"Joe Hill" was written in Camp Unity in the summer of 1936 in New York State, for a campfire program celebrating him and his songs, "Casey Jones," "Pie in the Sky" and others. Before the end of that summer we were hearing of performances in a New Orleans Labor Council, a San Francisco picket line, and it was taken to Spain by the members of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade to help in the fight against Franco. It has travelled around the world since like a folk song, been translated into twelve or fifteen languages. Joan Baez' singing of the song at Woodstock brought it to popular attention, but I still get asked the question, "Did you write 'Joe Hill'?"
Lyrics as recorded by Earl Robinson, Reeves Sound Studios, New York, NY, Jan 8, 1940 (original issue: Timely 503-A);
I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night
Alive as you and me
Says I, "But Joe, you're ten years dead,"
"I never died," says he, "I never died," says he.
"In Salt Lake, Joe, by God," says I
Him standing by my bed,
"They framed you on a murder charge."
Says Joe, "But I ain't dead," says Joe, "But I ain't dead."
"The copper bosses shot you, Joe,
They killed you, Joe," says I.
"Takes more than guns to kill a man,"
Says Joe, "I didn't die," says Joe, "I didn't die."
And standing there as big as life
And smiling with his eyes
Joe says, "What they forgot to kill
Went on to organize, went on to organize."
"Joe Hill ain't dead," he says to me,
"Joe Hill ain't never died.
Where workingmen are out on strike
Joe Hill is at their side, Joe Hill is at their side."
"From San Diego up to Maine
In every mine and mill
Where workers strike and organize,"
Says he, "You'll find Joe Hill," says he, "You'll find Joe Hill."