2. “Joe Hill’s Last Will” (Joe Hill)
Utah Phillips – narration
Recorded 1976 at the Festival of American Folklife, Working American Program, Smithsonian Institution.
Digitally remastered by Air Show, Springfield, Virginia.
Bruce “Utah” Phillips is from Utah, where he was the State Archivist until he found he no longer had a job after he ran from the Senate in 1968 as the Peace and Freedom Party candidate, endorsed by Eugene McCarthy and supported by the National Democratic Party over the official Democratic candidate. He continues his political activity, particularly through labor organizing and singing for the I.W.W.
He recorded this narrative as a participant in the 1976 Working American Program of the Smithsonian Institution’s Festival of American Folklife. The sounds of the audience, passers-by, and even airplanes become part of the listeners’ sound experience. In the narrative itself, Phillips introduces the audience not just to Joe Hill and his will but to labor history. Stories and anecdotes are part of the typical framing of a song through which the singer connects audience, song, and subject. “Joe Hill’s Last Will” is printed here as Hill wrote it.
My will is easy to decide,
For there is nothing to divide.
My kin don’t need to fuss and moan—
“Moss does not cling to a rolling stone.”
My body? Ah, if I could choose,
I would to ashes it reduce,
And let the merry breezes blow
My dust to where some flowers grow.
Perhaps some fading flower then
Would come to life and bloom again.
This is my last and final will.
Good luck to all of you,