[Coal Mining Songs and Stories]

A performance of songs from Appalachia including both original compositions and traditional folk songs.

00:04Copy video clip URL Young girls line a room, reciting the Girl Scout Pledge, then singing “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.”

01:44Copy video clip URL A Girl Scout reads a text about the Pilgrims. 

02:30Copy video clip URL The girls sing “This Land Is Your Land” and other patriotic songs. 

04:25Copy video clip URL A change of scenery to a small performance space. Nimrod Workman sings “Lord Baseman” (his version of the traditional folk ballad “Lord Bateman”). 

10:40Copy video clip URL Sarah Ogan Gunning sings an autobiographical song she calls “My Dreadful Memories” that pairs the melody of “My Precious Memories” with original lyrics about class and exploitation: “All those memories, how they haunt me. Make me want to organize. Makes me want to help the workers. Make them open up their eyes.”

13:15Copy video clip URL Using the melody to “The Battle of Mill Springs,” Gunning sings a song for the coal miners: “My name is nothing extry, but the truth I do tell. I am a coal miner’s wife, I’m sure I wish you well. Coal mining is the most dangerous work in our land today. With plenty of dirty slaving work and very little pay. Coal miner won’t you wake up and open your eyes and see what the dirty capitalist system is doing to you and me. They take your very lifeblood. They take your children’s lives. Take fathers away from children, husbands away from wives. Oh miner won’t you organize wherever you may be and make this a land of freedom for workers like you and me.”

15:25Copy video clip URL Nimrod Workman returns to talk about the government’s neglect of coal mining country. 

16:45Copy video clip URL Workman sings “42 Years”: “42 years is a mighty long time to labor and toil down in the coal mine.”

18:45Copy video clip URL Workman tells a story about his son, who never dug coal, but who followed him into the mines when he was “a little bit of a fella.” 

20:50Copy video clip URL Workman sings “N & W,” a song about the hardships of coal mining. “I don’t see what’s wrong with that government. They won’t protect my place nor me. When Rockefeller gets all that big machinery, he’s gonna turn it over to me. I’m gonna take it to the Atlantic Ocean. I’m gonna dump it in the middle of the sea.”

23:15Copy video clip URL Workman sings a duet with Jack Wright of Wright’s song “The Hate”: “And the mountaineer hates for as long as he lives. And the sun will never shine on the day he forgives…. His burden is heavy and the nights are grown cold. He’s strong as an oak but too soon he’s grown old. 

25:50Copy video clip URL Wright sings an upbeat version of the song “Ginseng Sullivan.” 

28:05Copy video clip URL A duet between the Workman and Phyllis Boyens of “The Wife of Usher’s Well” (also known as “Three Little Babes”), a melancholy ballad about a mother and her three children. 

 

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