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Origins: Down in a Coal Mine (J. B. Geoghegan)

Related thread:
Joseph Bryan Geoghegan, travelling singer, 1800s (144)


In Mudcat MIDIs:
Down in a Coal Mine [ J. B. [Joseph Bryan] Geoghegan]


GUEST, Sminky 13 May 10 - 05:14 AM
GUEST,padgett 13 May 10 - 05:32 AM
Artful Codger 13 May 10 - 06:19 AM
GUEST, Sminky 13 May 10 - 06:25 AM
Susan of DT 13 May 10 - 06:38 AM
Steve Gardham 13 May 10 - 04:32 PM
Susan of DT 13 May 10 - 06:17 PM
Artful Codger 02 Jun 10 - 01:41 AM
GUEST,Dr Price, Cookie-less 02 Jun 10 - 04:35 AM
Artful Codger 02 Jun 10 - 06:11 AM
Steve Gardham 02 Jun 10 - 04:17 PM
Jim Dixon 05 Jun 10 - 12:20 PM
Artful Codger 05 Jun 10 - 03:18 PM
Steve Gardham 05 Jun 10 - 04:27 PM
Martin Graebe 16 Mar 11 - 08:18 AM
GUEST, Sminky 16 Mar 11 - 10:03 AM
GUEST 16 Mar 11 - 11:52 AM
Artful Codger 16 Mar 11 - 04:39 PM
GUEST, Sminky 17 Mar 11 - 05:23 AM
Steve Gardham 17 Mar 11 - 07:40 PM
GUEST,jacqui jagger 19 Mar 12 - 03:34 PM
GUEST 25 May 13 - 07:14 AM
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Subject: Origins: Down in a coal mine
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 13 May 10 - 05:14 AM

Discussions on this song appear in other threads, but in light of the new information, below, I thought it deserved a thread of its own.

The following is an extract from Era Magazine, Saturday August 21, 1897:

OLD SONGS

To the Editor of The Era

Sir - I was very much pleased and interested by the remarks of a correspondent in your last week's issue under the above heading. It affords a singer much gratification to read, after half a century has gone by, that his songs are still alive and of the class that are likely to live forever.

But your correspondent need not go to the British Museum for information about any of the songs he cites. If he refers to a file of The Era from 1871 to 1874, he will find that 'Down in a coal mine' and 'Out in the green fields' are both my songs, the former being written and composed for me by Joseph Bryan Geoghegan, author of 'Men of merry England', 'John Barleycorn', 'Lancashire Witches' etc. It was published by H.D'Alcorn, each title page bearing my picture.

I sang the song for many months at every music hall in London, at Drury Lane Theatre, the Princess's, and at Evans's for four years. Mr.Tony Pastor made the song popular in America, and personally thanked me for permission to use it when we met at Mr.G.W.Moore's garden party when Tony paid his first visit to England - about 1884.

I may add that 'Down in a coal mine' was not forgotten on Jubilee Day, for I was "spotted" in a window by Mr.Payne, of firework fame, who insisted on my singing the old song, and not less than 8,000 persons, who were thickly crowded round Newman Hall's church, joined in the chorus as lustily as the audience did on the first night I sang it in London at Gatti's, in the Westminster-bridge-road.

Yours faithfully,
J.W. Rowley

Following up on the clues from above, I came across this in the same magazine, January 1st, 1871:

Mr.J.W.Rowley, a recent arrival from the provinces, made his bow to an audience at the East of London and achieved great success. He has a nimble pair of feet, and treated his spectators to some step-dancing of the right sort, which was given with ease, grace and artistic finish. He will assuredly take first rank among the Music Hall singers.

His characteristic songs, 'Down in a coal mine' and 'The Donkey Driver', went immensely.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in a coal mine
From: GUEST,padgett
Date: 13 May 10 - 05:32 AM

This is great stuff!

see also www.yorkshirefolksong.net

I sing many Geoghegan/Rowley songs then!

