Don’t Mourn—Organize! Songs of Labor Songwriter Joe Hill (1990)
4. “The Preacher and the Slave” (words: Joe Hill, music: J. P. Webster/ 1911)
Harry K. McClintock – vocals
Interview by Sam Eskin
Recorded 3 February 1951 in San Pedro, California.
From Haywire Mac (Folkways FD 5272), originally released 1972.
Known also as “Pie in the Sky” and “The Long-haired Preacher Song,” this was the first of twenty-five of Joe Hill’s songs and poems to appear between 1911 and 1916 in the I.W.W.’s Little Red Songbook (I.W.W.: songs to fan the flames of discontent, a collection of songs popular among the Wobblies and in a format small enough to fit in a pocket). The phrase “pie in the sky,” which he popularized, is perhaps Joe Hill’s greatest contribution to our common language.
Haywire Mac McClintock (1882-1957) worked and travelled throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, the Pacific, and North America. He told stories of his association with Joe Hill: they organized in Portland, Oregon, in 1910; lived in a shack on the beach in Hilo, Hawaii, during the winter of 1910/11; then met again in Utah where McClintock worked and eventually married before he moved on. McClintock fought actively in the 1913 strike in Tucker, Utah, after which workers claimed in a Solidarity (an I.W.W. newspaper) editorial that Utah Wobblies were being jailed on flimsy charges—two weeks before Joe Hill was arrested 13 January 1914. McClintock wrote stories for magazines and eventually became a radio and recording personality with his own show in San Francisco.
Sam Eskin gathered a large archive of music and narrative using his own singing as a collecting tool. From Eskin interviews with Mac McClintock, folklorist Archie Green edited the Folkways record Haywire Mac, including narratives such as this one in which McClintock claims to have been the first person to sing “The Preacher and the Slave” in public, during the I.W.W. free speech fights.
Long-haired preachers come out every night,
Try to tell you what’s wrong and what’s right;
But when asked, how ‘bout something to eat,
They will answer with voices so sweet:
You will eat, bye and bye,
In that glorious land above the sky—way up high.
Work and pray, live on hay,
You’ll get pie in the sky when you die.
Holy Rollers and jumpers come out,
They sing, they clap, and they shout.
Give your money to Jesus, they say,
He will cure all diseases today.
And the starvation army they play,
They sing and they clap and they pray,
Till they get all your coin on the drum,
Then they’ll tell you when you’re on the bum:
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:
You will eat, bye and bye,
When you’ve learned how to cook and how to fry and bake a pie.
Chop some wood, it’ll do you good,
And you’ll eat in the sweet bye and bye—you wise guy.
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