Blog No.8: A Musical ‘History’ Of Northumberland & Durham – Part 2 – 19th Century – Tracks 1 to 4

The first four tracks of the ‘album’ covering the 19th century

BLOG NO.8 – IF YOU’D LIKE TO READ BLOG NO.7 FIRST, CLICK HEREIf you’d like to read first why I wrote these 65 tracks, then click HERE to read that blog. (Blue text are external links, which will open in a new browser window.)

(Those getting this via email won’t be able to see the tracks. Clicking on the title of the blog will open it in a tab of your web browser. For those reading on a iPad, the tracks will open in a separate browser windows and not play on the Page. Apologies.)

Welcome to a blog about tracks 1 to 4 of Part 2. Now comes the blurb if you haven’t read the other parts…. There are five ‘albums’ (now 66 tracks in all), covering over three hundred years of history – both real and fictional – relating the English northeastern counties of what were Northumberland and Durham, but now Northumberland, Tyne & Wear and Durham including Teesside; Part 2 covers the 19th century. As such, some of the songs are sung in the old Northumbrian, Geordie or Pitmatic accents and dialects. I’ve included explanations of the words used where necessary, and sometimes give lyrics in Standard English.

The dates by the track are either just where I have placed them (e.g. c.1800), this is when the traditional song was written, or this is when the historical event they portray happened. Keep in mind the music styles will change greatly from Parts 1 to 5 as they reflect the time they depict.

If any ex- or working miners out there spot any technical mistakes, please let me know in the comments section at the bottom of the page. If anyone else spots typos, please let me know. Thanks.

Anyone can give a Rate This star rating at the top of the blog or leave a Comment at the bottom of the page, and you can Like this blog if you’re a WordPress member at the bottom. If you’d like each blog to be posted to your inbox, click on the Follow Mak’s Music Blog tab at the top of the sidebar to the right if you’re with WordPress, or FOLLOW (THROUGH EMAIL) if you’re not. Please do rate the tracks in the Poll after them.

Recorded in Weston Lullingfields & Oswestry, Shropshire © Mak Wilson 1974, 1976, 1977, 1993, 2007 & 2017

Blurb over…now for the tracks….

Track 1 – The PenitentSet c.1800, it’s the story of a ‘Penitent’, whose job it was to ignite any gas in the mine before the other miners started their shift. It might have been the highest paid job, but mortally rate was high. He got his name from the monk-like cowl he had to wear to protect himself. Rather him than me I say!

This is sung with a lot of Pitmatic dialect words, so below are the lyrics in Standard English.

All instruments in Garageband and Logic Pro X.

Some call me The Penitent
Because of my monk-like cloak
But mine is fashioned from leather
And in water has been soaked

Others call me The Fireman
Because of what’s my task
To crawl along on my belly
And ignite the dangerous gas

I’m the best paid man down here
Though brief my life it could be
I’ve got no wife or sweetheart
‘Cause who’d marry me?

I’m there before the shift starts
Before there’s anyone down the pit
With a candle on a long stick
I get ready to make it lit

I wet my cloak and raise the cowl
And head for the gassy face
I light the wick and start to crawl
And extend the flaming stick

I raise the candle ’til it meets gas
And when the blue flame roars to race
I bury my head into the rock
So it doesn’t scorch my face

I feel the heat of the Devil’s Fire
As it runs over my back
When it’s exorcised from our sink
In dark I retrace my track

I thank the Lord that I have lived
To see another day
Until the next when I’ll crawl the seam
Once again as I pray

Some call me The Peninent
Because of my monk-like cloak
But mine is fashioned from leather
And in water has been soaked

Track 2 – Cut The Black Diamond – Set c.1810, about the hard labour of a coal hewer; the black diamond being the name given to coal. Not one in a usual folky-style. (Not sure what style you would class it as.) It’s done in more of an orchestral way with a modern drum rhythm.

Sung in Standard English with an accent rather than the Pitmatic dialect.

Created using virtual strings in Garageband on the iPad, and other instruments in Garageband on the Mac.

Track 3 – My Dear Sweet Lass What Have You Done? c.1825.  A fictional tale of a miner’s daughter who murders her farmer husband because he was beating her, and the affect her crime has on her fatha (dad) and the rest of her family.

Sung mainly in Standard English with an accent rather than the Pitmatic dialect, although there are some dialect words: ‘dee‘=’do’; ‘nee mair‘=’no more’.

Instruments care of the Korg Triton LE keyboard and Garageband.

Track 4 – Dance T’ Y’r Daddy (When The Boat Comes In – Traditional – 1840) Probably the most famous of the Northeastern ‘dandling’ songs for children, first made famous by the 1970s British television series, When The Boat Comes In starring James Bolam, and later by television commercials. The child sat on the knee or the crook of the foot of the adult, whilst they were bounced up and down in time to the song. My mam and dad used to do this to me, although I don’t remember him singing this song in particular. I think they did a version of ‘Clap hands for Daddy cummin’ doon the waggon way‘.

Those who know this song will notice the different lyrics to this version. As far as I’m aware, this is the earliest. It’s thought that these lyrics were written by one William Watson around 1826.

This is vocal only


Thanks so much for reading and listening, and please, please, please rate the songs and the blog! (Grovelling over.)





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