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Origins: Springhill Disaster/Ballad of Springhill

DigiTrad:
LA COMPLAINTE DE SPRINGHILL
SPRINGHILL MINE DISASTER
SPRINGHILL MINE DISASTER (1891)


Related threads:
happy? - Oct 23 (Springhill) (17)
Lyr Req: Springhill Miracle (3)
Folklore: Springhill Mine Disaster (48)
Lyr Req: Spring Hill Disaster (Maurice Ruddick) (29)
Springhill Mining Disaster - TV Documentary (10)
Rocked out rendition of Springhill Mining (26)
Lyr Req: Springfield Mining Disaster (11) (closed)


31 May 97 - 02:38 AM
Greg Furness 31 May 97 - 06:51 AM
Joe Offer 31 May 97 - 07:16 AM
ron k 01 Jun 97 - 07:46 PM
02 Jun 97 - 12:35 AM
Peter Timmerman 02 Jun 97 - 10:30 AM
dick greenhaus 02 Jun 97 - 07:23 PM
ron k 03 Jun 97 - 07:59 PM
Harmony 06 May 98 - 10:54 AM
Bill in Alabama 06 May 98 - 10:59 AM
Bill in Alabama 06 May 98 - 11:01 AM
Ireland O'Reilly 06 May 98 - 12:26 PM
Bill in Alabama 06 May 98 - 01:42 PM
Bill in Alabama 06 May 98 - 01:54 PM
Joe Offer 06 May 98 - 04:20 PM
Ireland O'Reilly 07 May 98 - 09:55 AM
Ireland O'Reilly 07 May 98 - 09:58 AM
Ralph Butts 07 May 98 - 10:26 AM
dick greenhaus 07 May 98 - 05:34 PM
aldus 08 May 98 - 07:54 AM
Ireland O'Reilly 08 May 98 - 08:53 AM
rich r 09 May 98 - 11:03 AM
Dan In Springhill 09 May 98 - 05:03 PM
Joe Offer 09 May 98 - 06:09 PM
Dan In Springhill 09 May 98 - 06:27 PM
Marten 11 Jan 00 - 03:09 PM
clare s 11 Jan 00 - 03:27 PM
kendall 11 Jan 00 - 04:30 PM
Susanne (skw) 11 Jan 00 - 05:15 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 11 Jan 00 - 05:24 PM
Joe Offer 11 Jan 00 - 06:12 PM
Remi from Paris 12 Jan 00 - 10:41 PM
Easy Rider 13 Jan 00 - 09:22 AM
aldus 13 Jan 00 - 12:29 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 25 Feb 02 - 11:20 AM
Clinton Hammond 25 Feb 02 - 03:47 PM
Beer 25 Feb 02 - 09:32 PM
GUEST,mgarvey@pacifier.com 25 Feb 02 - 11:22 PM
BK 26 Feb 02 - 12:08 AM
Clinton Hammond 26 Feb 02 - 12:11 AM
Amos 03 Jun 02 - 10:36 PM
GUEST,Pat Zebrowski 02 Feb 09 - 08:45 PM
Dennis the Elder 03 Feb 09 - 10:19 AM
Musket 03 Feb 09 - 10:36 AM
Dennis the Elder 03 Feb 09 - 11:28 AM
BB 03 Feb 09 - 06:11 PM
Susanne (skw) 03 Feb 09 - 06:51 PM
Joe_F 03 Feb 09 - 08:27 PM
Musket 04 Feb 09 - 04:49 AM
Dennis the Elder 04 Feb 09 - 03:18 PM
Newport Boy 05 Feb 09 - 07:40 AM
Musket 05 Feb 09 - 07:53 AM
Bob the Postman 05 Feb 09 - 08:00 AM
GUEST,Geof C (Plymouth - England) 21 Jun 10 - 08:07 PM
Sandy Mc Lean 21 Jun 10 - 11:11 PM
Joe Offer 25 Aug 14 - 10:28 PM
Tiger 15 Oct 15 - 06:05 PM
GUEST,threelegsoman 16 Oct 15 - 04:06 AM
Tiger 16 Oct 15 - 12:16 PM
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Subject: LYR REQ: Springhill disaster
From:
Date: 31 May 97 - 02:38 AM

I would like to know the lyrics of a song sung by The Dubliners - The title should be Springhill disaster; it tells about a disaster in a cave.

The lyrics starts with:

In the town of Springhill in Nova Scotia/down in the dark of the ?/there's blood on the coal and the miners lye/in roads that never saw sun nor sky...

My english is not good enough, soI cant understand the rest.

Thank you!