Including Glossop Road/Donkey Driver [Jerusalem Cuckoo], Ten Thousand Miles away [she's taken a trip on sailing ship] via Walter Pardon and a newer version of Down in a the Coal Mine with reference to 1838 Huskar Pit disaster

and I didn't know it!!
I Can't tap dance but still pretty nimble of foot at 62

Must look at "Out in the Greenfield" (anyone?)

Ray


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in a coal mine
From: Artful Codger
Date: 13 May 10 - 06:19 AM

To maintain thread focus, please add comments about other Geoghegan songs either in the Geoghegan thread or to threads specific to those songs.

Period sheet music for "Down in a Coal Mine" is available at the Lester S. Levy site.
The original discussion on this song started in the thread on "Ten Thousand Miles Away".
Lyrics (from A.L. Lloyd, not the sheet music) were posted in that thread in this message.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in a coal mine
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 13 May 10 - 06:25 AM

Ray,

From the same article:

'Out in the green fields', published by Hopwood and Crew about 1872 also bears my likeness in rustic garb. The song was written by Mr.Wilton Friend, was composed and arranged by the late Edward Solomons, and was absolutely the first song he ever sold.


The following was collected by Alfred Williams, I assume it's the song referred to above:


Out in the green fields

Verse 2

It's a jolly country lad am I,
In Oxfordshire I was born,
The wild birds sing and so do I,
Rising early in the morn;
I can plough and I can sow,
And I till the land with my team,
And you should see me reap and mow
Out in the fields so green.

Chorus

Out in the green fields
So happy and so gay,
Out in the green fields
Raking up the hay,
Out in the green fields
To pass the time away,
And like the lark I whistle in the morning.

[Spoken]

Yes, I be a happy chap, mornin', noon or night, rain or shine, hot or cold, blow or snow's all the same to I. For breakfast I has a snowl o' bread, an' a lump of salt beef in the brewhouse. Then I goes out to plough like this ? jest one leg afore t'other, whistlin' up and down the furrow. Way! Whoa! Stop 'em! Tha be runnin' away! Stop 'em!

A tidy snap o' nuncheon I,
At the plough tail all serene.

Yes, cold byers an' bacon, an' wash that down wi' a drop o' good home brewed beer, tha's what make I whistle an' sing all day ?

Chorus

Verse 2

We've the jolliest games of all the town,
Just the proper sort,
The steeple chase and hurdle race
And other country sport,
With sprees at night we break our rest,
We're the last men ever seen,
But we like the open sunlight best
Out in the fields so green.

Chorus


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in a coal mine
From: Susan of DT
Date: 13 May 10 - 06:38 AM

I'll add the author on the DT


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in a coal mine
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 13 May 10 - 04:32 PM

Ray,
I've got the sheet music somewhere. Of course the Yetties sang it. Is that where you picked it up?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in a coal mine
From: Susan of DT
Date: 13 May 10 - 06:17 PM

I know it from the Ian Campbell Folk Group


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Subject: Lyr Add: DOWN IN A COAL MINE (J.B. Geoghegan)
From: Artful Codger
Date: 02 Jun 10 - 01:41 AM

"Down in a Coal Mine" is a music hall song by J.B. Geoghegan which has entered the tradition as a folk song. This song has previously been discussed in a thread concerning an unrelated Geoghegan song (Ten Thousand Miles Away), and there you can find (as of this writing) two folk-processed versions, one from A.L. Lloyd and another from the Ian Campbell Group. I transcribed the version below from sheet music published in 1872.


DOWN IN A COAL MINE!
Words and music by J. B. [Joseph Bryan] Geoghegan.
Tempo: Lively.

I am a jovial collier, and blithe as blithe can be,
For let the times be good or bad they're all the same to me;
'Tis little of the world I know and care less for its ways,
For where the dog star never glows, I wear away my days.

        Chorus.
   Down in a coalmine underneath the ground,
   Where a gleam of sunshine never can be found;
   Digging dusky diamonds All the season round,
   Down in a coalmine underneath the ground.

