Labor's Troubadour

Front Cover
University of Illinois Press, 2001 - Biography & Autobiography - 299 pages
For more than half a century, armed only with his guitar, reams of songs, and conviction, labor balladeer Joe Glazer has marshaled the power of music to fight for union representation in mills, mines, factories, and offices all over the country. Here he recounts his experiences as a performer, educator, and "musical agitator for all good causes".

With the ease and elan of a seasoned storyteller, Glazer tells of sharing platforms with political powerhouses including Harry Truman, Eleanor Roosevelt, Hubert Humphrey, Adlai Stevenson, George McGovern, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Ladybird Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton. With sparks of humor, he describes his encounters with Jacqueline Kennedy, Rudolf Serkin, and other celebrities, as well as his relationships with Walter Reuther, George Meany, Cesar Chavez, Philip Murray, John Sweeney, and other outstanding leaders of the labor movement.

During half a lifetime of rubbing shoulders with the powerful, however, Glazer's focus has never wavered from supporting workers' efforts to secure fair wages and decent working conditions. His reward has been to see his music bring unity out of discord, galvanize union support, and lift the spirits of striking workers who were running low on every resource except a shared faith in the strength of unity.

Glazer has been all over the world singing, writing, and collecting songs about the common human condition of working. Seventy of these songs are included in the book. An enthusiastic recruiter and promoter of new talent, Glazer has also drawn a number of new labor balladeers into the limelight, some of whom he profiles here.

Spiced with colorful anecdotes, leavened with humor, and richwith compassion for the struggles of the rank-and-life worker, Labor's Troubadour reveals the powerful role music can play in the serious business of changing the world.

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