Song for the Knights of Labor comes from our not-yet-finished musical/opera, Iron & Gold. More info under the flerdee-lee ...
In 1885, the universal labor union Knights of Labor forced robber baron Jay Gould to sign a collective bargaining agreement with employees of his southwest railroad system, one of the pillars of Gould's fortune. The KoL's victory sent membership numbers soaring - from 104,000 in 1885 to over 700,000 in 1886 - but the new members lacked the older members' discipline and commitment to the Knights, and Gould saw an opportunity to strike back at the Knights. He adhered to the agreement with the running trades of conductor, fireman, and engineer, but ignored it with the lower-paid shop members (mechanics and machinists). In March of 1886, the Knights reluctantly struck, but support by the running men was lukewarm at best, and the strike failed. The Southwest Strike was a harbinger of things to come, and it would be decades before organized labor recovered from the reverses of the late 1880s and early 1890s.
Iron & Gold centers on Gould and Martin Irons, the man who opposed him in the Great Southwest Strike. Irons sings Song for the Knights of Labor in act 2, as the Knights prepare to go on strike.
Act 1 of Iron & Gold is complete; you can hear the music online for free here. It's also available at Spotify and probably other online radio stations, and if you actually want to buy it, at various online retailers including iTunes and Amazon, though CDBaby gives us the biggest royalty. (Note to real historians: We've taken some dramatic liberties with the few known facts of Irons' life - for instance, telescoping two wives into one.)
I write, score and produce the music; my wife, Lauren, writes the lyrics. We collaborate on the stage play. In addition to the music, Act 1 contains about 15 minutes of dialogue that's not on the website.
5:30 PM PT: Update: Very honored to be on Community Spotlight tonight - thank you!