"The Tramp" (1913) is – together with "The Preacher and the Slave" – one of labor organizer Joe Hill's most well-known songs.[1][2] The lyrics tell about an able-bodied but unemployed man who wanders around looking for work, but is not welcome anywhere – even in church, Heaven, and Hell – and thus must "keep on a-tramping".[3]

"The Tramp"
Songwriter(s)Composer: George F. Root
Lyricist: Joe Hill

The tune is borrowed from the song "Tramp! Tramp! Tramp!", a Civil War song written in the 1860s by military songwriter George F. Root.[4][5] Root wrote it for Union soldiers, but the song was so popular that Confederate soldiers wrote their own words, and both sides sang it while marching. That song has appeared in several movies, including Gone with the Wind, and the tune is well-known today as the melody of the Sunday School standard "Jesus Loves the Little Children".[6]

"The Tramp" was first published in the Mar 6, 1913 edition (fifth edition) of the Little Red Songbook of the Industrial Workers of the World (also known as the Wobblies).[3] The Wobblies used songs – parodies set to traditional melodies – to help unionize workers. Hill wrote more than 25 such songs and was considered one of the Wobblies' best lyricists.[citation needed]

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit


  1. ^ Admin, FTOD. "Joe Hill - Freedom From Religion Foundation". ffrf.org. Retrieved 2019-05-02.
  2. ^ Piller, Ingrid (2010-11-18). "I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night". Language on the Move. Retrieved 2019-05-02.
  3. ^ a b "The Tramp (JOE HILL) (1913)". www.folkarchive.de. Retrieved 2019-05-02.
  4. ^ "The Tramp by Joe Hill, song lyrics". www.protestsonglyrics.net. Retrieved 2019-05-02.
  5. ^ "Original versions of The Tramp written by Joe Hill | SecondHandSongs". secondhandsongs.com. Retrieved 2019-05-02.
  6. ^ "Song: Jesus Loves the Little Children written by Clarence Herbert Woolston | SecondHandSongs". secondhandsongs.com. Retrieved 2019-05-02.