Monday, February 22, 2016

I Dreamed I Saw Joe Smith Last Night

I'm semi-obsessed with the song Joe Hill, and figured what the hey, why not re-work it to be about Joe Smith? I liked the Mormon connection in the original with Salt Lake, and of course the name fits perfectly (albeit with what's usually considered a pejorative form of Smith's name). I'm not much with lyrics, but this was still fun to tinker with. In the spirit of folk music, feel free to take what you like and fix what you don't.
I dreamed I saw Joe Smith last night
Alive as you or me
Says I, "But Joe, you're decades dead,"
"I never died," says he.
"I never died," says he. 
"The blackface lynchers killed you, Joe,
"They shot you, Joe," says I.
"Takes more than mobs to kill a man,"
Says Joe "I didn't die,"
Says Joe "I didn't die." 
"In Carthage, Joe," says I to him,
Him standing by my bed,
"They shot you through the chest!"
Says Joe, "But I ain't dead,"
Says Joe, "But I ain't dead."
And blazing there as bright as fire,
His eyes with pure love filled,
Says Joe "What they can never kill,
"Went on to Zion build,
"Went on to Zion build."
"Joe Smith ain't dead," he says to me,
"Joe Smith ain't never died.
"Where seekers pray to God for light,
"Joe Smith is at their side,
"Joe Smith is at their side." 
"In Kirkland, Nauvoo, Deseret,
"In every holy myth,
"Where children reach to God in faith,
"It's there you'll find Joe Smith,
"It's there you'll find Joe Smith."
I dreamed I saw Joe Smith last night
Alive as you or me
Says I, "But Joe, you're decades dead,"
"I never died," says he.
"I never died," says he.

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The original lyrics (or at least, the version of them I based mine off of), is available here:
A song by Alfred Hayes, Music by Earl Robinson ©1938 by Bob Miller, Inc. 
I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night
Alive as you or me
Says I, But Joe, you're ten years dead
I never died, says he
I never died, says he 
In Salt Lake, Joe, says I to him
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 killed you, Joe
They shot 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 working men 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 
I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night
Alive as you or me
Says I, But Joe, you're ten years dead
I never died, says he
I never died, says he 
And my two favorite versions are by Pete Seeger:


and Paul Robeson:

2 comments:

  1. Excited for this to be in the next LDS Hymnbook :)

    Seriously, tho, I like this song.

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    Replies
    1. Ha, that would be fun! (Though I'm sympathetic to people who feel we already venerate Joseph a bit much, so this hymn might just contribute to that . . .)

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