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Tiger Origins: Springhill Disaster/Ballad of Springhill (59* d) RE: Lyr Req: Springhill Disaster 15 Oct 15


Yet another follow-up regarding this song, which to me is terribly strong and moving.

I just visited the Miners' Museum in Springhill. Among their exhibits was a two-page letter from Peggy Seeger/Ewan MacColl, written to Caleb Rushton (6th stanza), one of the survivors/heroes of the disaster, who helped boost the spirits of a group of trapped miners before their rescue. They shared song creation credits.

It contains the full lyrics of the song, as posted by Joe Offer, above, which should put to rest some of the Mondegreens I've seen. The only (minor) differences:

Substitute "miners'" for "miner's" in stanza 5

Substitute "says" for "said" in stanza 6

Substitute "or" for "nor" (twice) in stanza 6

Substitute "Eight long days" for "Eight days passed" in stanza 8

Here's the text of the letter:

"Dear Mr. Rushton -

We have followed day by day the progress of the horrible happenings at the mine at Springhill. When the report came through that hope was kept alive by singing, of which you were a leader, my fiancÚ and I (who are both folk-singers, he Scots and English, I American) wrote the enclosed song for you and all the people there who will sing it. We are also very interested in any songs which you and the others sing, be they very old or fairly new. I hope you will sing this one and appreciate that your bravery has helped many people with both greater and lesser troubles."

Sincerely,
Peggy Seeger (and Ewan MacColl)
Boulogne, France Oct 9 1958

Now, here's a NEW wrinkle. The date of the letter (October 9) is two weeks before the actual incident. Go figure.

There's a New York Times article dated October 30 that contains a number of details mentioned in the song, e.g., 3 feet high and a hundred long, 12 men, 2 miles from the pithead. Looks like that was what Peggy/Ewan were reading.

My guess is that the letter was actually written on November 6.


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