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Subject: Lyr Add: SPRINGHILL DISASTER
From: Greg Furness
Date: 31 May 97 - 06:51 AM

Hello! It has been about 25 years since I've thought of this song so the following may not be complete or entirely correct; perhaps someone else will correct my mistakes. Seem to recall a version was recorded by Ian & Sylvia in the mid to late '60s---

In the town of Springhill Nova Scotia
Down in the dark of the Cumberland Mine
There is blood on the coal and the miners lie
On roads that never saw sun or sky
Roads that never saw sun or sky

Down at the coal face the miners working
Clatter of the belt and the cutter's blade
A rumble of rocks and the walls close round
Living and the dead men two miles down
Living and the dead men two miles down

Three days passed and the lamps gave out
And old Caleb Rushton he up and said
We've got no water, nor light, nor bread
So we'll live on songs and hope instead
Live on songs and hope instead

Eight days passed and some were rescued
Leaving the dead to lie alone
Through all their lived they dug their graves
Two miles of earth for a marking stone
Two miles of earth for a marking stone

In the town of Springhill you don't sleep easy
Often the earth will tremble and roll
When the earth is restless, miners die
Bone and blood is the price of coal
Bone and blood is the price of coal.

Hope this helps.


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Subject: RE: LYR REQ: Springhill disaster
From: Joe Offer
Date: 31 May 97 - 07:16 AM

There are two versions of this song in the database. Sometimes, it's a little hard to find things in the database until you get used to it. A search under "disaster" should pull up both songs. I've seen Springhill written as both one word and two, so that might make it a little harder to search.

Not much happening in Springhill these days. The mine is open only for tourists, but now they're proposing open pit mining. The town has the biggest prison I've ever seen, and there's a center to honor Springhill's most famous offspring, Anne Murray.

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: LYR REQ: Springhill disaster
From: ron k
Date: 01 Jun 97 - 07:46 PM

Great song. For the record, it was written in 1961 by Peggy Seeger. It was recorded by various people including Peter, Paul and Mary.

As for the town, like Joe said, the focal point is the Anne Murray museum, and the prison, now that mining is considered too dangerous. This is the same coal seam that was being mined 5 years ago at Westray when an explosion took the lives of 26 more miners.


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Subject: RE: LYR REQ: Springhill disaster
From:
Date: 02 Jun 97 - 12:35 AM

At the risk of seeming morbid I suggest that the miners who died at Westray deserve a song memorial as well. Has one been written?

Frank Phillips


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Subject: RE: LYR REQ: Springhill disaster
From: Peter Timmerman
Date: 02 Jun 97 - 10:30 AM

Dear Frank, I don't know about a song, but there was a beautiful poem written about it, short fragments of voices (do I remember anything more about it than that, of course not). Someone once sent it to me, from the Canadian Globe and Mail. Yours, Peter


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Subject: RE: LYR REQ: Springhill disaster
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 02 Jun 97 - 07:23 PM

Hi- Actually there were two big Springhill mine disasters-- the earlier one being in 1891. The database has two songs about that one as well as Peggy Seeger's better known one.

If you can't be sure whether to search for Springhill or Spring Hill, you could use the wild card and search for Spring*. or the phrase [Nova Scotia]. Or, as has been mentioned, disaster.


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Subject: RE: LYR REQ: Springhill disaster
From: ron k
Date: 03 Jun 97 - 07:59 PM

Actually there was a song written about the Westray disaster. When they did the Halifax benefit for the families, I recall the sister of one of the victims opening the concert with a song about the explosion but I have never heard it again. I will check around the local music stores and with some musician friends to see what may have happened to it. If I find it I will post it.


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Subject: Chords and Lyrics to Ballad of Spring Hill
From: Harmony
Date: 06 May 98 - 10:54 AM

I am looking for the chords and lyrics to Ballad of Spring Hill (Spring Hill Disaster) sung by Peter Paul & Mary


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Subject: RE: Chords and Lyrics to Ballad of Spring Hill
From: Bill in Alabama
Date: 06 May 98 - 10:59 AM

I have them in a word book at home. If no one has responded by the end of the day, I'll try to remember to get them to you tomorrow.

Bill


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Subject: RE: Chords and Lyrics to Ballad of Spring Hill
From: Bill in Alabama
Date: 06 May 98 - 11:01 AM

Harmony: It's in the database. Type in Springhill as one word or use "Disaster" in the search box. I'll try to get the chords to you first thing in the morning.


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Subject: RE: Chords and Lyrics to Ballad of Spring Hill
From: Ireland O'Reilly
Date: 06 May 98 - 12:26 PM

Is this the song about "our" Springhill in Nova Scotia? The various mine disasters?


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Subject: RE: Chords and Lyrics to Ballad of Spring Hill
From: Bill in Alabama
Date: 06 May 98 - 01:42 PM

I reckon: the opening line is "In the Town of Spring Hill Nova Scotia...".


