One feels tempted to mourn: Yet another voice has been stilled. But it would be wrong when we talk about Joe Glazer, who died September 19 at age 88. His voice was never stilled when he was alive, and it will be with us — especially those of us who are part of the labor movement — for as long as the movement has the gumption to turn protest into song and song into protest. Joe understood, better than most of us, that the song is not merely an expression of working men and women’s lives but a tool in the arsenal of struggle.
Joe wrote — or rewrote, refashioned — melodies and lyrics to fit the fight, with ridicule or with calls to arms. “I shall not be moved” might have remained an obscure gospel tune, but in Joe’s mouth it became, “The Union Is Behind us, we shall not be moved…. We’re fighting for our future, we shall not be moved.”
These were weapons, and they gave courage to those on the picket line who faced the goons, the ginks and the company finks.
Thank you, Joe. You’re staying with us.