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Chord Req: Miner's Lifeguard

DigiTrad:
LIFE'S RAILWAY TO HEAVEN
MINER'S LIFEGUARD
THE H-BOMB'S THUNDER
WEAVER'S LIFE


Related threads:
Lyr Req: Keep your hands on your wages (14)
(origins) Origins: Not 'A Miners' Life'! Irish attribution? (6)
Origins: Life's Railway to Heaven (Abbey/Tillman) (7)
(origins) Origins: Life's Railway To Heaven / Union Miners? (13)
Chord Req: Life is like a mountain railway (10)
Lyr Req: Miners Stand Together (7)
Req: Miner's Lifeguard Parody (Shanty Singers) (12)
(origins) Origins: Union Miners / Miner's Lifeguard (50)
Lyr Add: Jesus Walk Around Your Bedside (5)
Lyr Req: union miners (answered)^^^ (3) (closed)
Tune Req: Life Is like a Mountain Railroad (18)


Chris in Wheaton 25 Apr 05 - 11:54 AM
Mark Ross 25 Apr 05 - 03:08 PM
breezy 25 Apr 05 - 06:18 PM
Chris in Wheaton 26 Apr 05 - 11:33 AM
Piers 26 Apr 05 - 12:44 PM
Splott Man 27 Apr 05 - 07:35 AM
Chris in Wheaton 27 Apr 05 - 10:16 AM
breezy 27 Apr 05 - 11:50 AM
Richard Bridge 27 Apr 05 - 12:50 PM
Mick Tems 28 Apr 05 - 04:52 AM
Snuffy 28 Apr 05 - 09:13 AM
Chris in Wheaton 28 Apr 05 - 09:47 AM
Piers 28 Apr 05 - 10:21 AM
NH Dave 28 Apr 05 - 10:21 AM
Piers 28 Apr 05 - 11:40 AM
Chris in Wheaton 29 Apr 05 - 10:28 AM
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Subject: Chord Req: MINER'S LIFEGUARD
From: Chris in Wheaton
Date: 25 Apr 05 - 11:54 AM

I'd like to do this song at our songcircle this weekend in honor of May Day.
The Mudcat database says that the song is taken from Life is Like a Mountain Railroad,
but it seems to me that it is closer to Calon Lan, which also seems to be the basis for Life is Like, even though the Miner's song seems to have written after Life is Like.
Can anyone help with the song's chronology and especially recommend some good chords. I have been trying a lot of variations, but hoping for the traditional chords.
Thanks, Chris in Wheaton


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Subject: RE: Chord Req: MINER'S LIFEGUARDMiner's Lifeguard
From: Mark Ross
Date: 25 Apr 05 - 03:08 PM

It is definiteoy a take off on LIFE IS LIKE A MOUNTAIN RAILROAD, which was very a very popular hymn before the turn of the last century(1900). It's usually played in G, depending on your voice.

G       C    G
//////// //// ////
G         A    D7
//////// //// ////
G         C   G
//////// //// ////
G          D7   G
////////// //   ////

I think(the beats may be a bit off, but you get the idea).

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Chord Req: MINER'S LIFEGUARDMiner's Lifeguard
From: breezy
Date: 25 Apr 05 - 06:18 PM

bugger the chords, find yer key ,then sing it.

Sounds good without accompaniment

but I play it in F so I capo 3rd fret and play D, but my range goes to E above middle C down one and a half octaves to A/B

well I never, just been to the piano and went from 2 octaves below middle C to the G above mid C !!

My voice has broken, again!


In the key of F the top note is C,

so

I can go to the key of G with room to spare.

My range is baritone approx


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Subject: RE: Chord Req: MINER'S LIFEGUARDMiner's Lifeguard
From: Chris in Wheaton
Date: 26 Apr 05 - 11:33 AM

Isn't there a passing minor 2nd, rather than a 7th, as in Calon Lan?
G - Am - D7, rather than G-A7-D7 in Life is Like?

There is a version of Miner's Life that Frank Hennessy played of this group ( http://www.musique-sauvage.org/trad_welsh.htm ) doing it, but it's not on their site.

Chris


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Subject: RE: Chord Req: MINER'S LIFEGUARD
From: Piers
Date: 26 Apr 05 - 12:44 PM

Fowke and Glazer's Songs of work and protest states that it began as a parody of 'Life's Railway to heaven' and is the same tune as Calon Lan.


