JOE HILL (PHIL OCHS) (1968)
Tune: "John Hardy"

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Jack Elliott was brought in to play guitar on "Joe Hill," a song Phil had written to the same folk melody Woody Guthrie had used for "Tom Joad." Marks remembers Elliott coming into the studio immediately demanding something to drink. Keeping him sober long enough to finish the song was Marks's responsibility.
Marc Eliot, Death of a Rebel, Garden City, NY, 1979, p. 158.

Lyrics as performed by Phil Ochs on "Tape from California," A&M SP-4138, 1968.

Joe Hill come over from Sweden shores,
Looking for some work to do,
And the Statue of Liberty waved him by
As Joe come a sailing through, Joe Hill,
As Joe come a sailing through.

Oh his clothes were coarse and his hopes were high
As he headed for the promised land.
And it took a few weeks on the out-of-work streets
Before he began to understand,
Before he began to understand.

And Joe got hired by a Bowery bar,
Sweeping up the saloon.
As his rag would sail over the bar-room rail,
Sounded like he whistled on a tune,
You could almost hear him whistling on a tune.

And Joe rolled on from job to job,
From the docks to the railroad line.
And no matter how hungry the hand that wrote --
In his letters he was always doing fine,
In his letters he was always doing fine.

Oh, the years went by like the sun goin' down,
slowly turn the page.
And when Joe looked back at the sweat upon his tracks,
He had nothing to show but his age,
He had nothing to show but his age.

So he headed out for the California shore;
There things were just as bad.
So he joined the Industrial Workers of the World
'Cause the union was the only friend he had,
'Cause, The union was the only friend he had.

Now the strikes were bloody and the strikes were black,
as hard as they were long.
In the dark of night, Joe would stay awake and write;
In the morning he would raise them with a song,
In the morning he would raise them with a song.

And he wrote his words to the tunes of the day
To be passed along the union vine.
And the strikes were led and the songs were spread,
And Joe Hill was always on the line,
Yes, Joe Hill was always on the line.

Now in Salt Lake City, a murder was made;
There was hardly a clue to find.
Oh, the proof was poor, but the sheriff was sure
Joe was the killer of the crime,
That Joe was the killer of the crime.

Joe raised his hands but they shot him down,
he had nothing but guilt to give.
"It's a doctor I need," and they left him to bleed;
He made it 'cause he had the will to live,
Yes, he made it 'cause he had the will to live.

Then the trial was held in a building of wood,
And there the killer would be named.
And the days weighed more than the cold copper ore
'Cause he feared that he was being framed,
Cause he found out that he was being framed.

Oh, strange are the ways of western law,
Strange are the ways of fate.
For the government crawled to the mine owner's call
That the judge was appointed by the state,
Yes, The judge was appointed by the state.

Oh, Utah justice can be had,
But not for a union man.
And Joe was warned by summer early morn
That there'd be one less singer in the land,
There'd be one less singer in the land.

Now William Spry was Governor Spry,
And a life was his to hold.
On the last appeal fell a governor's tear;
May the lord have mercy on your soul,
May the lord have mercy on your soul.

Even President Wilson held up the day,
But even he would fail.
For nobody heard the soul-searching words
Of the soul in the Salt Lake City jail,
Of the soul in the Salt Lake City jail.

For thirty-six years he lived out his days,
And he more than played his part.
For his songs that he made, he was carefully paid
With a rifle bullet buried in his heart,
With a rifle bullet buried in his heart.

Yes, they lined Joe Hill up against the wall,
Blindfold over his eyes.
It's the life of a rebel that he chose to live,
It's the death of a rebel that he died,
It's the death of a rebel that he died.

Now some say Joe was guilty as charged,
And some say he wasn't even there.
And I guess nobody will ever know
'Cause the court records all disappeared,
'Cause the court records all disappeared.

Say wherever you go in this fair land,
In every union hall,
In the dusty dark these words are marked
In between all the cracks upon the wall,
In between all the cracks upon the wall.

It's the very last line that Joe Hill wrote
When he knew that his days were through:
"Boys, this is my last and final will --
Good luck to all of you,
Good luck to all of you."

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