,
Where the Silvery Colorado wends its way.
Battle Hymn of the Republic
This anonymous marching cry of the wretched of the earth was the first in an IWW songbook to be based on the music, as well as the cadences of The Battle Hymn of the Republic by the Civil War author, abolitionist Julia Ward Howe. Her song is fully documented. However, when Ralph Chaplin based his Solidarity Forever on Howe s stirring song he designated its tune as John Brown s Body. An excellent recent study of the latter by Sarah Vowell appears in The Rose and the Briar edited by Sean Wilentz and Greil Marcus.
We have seen the reaper toiling in the heat of summer sun,
We have seen his children needy when the harvesting was done.
We have seen a mighty army dying, helpless, one by one,
While their flag went marching on.
Wage workers, come join the union!
Wage workers, come join the union!
Wage workers, come join the union!
Industrial Workers of the World.
O, the army of the wretched, how they swarm the city street-
We have seen them in the midnight, where the Goths and Vandals meet;
We have shuddered in the darkness at the noises of their feet,
But their cause went marching on.
Our slavers marts are empty, human flesh no more is sold,
Where the dealer s fatal hammer wakes the clink of leaping gold,
But the slavers of the present more relentless powers hold,
Though the world goes marching on.
But no longer shall the children bend above the whizzing wheel,
We will free the weary women from their bondage under steel;
In the mines and in the forest worn and helpless man shall feel
That his cause is marching on.
Then lift your eyes, ye toilers, in the desert hot and drear,
Catch the cool winds from the mountains.
Hark! the river s voice is near;
Soon we ll rest beside the fountain and the dreamland will be here
As we go marching on.
Dick Brazier
Three Cheers for the Red, White and Blue
This optimistic text speaks to the belief of many on the left that the workers commonwealth/syndicalism/socialism could not be stopped. Nevertheless, the song is typical of those that made sense in 1909, but no evidence exists of its life even for a few years after composition. John Neuhaus corrected Brazier s tune ascription to Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean which ultimately derived from Britannia, the Pride of the Ocean. Patriotic or national songs need little amplification here; libraries and archives hold their stories.
You can t stop the march of the toilers
On their way to true liberty;
Vain are the plans of the spoilers
To keep the working class in slavery.
The masters in great fear are trembling,
For the Workers banner is unfurled;
In one union they are assembling-
The Industrial Workers of the World.
Their banner red waves for you
It s the emblem of a union true.
The only union for toilers
Is the Industrial Workers of the World.
The Industrial Workers are leading
The workers on to liberty,
The cause of the toilers they re pleading
To lead them out of wage slavery.
The star of industrial unionism is burning,
It gleams upon our banner-red unfurled;
The hearts of the workers now are turning
To the Industrial Workers of the World.
Richard Brazier
I have not found a song identified as Commissionaire. (Perhaps a tune sleuth can resolve the matter.) The word itself defines a person commissioned to do small tasks-a messenger, porter, or doorman. Perhaps it appeared in song lyrics, the exact title forgotten by Brazier. His We Will Unite pointed to the struggle faced by the IWW not only against capitalists, but conservative craft-union leaders as well. His usage of the term labor fakirs sums up Wobbly contempt for traitors within the workers movement.
Are you led by labor fakirs, do you heed their beck and call?
Then beware, ye proletaire; take heed, ye proletaire,
For the service they will render you will send you to the wall;
And keep ye there, ye proletaire, will keep you there.
It s true you ve fought, as toilers ought-
We see that by the scars and wounds you bear.
But you ve lost your fights, likewise your rights,
Because you ve fought each other, proletaire,
Instead of the boss, ye proletaire.
So join with us and help brave the masters angry rage-
Away with lord and slave in every future age.
Let s raise the scarlet banner high, salute it as we re passing by,
And as one man we all will cry: We will unite.
Renounce those labor leaders, leave the union of your craft;
Come in and do your share to uplift the proletaire.