2. My hands are horny hard and black, with working in the vein.
And like the clothes upon my back my speech is rough and plain;
Well if I stumble with my tongue, I've one excuse to say,
'Tis not the collier's heart that's wrong, 'tis th'head that goes astray.

3. At ev'ry shift be't soon or late, I haste my bread to earn,
And anxiously my kindred wait and watch for my return;
For Death that levels all alike whate'er their rank may be,
Amid the fire and damp may strike, and fling his darts at me.

4. How little do the great ones care, who sit at home secure,
What hidden dangers colliers dare, what hardships they endure;
The very fires their mansions boast to cheer themselves and wives,
Mayhap were kindled at the cost, of jovial colliers' lives.

5. Then cheer up lads and make ye much, of ev'ry joy ye can,
But let your mirth be always such as best becomes a man;
However Fortune turns about we'll still be jovial souls,
For what would England be without, the lads that look for coals.


Source: Sheet music published by W.H. Ewald & Bro., Jersey City, N.J. (and in New York, by Chas. W. Harris.), 1872. S/N 113.
Sheet music available online in the Lester S. Levy Collection.

Click to play


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Subject: ADD: Down in the Rhondda Coal Mine
From: GUEST,Dr Price, Cookie-less
Date: 02 Jun 10 - 04:35 AM

Very interesting! I collected Down In The Rhondda Coalmine from two retired coal-miners James Hedley (Aberavon) and Tom Evans (Bridgend), South Wales. The Rhondda Valleys (the Rhondda Fawr and the Rhondda Fach) provided work for 100 steam coal pits - Perhaps a Rhondda miner, a music-hall fan, picked up on J. B. Geoghegan's work and localised the song. Perhaps James Hedley and Tom Evans heard a song at a "Smoking Concert", the equivalent of a music hall show, but the mystery is that became lodged in two miners' minds.   


DOWN IN THE RHONDDA COAL-MINE

1. I am a Rhondda collier, as a jovial as can be
But if the trade is very bad, it means a lot to me,
And if I stumble with my tongue, I've one excuse to say,
For it's not the collier's heart that's wrong, it's the head that goes astray.

CHORUS
Down in the Rhondda coal-mine, underneath the ground,
Where a gleam of sunshine is never to be found,
Digging dirty diamonds all the season through,
And I (if??) you buy meself a drink, I'll leave it up to you.

2. How bravely for us collier lads, we toil beneath the ground,
Digging for the Rhondda coal as days and nights go round,
And anxiously our families wait, how often it is said,
You never know by nightfall how many will be dead.

CHORUS

3. How little do the rich men care, who sit at home secure,
What dangers all the colliers dare and hardships we endure.
The very fires they have at home to cheer them and their wives
Perhaps were kindled at the cost of Rhondda colliers' lives.

CHORUS


Mick Tems


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Down in a Coal Mine (J.B. Geoghegan)
From: Artful Codger
Date: 02 Jun 10 - 06:11 AM

Interesting version. Can we get a chune?

In the fourth line of the chorus, should that be "And if you buy meself a drink"?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Down in a Coal Mine (J.B. Geoghegan)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 02 Jun 10 - 04:17 PM

Anyone know who set the 'Little Beggarman' tune to it, the one that seems to have taken the folk revival by storm?

There is a copy of sheet music online at BL's Victorian Popular Music site, Shelfmark H.1778.o.(20)

Sung every evening with immense applause by Mr Rowley
Coloured lithograph by Richard Childs
Published by H D'Alcorn & Co 351 Oxford Street, London.
Serial Number H. D. 913


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Down in a Coal Mine (J.B. Geoghegan)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 05 Jun 10 - 12:20 PM

Laying out the song in 4-line rather than 8-line stanzas obscures half of the rhymes (some of which are approximate rhymes and therefore obscure already). Also, there is a missing word in line 1 that is crucial to the rhyme scheme:

