Monday, February 09, 2009

The BlackLeg Miner

the background, from wikipedia
Blackleg Miner is a 19th-century English folk song, originally from Northumberland (as can be deduced from the dialect in the song and the references in it to the villages of Seghill and Seaton Delaval).
It is not entirely clear how old the song is, although it is thought to have been written either in the late 19th or early 20th century. Richard Thompson, who released a version of it in 2006, dates it as early as the first half of the 19th century. However, if this was true, it must have been translated into more modern English, as the lyrics would not have been part of the language of 19th-century Northumberland.
The lyrics, which are traditional depict the aggressive stance against strikebreakers adopted by collectivised strikers - the term blackleg being an older word for scab. (Britain's mining sector was always heavily unionised and strikes could cause bitterness both within and between pit communities).
For a period in the 1960s and 1970s, the song's aggressive lyrics were ignored and it became a common feature of many folk music societies. However, the UK miners' strike (1984-1985) saw striking miners using the song to intimidate those who continued to work

In England they have a better understanding on the value of unions and class struggle
comments from the youtube post of the above song by Steeleye Span
I'm an American, and the proud daughter of a member of the United Steelworkers of America, AFL-CIO Local 1179. Those in other countries may find it hard to understand that so many Americans believe that Labor Unions are merely greedy and corrupt. I want to scream Who the hell do you think is responsible for your 40 hour work week, fool. Or the fact that laborer's children got to University. I love Steeleye Span with all my heart, and this is one of my favorite tracks.SOLIDARITY FOREVER! Bless the miners hated Thatcher.
scabs-the lowest form of life. my dad was a miner at rossington shut and they're thinking of reopening harworth...scab pit just across the border in about rubbing salt in the wound. how they can look at themselves in the mirror is beyond me. i know in their hearts they have nothing to be proud of. scum...

the lyrics
It's in the evening after dark
when the blackleg miner creeps to work,
With his moleskin pants and dirty shirt,
There goes the blackleg miner.
Well, he grabs his duds and down he goes,
To hew the coal that lies below,
There's not a woman in this town row
will look at the blackleg miner.
Oh, Delaval is a terrible place,
They rub wet clay in the blackleg's face,
And around the heaps they run a footrace
to catch the blackleg miner.
And even down near the Seghill mine,
Across the way they stretch a line
To catch the throat, to break the spine
of the dirty blackleg miner.
They grabbed his duds, his picks as well,
And they hoy them down the pit of hell,
Down you go, we pay you well,
You dirty blackleg miner.
It's in the evening after dark
that the blackleg miner creeps to work,
With his moleskin pants and dirty shirt,
There goes the blackleg miner.
So join the union while you may,
Don't wait 'til your dying day
For that may not be far away,
You dirty blackleg miner.

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