Saturday, December 13, 2014

Joe Hill's 'Preacher and the Slave'

Wobbly Joe Hill picked some mighty fine melodies for his parodies.  Sweet By and By, melody by Joseph P. Webster, is pure beauty. It is Mr. Webster's music moreso than S. Fillmore Benett's lyrics that cause me to not 'go off' and sing this song with contempt. I have heard Wobbly songs sung by folks who I think get more delight out of poking fun at the "Christians" than emotion invested in the Wobbly message. I leave out the "That's a lie" line (see the Little Red Songbook) and made some other changes, all intended for the Public Domain.

Sweet By and By
                 G                        C                 G
There’s a land that is fairer than day
And by faith we can see it afar
             G                      C            G
For the Father waits over the way
                           C  G/D D      G
To prepare us a dwelling place there
In the sweet by and by
                D7                                        G
We shall meet on that beautiful shore
                     G7/B   C
In the sweet by and by
                G/D              D7          G
We shall meet on that beautiful shore

The Preacher and the Slave 
By Joe Hill
Long-haired preachers come out every night,
Try to tell you what’s wrong and what’s right;
What's wrong?  You need is a job and something to eat
They answer with voices so sweet:

You will eat, bye and bye,
In that glorious land above the sky;
Work and pray, live on hay,
You’ll get pie in the sky when you die.

You can work hard for children and wife –
No guarantee you’ll make it in US life–
You’re a sinner and bad man, they tell,
When you die you will sure go to hell.

Workingmen of all countries unite,
Side by side we for freedom will fight:
When the world and its wealth we have gained
To the grafters we’ll sing this refrain:

Last Chorus:
You can eat bye and bye,
When you’ve learned how to cook and to fry;
Chop some wood, ‘twill do you good,

And you can eat in the sweet bye and bye.

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