HELLO, COAL MINER (SARAH OGAN GUNNING) (1979)

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Lyrics as reprinted in liner notes of "They'll Never Keep Us Down" (Rounder 4012, 1984).

Hello. coal miners, I'm so proud to be your friend
For the finest folks I ever knew were coal mining women and men
Were coal mining women and men.

I was born in old Kentucky way back in 1910
My daddy and my brothers, they were all coal mining men
They were all coal mining men.

My daddy was a preacher, but he loaded coal as well
He wanted to spread the word of God, and save poor souls from Hell
And save poor souls from Hell.

He traveled over the mountains, through the heat and through the cold
But he died and went to Heaven when I was twelve years old
He died and went to Heaven when I was twelve years old.

My mother was a Christian, she served God all her life
She worked hard for her children, and she was a miner's wife
She was a miner's wife.

She taught the love of Jesus to women and to men
All colors, all religions, they were my mother's friends
They were my mother's friends.

I married a young coal miner when I was just sixteen
I was the happiest little girl that you have ever seen
I was the happiest little girl that you have ever seen.

My handsome young coal miner, I loved him dear as life
I thought my life would be heaven if I could be his wife
If I could be his wife.

My mother tried to stop me and so did brother Jim
But there's no one in this whole world could stop me loving him
Could stop me loving him.

I didn't want to listen to what they said to me
So we ran away and got married to Cumberland Gap, Tennessee
To Cumberland Gap, Tennessee.

He worked in the coal mine, from early morn 'til late
I was afraid he'd breathe in the black damp, or that he'd be killed with slate
Or that he'd be killed with slate.

I was afraid there'd be a fire in the mines, or maybe a cave-in
As so often happens to coal mining men,
As so often happens to coal mining men.

He called our little son to him, and said "Son, please sit down.
I'll want to tell you something. while I'm still around.
Don't ever work in the coal mines, down in the dark cold ground
Always listen to Mother, she'll never let you down
And always listen to Mother, she'll never let you down."

We hugged our little children, told them not to cry
They didn't know their daddy soon was going to die.
They didn't know their daddy soon was going to die.

They come up to a miner's wife, say "I know how you feel"
These dirty, rich aristocrats who never missed a meal
They never spent a lonely night, or heard their children cry
Or had to tell their children why daddy had to die
Or had to tell their children why daddy had to die.

And so my friends I sing my little song to you
Black lung it killed my husband when he was thirty-two
Black lung it killed my husband when he was thirty-two.

And now I'm old and all alone and I will soon be gone
But I want my friends to think of me and always sing this song
And always sing my songs.

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