"West Virginia Mine Disaster" as written by and Jean Ritchie....
Oh say did you see him, it was early this morning
He passed all your houses on his way to the coal
He was tall, he was slender, and his dark eyes so tender
His occupation was minin', West Virginia his home

It was just before twelve, I was feeding the children
Ben Moseley came running to bring us the news
"Number eight is all flooded, many men are in danger
And we don't know their number, but we fear they're all doomed"

So I picked up the baby, and I left all the others
To comfort each other, and to pray for their own
There's Tommy, fourteen, and there's John not much younger
Their own time soon will be comin' to go down the black hole

Now what will I say to his poor little children?
And what will I tell his dear mother at home?
And what will I say to my heart that's clear broken?
To my heart that's clear broken, if my baby is gone?

Now, if I had the money to do more than just feed them
I'd give them good learnin', the best could be found
So when they growed up they'd be checkers and weighers
And not spend their life diggin' in the dark underground

Say, did you see him goin', it was early this morning
He passed all your houses on his way to the coal
He was tall, he was slender, and his dark eyes so tender
His occupation was minin', West Virginia his home


Lyrics submitted by mike, edited by forestchild

West Virginia Mine Disaster song meanings
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    My InterpretationThis is a pretty straightforward story of a mining disaster in West Virginia, told from the point of view of the wife of one of the miners who died. The worst part is that even after losing her husband and other members of the community in the disaster, she's going to have to send her own sons to work in the mines because they are too poor to do anything else. She can't even afford to give them the little education it would take to get them the less dangerous above-ground jobs related to the mine, they will have to dig underground, doing the most dangerous jobs in the mine, and risk the same fate as the miners who died in the disaster, including presumably their own father. The song is hauntingly beautiful and gut-wrenchingly sad and maddening that we still send people to work under these conditions, and don't pay them what their effort and the danger they live under is worth.
    forestchildon September 17, 2014   Link

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