As the days shorten, this music Monday post features a classic Appalachian mining song about lack of light. Dark as a Dungeon has been covered by many country artists, including Johnny Cash. This 1951 recording features Kentucky songwriter Merle Travis performing one of the songs that made him famous. Scroll down for a version performed by the man in black. Merle Travis, Dark as a Dungeon Johnny Cash Dark as a Dungeon
Durham miner Ed Pickford wrote this song, which laments the demise of the coal industry in the UK. The chorus provides shout outs to all of the major coal mining regions throughout Great Britain and is a great sing along. The first version below is by the Portland, Oregon based group Press Gang. The following version is performed by Bill Elliot and Kevin Youldon in the Hetton Silver Band Hall, part of the Beamish Museum in England’s northeast coalfields. Press gang: Bill Elliot and Kevin Youldon:
This lively melody from New Orleans musician Allen Toussaint makes the difficult conditions underground sound almost fun. The song was included in Elizabeth Barrett’s award winning film Coal Mining Women (Appalshop films, 1981) and has been covered by musicians ranging from soul and funk artist Lee Dorsey to the post punk band Devo. Scroll down to see live versions of the song from Toussaint and Devo. Allen Toussaint Working in a Coal Mine Devo Working in a Coal Mine
This folk song by Durham miner Ed Pickford voices the concerns of coal miners in the United Kingdom during the nineteen sixties. During this period competition from oil reduced coal’s share of global energy markets. Lord Robens, the head of the National Coal Board from 1961 to 1971, made several controversial decisions that resulted in a steady loss of coal jobs. Miner Ed Pickford shared his memories of those difficult times in this song. This video features a new arrangement by the accapella group Wee Heavies. Wee Heavies, Pound A Week Rise:
The After Coal Book officially launches today, and we invite you to order your copy from West Virginia University Press. After Coal focuses on coalfield residents who are working to build a diverse and sustainable economy after mining jobs have disappeared. It tells the story of four decades of exchange between mining communities in Wales and Appalachia, and profiles individuals and organizations that are undertaking the critical work of regeneration. Publishers Weekly notes that “Hansell promises no easy answers, but his optimistic work showcases multiple community-building efforts.” Denise Giardina, author of six novels, including Storming Heaven, says After Coal is “a badly needed analysis of the situation where post-coal Appalachia finds itself. Books like Hansell’s are necessary to help the region move forward.” We hope that our book can support local efforts to create healthy communities in former mining regions in Appalachia, Wales, and around the world.