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Joe Hillstrom, song lyrics

Song: Joe Hillstrom(1)
Lyrics: Woody Guthrie

Music: Woody Gutrie
Year: c. 1947
Country: USA

On January Tenth Nineteen Fourteen,
Two men fixed some masks of red handkerchiefs,
Walked into the Temple and South Street Store;
Laid Morrison and his son dead on the floor.

Before he died Merlin Morrison,
Reached under his counter and pulled his gun.
The fellows tried to run back out the door again,
Morrison put a bullet in one of the men.

Just three days later you arrested me,
At the Eselius home on Seventeenth South Street,
Just because I've got a fresh bullet hole,
You claim that I killed the Morrsons in their store.
This song was originally posted on
I was courting a woman and had a fight with a man,
He fired a pistol that lodged in me.
Old Prosecutor Leatherwood can beat out his brains,
But I'm not going to tell you this lady's name.

Take away these attorneys you picked for me.
My own lawyer now I'm going to be.
It's because I'm a union organizer in the copper mines,
You've got me on your killing floor to die.

My labor friends sent Judge Hilton and Christensen,
To prove I did not kill the Morrisons,
But I cannot drag my lady's honor down,
I can't tell where I got my gunshot wound.
This song was originally posted on
It was in June you convicted me.
You said I was guilty in the worst degree.
I don't want your pardon, but an honest trial,
If I can't get a fair trial I will die.

President Wilson wired the Governor Spry,
Saying please don't let Joe Hillstrom die.
Several thousand letters and telegrams,
Piled up on the governor's desk from workers hands.

The governor wired to Wilson, Nothing I can do,
The Pardon Board and Supreme Court, too,
Both did uphold the frame up trial.
They all want to see me walk my last long mile.

The death watch is set, it's November Eighteenth,
My comrades are marching up and down the streets,
Of all of the cities and the towns around.
They can sing Joe Hillstrom never let them down.
This song was originally posted on
The Nineteenth Day of November is here;
A frosty old morning with winter in the air.
Two telegrams that I got to send,
To Elizabeth Gurley Flynn(2) and Bill Haywood(3).

It's a hundred miles to the Wyoming line,
Could you arrange to have my body hauled,
Past that old state line before you bury me at all,
I just don't want to be found dead here in Utah.

Hey, Gurley Flynn, I wrote you a song,
To the dove of peace. It's coming along.
I lived like a rebel, like a rebel I die.
Forget me. Organize these copper mines.

They march me now out to the baseball park,
Tie me down in a chair, and the Doctor marks my heart,
With a little white rag against this black robe,
Goodbye Joe Hillstrom you done a pretty good job.


1 - More information on the life and death of Joe Hill in Wikipedia, who was born under the name Joel Emmanuel Hägglund but also known as Joseph Hillstrom.

2 - Elizabeth Gurley Flynn was a feminist and founder of the American Civil Liberties Union.

3 - Bill Haywood was a founding member of the International Workes of the World.

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