Tracks 10 to 14 of the ‘album’ covering the middle of the 20th century – from a fictional mining disaster to my street fighting nephew
BLOG NO.31 – IF YOU’D LIKE TO READ BLOG NO.30 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 the last five tracks (10 to 14) 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 10 – Summer of ’65 – This song is fictional story about a mining disaster and the death of the singer’s father, and it is loosely based on the death of my own. My dad actually died in 1964 aged 53, just before my 7th birthday. It wasn’t coal mining that was the cause though, as he had given that up some years earlier, but gangrene caused by thrombosis. He passed away from organ failure during the operation to remove his leg. It might have been a different story had it happened now.
In an awful mirroring of events, one of my brothers-in-law, who had also been a miner, died through exactly the same circumstances a few decades later. If you’ve read any of my past blogs you will know about my older writing nephew, David Calvert; it was his father whom this happen to.
In the song the character mentions about being 18 towards the end, and I think this is about the age that I was when I wrote it, which would have been around 1975/76, when I also composed a few other of these 65 tracks. I initially recorded this in 2007 on my Roland VS-2480 Digital Workstation, but couldn’t transfer the individual tracks to GarageBand, so ended up re-recording it this year.
Created with the aid of GarageBand on the iPad.
Track 11 – Farewell My Beamish Mary (1966) – A song about the closure of a colliery -the Beamish Mary – that was a mile from where I spent my formative years. In fact, this is the mine that the brother-in-law mentioned in the previous track worked at. It closed in the year that my mother and I moved from South Stanley to Shield Row, which is where this pit was, and where my sister, Irene and her husband Joe lived, with their children – all older than me – Carol, David (mentioned above) and Alan, otherwise know as Titchy. (He because somewhat infamous for his fighting prowess, and track 14 is about him.)
The closing of any mine has a huge impact both on the miners and the communities that they came from. From the mid-1960s, many of the mines in the Stanley area were closing, and the miners had to find either alternative pits, or alternative jobs. In the case of Joe, he went to work at Osram’s lightbulb factory in Birtley.
Created with the aid of GarageBand on the iPad.
Track 12 – Now We’ve Broken Your Back (1969) – This track – which was a later addition, and is numbered as 14 on SoundCloud – was inspired by a documentary on the closing down and dismantling of the Craghead Colliery near Stanley, Co. Durham in 1969, which I only recently saw. (You can see Part One of that documentary by clicking HERE.) Whilst the song is about this particular pit, its sentiment can be applied to the closing of any mine, and the affects this has. The song focusses on the actual dismantling of the mine, and the sadness felt by those doing it.
I never knew Craghead pit – or I’ve forgotten it – but I knew Craghead, either as a place I used to go to dance at the youth club there, or passing through on the bus to go to Durham City or my Aunt Meggie’s house in Langley Park.
I recorded this on one of my off days, which affects my voice. However, I’m more interested in other musicians using it.
All instruments in GarageBand and Logic Pro X.
Track 13 – Oh For A Saturday Night! (c.1972) – This song reflects the life and attitude of many a working man in 1970s Durham and Northumberland. There was certainly a great deal of sexism and some misogyny – it was the 1970s after all – but there were still plenty men who weren’t either.
When visiting the Northeast I always went to the Working Men’s Club of a Saturday night. I couldn’t keep up with their drinking, but it was always a lot of fun. It was here that we’d sing some of my mining ballads, and it was here that my brother-in-law, Joe, or my brother Tommy would get up to sing. Yes, it was very much in the working men’s club slow-vibrato style, but they were still good and it was always enjoyed. I only ever got up once, and that was to sing my mam and dad’s favourite song, The Wedding (Ave Maria). It made her cry, and it can still bring me to tears. A couple of my actress singing girlfriends I to North got up to sing, and one of them is the only person I know of who made the whole room go quiet near closing time as she sung…which was some fete!
I think I wrote this in 1992, but can’t quite remember.
Created with the aid of GarageBand.
Track 14 – The Shield Row Kid (c.1975) – Believe or not, this is based on a real person: the one mentioned above: my nephew, Alan (‘Titchy’) Calvert. The Shield Row back street in the photo is, in fact, where one of the street fights took place c.1972; although the photo predates this song by about 8 years. It was all diesel trains by 1975, when Alan’s fighting days were all but over and this song is set. This is the street where the Calverts, and later my mam, lived: King Edward VIII Terrace, Shield Row. Alan’s brother, David, would also be involved in that particular street fight – to which my other slightly older nephew, Keith Wilson and I were witnesses – but who wouldn’t last long, after being knocked unconscious. Never-the-less, the Calverts and their ‘gang’ came out on top. It made me never want to witness a street fight again!
The song also tells of how his abilities would come to haunt Alan, as lads would still come from miles around to challenge him. This is why I decided to do the song in a Western style, liking him to a successful gun-slinger, trying to shake off his violent past. His fame even spread to Shropshire, where I now live, over 200 miles away. A school friend of my wife married a lass from Anfield Plain, Stanley (where the actor Alun Armstrong is from), and the first time I met her, I happened to mention Titchy. Her eyes widen, she laughed, then admitted how she and friends would sometimes go up to Consett (the next big town, six miles away) to watch him fight! What a small world.
I was not into fighting or violence at all…or doing all the other daft and dangerous things these older nephews, who were more like brothers to me, would do. Every time I did pluck up the courage to try something, I always became a cropper.
Created with the aid of Apple Loops.
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.)
IF YOU’D LIKE TO HAVE A SKIM THROUGH ALL 65 TRACKS, CLICK HERE.