Blog No.29: A Musical ‘History’ Of Northumberland & Durham – Part 4 – 1946 to 1974 – Tracks 5 to 9

Tracks 5 to 9 of the ‘album’ covering the middle of the 20th century –

BLOG NO.29 – IF YOU’D LIKE TO READ BLOG NO.28 FIRST, CLICK HERE. If 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 5 to 9 of Part 4 of ‘From The Earth To The Seas. Now comes the blurb if you haven’t read the other Parts…. There are five ‘albums’, 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 4 covers 1946 to 1975. 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.1900), 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. Blurb over…now for the tracks….

Track 5 – Tall Ships Of Iron – Set c.1953, the song is about the ships built at the Swan Hunter shipyard at Wallsend on the River Tyne (pictured above). Wallsend, now a suburb of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, is so named because it was the end of Hadrian’s Wall, built in the AD120s under the orders of the Roman emperor, Hadrian. Ships had been built on the northeast rivers of Tyne, Wear and Tees for centuries, but it wouldn’t be many decades after this song is set that this would all come to an end, for the most part.

This was one of my ME/CFS off days, which affects my voice. However, like all my songs, I’m more interested in other musicians using it.

All instruments in GarageBand and Logic Pro X.

Track 6 – The Hand Putter Skiffle ‘Live’ (c.1953) – A mock live performance by fictional band made up of ‘hand putter’ colliers. These were the men who pushed the coal ladened iron tubs by hand, and were relatively well paid for it too; which, in turn, made them very attractive to some of the local lasses, especially since miners also got a free colliery house, coal and manure from the pit ponies at the end of the year.

This song I did in the 1950s/’60s Skiffle musical style. Of course, any real recording from this time would be in mono! I was so worried about this song and hesitated to post it to the ex-miners of the Facebook coal mining groups, but when I finally plucked up the courage to do so, it turned out that they loved it! Phew!

The painting used for the track is by pitman painter, Tom Lamb, who was a miner from my home town of Stanley in County Durham and worked at the Busty and Craghead collieries. (©Tom Lamb)

All instruments in GarageBand and Logic Pro X.

Track 7 – Don’t Send Y’r Son Down The Pit My Lad  – A song – which I set c.1960 but could have been at any other time – from those miners, like my father by the time I arrived, who didn’t want their sons to end up down the mine, and wanted to make sure they did well at school. Of course, in some regions, mining was the only choice, and the only way to avoid it was to move away, which was easier said than done. Almost all the mines had closed by the time I was working age, but I had no intention of going down the pit anyway…or working in a factory or an office come to that. I knew what it was I wanted to do from the age of 6: go into the theatre. This I was doing professionally from the age of 15, and I left the northeast at 17 to pursue my career in London. Never stopped having enormous respect for miners though, or loving this part of the country.

Created with the aid of GarageBand.

Track 8 – Son Of A Miner (c.1961) – Many miners came from generations of colliers. This song was inspired by my three much older brothers – Jack, Tommy and Billy (pictured below) – my father and grandfather, who all worked down the pit; their last being East Tanfield Colliery. My grandfather – who died before I was born ~ was down the mine all he life (as far as I know) but my father and brothers went on to other things after most of the mines in Stanley closed in the mid- to late-1960s. I think I wrote this in the late-1970s or early-1980s.

Sung in Standard English with slight Pitmatic accent, and not the dialect. The ‘black diamond’ referred to is the name given to coal.

Instruments from a Korg Triton LE keyboard, and recorded in 2007 on a Roland VS-2480 digital 24 track. I then copied the song to Logic Pro X for mastering

Track 9 – The Old Miner (Traditional – Roud 1136 – c.1963) – Apparently, an old miner at the Haunchwood Pit, Nuneaton, Warwickshire, made up this song to a tune he had learned in his native Durham. My arrangement is based on the Northeast folk duo, Megson‘s version. There are several version of this traditional song, such as the acapella one done by The Silly Sisters or that of the other northeastern sometime-duo of Bob Fox and Benny Graham (now both members of The Pitmen Poets.). I’ve tried to make mine a little more 1960s by using an electric guitar.

Created with the help of GarageBand on the iPad.

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


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



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