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Subject: RE: Chords and Lyrics to Ballad of Spring Hill
From: Bill in Alabama
Date: 06 May 98 - 01:54 PM

Harmony: There's another Digital Tradition--with tunes-- at

www.numachi.com/~rickheit/dtrad/

They list the song you're looking for (with music). To go straight to the song, use

www.numachi.com/cgi-bin/rickheit/dtrad/lookup?ti=SPRINGHI&tt=SPRINGHI

I'll still try to remember to get the chords to you tomorrow.


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Subject: RE: Chords and Lyrics to Ballad of Spring Hill
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 May 98 - 04:20 PM

Here is the Digital Tradition rendition of Ewan MacColl's SPRINGHILL MINE DISASTER, complete with chords and MIDI tune.
I hit Springhill on a rainy midnight in 11/96, and I thought I ought to stop and take a look around. You can see the town from miles away - it's marked by the yellow floodlights of the biggest damn prison I've seen. The prison seems to be the main industry in town now. The mine is a rather homely-looking tourist attraction - I gather they give tours in the daytime. The newspapers spoke of the latest controversy - a proposal to start open-pit mining.
Most of the town is pretty ordinary-looking, almost dismal. There's one street of beautiful, turn-of-the century homes, which I suppose were the homes of the mine owners and managers. The biggest tourist attraction is the Anne Murray Museum, built to honor Springhill's most famous daughter.
Earlier that evening, I had stood on a Halifax pier and imagined myself to be the last of Barrett's Privateers. So, that's what you can do on a rainy night in Nova Scotia.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Chords and Lyrics to Ballad of Spring Hill
From: Ireland O'Reilly
Date: 07 May 98 - 09:55 AM

There's LOTS to do on a rainy night in Nova Scotia...

Yes, they do give tours of the mine in Springhill. It's absolutely amazing. when you go down into the mine and then they turn off all the lights in the tunnel, you can't even see your hand held in front of your face. It's totally fascinating and frightening all at the same time. The tour guides are excellent.

As to what you can do in Nova Scotia, there is the Stan Rogers Folk Festival, in Canso, on July 3-5, 1998. I was down there for the "First Annual" last year. words can't do it justice... There's also the Buskers' Festival in Halifax in August, and there's the Old-Time Fiddling Contest (late summer, I think), and the Celtic Colours Music Fest in October, and of course at Louisbourg and at Sherbrooke Village Restoration, there's always some sort of music or drama going on. Halifax has a lively jazz scene, and in the summer, downtown Halifax has a goodly share of street performers, especially along Spring Garden.

Wow, don't I sound like a tourist ad for my home province?????? Well, NS Tourism would love me! Of course I used to work for them...


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Subject: RE: Chords and Lyrics to Ballad of Spring Hill
From: Ireland O'Reilly
Date: 07 May 98 - 09:58 AM

What to do on a rainy night (0r sunny day) in Nova Scotia:

http://explore.gov.ns.ca/virtualns/tourism/events/festev.htm

More festivals than you can shake a stick at!


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Subject: RE: Chords and Lyrics to Ballad of Spring Hill
From: Ralph Butts
Date: 07 May 98 - 10:26 AM

I think there should be more of a minor tone than in the DT version. Of course, everyone has his own opinion - that's what makes music interesting. I've tried to follow the MacColl/Seeger recording, and come up with the following (I do it in Em)........Tiger

In the [Em]town of [Am]Springhill, [Em]Nova [D]Scotia,
[Em]Down in the dark of the [A]Cumberland [Em]mine,
There's blood on the [A]coal and the [D]miners [Em]lie,
In the roads that [Am]never saw [Em]sun or [D]sky,
[Em]Roads that [D]never saw [Am]sun or [Em]sky.


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Subject: RE: Chords and Lyrics to Ballad of Spring Hill
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 07 May 98 - 05:34 PM

FWIW, there are two more Spring Hill Mine Disaster Songs I know of--both are in the DT.


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Subject: RE: Chords and Lyrics to Ballad of Spring Hill
From: aldus
Date: 08 May 98 - 07:54 AM

Please, when in Nova Scotia, don"t foget the best festival of them all,,the Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival..usually in August. The Town of Lunenburgis a world Heritage site, so not only is the music great, the coastal secenry and the town are gorgeous.....


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Subject: RE: Chords and Lyrics to Ballad of Spring Hill
From: Ireland O'Reilly
Date: 08 May 98 - 08:53 AM

They just announced some of the performers for the Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival today. J.P. Cormier, Mighty Oaks String Band, and many others. There'll be lots of fiddling here in Nova Scotia this year!


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Subject: RE: Chords and Lyrics to Ballad of Spring Hill
From: rich r
Date: 09 May 98 - 11:03 AM

One more chord variation comes from Rise Up Singing. It is similar to the DT version. Unless you are a serious bass you might want to capo up (is it possible to capo down from a set of chords?) or transpose it.

