Thursday, November 19, 2009

"I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night..."

Today is the 94th anniversary of the death by execution of Joe Hill, the labor organizer and songwriter perhaps made most famous by the song performed by Joan Baez at Woodstock:
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.
Hill was tried and convicted of murder in Salt Lake City, Utah, despite no physical evidence being presented at trial. In 1915, in certain parts of the US, being a successful union organizer was all one needed to get the death penalty. His body was cremated and the ashes scattered in every state of the Union except Utah, leading to one of the questions sometimes asked of anyone professing to belong to the union: "Where is Joe Hill buried?"  Labor columnist Dick Meister has an in-depth article on Hill here.

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