Thursday, 15 September 2011

Springhill Mining Disaster

A brilliantly poetic story song written by Peggy Seeger and Ewan McColl and sung best, In my opinion, by Martin Carthy. The whole song invokes a great oppressive mood but the second to last line is devastating. I listened to this as events were unfolding a the Gleision Colliery near Pontardawe. Four men tragically died after becoming trapped in a flooded mine. It makes me shudder to think of what they went through, and the God awful place that these men had to work in.

In the town of Springhill, Nova Scotia
Down in the dark of the Cumberland Mine
There's blood on the coal and the miners lie
In the roads that never saw sun nor sky.

In the town of Springhill, you don't sleep easy
Often the earth will tremble and roar
When the earth is restless, miners die
Bone and blood is the price of coal.

In the town of Springhill, Nova Scotia
Late in the year of fifty-eight
Day still comes and the sun still shines
(But it's) Dark as the grave in the Cumberland mine.

Down at the coal face, miners working
Rattle of the belt and the cutter's blade
Rumble of the rock and the walls closed round
(The) Living and the dead men two miles down.

Twelve men lay two miles from the pitshaft
Twelve men lay in the dark and sang
Long hot days in the miners tomb
(It was) Three feet high and a hundred long.

Three days past and the lamps gave out
And Caleb Rushton got up and and said
There’s no more water, or light, or bread
(So we'll) Live on song and hope instead

Listen for the shouts of the barefaced miners
Listen thru the rubble for a rescue team
Six hundred feet of coal and slag
Hope imprisoned in a three foot seam.

Eight days passes and some were rescued
Leaving the dead to lie alone
Thru all their lives they dug their grave
Two miles of earth for a marking stone.

And... The polar opposite of this great rendition, U2 pissing all over the song on the Gaye Burne Show.  Just a stunningly bad attempt, amateurish and with a forced sincerity that makes me want to hide behind the sofa.

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