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Subject: RE: Chord Req: MINER'S LIFEGUARDMiner's Lifeguard
From: Splott Man
Date: 27 Apr 05 - 07:35 AM

Most people these days sing the "Mountain Railroad" version - ie the American tune. Round our way we use the Welsh tune "Calon Lan". The story we use is that the Welsh tune was used here first, the song migrated to America and came back with the American tune. I can't verify that, but Mick Tems may be able to shed some light on the chronology.

You'll probably here both versions at the Mining Songs workshop at Upton Festival this weekend.

regards

Splott Man


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Subject: RE: Chord Req: MINER'S LIFEGUARDMiner's Lifeguard
From: Chris in Wheaton
Date: 27 Apr 05 - 10:16 AM

Thanks for the help - appropriately confused for folk music.
I'd like to do the Calon Lan version, since my ancestors came from Wales.

Splott Man - can you give me the chords that you use for Calon Lan?

It's not that I don't know there are chord changes, it just that I'm not enough of musician to count beats so I know where they go best - if I'm doing it for a sing-along, it would be nice to give them one version and then I'd try to stick to it --- I find song circles like certainty much more than I do.

We have the circle on Saturday, and I'd like to get some folks to go with me on Sunday (May Day) to the Haymarket Memorial at Forest Home Cemetary in Forest Park to sing "Joe Hill." They recently re-broadcast the history of Chicago on PBS here ("City of the Century" - worth seeing), and the part on the Haymarket martrys was very moving. Would be nice to do something in their memory - other tnan boycott Marshall Field's.

Diolch yn fawr, Chris in Wheaton, near Chicago


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Subject: RE: Chord Req: MINER'S LIFEGUARDMiner's Lifeguard
From: breezy
Date: 27 Apr 05 - 11:50 AM

playing in D you can stick the E major in on 'ventures' before A7th on 'being brave'

likewise in the chorus, E on 'Tale'

Forget the calon lan it would confuse your audience, anyway its very different, and I too am welsh.


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Subject: Chords Add: MINER'S LIFEGUARD
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 27 Apr 05 - 12:50 PM

The first verse starts on the beat before the bar. Some other lines do it too. I have indicated this with a /

Working in C (the key of the dots I have) (hell it's about low but you can capo or transpose) I would suggest as follows.

Line 4, and line 3 of chorus, following the dots the chord would change before the start of the line, but I think it sounds better where I put it.

There are a few bits where I think it sounds good to flip in a spare G before going back to the C and I've put a Hash # in there




(C)A/ (C)Miner's life is like a sailor's
'Board a (F)ship to cross the (C)wave;
Every day his life's in danger,
Still he (G)ventures being brave.
Watch the/ (C)rocks, they're falling daily,
Careless (F)miners always (C)fail;
Keep #your hands upon the #dollar
And #your eyes up(G)on the (C)scale(s).

CHORUS:
(C)Union (F)miners, stand togeth(C)er,
Heed no operator's (G)tale;
Keep your (C)hands upon #the dollar
And #your eyes up(G)on the (C)scale(s).


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE MINER'S LIFE
From: Mick Tems
Date: 28 Apr 05 - 04:52 AM

The Miner's Life (I've always called it that way, not The Miner's Lifeguard) originated as one of the "gutter choir" songs in the "Sliding Scale" strike, which united the South Wales miners together and formed one big union as The South Wales Miner's Federation (forerunner to the NUM.) The miners looked around for a tune, and lo and behold, one had just been written to the Welsh hymn Calon Lan (A Pure Heart), which was a big hit on that day. The "Sliding Scale" strike was fought by the miners against the South Wales coal owners, who had implemented the Sliding Scale Agreement. This basically said that as the coal market went down, the miners' wages went down too. It gives the chorus that memorable line:

Keep your hands upon your wages
And your eyes upon the Scale.

Afterwards, the South Wales miners emigrated to America, particularly Scranton, Pennsylvania – we had a gig in the coal-mining town of Nanticoke PA, and I remember all the striking similarities between US mining towns and coal villages from the Rhondda. (The chairman and his wife of Nanticoke Welsh Society were Jack and Sandy Pritchard who made us very welcome.) Once they were in America, the miners adopted a home-grown US tune called Life Is Like A Mountain Railroad, which goes (if I remember it right) "Keep your hands upon the throttle and your eyes upon the rail."

I recorded The Miners' Life in 1977 on Gowerton Fair (Joe Stead's SFA label), and I fear the notes might have been inaccurate – I was misinformed, but I soon put that right! Calennig recorded The Miner's Life as one-half of a double song (with Old Soldiers, the quite stunning songwriting of Jon Heslop, pillar of Llantrisant Folk Club before he moved to Cornwall.) The album was Dyddiau Gwynion Ionawr (Snowy Days Of January) which we recorded for Sain Cyf, the national Welsh recording company – Dafydd Iwan has stepped down as chief executive following his election as president of Plaid Cymru, and the new chief exec is Dafydd Roberts, the harp-playing brother in Ar Log.)