I am a jovial collier lad,
And blithe as blithe can be,
For let the times be good or bad,
They're all the same to me;
'Tis little of the world I know,
And care less for its ways,
For where the dog-star never glows,
I wear away my days.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in a Coal Mine (J. B. Geoghegan)
From: Artful Codger
Date: 05 Jun 10 - 03:18 PM

Jim Dixon has a good point about the internal rhymes, though the tune doesn't really pause to bring them out, nor were the lyrics written with capitalization indications to break the lines as such. Later versions also don't try to maintain the internal rhyming in new material, suggesting that it wasn't considered so very important to singers or listeners. Although the sheet music I transcribed is probably one step away from Geoghegan's original (meaning two steps away from his pen), it is the closest version yet produced to what Geoghegan himself wrote. Although internal rhyme argues that "lad" was probably there during his earliest draft, JBG may have omitted it himself, perhaps because he felt it improved the rhythm. Later versions seem mostly to not have it, either. So to say it is a "missing word" and "crucial" is rather a leap, as neither source evidence nor later evolution support that assessment.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in a Coal Mine (J. B. Geoghegan)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Jun 10 - 04:27 PM

Jim/Rob
'lad' is there in the original lyrics. '-lier' is one note/syllable


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in a Coal Mine (J. B. Geoghegan)
From: Martin Graebe
Date: 16 Mar 11 - 08:18 AM

I must have missed this thread when we were travelling last year.

I did a bit of work on this (and had a bit of correspondence with Malcolm Douglas and Brian Peters about it) when we recorded it in 2008. I'd picked it up in the Sharp manuscripts, collected from Louie Hooper and Lucy White (though he wrote 'not, of course, a folk song' at the bottom). It is on a number of broadsides (see the Bodleian collection) but is quite different - and consistently so. Dating the broadsides is tricky but they are within a decade or so of the date Bert Lloyd gave for Geoghegan's (Rowley's?) composition. At the time it was not possible to be definite but it is possible that The broadside pre-dated the music hall version. It has been suggested that this happened with a number of Geoghegan's songs - and given the state of copyright laws at that time there is no real issue here. But it would be interesting to establish the actual sequence of events. To confuse things further I also have a copy of a broadside from Baltimore that is the Geoghegan version without attribution.

The version that Sharp collected is closer to the Broadside than to the music hall version.

In me you see a collier,
A simple, honest man
Who tries to do his very best
To help his fellow-man.
He works entire from morn till night
Hard work he finds to do
From digging up the fuel from
The bowels of the earth.
[Chorus]Down in the coal mines
Underneath the ground,
Where no gleam of sunshine
Never can be found,
Digging dusty diamonds
All the season round,
Down in the coal mines
Underneath the ground.

You oft-times read of accidents
Which happen down the mine
How hundreds of poor colliers
Are shortened of their time;
Explosions they are numberless,
They're caused by fiery damps
Which when the gas escapes,
Comes in contact with their lamps.
Down in the coal mines, etc.

But when the winter comes round
The colliers' work is found
Old England spreads it
To all the nations round.
That those at home rejoice and sing
Their hearts are filled with mirth
For what would England do
Without the boys that dig the coal?
Down in the coal mines, etc.

The broadside versions run:

In me you see a collier, a simple honest man
Who strives to do his very best to help his fellow-man.
We toil away from morn till night where hard work's to be found,
Digging dusty diamonds from underneath the ground.
(Chorus) Down in a coal mine, underneath the ground,
Where a gleam of sunshine never can be found,
Digging dusty diamonds all the season round,
Down in a coal mine, underneath the ground.

In the morning when we go to toil, and down the mine we go,
Contented with our lot in life, and free from care or woe,
We often think of home and wife, and hearts that's filled with mirth,
While digging up the fuel from the bowels of the earth.

You often read of accidents, which happen down the mine,
How hundreds of poor colliers are shortened of their time:
Explosions they are numerous, and caused by fire-damps,
Which when the gas escapes, it comes in contact with our lamps.

