page contents
 

The composers of these songs were not identified.


"'Sing and fight!' said the colorful Industrial Workers of the World, better known as the Wobblies. They told their members: 'Right was the tyrant king who once said, 'Beware of a movement that sings.' Whenever and wherever the oppressed challenge the old order, songs are on their lips.' It is not surprising, then, that songs of protest have a long history.... Here are the songs of the men and women who raised their voices against political and industrial tyranny, against child labor, hunger, poverty, unemployment. Here are the songs of the oppressed, the downtrodden, the disinherited.... The fight for freedom and a better life knows no boundaries and respects no barriers. It has its martyrs and its heroes, its leaders and its rank-and-file, and these are the songs that speak for them. While some of the songs were created by poets of world renown,... [these songs] sprang from the hearts of unlettered farmers and factory hands, of wandering Wobblies and ragged-trousered philosophers. The words are often rough and awkward, but what they lack in polish they make up in sincerity. Verses that sound clumsy and uninspired when read in the drawing-room were often extraordinarily effective when sung in the meeting hall or on the picket line. Musicians may complain that many of the tunes are unimpressive, but most of them fulfill the prime requirement of a people's song: that it shall be easy to sing. A great many of the union song-writers borrowed their tunes from familiar folk songs, popular songs, or gospel hymns which were already known to the men [sic] for whom they were writing.... Many of them may seem old-fashioned to the modern reader, but they may mark the milestones on the workers' long road toward freedom and justice. This singing history is a testament to man's [sic] enduring will to make this world a better place to live in."—Edith Fowke and Joe Glazer, Songs of Work and Freedom


The Banner of Labor
The Blanket Stiff
The Bonehead Working Fool
A Call to Action
The Dawn of Freedom
Fifty-Thousand Lumberjacks
From Slavery to Freedom
Harvest Land
The Harvesters
Hold the Fort
In the Cold Old Wintertime
It Is Up to You
Masters, Beware!
The Message from o'er the Sea
My Wandering Boy
Out in the Bread-Line
Overalls and Snuff
A Parody on J.D.
The Roll Call
A Song for 1910
Song of the Scissorbill
The Stevedore and the Boss
Wage Workers, Come Join the Union
Walking on the Grass
We Are the Only Union
We Come
We Have Fed You All for a Thousand Years
Welfare Song
We're Ready
Wesley Everest
The Woman's Fight
Workers' Memorial Song
Working Folk, Come Organize

Leave a comment:

  •