McEwan’s liner notes say this about the song:
This song is dedicated to the lives and memories of the 26 miners who lost their lives in the Westray mine May 9th 1992 and to the families and communities effected [sic] by this terrible tragedy.
Also, to my grandfather John Alexander MacDonald who worked in the Lakeshore mine, Kirkland Lake, Ontario.
In the early morning darkness
Before the sun begins to show
They pile into the coal cars
To the world they know below
And they never thought about work that lay ahead
They just lived in present time
And they live their lives and trust in faith
Deep down in the Westray mine.
And the Westray mine
Lies cold and deep
We pray the Lord
Their souls to keep
They’ll live forever
The brave young souls
Of the Westray mine.
From an early age the miners they called
Twas the only life they knew
Like their fathers did before them
They became the chosen few
And the pay they got from this tough old life
Well, they kept their families well
But the black coal dust they breathed each day
Became a living hell.
It was May night 1992
In the early morning haze
When the methane gas ignited
To create the fate of days
And the draegermen they tried their best
But the work was hard and slow
And eleven friends and brothers
Were entombed in the depths below.