Am G Am G/ Am C D Em/ F D G Em/ Am G Am G/ Am G AmG E

rich r


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Subject: RE: Chords and Lyrics to Ballad of Spring Hill
From: Dan In Springhill
Date: 09 May 98 - 05:03 PM

I would think that most places would appear "almost dismal" on a rainy November night. We're not all that bad for a small Nova Scotian mining town. Come back sometime when the sun in shining and the weather is warm. Besides Anne Murray, we can also claim Johnny Mooring...several times Canadian fiddling champ, and was inducted into the Fiddlers' Hall of Fame in Redfield, New York. Like most small towns, the people all know each other and they're friendly. Even in November.

As a footnote, the town ("My Town") was also awarded the Carnegie Medal for heroism. It was awarded to the Doctors, miners, and officials of Springhill for bravery during the mine disaster of 1958. We are the only other people to get this medal besides the survivors of the Titanic.

Lots of History, and lots of music in these small Maritime towns.


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Subject: RE: Chords and Lyrics to Ballad of Spring Hill
From: Joe Offer
Date: 09 May 98 - 06:09 PM

Well, I think maybe I should have been a bit more diplomatic in my description of Springhill. I had just come from the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia, some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen. I guess I expected to still be in Paradise when I got to Springhill, and what I got was more like Pennsylvania. I suppose most places in the world could be described at times as "almost dismal," especially when it's cold and rainy. My apologies to the good people of Springhill.
-Joe Offer in Sacramento, which is sometimes rather dismal-


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Subject: RE: Chords and Lyrics to Ballad of Spring Hill
From: Dan In Springhill
Date: 09 May 98 - 06:27 PM

On behalf of the 4500 souls in Springhill, Joe, I accept your gracious apology. Right now it is cold, raining, and rather dismal in Springhill. But please don't let that stop you from visiting again if you're in the area.

Take care, and enjoy.


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Subject: Who wrote the song Springhill Desaster?
From: Marten
Date: 11 Jan 00 - 03:09 PM

Who wrote the song Springhill (Mine) Desaster? Any Idea?


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Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote the song Springhill Desaster?
From: clare s
Date: 11 Jan 00 - 03:27 PM

It was written by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger, shortly after the '58 disaster.

Let me know if you need any more info.

It's a fabulous piece of poetry even without the lovely tune.

Clare


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Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote the song Springhill Desaster?
From: kendall
Date: 11 Jan 00 - 04:30 PM

I remember hearing a song with a similar title back in the 40's by a Canadian named Wilf Carter


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Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote the song Springhill Desaster?
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 11 Jan 00 - 05:15 PM

[1970:] The Springhill mining disaster of 1958 was the first to receive world-wide television coverage. Ewan and Peggy saw it during a visit to Paris and this song - a joint composition - was the result. (Notes 'The World of Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger')
Is the one you heard earlier about a different incident? Or perhaps there are several songs about the Springhill mine? - Susanne


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Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote the song Springhill Desaster?
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 11 Jan 00 - 05:24 PM

There are about 6 or 7 songs about various disasters in Springhill.

As mentioned above, the one you are probably referring to is the one by Ms Seeger.


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Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote the song Springhill Desaster?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Jan 00 - 06:12 PM

We've had some interesting threads on songs about the various mine disasters of Springhill. Click here for one. I was afraid for a moment I wans't going to find the really great song that Dan Calder posted, but you can find it if you click here.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote the song Springhill Desaster?
From: Remi from Paris
Date: 12 Jan 00 - 10:41 PM

Sung - of course - by Luke Kelly on "Luke Kelly and Friends" and "Luke Kelly - the worker's songs". Beware, there are two songs about the same tragedy. Ewan McCall's is the most famous.


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Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote the song Springhill Desaster?
From: Easy Rider
Date: 13 Jan 00 - 09:22 AM

The Cumberland mine disaster happened in Springhill, Nova Scotia, in 1958. I remember seeing it on TV and in headlines in the newspaper. It went on for days, and a number of men were lost.

In the Summer of 1967, I was leading a Youth Hostel bicycle group through Nova Scotia. I played and sang the MacCall/Seeger version of the song to a group of local kids I met along the way, but none of them had ever heard of the incident!

The song has a beautiful, haunting melody, but I've long forgotten it. Does anybody have Tab/Music and lyrics for it, hopefully in fingerstyle guitar?

""In the town of Springhill, Nova Scotia, late in the year of '58...

The rain still falls and the sun still shines, But it's dark as a grave in the Cumberland mines. Dark as a grave in the Cumberland mines.""