Come join the Industrial Workers, which is not run for graft,
But to unite the working class, the proletaire.
They are pledged to fight the capitalist might
And emancipate the workers everywhere,
To make them free from wage slavery.
And give every one who labors their full share,
And nothing to the master, proletaire.
Eugene Pottier, translated by Charles H. Kerr
At this juncture I ll again call attention to my chronology of IWW songbooks elsewhere in our anthology. I have never seen the second edition (Book B). Accordingly, The Internationale opens the third edition (Book C). I am puzzled as to why the editors did not include it in the initial songbook; it was as well known to radicals as The Red Flag or The Marseillaise.
Scholars have discussed L Internationale fully. Eugene Pottier wrote the poem in 1871; Pierre Degeyter set it to music in 1888. Charles H. Kerr published it with his own translation in Socialist Songs (1900). Peter Miller produced an excellent documentary film The Internationale in 2001. He covers the anthem s history from the Paris Commune through the Soviet Union s collapse to Tiananmen Square.
Arise, ye prisoners of starvation!
Arise, ye wretched of the earth.
For justice thunders condemnation,
A better world s in birth.
No more tradition s chains shall bind us,
Arise, ye slaves; no more in thrall!
The earth shall rise on new foundations,
We have been naught, we shall be all,
Tis the final conflict,
Let each stand in his place,
The Industrial Union
Shall be the human race.
We want no condescending saviors,
To rule us from a judgment hall;
We workers ask not for their favors:
Let us consult for all.
To make the thief disgorge his booty
To free the spirit from its cell,
We must ourselves decide our duty,
We must decide and do it well.
The law oppresses us and tricks us
Wage systems drain our blood;
The rich are free from obligations,
The laws the poor delude,
Too long we ve languished in subjection,
Equality has other laws;
No rights, says she, without their duties,
No claims on equals without cause.
Behold them seated in their glory,
The kings of mine and rail and soil,
What have you read in all their story,
But how they plundered toil?
Fruits of the people s work are buried
In the strong coffers of a few;
In working for their restitution
The men will only ask their due.
Toilers from shops and fields united,
The union we of all who work;
The earth belongs to us, the people,
No room here for the shirk.
How many on our flesh have fattened!
But if the noisome birds of prey
Shall vanish from the sky some morning,
The blessed sunlight still will stay.
H. S. Salt
March of the Men of Harlech
Henry Stephens Salt (1851-1939) was an English socialist, naturalist, animal-rights pioneer, and prolific writer. His works include biographies of DeQuincey and Thoreau, and a 1921 autobiography, Seventy Years Among Savages (the savages were the British bourgeoisie). His martial text echoes the rhetoric of The Men of Harlech. Welsh partisans honor it as their national song. Beyond the borders of Wales, it is often categorized as a folksong. Charles H. Kerr had included the text of Salt s piece in Socialist Songs (1900).
Hark! the battle cry is ringing!
Hope within our bosoms springing,
Bids us journey forward, singing-
Death to tyrants might!
Tho we wield not spear nor saber,
We the sturdy sons of Labor,
Helping every man his neighbor,
Shirk not from the fight!
See our homes before us!
Wives and babes implore us;
So firm we stand in heart and hand,
And swell the dauntless Chorus:
Men of Labor, young or hoary,
Would ye win a name in story?
Strike for home, for life, for glory!
Justice, Freedom, Right!
Long in wrath and desperation,
Long in hunger, shame, privation,
Have we borne the degradation
Of the rich man s spite;
Now, disdaining useless sorrow,
Hope from brighter thoughts we ll borrow;
Often shines the fairest morrow
After stormiest night.
Tyrant hearts, take warning,
Nobler days are dawning;
Heroic deeds, sublimer creeds,
Shall herald Freedom s morning!
Last Chorus
Men of Labor, young or hoary,
Would ye win a name in story?
Strike for home, for life, for glory!
God shall help the Right!

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