MR. BLOCK (JOE HILL) (1913)
Tune: "It Looks Like A Big Night Tonight" (EGBERT VAN ALSTYNE) (1908)

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"Mr. Block," was another "common worker" who insisted on believing he could improve his economic and social status by rejecting the teachings of the I.W.W. and keeping faith with the existing institutions and patterns for succeeding in American life. The song was most certainly inspired by the cartoon strip "Mr. Block," written by Ernest Riebe and appearing in the Industrial Worker....

Evidence of the popularity of "Mr. Block"... appeared in an Industrial Worker article, dated Aprl 17, 1913, relating the adventures of fifty Wobs as they traveled from San Francisco to Denver to participate in a free speech fight.

Fifty miles from Salt Lake City we were sabotaged by an engineer on the Western Pacific. He reported his engine was in bad shape, the train crew was ordered to Salt Lake City with two cars only, leaving us detached in the dismal desert. We had no blankets, very little to eat and drink but amidst it all "Mr. Block" and "The White Slave" and other songs of Joe Hill's were rendered.
Again, in the hop fields of California in 1913, three thousand laborers... reportedly sang "Mr. Block" at the height of their protest against unsanitary working conditions and low pay.... In Salt Lake City in 1913, "Mr. Block" was sung to attract an audience for an I.W.W. street speaker.
Gibbs M. Smith, Labor Martyr Joe Hill, New York, NY, 1969, pp. 33-35.

..."Mr. Block"... was being sung by striking hop pickers in Wheatland, California when the sheriff moved in and provoked a riot. At the subsequent trial of organizers Ford and Suhr, the song was read by the prosecution and the songbook given to the jury, the local paper noting, "it was not the song itself that was so suggestive as it is the flaming red cover of the book wherein it was contained, Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent."
Fred Thompson, liner notes for Bruce "Utah" Phillips, "We Have Fed You All a Thousand Years," Philo 1076, 1984.

First published in the 6 Mar 1913 edition (fifth edition) of the Industrial Worker "Little Red Songbook."

Please give me your attention, I'll introduce to you
A man that is a credit to "Our Red White and Blue,"
His head is made of lumber, and solid as a rock;
He is a common worker and his name is Mr. Block.
And Block he thinks he may
Be President some day.
CHORUS:
Oh Mr. Block, you were born by mistake,
You take the cake, you make me ache.
Tie a rock on your block and then jump in the lake,
Kindly do that for Liberty's sake.
Yes, Mr. Block is lucky; he found a job, by gee!
The sharks got seven dollars, for job and fare and fee.
They shipped him to a desert and dumped him with his truck,
But when he tried to find his job, he sure was out of luck,
He shouted, "That's too raw,
I'll fix them with the law."

Block hiked back to the city, but wasn't doing well.
He said "I'll join the union -- the great A. F. of L."
He got a job next morning, got fired in the night,
He said, "I'll see Sam Gompers and he'll fix that foreman right."
Sam Gompers said, "You see,
You've got our sympathy."

Election day he shouted, "A Socialist for Mayor!"
The "comrade" got elected, he happy was for fair,
But after the election he got an awful shock,
A great big socialistic Bull did rap him on the block.
And Comrade Block did sob,
"I helped him to his job."

The money kings in Cuba blew up the gunboat Maine,
But Block got awful angry and blamed it all on Spain.
He went right in the battle and there he lost his leg.
And now he's peddling shoestrings and is walking on a peg.
He shouts, "Remember Maine,
Hurrah! To hell with Spain!"

Poor Block he died one evening, I'm very glad to state,
He climbed the golden ladder up to the pearly gate.
He said, "Oh Mister Peter, one word I'd like to tell,
I'd like to meet the Astorbilts and John D Rockefell."
Old Pete said, "Is that so?
You'll meet them down below."

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