Miner’s Song, The

Given the general nature of this song’s title, it is no real surprise that several songs exist by the same name. For example, Toronto-born Carroll Levis (1910-68) introduced a group of miners singing a song by this name for the BBC in 1947.  A youtube video features a Welsh choir, Cor Meiboin Onllwyn, and soloist Brian Connick singing “The Miner’s Song” with completely different lyrics. The most common song by this name (at least on Google) appears to be one about the California gold rush.

Although not actually about Westray (the lyrics are relatively vague, except for a reference to the Number 11, which may well be fictitious), Dave Gunning dedicates this song on his album to the victims of the Westray disaster.

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Performances

John Allan Cameron, “The Miner’s Song,” Glencoe Station, Atlantica Music 02 77657/5049 21, 1996.

Dave Gunning, “The Miner’s Song,” Caught Between Shadows, self-produced, 2000.

Lyrics

Billy’s first breath was the last for his mother.
He was born on the shores of a town called Glace Bay,
And all that he had was himself and his father.
They lived in a house about a mile down the way.

His dad was a big man and worked as a miner.
Billy grew more to be like him each day,
‘Cause every boy’s dream was to work with his father
In the mine that ran under the bay.

“My son,” he said, “don’t be a miner,
‘Cause it’s hard work and too little pay.
You’ll dig in that hole for that company’s coal
And wind up just digging your grave.”

Billy grew older but never grew wiser,
Fighting and drinking his young life away.
He reached for the top but wound up on the bottom
Of the mine that ran under the bay.

They say that it happened one morning in April,
A cave-in at Number Eleven that day.
Billy got there as his dad reached the surface.
In his dying words he did say:

“My son,” he said….(etc.)


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