PAPER HEART (SI KAHN) (1976)


Mural by Mary Latham, Joe Hill Hospitality House, Salt Lake City, Utah

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"Paper Heart" recalls the paper target pinned on Joe Hill's chest when he was executed by a firing squad. It was written in 1976 for 200rpm, a musical history of the United States from the grassroots up.... The song does not refer to Joe Hill by name, though the original title was "Joe Hill," but tells the listener, "I guess you know his name."
Lori Elaine Taylor, liner notes for "Don't Mourn -- Organize! Songs of labor songwriter Joe Hill," Smithsonian/Folkways SF 40026, 1990.

Lyrics as performed by Si Kahn, Charleston, SC, 3 February 1990, reprinted ibid.
(minor corrections by Manfred Helfert)

There's a long, long line of people
Trying to keep from crying
There's always someone dying
But today's just not the same
There's a man shot dead in Utah
With a paper heart pinned on him
Framed up without pardon
I guess you know his name.
Well, you say you saw him out last night
But I hear him every day
In the voices of the people
In the songs they sing and play
They framed him up and they shot him down
This whole wide world's his burying ground
But the songs of the working people
Are his marking stone.
If heaven is One Big Union
I know that's where I'll find him
Playing cards with Big Bill Haywood
Telling jokes with Mother Jones
Casey Jones and long-haired preachers
Mr. Block and Scissor Bill
"Sent to hell a-flying"
By songs no one can kill.

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