I’m the last damn Wobbly, I’m a hundred-twenty-five
The fatcats are flummoxed that I’m still alive
But I’m strong and I’m spry
And I don’t intend to die
Till the world is One Big Union
Bookstalls are always a feature of history conferences, for obvious reasons. (Not that this bookworm is complaining about that, mind you). The North American Labor History Conference in Detroit is no exception. In 2012, my first appearance at this annual event, I actually had some spare cash, and I bought a book called Working Words. Locally produced (the editor signed my copy), the book is a collection of songs and poems about work. It is an ecletic and fascinating collection, but the truth is, I bought the book mostly because of one particular contribution entitled “The Last Wobbly.”
Fast forward a few years, and a growing obsession with history and music, and I read “The Last Wobbly” again. “Huh. It’s a song, not a poem.” I thought. “I wonder if there’s a tune involved?” So I tracked down the author and asked him.
Mikhail Horowitz is a poet, satirist, philosopher, and musician, based in New York. In recent years he has teamed up with Gilles Malkine; they tour and record as a duo. He replied to my email, sent me a CD, and told me that indeed The Last Wobbly is a song lyric, and that it is still on his set list. No recording though- yet.
“Over the summer we will record it for you,” he promised. And they did. Here it is.
To an enthusiast such as myself, the fact that there is a song out there recorded at my request is exciting enough. It’s just a bonus that Mikhail and Gilles have recorded a well-crafted bluesy tune that fits the lyrics beautifully, with a singalong chorus that must be enormous fun at concerts. Go on, try it…
I want to share this lovely gift with my fellow workers and comrades of all stripes and types, in the proper IWW spirit. For, as the chorus implies, there is no last Wobbly. We have survived persecution, co-optation, ostracism, and social media. We keep coming back to help workers organise themselves in true solidarity, agitate against the bosses and the state, and re-build the new world in the increasingly fragile shell of the old (and to smack around the boneheads when required). May we do so until the One Big Union is built. For the first, last, and next Wobblies, in the face of the difficult times before us, some solidarity in song. Sing along.