There Is Power in a Union

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"There Is Power in a Union"
Song
Language English
Published 1913
Songwriter(s) Composer: Lewis E. Jones
Lyricist: Joe Hill

"There Is Power in a Union" is a song written by Joe Hill in 1913. The Industrial Workers of the World (commonly known as the Wobblies) concentrated much of its labor trying to organize migrant workers in lumber and construction camps. They sometimes had competition for the attention of the workers from religious organizations. The song uses the tune of Lewis E. Jones' 1899 hymn "There Is Power in the Blood (Of the Lamb)".[1]

"There Is Power in a Union" was first published in the Little Red Songbook in 1913.

The song has been recorded several times. Billy Bragg recorded a song with the title "There Is Power in a Union" on the Talking with the Taxman About Poetry album; this has different words[2] and is set to the tune of "Battle Cry of Freedom".[3]

Lyrics and style[edit]

Would you have freedom from Wage slavery,
Then join in the grand Industrial band;
Would you from mis'ry and hunger be free,
Then come, do your share, like a man.

(Chorus)
There is pow'r there is pow'r in a band of workingmen,
When they stand hand in hand,
That's a pow'r, that's a pow'r
That must rule in every land—
One Industrial Union Grand.

Would you have mansions of gold in the sky,
and live in a shack, way in the back?
Would you have wings up in heaven to fly,
And starve here with rags on your back?

If you've had 'nuff of the "blood of the lamb"
Then join in the grand industrial band;
If, for a change, you would have eggs and ham,
Then come, do your share, like a man.

If you like sluggers to beat off your head,
Then don't organize, all unions despise.
If you want nothing before you are dead,
Shake hands with your boss and look Wise.

Come, all ye workers, from every land,
Come, join in the grand industrial band;
Then we our share of this earth shall demand.
Come on! Do your share, like a man.

— Gibbs M. Smith, Joe Hill, Peregrine Smith Books, Salt Lake City, 1969/1984, pages 249–250

In popular culture[edit]

The Billy Bragg version of this title is featured in the 2004 film Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train in which American Communist organizations march in Time Square.[4]

The Billy Bragg song of this title, but unrelated to Joe Hill's song, is featured in the 2014 film Pride in which London organization Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners collects funds to support the striking miners of a Welsh pit village during the UK miners' strike (1984–85).[5]

For many years, Dropkick Murphys have used Bragg's song as one of the songs played before they perform.

Punk band Street Dogs recorded Billy Bragg's version (with altered lyrics) on their album Fading American Dream.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Little Red Songbook". Industrial Workers of the World. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  2. ^ "Billy Bragg - Talking With The Taxman About Poetry". Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  3. ^ Bragg, Billy (2015). A Lover Sings: Selected Lyrics. Faber and Faber. ISBN 978-0-571-32861-1. 
  4. ^ "Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train (2004) - Soundtracks - IMDb". 
  5. ^ "Pride Soundtrack". Universal Music Operations Limited. Archived from the original on 8 October 2014. Retrieved 17 September 2014.