Posted tagged ‘murder’

Sing a Song for Joe Hill

2010/11/19

Some say Joe Hill died on this day. In 1915. He was executed by a firing squad in the state of Utah. One night two men had been murdered in what seemed like a tale of revenge, and Joe Hill got the blame. He didn’t have no reason for killing those two men, but then again he didn’t have no alibi for why he had suffered a gunshot wound that same night.

The two men, they said, had been murdered by a man who had got himself shot too. Joe Hill hadn’t been a friend of the state of Utah – he was a Wobblie – a member of the Industrial Workers of the World. The I.W.W. still exists today, and in Hill’s time they were leading the charge for workers’ rights (for little things like the weekend and an eight hour work day). Hill served as the I.W.W.’s songsmith – he took old gospel standards and turned them into worker anthems.

Joe Hill

Joe Hill

Unfortunately, we don’t have a time machine to go back and find out the truth about Joe Hill. But many folks believed then, and many folks still believe now, that the trial of Joe Hill was a farce. That he wasn’t guilty of no murders, but he was being blamed because he organized workers, and that meant less money for the Big Wigs, Fat Cats, and those otherwise involved with getting rich off the poor. They saw their chance to get rid of Hill and they took it.

And why didn’t Hill have an alibi? Well some would tell you that Joe Hill was in the arms of a married woman, and revealing the affair would have ruined her life. So he gave his life to save her.

But some say Joe Hill didn’t die that day.

And some sang songs about him. Here’s a few of ’em.

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Joining the 27 Club isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be

2010/07/13

A lot of American musical heroes have died at the age of 27. Janis Joplin. Jimi Hendrix. Jim Morrison. Kurt Cobain. Heck, Brian Jones was from England but you can count him too. Superstars dying while still in their prime has become the climatic symbol of rock-star excess and glamor – the ultimate and almost necessary outcome for those who believe it’s better to burn out then to rust.

But there have been other American musicians that have died at age 27. While their deaths have still been incredibly tragic and often taken place under mysterious circumstances, their stories have lacked the excess and glamor of  “the Big-Five.”

Mia Zapata is perhaps the best example.

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