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Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote the song Springhill Desaster?
From: aldus
Date: 13 Jan 00 - 12:29 PM

Two things... The Wilf Carter song....Way Down in old Nova Scotia, is about another famous mining disaster at the Moose River Gold Mine. It was one the first Mining disasters to be broadcast live on Radio. Secondly, I find it hard to imagine any Nova Scotian of any age being unaware of the terrible tragedy at Springhill...N.S. is a smll place and that event is etched into the collective memory.


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Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote the song Springhill Desaster?
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 25 Feb 02 - 11:20 AM

I was listening to CBC Radio today, and they were talking about this song.

What Peggy Seeger says on how it was written...., She was living in Paris at the time, and saw footage on the TV about the disaster. Later as she saw other material, and heard the stories coming from the CBC at the time, she was moved to write about it. Later Ewan MacColl came for a visit and since she had never been in a mine, requested his help. He penned the "third" verse, I think she said.

Peggy also said that on a drive through to the Stan Rogers Fest in Canso a couple of years back, she noticed the sign for Springhill. She decided to stop, and met the man she wrote about in the song along with his wife. They spent a pleasant afternoon talking about the song, the disaster and life since.

At the end of the topic, Peggy finished off the segment by singing the last few verses herself. (the first two had been played earlier, sung by Peter Paul and Mary, and Bruce Guthro)


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Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote the song Springhill Desaster?
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 25 Feb 02 - 03:47 PM

As an aside... for those interested in mining disaster songs, James Keelaghan has a kick-ass song about Canada's worst Mining Disaster...

June something (?), 1914... an explosion in the Hillcrest Mine, in the Crowsnest Pass region of southern Alberta resulted in the deaths of 187 men and boys....

It's on James's cd "Small Rebellions"

;-)


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Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote the song Springhill Desaster?
From: Beer
Date: 25 Feb 02 - 09:32 PM

There is also a film clip of the Moose River Gold Mine that National Film Board inserted in their WW1 series.


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Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote the song Springhill Desaster?
From: GUEST,mgarvey@pacifier.com
Date: 25 Feb 02 - 11:22 PM

are there any songs about the great Halifax explosion? mg


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Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote the song Springhill Desaster?
From: BK
Date: 26 Feb 02 - 12:08 AM

James Keelaghan has MANY "kick-ass" songs; he's a tremendously talented writer - and performer.

My wife - a city girl - knew nothing of that song or event it memorializes. The other day we somewhat randomly choose "Margret's Museum" (about coal mining folk) to rent at a local video place. It was very depressing & she complained abt it. I said if the jacket had hinted it was really about miners, we'd have known it was depressing, 'cuz ALL mining stories are sad. (I come from the coal mining region of PA - of "coal cracker" stock.) Then I sang her a verse of Peggy's song, which she never heard me sing - in near 30 years of marraige. She didn't want to hear any more..

The realities of mining - tunnel or strip - are generally ugly.

Cheers, BK


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Subject: RE: Help: Who wrote the song Springhill Desaster?
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 26 Feb 02 - 12:11 AM

"James Keelaghan has MANY "kick-ass" songs; he's a tremendously talented writer - and performer"

In absolute, 100%, total agreement... didn't mean to hint any other way...

;-)


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: Springhill Mine Disaster^^^
From: Amos
Date: 03 Jun 02 - 10:36 PM

I recommend:

Dm..................C.................Dm......C
In the town of Springhill, Nova Scotia
Dm...........Dm............... G..................... Dm
Deep in the dark of the Cumberland mines
Dm...............................G.....................C..Em...A.....
There's blood on the coal, and the miners lie
Dm..................C.................Dm......C
On roads that never see sun nor sky
Dm..................C.................Dm....C..A
Roads that never see sun nor sky

I like 'em better.

A


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Springhill Disaster
From: GUEST,Pat Zebrowski
Date: 02 Feb 09 - 08:45 PM

These are the lyrics from Peter, Paul & Mary's album:

BALLAD OF SPRING HILL (Spring Hill Disaster)
Peggy Seeger/Ewan MacColl- Stormking Music-. BMI

In the town of Spring Hill, Nova Scotia,
Down in the heart of the Cumberland Mine,
There's blood on the coal and miners lie
In the roads that never saw sun or sky
Roads that never saw sun or sky.

Down at the coal face the miner's workin'
Rattle of the belt and the cutter's blade
Crumble of rock and the walls close round
Living and the dead men two miles down
Living and the dead men two miles down

Twelve men lay two miles from the pitshaft
Listen for the drillin' of a rescue team
Six hundred feet of coal and slag
Hope imprisoned in a three-foot seam
Hope imprisoned in a three-foot seam

Eight days passed and some were rescued
Leaving the dead to lie alone
All their lives they dug their graves
Two miles of earth for a markin' stone
Two miles of earth for a markin' stone

In the town of Spring Hill you don't sleep easy
Often the Earth will tremble and groan
When the Earth is restless, miners die
Bone and blood is the price of coal
Bone and blood is the price of coal


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Springhill Disaster
From: Dennis the Elder
Date: 03 Feb 09 - 10:19 AM

The singer in the Dubliners was Luke Kelly, who also recorded it in his own right.
Neither of the two versions quoted above are in my opinion identical to that sung by Luke. Its on the double Cd "The best of Luke Kelly"
This version is on youtube under Luke Kelly Sprinfhill Disaster and the Dubliners under Dubliners Springhill Mine Disaster.
The 1958 disaster is the one that Pete Seeger wrote the song about.