Incidentally, if you think that Nanticoke PA describes a typical American-Welsh mining town, you could be wrong. Nanticoke was the name of the native-American chief, who sold the settlers land!   

The Miners' Life

The Miner's Life if like a sailor's,
'Board a ship to cross the wave,
Every day his life's in danger
Still he ventures, being brave.
Watch the rocks, they're falling daily,
Careless miners always fail;
Keep your hands upon your wages
And your eyes upon the scale.

Union miners, stand together,
Never heed the owners' tale,
Keep your hands upon your wages
And your eyes upon the scale.

You've been docked, and docked again boys,
You've been loading two to one,
What have you to show for working
Since the mining has begun;
But worn-out boots, and worn-out miners,
Lungs of stone and children pale,
Keep your hands upon your wages
And your eyes upon the scale.

In conclusion, bear in memory,
Keep this password in your mind,
God provides for every miner
When in union they combine;
Stand like men, and linked together
Victory shall for you prevail;
Keep your hands upon your wages
And your eyes upon the scale.

Mick Tems


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Subject: RE: Chord Req: MINER'S LIFEGUARDMiner's Lifeguard
From: Snuffy
Date: 28 Apr 05 - 09:13 AM

When was the Sliding Scale Strike, Mick? I know that the "Fed" (SWMF) was founded in 1898 and the song appears to have been sung in the states to the Mountain railway tune by 1900.

The 5-verse American version in the DT MINER'S LIFEGUARD is claimed to be "an 1890ish parody on Life is Like a Mountain Railway, ca. 1870"


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Subject: RE: Chord Req: MINER'S LIFEGUARDMiner's Lifeguard
From: Chris in Wheaton
Date: 28 Apr 05 - 09:47 AM

Thanks, Mick and all - that's great help - what a great resource this is!
Johnny Cash's versioni of Life is Like on the Circle III cd is really great, but we do Calon Lan for St. David's Day so I have that melody down, just have to work on the chords.
My favorite Calon Lan is by Here Be Dragons - with the banjo - we're hoping that the lads may come to the Chicago Gaelic Fest this year - Mick, if you were able to come to the Gaelic Fest (they pay airfare, etc.), let me know if you put in an app, and our Welsh group can support you. Sain also know the Fest folk.
Mick - I'll also have to drop over and get a copy of you doing it - looks like it's on the current cd -
http://www.folkwales.org.uk/albums.html
Dioch eto, Chris


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Subject: RE: Chord Req: MINER'S LIFEGUARD
From: Piers
Date: 28 Apr 05 - 10:21 AM

It says in Fowke and Glazer's Songs of work and protest:

'The oft-repeated warning in the chorus to "keep your eye upon the scale" refers to the owner's practice of underweighing the miners' coal cars before the unions succeeded in appointing a union checkweighman.'


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Subject: RE: Chord Req: MINER'S LIFEGUARD
From: NH Dave
Date: 28 Apr 05 - 10:21 AM

I'd wonder why you call the union song a parody of the gospel hymn. The tune and some of the thoughts in the gospel hymn remain in the union song, but there is no attempt to poke fun at or send up the older song. All that was done was borrow the tune, especially as it was a tune that to many workers in the coal mines would be familiar.

Dave


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Subject: RE: Chord Req: MINER'S LIFEGUARD
From: Piers
Date: 28 Apr 05 - 11:40 AM

Good point Dave, parody doesn't seem to be the correct word - it's almost the opposite, bringing the song back down to earth.


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Subject: RE: Chord Req: MINER'S LIFEGUARDMiner's Lifeguard
From: Chris in Wheaton
Date: 29 Apr 05 - 10:28 AM

Mick - I e-mailed your web site re your recording of the song. Did it get thru?

So did Calon Lan go to the US with the Welsh miners, then change to Life is Like and go back to Wales, then even though Miner's Life was written in Wales, some in Wales sang it to Calon Lan and others to Life is Like? What do Siwsan George's line notes say?

I think I heard the story was that Life is LIke was Tom Horn's favorite song and that he had it played for him before they hung him.

In How Green was My Valley - there is a scene where the boy is told to watch the payman closely when he weighs out the wages - implying he put his thumb on the paymen scale like the butcher to underpay - any truth to that? The LA Welsh Church choir sang in the movie and the church is still going, but, unfortunately reduced in number except for Gymanfas.

Chris


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