Blog No.38: From The Earth To The Seas – A Musical ‘History’ Of #Northumberland & #Durham – Part 5 – 1975 to Today – Final Tracks


Tracks 9 to 12 of the ‘album’ covering the latter part of the 20th century – from a mining dad answering a questioning son, to my memories of playing on our local pit heap

BLOG NO.38 – IF YOU’D LIKE TO READ BLOG NO.37 FIRST, CLICK HERE, OR TO WATCH VLOG NO.1 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.)

This is the last blog about my 65 folk music tracks, covering tracks 9 to 12 of the final part (Part 5) 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 5 covers 1976 to today. 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 9 – Why Are They Closing Your Mine? (c.1990) – A humorous look at pit closures…which never was a laughing matter. This is a father replying to his son’s question of why they’re closing his pit if there was still lots of coal down there? It wasn’t as simple an answer I many might imagine. There was more to pit closure than Maggie Thatcher wanting to destroy the Unions; although that certainly was a factor. North Sea gas and oil affected the industry, as did the introduction nuclear power and cheaper coal imports. This did for a huge section of the steel industry too, and this all had a knock-on affect.

I use more Pitmatic in this one, here are the lyrics in Standard England.

Well I’ve got three children of 4, 6 and 10
I put them to bed whenever I can
They’re full of questions as children can be
But one night my 10-year-old he asked me….

‘Cause he’s an inquisitive bugger like (‘bugger’ in the Northeast can be used as a strange form of endearment!)

Father you know how they’re closing your mine
Well how can it be when you say the coal’s fine
You say there’s tonnes of the stuff, if so
Then why close the pit, I want to know?

Fair enough question like.

Well I should have just blamed the politics
It’s those bloody MPs, those lunatics!
But I went and gave him the long reply
It went like this, without a lie….

Right, here we go….

It depends on the coal
It depends where it’s found
It depends on geology of the underground
It depends on the flooding
And the cost to pump it out
It depends where it’s at and what amount

It depends on the cost
It depends on us, son
To how much of the stuff is won (dug out)
It depends on the price
They can get for said coal
It depends on export as a whole

It depends of cost
Of crude oil
It depends
On foreign turmoil
And now that we have Natural Gas
Well we’re just stuffed there and that’s a fact!

Right.

It depends on the coke
We can sell for steel
But we’re stuffed there too
‘Cause of foreign deals
It depends on the cost when they sunk the shaft
‘Cause they still might have an overdraft

There, see.

Well my son just sat and stared at me
So I said, it costs to much you see
There was one long pause, a smile crossed his face
Why didn’t you just say that in the very first place?

Yes, well, I wish I had now. Goodnight son.

The image for the track is by Tom McGuinness, one of the ‘Pitmen Painters‘, and depicts a Durham pit village of 1954.

Created with help of GarageBand both on Mac and iPad.

Track 10 –  The Last Miner (c.1992) – Another song inspired by my nephew, Alan ‘Titchy’ Calvert, who worked at Monkwearmouth Colliery on the mouth of the River Wear, and had to travel 15 miles on a coach each day to get to work at one of the few remaining collieries in the region. (Most of the remaining collieries at this time where on the coast, mining the coal deep under the North Sea. Any coal inland was reached by open-cast mining.) ) In this song, however, I’ve changed to being about the father of the singer.

Pitmatic: ‘me fahther‘=my father; ‘nee crunching boots‘=no crunching boots; ‘The ‘Iron Lady’ had closed the aall‘=Margaret Thatcher had closed them all

Created with Apple Loops.

Track 11 – The Farm Labourer’s Loss (c.1995) – A song from the perspective of a farm labourer. My wife, Fiona – the daughter of a dairy farmer – was tired of me mainly writing about mining, and asked me if I’d try a song about farming. This was the result. I’d like to compose more about this declining and endangered industry, as it is often misunderstood and misrepresented. A lot of folk think all famers a wealthy, land grabbing, anti-environment, animal exploiters, yet from my experience this couldn’t be farther from the truth. WE and the supermarkets are as much to blame for the way agriculture has gone. Ironically, cheap food comes at a price!

All virtually instruments in GarageBand ans Logic Pro X.

Dialect words: ‘aanly‘=only; ‘aall‘=all; ‘nee’=no

Track 12 – The Long Grey Mountain – (Today) – About my childhood and the pit spoil heap (the ‘long grey mountain’) at the end of the street, which was a playground to us…if somewhat a dangerous one! This particular one was the result of the Beamish Mary Colliery, about half a mile to the east of Shield Row where it ended. The Beamish Mary closed in 1966, but the pit heap was still around until the late-1970s, when they began to flatten it. Now you’d never know it had ever been there.

Created in GarageBand on the Mac and iPad.

Recorded in Weston Lullingfields & Oswestry, Shropshire © Mak Wilson 1974, 1976, 1977, 1993, 2007, 2009 & 2017

…and that is all the folk music for now folks! If my arms and hands improve I do hope to compose more, this time thinking of a wider audience, rather than just the few family members I originally wrote these for; that and my own creative outlet. I might try to cover a couple of the musicals I wrote and co-wrote in more detail: Leaving School and Jack In The Rainbow in particular. (You can hear the tracks to Leaving School by clicking HERE, and scrolling to the end of that blog.) The former has all the songs recorded to it, but the latter only has a couple at the moment. (I have no surviving recordings to A Dog Called Samson.) The original recordings from the 1980 Jack In The Rainbow with the Cannon Hill Puppet Theatre have been lost.

I hope you’ve enjoyed at least some of the 65 songs and tunes, and the history behind them. It’s certainly been interesting for me, if no one else, and I’ve learned a great deal more about my Northeastern heritage. A heritage I am extremely proud of.

THE END

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

Mak

IF YOU’D LIKE TO HAVE A SKIM THROUGH ALL 65 TRACKS, PLEASE CLICK HERE.

4 thoughts on “Blog No.38: From The Earth To The Seas – A Musical ‘History’ Of #Northumberland & #Durham – Part 5 – 1975 to Today – Final Tracks

  1. Another great post Mak! Needless to say, The Long Grey Mountain at the Bottom of Our Street was my favourite. It brought back many cherished memories of the times we played on it – come rain, hail, snow, or thunderstorms. Great memories indeed! What an imaginative and adventurous group we were.

    Liked by 1 person

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