These I believe are the words of Luke Kellys and most probably the Dubliners version

In the town of Springhill, Nova Scotia,
Down in the dark of the Cumberland Mine,
There's blood on the coal,
And the miners lie,
In roads that never saw sun or sky,
Roads that never saw sun or sky

In the town of Springhill you don't sleep easy,
Often the earth will tremble and roll,
When the earth is restless miners die,
Bone and blood is the price of coal,
Bone and blood is the price of coal.

In the town of Springhill, Nova Scotia,
Late in the year of '58,
The day still comes and the sun still shines,
But it's dark as the grave in the Cumberland mine,
Dark as the grave in the Cumberland Mine.

Three days past when the lamps gave out,
And Kaela Brushton got up and said,
'We've no more water or light or bread,
So we'll live on songs and hope instead,
Live on songs and hope instead.'

Listen for the shouts of the black face miners,
Listen through the rubble for the rescue teams,
Three hundred tonnes of coal and slag,
Hope imprisoned in a three foot seam,
Hope imprisoned in a three foot seam.

Twelve days past and some were rescued,
Leaving the dead to lie alone,
Through all their live they dug a grave,
Two miles of earth is a marking stone,
Two miles of earth is a marking stone.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Springhill Disaster
From: Musket
Date: 03 Feb 09 - 10:36 AM

Just to clarify...

It was written by Ewan McColl and won a prize or two by Canadian arts institutes.

McColl was on record as stating that hearing about the disaster so soon after it happened struck him as showing the speed of modern news reporting and media. (He was in Paris when he heard about it.)

He had been wanting to write a song about the Creswell Colliery disaster in 1950, (I come from Creswell and noted his interest when interviewing him many years later,) but had not gotten around to it. This song adapted some of his earlier ideas and was quickly written. It was written around the time of his radio ballads but as the mining radio ballad "The Big Hewer" was concerned with pits in the North East of England, the song never became part of the set, standing alone as a song. He and Peggy Seeger performed it regularly throughout the rest of his performing days.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Springhill Disaster
From: Dennis the Elder
Date: 03 Feb 09 - 11:28 AM

Hi Ian,

Working in Clowne last week must have fuddled my brain.
I know many of the 80 who died in the Creswell mine came from Clowne and the disaster I believe is remembered in a Chapel there.

Must admit I was confused by the various pieces of information I gathered as to who actually wrote the song and obviously came to the wrong conclusion, I believe that both Pete and Peggy sang the song, as well as, and with Ewan McColl.

Did he complete his song about the Creswell Colliery Disaster? I seem to believe he may have written or at least sung a a song about Cresford and a mining disaster there, but cannot recollect Creswell song?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Springhill Disaster
From: BB
Date: 03 Feb 09 - 06:11 PM

Ian, are you sure that Ewan wrote it? I've been singing 'The Ballad of Springhill', which I believe is the correct title, for the best part of 40 years, and always understood that this was written by Peggy Seeger. This seems to be confirmed by what's on the 'Web, to the extent of "© 1961 Stormking Music". I wouldn't want it to be incorrectly credited.

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Springhill Disaster
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 03 Feb 09 - 06:51 PM

Either Sing Out got it slightly wrong in 1962, or maybe the writing credits were 'harmonized' later on:

[1962:] Peggy Seeger wrote this song after reading about the terrible mine disaster in Spring Hill, Nova Scotia, in the latter part of 1958. This was the world-famous tragedy in which a number of trapped miners were miraculously rescued after eight days of entombment. (Reprint Sing Out 4, 202)

[1970:] The Springhill mining disaster of 1958 was the first to receive world-wide television coverage. Ewan and Peggy saw it during a visit to Paris and this song - a joint composition - was the result. (Notes 'The World of Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger')

On www.peggyseeger.com the song is listed as Peggy's, not as Ewan's.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Springhill Disaster
From: Joe_F
Date: 03 Feb 09 - 08:27 PM

Peggy Seeger did not put it in _The Essential Ewan MacColl Songbook_.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Springhill Disaster
From: Musket
Date: 04 Feb 09 - 04:49 AM

Yeah, it was classed as a joint piece of work in many listings. A bit like Lennon / McCartney when Paul McCartney feels he wrote some of them solely.

