An obituary of labor folk singer Joe Glazer.
Labor singer Joe Glazer died Sept. 19 at age 88, after more than 60 years of singing and writing songs of solidarity, justice, unions and workers. Among his 30 albums was a collection of IWW songs, reissued for the centenary and available from the IWW Literature Department ($15).
Born in New York City in 1918, Glazer’s father was a member of the Ladies’ Garment Workers Union. After Glazer took a job with the Textile Workers Union in 1944, he and his guitar were dispatched to picket lines in the south where he began writing labor songs, sometimes based on gospel hymns. Among his best-known were “Automation,” “The Mill Was Made of Marble,” and “Too Old to Work.”
In his memoir, Labour’s Troubadour, Glazer described leading strikers around a textile mill singing those songs. They were “basically one-line verses that could be quickly changed” to suit any situation, he said.