Its history presents singer/songwriters with a tapestry to lay down some of the most moving protest and labor songs. Case in point is the iconic "Paradise" (John Prine).
And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County
Down by the Green River where Paradise lay
Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking
Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away
One that I learned a long time ago was "Springhill mining disaster (Peggy Seeger and Ewan McColl).
When the earth is restless, miners die
Bone and blood is the price of coal
Two more are "Coal Tattoo" (Billy Edd Wheeler)
Somebody said, "That's a strange tattoo you have on the side of your head."
I said, "That's the mark of the number nine coal. A little more and I'd been dead.
and "You'll never leave Harlan alive" (Darrell Scott ).
But the times got hard and tobacco wasn't selling
And old granddad knew what he'd do to survive
So he went and dug for Harlan coal, sent the money back to granny
But he never left Harlan alive
I've had "Coal Tattoo" in my set list off and on for a long time and just started learning "You'll never get out of Harlan alive".
The following videos are not by the original artists, just ones I happen to like their interpretation. Besides its my diary and I can do what I like.
Paradise - John Denver. Since JD played a Guild 12 string like I do, he always get a vote from me.
Springhill mining disaster - PP&M. First version I heard way back when.
Coal tattoo - Kathy Mattea. Just because she is a fierce champion against mountain top removal and she has travel the country introducing "An inconvenient truth". Her album "Coal" combined her social activism with songs about coal-mining.
You'll never leaver Harlan alive - Kathy Mattea again (see above).