Joe Glazer’s Biography

Joe Glazer (1918-September 19, 2006), closely associated with labor unions and often referred to as the “labor’s troubadour,” was a US-American folk musician who recorded more than thirty albums over the course of his career. Born in New York City, Joe was a graduate of Brooklyn College. He eventually moved to Akron, Ohio where he performed for the United Rubber Workers throughout his career, a union for which he served as education director from 1950 to 1962. He was also a member of the Textile Workers Union of America, an adviser to the United States Information Agency, 1961 joined the Foreign Service staff of the U.S. Information Agency, then headed by Edward R. Murrow, and was sent to Mexico as labor information officer. He also worked for the US State Department in Washington as a labor adviser in 1965.

Some of his more acclaimed songs include “The Mill Was Made of Marble,” “Too Old To Work” and “Automaton.” In 1960, in collaboration with Edith Fowke, Glazer published Songs of Work and Freedom, which included 10 of his original compositions. In 1979, Glazer invited 14 other labor musicians, artists, and activists to the George Meany Center for Labor Studies in Silver Spring, Maryland, to share musical and written compositions, and to discuss the effective use of music, song, poetry and chants in labor activism. The three-day event became an annual one, becoming known as the Great Labor Arts Exchange (GLAE). Over the next five years, the concept of “labor culture” and how the labor movement and the arts interacted which Glazer and others held expanded. In 1984, Glazer incorporated the Labor Heritage Foundation as a parent body for GLAE as well as to curate and promote the culture of the American labor movement.
In 2002, Glazer released an autobiography entitled Labor’s Troubadour, which was published by the University of Illinois Press, and is available through the labor Heritage Foundation. In September 2006, Glazer had died at the age of 88, reportedly due to the progression of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, at his home in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Joe’s Music:

  • Eight New Songs for Labor. 1950.
  • Ballads for Sectarians. 1953. Also included in Songs for Political Action, 1996.
  • The Songs of Joe Hill. 1954.
  • Songs of the Wobblies. 1954.
  • Joe Glazer and the PAC Bucks. 1955.
  • Image of History: Twenty Years of the CIO. 1956.
  • A Douglas for Me and Other Songs of the New Democratic Party of Canada. 1956.
  • Ballads for Ballots. 1956.
  • Union Songs. 1958.
  • Songs of Work and Freedom. 1960.
  • Ballads for Ballots. 1960.
  • Democratic Music. Democratic Committee for John F. Kennedy for President, 1960.
  • Songs of Coal. 1964.
  • The Golden Presses — That Heavenly Newspaper Plant. 1966.
  • My Darling Party Line. 1968. Reissued as cassette, 1988.
  • AFSCME Sings with Joe Glazer, 1968. Reissued in 1971 as Joe Glazer Sings Labor Songs.
  • Singing about Our Union. 1969.
  • Joe Glazer Sings Garbage — and Other Songs of Our Times. 1971. Reissued in 1980, and in 1993 as a cassette.
  • Joe Glazer Live at Vail. 1973.
  • Songs of Steel and Struggle — the Story of the Steelworkers of America. 1975.
  • Down in a Coal Mine. 1974. Reissued in 1997 as a cassette.
  • Textile Voices — Songs and Stories of the Mills. 1975. Reissued 1985 as a cassette.
  • Singing BRAC with Joe Glazer. 1975.
  • Union Train. 1975.
  • Songs for Woodworkers. 1997.
  • Songs of the Wobblies. 1978. Reissued 1988 as a cassette.
  • Service Employees International Sings with Joe Glazer. 1980.
  • Joe Glazer Sings Labor Songs. 1980. Reissued 1988 as a cassette; reissued 1994 as a CD.
  • A Century of Labor Songs. 1981.
  • Jellybean Blues. 1982. Also issued 1982 as a cassette.
  • Jellybean Blues, Vol. II. 1984. Also issued 1984 as a cassette.
  • Songs for USIA. 1985, cassette.
  • Fifty Years of the UAW. 1985, cassette.
  • Bricklayin’ Union Man. 1987, cassette.
  • Old Folks Ain’t All the Same. 1987. Also issued 1987 as a cassette.
  • Joe Glazer Sings Labor Songs, II. 1989, cassette.
  • The Jewish Immigrant Experience in America. 1989, cassette.
  • Sing and Build — Songs for Architects, Builders and Planners. 1991, cassette.
  • Welcome to America — Songs of the American Immigrants. 1990, cassette.
  • Folk Songs of the American Dream. 1995, cassette and CD.
  • The Music of American Politics. 1996, cassette and CD.