The original French words for The Internationale were written in June 1871 by Eugène Pottier (1816–1887, previously a member of the Paris Commune) and were originally intended to be sung to the tune of "La Marseillaise". In 1888 Pierre De Geyter (1848–1932) set the earlier lyrics to a new melody, composed especially for Pottier's lyrics. De Geyter's melody was first publicly performed in July 1888, and soon thereafter Pottier's lyrics became closely associated with, and widely used with, De Geyter's new melody.
Billy Bragg was asked by Pete Seeger to sing "The Internationale" with him at the Vancouver Folk Festival in 1989. Bragg thought the traditional English lyrics were archaic and unsingable, and composed a new set of lyrics. The recording was released on his album The Internationale along with reworkings of other socialist songs.