I wasn't waving a flag for McColl, just interested to read nothing about his involvement with the song earlier in the thread. I am sure it was a joint effort. Many of McColl's songs were joint efforts even where Seeger was not credited. As a rule, he worried about the words, she the music. I have no idea if this was the case with this song. I am willing to be corrected in any case.

McColl did have many ideas about doing a song about Creswell. Back in the late '70s I did a monthly folk radio show that was syndicated to hospital radio stations around the country and used to interview people as part of it. McColl asked me questions during a tea break about myself and when I said I am originally a Creswell lad, he told me of his half finished song many years ago, some of the lines then appearing in Ballad of Springhill. He then mentioned the Cresford song and how songs can evolve through amalgams. A pity that conversation was not recorded, it was more interesting than some of the microphone work..

Many of the people who died in the Creswell disaster were from Clowne, 3 miles up the road. This was mainly because shifts were based, as well as could be organised, on geography to ease transport considerations. I did not have any close relatives killed. One interesting family fact was how cold logic dictated events though. Because my mum had just lost a young son, (a brother I never knew, as I was not born then) somebody said my mum was used to grief (!) nad was asked to be the one who took women out of the canteen to a smaller room and told them the bad news. During that night, my mum told over 50 of the 70 mums and wives bad news. Weeks after burying her own son. This seemed a good idea to the management and authorities...

Sorry, digressing. Just that Dennis the Elder asked about the Creswell disaster.

I don't sing songs about mining disasters. I am an ex miner and thought it asking for trouble at the time, and then my son went down the pit. He left last year, but still, leave such songs to others.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Springhill Disaster
From: Dennis the Elder
Date: 04 Feb 09 - 03:18 PM

Thanks for that information Ian, most enlightening.

Sorry about the blank message above, obviously its my age, just pressed the wrong button


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Springhill Disaster
From: Newport Boy
Date: 05 Feb 09 - 07:40 AM

I don't know whether this is conclusive, but I have a tattered copy of the Oak Publications 'Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger Songbook' 3rd Printing, copyright 1963.

The Ballad of Springhill is credited as:

Music: Peggy Seeger
Words: Peggy Seeger and Ewan MacColl

and it's copyright 1960 Sing Out Inc. NY.

This would tie up with my first hearing of the song, by Peggy, in London in 1959.

Phil


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Springhill Disaster
From: Musket
Date: 05 Feb 09 - 07:53 AM

So, there you have it. Thanks Phil.

To the original question, I notice the words have been put on the thread and I suggest that if you use Am as the starting chord, using G, E, E7 you should get it to fit nicely.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Springhill Disaster
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 05 Feb 09 - 08:00 AM

As mentioned in this thread, in an October 2008 interview on CBC Radio Ms. Seeger credited MacColl with the "Down at the coalface the miners working" verse. To my ear this verse has a different rhetorical quality than the rest of the song. I feel awkward singing it because its slightly florid lyricism doesn't quite fit the prosier narration of other verses, even though it does a great job of setting the scene for the disaster.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Springhill Disaster
From: GUEST,Geof C (Plymouth - England)
Date: 21 Jun 10 - 08:07 PM

I first sung this song in the early 70,s in Germany without really appreciating the history and significance. However' as I'm starting to play with a band again this song came to mind. Having read all the comments, history and advice whilst searching for the song, I wil now render it with more respsect. Thanks to all for your help.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Springhill Disaster
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 21 Jun 10 - 11:11 PM

In my living memory there were two mine disasters in Springhill, the first a methane explosion in 1956 and then the bump in 1958. The second closed the mines in Springhill and they have not re-opened since.
Springhill's second claim to fame is as the birthplace and hometown of Anne Murray.
A prison has replaced the mines as the leading employer. The Anne Murray center is a big tourist attraction.


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Subject: DT Correction: The Ballad of Springhill
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 Aug 14 - 10:28 PM

The version in the Digital Tradition is a pretty good transcription, but I found a few differences in The Peggy Seeger Songbook: Warts and All. Discrepancies are in italics.

THE BALLAD OF SPRINGHILL
(Peggy Seeger)

In the town of Springhill, Nova Scotia,
Down in the dark of the Cumberland Mine;
There's blood on the coal and the miners lie
In the roads that never saw sun nor sky,
In the roads that never saw sun nor sky.

In the town of Springhill, you don't sleep easy,
Often the earth will tremble and roll;
When the earth is restless, miners die,
Bone and blood is the price of coal,
Bone and blood is the price of coal.

In the town of Springhill, Nova Scotia,
Late in the year of fifty-eight,
Day still comes and the sun still shines
But it's dark as the grave in the Cumberland mine,
But it's dark as the grave in the Cumberland mine.

