Wednesday, June 4, 2008

“Though the flame of liberty may sometimes cease to shine, the coal can never expire”: Some diamond songs about coal mining

I made my first post over at Star Maker Machine yesterday. It is a fabulous group blog which has a weekly theme for posts - this week it's boats. The song I posted was The Coal Boat Song by Stompin' Tom Connors (head over there if you want to listen to/download that track) and, when I started typing 'coal boat' into my iTunes to look for it, I realised just how many great songs there are with 'coal' in the title! So this got me thinking and, following a bit more research, I decided to also include songs about mining...and a few that just use the word 'coal' and have bog all to do with coal mining, just because I like them! Oh, and the quotation in the title is by Thomas Paine. Behold.

The start of it all...songs about coal:

Blue Tattoo (Coal Town Road) - Sandy Denny
and the same song, albeit under a different title:
Coal Tattoo - The Kingston Trio

Coal Miner's Blues - The Carter Family

Loading Coal - Johnny Cash

Coal Miner's Daughter - Loretta Lynn

Working In A Coal Mine - Lee Dorsey

Sprinkle Coal Dust On My Grave - Orville Jenks

Coal Train Robberies (Demo) - Elvis Costello

Coal Smoke, Valve Oil and Steam - Johnny Horton

More songs...about mining and miners:

The Springhill Mine Disaster - Luke Kelly (The Dubliners)

Miner's Prayer - Ralph Stanley and Dwight Yoakam

Miner's Refrain - Gillian Welch

The Dying Miner - Woody Guthrie

Songs about coal mining that contain neither of the words 'coal' or 'mining' in the title!:

Sixteen Tons - Tennessee Ernie Ford

Dark As A Dungeon - Merle Travis

Which Side Are You On? - Natalie Merchant

Big Bad John - Jimmy Dean

My Young Man - Kate Rusby
(see a beautiful video/photo montage to go with this song here. This also links nicely with the weekly theme over at Star Maker Machine, as it houses a 'secret' track - the traditional The Big Ship Sails on the Ally-Ally-Oh. My second post at SMM features Kate Rusby too).

Songs that really have very little to do with coal mining at all, but are worthy of inclusion nonetheless:

Old Chunk of Coal - Billy Joe Shaver

Coal to Diamonds - Gossip

Diamonds and Coal - Incubus

A fantastic collection of songs, I think you will agree.

Update: I can't believe that I forgot to include the following has only just occurred to me!

If I Had A Son - Vin Garbutt


Anonymous said...

Wow - anyone posting a Johnny Horton track I never heard of gets my respect. Nicely done.

Divinyl said...

Thanks :o) And thank you for taking the time to leave a comment...I always appreciate that. I hope you like the track?

Paul said...

Great Post!

I think Merle Travis takes the cake, but here's another: Devo – Working In A Coalmine

Divinyl said...

It's there petal...only by Lee Dorsey. I thought of you whilst putting this up, too, because I found out that Tom T. Hall did a song called 'I'm A Coal Mining Man', only I couldn't find an mp3 of it to include :o(

Don't suppose you have Peggy Seeger's original 'Springhill Mining Disaster' do you? I would swap The Dubliners for her if I could find it!

And thank you :o) Yes, Merle is the only one there with two songs...'Sixteen Tons' is his as well, isn't it? Although I've only heard Tennessee Ernie Ford and Johnny Cash do it, I think.

There are plenty more too...these were just the cream of the crop. But keep the suggestions coming!

LD said...

Don't forget Uncle Tupelo's cover of "Coalminers" from their March album. Great, haunting stuff.

Divinyl said...

Hi LD...welcome! :o)

I haven't heard fact, I don't think I've ever heard Uncle Tupelo, bar their name!

I'm sorry, I am musically ignorant :o(

Paul said...

Divinyl, you are DEFINITELY not musically ignorant.

Here is the Uncle Tupelo track: Uncle Tupelo - Coalminers

I think you will like them. Their first two records have a punk edge. This comes from their third album which is real folky. Their fourth and final album is more alt-countryish.

Divinyl said...

Thanks Paul :o) I think I may check them out further.

LJ said...

very nice set, very nice.

Divinyl said...

Thanks LJ :o) If you like these tracks, you should definitely check out my current series of 'state songs' posts!