In this article, we have a number of versions of the famous revolutionary song, Joe Hill. This song is performed wherever those who are free of mind and action gather to celebrate the good in our world.
Joe Hill (Joel Emmanuel Hägglund, also known as Joseph Hillström) was born in Sweden on October 7th, 1879, before emigrating to the US in search of a better life. He moved across his new national home, from New York to San Francisco, observing the hardships suffered by the poorly paid working class.
Hill became a member of the Industrial Workers of the World, known as the Wobblies, and earned a reputation as a song writer and cartoonist for the union.
Among his most famous songs are, The Preacher and the Slave (in which he is credited with creating the phrase, pie in the sky), There is power in a Union (see Rebel Voice music, Billy Bragg), The Tramp, Casey Jones – The Union Scab and – fittingly for this site – The Rebel Girl. His songs of protest are calls for the workers to unite as a means of improving their conditions of employment.
In Utah, in 1914, Joe Hill was arrested for the killing of John G. Morrison (a former policeman) and his son. Although Hill arrived injured at a doctor’s practice later the same evening, stating that he had been in an altercation over an unnamed woman, he refused to elaborate further on the origins of his injury, even when he was convicted of the killings on the basis of his wounds.
His trial was controversial and, following an unsuccessful appeal and many political debates and international calls for clemency, Joe Hill was executed in November, 1915. He has been immortalized in song, verse and book. The highly successful writer known also as Joe Hill, was actually born Joseph Hillstrom King. He is the son of the world renowned writer Stephen King, who named his firstborn boy for the famous socialist and union organizer.
Joe Hill was a man who cared about marginalized and oppressed people, regardless of where they came from. He was a Swede who died in a foreign land on behalf of the impoverished people there. Joe Hill was a socialist.
The following 6 songs are renditions of the famous song about the Swedish folk hero, as performed by very different artists. The last 2 songs were penned by Joe Hill himself. Perhaps, we can say he left a lasting legacy.
This next one is Utah Philips covering Joe Hill’s own song, Pie In The Sky.
Finally, a version of Joe Hill’s song, The Rebel Girl.