Down at the coal face, miners working,
Rattle of the belt and the cutter's blade;
Rumble of rock and the walls close round
The living and the dead men two miles down,
The living and the dead men two miles down.

Twelve men lay two miles from the pitshaft,
Twelve men lay in the dark and sang;
Long hot days in the miner's tomb,
It was three feet high and a hundred long,
It was three feet high and a hundred long.

Three days past and the lamps gave out
And Caleb Rushton he up and said,
"There's no more water nor light nor bread
So we'll live on songs and hope instead,"
"So we'll live on song and hope instead."


Listen for the shouts of the bareface miners,
Listen through the rubble for a rescue team;
Six hundred feet of coal and slag,
Hope imprisoned in a three foot seam,
Hope imprisoned in a three foot seam.

Eight days passed and some were rescued,
Leaving the dead to lie alone;
Through all their lives they dug a grave,
Two miles of earth for a marking stone,
Two miles of earth for a marking stone.

In the town of Springhill, you don't sleep easy
Often the earth will tremble and roll
When the earth is restless, miners die
Bone and blood is the price of coal

Words and music by Peggy Seeger, ©1963 by Stormking Music, Inc.
Alternate title: Springhill Mine (Mining) Disaster

Note that the book does not give Ewan MacColl any credit for authorship, despite what is stated in other sources. Peggy says that she knew no miners and no mining terms at the time, so Ewan supplied several lines for verse 4 when he came to visit.
The mine disaster at Springhill, Nova Scotia, happened on October 23, 1958. More than 150 miners were trapped, some of them a mile underground. Eighty-one miners were rescued, but 90 died.

Dm C Dm C
In the town of Springhill, Nova Scotia
Dm G Dm
Down in the dark of the Cumberland Mine
G C Am
there's blood on the coal and the miners lie
Dm C Dm C A
In the roads that never saw sun nor sky (2x)


Copyright Sing Out
by Peggy Seeger, recorded by Ewan MacColl
@mining @death @work
filename[ SPRINGHI
TUNE FILE: SPRINGHI
CLICK TO PLAY
SOF

Recording by Tex Koenig: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1s56iDOwGU


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Springhill Disaster
From: Tiger
Date: 15 Oct 15 - 06:05 PM

Yet another follow-up regarding this song, which to me is terribly strong and moving.

I just visited the Miners' Museum in Springhill. Among their exhibits was a two-page letter from Peggy Seeger/Ewan MacColl, written to Caleb Rushton (6th stanza), one of the survivors/heroes of the disaster, who helped boost the spirits of a group of trapped miners before their rescue. They shared song creation credits.

It contains the full lyrics of the song, as posted by Joe Offer, above, which should put to rest some of the Mondegreens I've seen. The only (minor) differences:

Substitute "miners'" for "miner's" in stanza 5

Substitute "says" for "said" in stanza 6

Substitute "or" for "nor" (twice) in stanza 6

Substitute "Eight long days" for "Eight days passed" in stanza 8

Here's the text of the letter:

"Dear Mr. Rushton -

We have followed day by day the progress of the horrible happenings at the mine at Springhill. When the report came through that hope was kept alive by singing, of which you were a leader, my fiancé and I (who are both folk-singers, he Scots and English, I American) wrote the enclosed song for you and all the people there who will sing it. We are also very interested in any songs which you and the others sing, be they very old or fairly new. I hope you will sing this one and appreciate that your bravery has helped many people with both greater and lesser troubles."

Sincerely,
Peggy Seeger (and Ewan MacColl)
Boulogne, France Oct 9 1958

Now, here's a NEW wrinkle. The date of the letter (October 9) is two weeks before the actual incident. Go figure.

There's a New York Times article dated October 30 that contains a number of details mentioned in the song, e.g., 3 feet high and a hundred long, 12 men, 2 miles from the pithead. Looks like that was what Peggy/Ewan were reading.

My guess is that the letter was actually written on November 6.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Springhill Disaster
From: GUEST,threelegsoman
Date: 16 Oct 15 - 04:06 AM

I uploaded my own interpretation of this song a couple of years ago:

The Springhill Disaster (Including lyrics and chords)

As I pointed out in the information I included with the video, I should have checked out the lyrics more carefully when I copied them from a site on the internet, as whoever transcribed them on that site had misheard the name Caleb Rushton and written it as Kaela Brushton which when sung, does sound correct, but clearly is not.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Springhill Disaster - Mondegreens
From: Tiger
Date: 16 Oct 15 - 12:16 PM

A Google search on "Kaela Brushton" produces 370 hits, so you can see how far Mondegreens can travel. People just keep copying stuff.

"Caleb Rushton" produces 1,060, BTW.

It's hard to know what to trust from the Internet.

Like the recipe that leaves out the cup of sugar ... lol


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