But when the wintertime comes in, the collier's worth is found:
Old England's commerce it is spread to all the nations round.
Let those at home rejoice and sing with hearts and voices full,
For what would England do without the boys that dig the coal?


For our own version (see on our website here ) we have added a verse from the broadside and moved a few words about.

Martin


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in a Coal Mine (J. B. Geoghegan)
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 16 Mar 11 - 10:03 AM

Hi Martin,

The date of January 1st 1871 (first post, above) is the earliest I have encountered in relation to the song.

I suspect that Rowley, "a recent arrival from the provinces" may have met JBG in Lancashire where Rowley, a Yorkshireman, was known to have performed before his move to the capital. Rowley sang several JBG compositions (side note: I'm after the words to 'England Is England Still', w&m JBG, sung by JWR).

I know it has been suggested that Geoghegan may have 'borrowed' from existing broadsides, but I confess I have not encountered any definite evidence of this. He was, at one time, advertising "songs composed at one hours notice"!

I am, of course, happy to be proved wrong ;-}


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in a Coal Mine (J. B. Geoghegan)
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Mar 11 - 11:52 AM

Thanks for posting this. It's very interesting. Certainly the tune had some influence in the formation of some American Folk Music. For a brief but through history of same, click previous link.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in a Coal Mine (J. B. Geoghegan)
From: Artful Codger
Date: 16 Mar 11 - 04:39 PM

Well, it would be very easy to "compose" a song at one hour's notice if you already knew it (from the tradition). So I think this claim argues for adaptation rather than original composition. In this case, however, Rowley's practices may be more at issue.

This claim raises an interesting idea: Goodnight musical greeting cards, for your friends about to be "dispatched". Expedited "firing squad" service available. Think Hallmark would be interested?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in a Coal Mine (J. B. Geoghegan)
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 05:23 AM

Well Artful, you could argue equally forcefully that it would be easy to compose a song (on a given subject, mind you) at one hour's notice if you were damned good at it. Harry Clifton used to make songs up on stage.

Incidentally, JBG had a close affinity with the local miners of Bolton - his music hall used to put on a Tuesday matinee especially for them.

Having looked into JBG's musical output, it's clear that many of his songs were in circulation for some time, in some cases years, before they were 'released' as sheet music.

That JBG's own work was plagiarised is evidenced by eg:

"NOTICE. Having printed numerous copies of J.B.Geoghegan's song 'Carried her to Belle Vue Jail' without his permission, I hereby make this apology, and agree to give him Two Pounds in consideration that he takes no further proceedings.

(Signed) J.H.Millburn, Comic Vocalist. September 21st, 1865
"

JBG may well have adapted existing songs - but I have as yet found no evidence of it.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in a Coal Mine (J. B. Geoghegan)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 17 Mar 11 - 07:40 PM

I'm with you, Sminky. I have several copies of Geoghegan's originals and have seen no evidence of any plagiarism. The nearest we get to that is John Barleycorn's dependence on the traditional ballad for inspiration of theme. If anyone knows any different let's see the evidence.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in a Coal Mine (J. B. Geoghegan)
From: GUEST,jacqui jagger
Date: 19 Mar 12 - 03:34 PM

Dont know if this will help with the above debate but the origional lines for the song were first printed in Bolton Entered at Stationers Hall By T.Abbatt Printers, Corporation Street Bolton, written along with God Bless the Prince of Wales when he was Manager of the Bolton Variety Theatre. The origional was once seen by myself though when the owner of it my Aunt, J.B. Grandaughter died it was lost.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Down in a Coal Mine (J. B. Geoghegan)
From: GUEST
Date: 25 May 13 - 07:14 AM

Thanks for the "I am a jovial collier lad" lyrics- very useful. DOES ANYONE HAS STRAIGHTFORWARD CHORDS FOR THIS - NOT TOO TAXING PLEASE! JENNY


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