Friday, May 5, 2017

Lyrics, I

Those in power write the history, while those who suffer write the songs.
~Frank Harte

Sharing lyrics-as-poetry on Fridays during the month of May.

In the first 1:50, Utah Phillips explains where he got the idea for The Miner's Lullaby:

The Miner's Lullaby
by Utah Phillips

Once, long ago, he was handsome and tall
And fit to be called to the war
We left our village, family and all
To never return any more

Now he takes his coat, bucket and lamp
And whistles away to the cage
Where men young and old from all over the camp
Gather in search of a wage

Husband, sleep, lay your head back and dream
A slow fallen leaf borne down to the stream
Then carried away on the wings of morphine
Homeward far over the sea

My husband and I are Roman in faith
And we have a secret to keep
If ever his life is taken away
Then gentle and long will he sleep

Now some men pass with family around
And linens and blankets so clean
But seldom a miner goes underground
Without his tin of morphine


But now here's a word, an explosion is heard
The miners are trapped far below
If any survived down there alive
I'm certain we never will know

Although our families have vainly appealed
No rescue attempt can be seen
Our hope for loved ones in the dark earth sealed
Now lies in a tin of morphine

My daughter Ariana is an amazing resource for this project, and she told me about the second song I'm sharing today by Robby Hecht:


Of course, I should mention Bob Dylan, the winner of a Nobel Prize for literature. Here are two of my favorites: You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go (I love singing along, particularly with "You're gonna make me give myself a good talking-to!") and Don't Think Twice (It's Alright) (also good to sing with). I love Shawn Colvin's cover of the first one. (She is also a good songwriter, e.g. Shotgun Down the Avalanche. And she makes me think of another excellent lyricist: Suzanne Vega, who wrote Gypsy, which I still love. This is certainly leading me down a winding path!)


Yesterday, I shared some of my parents' art for Art Thursday :-)

A whole passel of people told me they want to do the Summer Poetry Swap and I will be contacting them soon. If you haven't emailed me about it, doooo it!

Jama's Alphabet Soup has the Poetry Friday round-up today. Thanks, Jama!


Heidi Mordhorst said...

Tabatha, I'm so glad you're coming back to this idea! I love learning about the new music you post and thinking about how lyrics relate to poetry (or not). My favorite today is the Honeydewdrops.

jan godown annino said...

Gosh, I'm warbling in joy about your May songsters project, Tabatha.
This is going to strengthen my resolve to sing more to the kids during my reading volunteer time.
I look forward to following the links. Appreciations for the vibrations.
(And your parents are artists - must get back to the link, too....)

Brenda Harsham said...

Protest songs are so important in our culture, which raises up those with money and casts down those with ideas. Thinking of others should never be an embarrassment, a naiveté that passes away with childhood. I knew a former miner with black lung. He breathed so heavily. He moved slowly. He had dark eyes that looked like they had seen his own bones. Great post.

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

How interesting! The flavor of this poem reminds me of Aussies Banjo Patterson and Henry Lawson who also favored telling such stories with their verse. Thank you for sharing so much wonderful music today too! I'm also a big fan of Shaun Colvin and Suzanne Vega. :)

jama said...

What a rich post, Tabatha!. You had me at your opening quote. So true, so true. And then the story from Utah Phillips -- fascinating stuff. Beautiful songs -- love voice and guitar with stories told. Was not familiar with the Honey Dewdrops or Robby Hecht so I enjoyed both videos. Thanks for expanding my musical horizons!

Agree with you on your choice of Dylan songs and also share your love for Shawn Colvin, whom I had the pleasure of seeing in person several times. She *did* do an amazing cover of "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go." Also got to see Suzanne Vega once at the Birchmere. Thanks for all the treats today. I'll never think of miners the same way again.

tanita✿davis said...

That quote broke me -- those who suffer write songs.
I think our days will be full of songs from these days.

What beautiful, haunting lyrics.

Linda B said...

Mining hopes and dreams and lives have owned a lot of songs and poetry, Tabatha. This is a great, but poignant, start to your project about music and poetry. Thanks for the doing!

Tara Smith said...

Well, we live in a time that pleads for song... Such heart breaking songs here, Tabatha - thanks for curating them in such an artful, knowing way.

Kay said...

Such heartbreaking songs. I suspect we may be entering a time that will be rich with more such songs.

Jane @ Raincity Librarian said...

I love songs that tell stories, share emotions, and put poetry to music.

That first song reminds me of a song I heard as a child, about miners, with the lines "16 tonnes, and what do you get? Another day older, and deeper in debt. St. Peter, don't you call me, 'cuz I can't go. I owe my soul to the company store." A hard life indeed.

Karen Edmisten said...

Tabatha, this is such a wonderful idea! As others said, that opening quote got me and broke my heart, esp. in light of the current atmosphere of our country. Beautiful post, and I'll look forward to more.

michelle kogan said...

Thanks for this lovely pairing of story songs, music soothes the soul, and I like the winding path you're following!