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Lyr Req: The big hewer

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TamthebamfraeScotland 19 Jul 01 - 12:40 PM
jacko@nz 19 Jul 01 - 06:41 PM
jacko@nz 19 Jul 01 - 06:49 PM
TamthebamfraeScotland 20 Jul 01 - 06:57 AM
Wolfgang 20 Jul 01 - 07:56 AM
IanC 20 Jul 01 - 08:49 AM
CET 21 Jul 01 - 07:35 AM
Anglo 21 Jul 01 - 01:52 PM
Susanne (skw) 23 Jul 01 - 08:30 PM
jacko@nz 23 Jul 01 - 11:03 PM
Wolfgang 24 Jul 01 - 09:40 AM
Wolfgang 25 Jul 01 - 05:05 AM
GeorgeH 25 Jul 01 - 06:17 AM
GUEST,Roger the skiffler 25 Jul 01 - 06:51 AM
GeorgeH 25 Jul 01 - 10:10 AM
GUEST,Roger the skiffler 25 Jul 01 - 10:28 AM
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Subject: The big hewer
From: TamthebamfraeScotland
Date: 19 Jul 01 - 12:40 PM

Hello My name is Tom,

I'm looking for the words to a song called the big hewer, I think that it was recored by Ewan McColl.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE BIG HEWER (Ewan McColl)
From: jacko@nz
Date: 19 Jul 01 - 06:41 PM

THE BIG HEWER

Out of the dirt and darkness I was born, go down
Out of the hard black coalface I was torn, go down
Kicked on the world and the earth split open
Crawled through a crack where the rock was broken
Burrowed a hole, away in the coal, go down

In a cradle of coal in the darkness I was laid, go down
Down in the dirt and darkness I was raised, go down
Cut me teeth on a five-foot timber
Held up the roof with my little finger
Started me time away in the mine, go down

On the day that I was born I was six feet tall, go down
And the very next day I learned the way to haul, go down
On the third day worked at board and piller
Worked on the fourth as a long-wall filler
Getting me steam up, hewing the seam, go down

I'm the son of the son of the son of a collier's son, go down
Coal dust runs in the veins where the blood should run, go down
Five steel ribs and an iron backbone
Teeth that can bite through rock and blackstone
Working me time, away in the mine, go down

Three hundred years I hewed at the coal by hand, go down
In the pits of Durham and East Northumberland, go down
Been gassed and burned and blown asunder
Buried more times than I can number
Getting the coal, away in the hole,go down

I've scrabbled and picked at the face where the roof was low, go down
Crawled in the seams where only a mole could go, go down
In the thin-cut seams I've ripped and redded
Where even the rats are born bow-legged
Winning the coal, away in the hole, go down

I've worked in the Hutton, the Plessey, the Brockwell Seam, go down
The Bensham, the Busty, the Beaumont, the Marshall Green, go down
I've lain on me back in the old three-quarter
Up to the chin in stinking water
Hewing the coal, away in the hole, go down

In the northern pits I've sweated and earned me pay, go down
Toiled in the worn-out drift mines night and day, go down
Where the anthracite is hard and shining
I've tried me hand at the hard-rock mining
I dug a hole away in the coal, go down

Out of the dirt and darkness I was born, go down
Out of the hard black coal-face I was torn, go down
Lived in the shade of the high pit heap
I'm still down there where the seams are deep
Digging a hole, away in the coal, go down

Grand song, have fun

Jack


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Subject: Chords Add: THE BIG HEWER
From: jacko@nz
Date: 19 Jul 01 - 06:49 PM

My chord progression goes:

Am D E Am
Em Am E
C
E Am G Am
Dm Am Dm e Am
V Jack


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The big hewer
From: TamthebamfraeScotland
Date: 20 Jul 01 - 06:57 AM

Thank you everybody that gave me the words and chords.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The big hewer
From: Wolfgang
Date: 20 Jul 01 - 07:56 AM

one addition: not only recorded but also written by Ewan McColl

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The big hewer
From: IanC
Date: 20 Jul 01 - 08:49 AM

Yeh, Wolfgang. From The Radio Ballad of the same name.

Cheers!
Ian


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The big hewer
From: CET
Date: 21 Jul 01 - 07:35 AM

Thanks for the lyrics. I transcribed this song from the singing of Ian Robb on "From Different Angels", but I was never able to figure out some of the place names and mining terms.

Is the Big Hewer somebody that Ewan MacColl created in this song, or is he a mythical figure in English folklore, a la Paul Bunyan? Ian Robb's notes say the latter.

CET


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The big hewer
From: Anglo
Date: 21 Jul 01 - 01:52 PM

Exactly what Ian said. If you want to follow it up, all the Radio Ballads (including The Big Hewer) have been released on Topic CDs. Well worth a listen if you missed them in the sixties (or whenever it was - memory fails).


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The big hewer
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 23 Jul 01 - 08:30 PM

Has anyone got the album 'The Bonnie Pit Laddie' and could copy out the notes for us? I know there were lengthy notes but I've lost the friend who had the album and can't get at them now.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The big hewer
From: jacko@nz
Date: 23 Jul 01 - 11:03 PM

'The Hewer' and 'The Big Hewer' are not the same song

Jack


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The big hewer
From: Wolfgang
Date: 24 Jul 01 - 09:40 AM

I'll have a look, Susanne.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The big hewer
From: Wolfgang
Date: 25 Jul 01 - 05:05 AM

Jack's right, on 'BOnnie pit laddie' is only 'The Hewer', a different song.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The big hewer
From: GeorgeH
Date: 25 Jul 01 - 06:17 AM

CET - the best answer to your question is for you to go out and purchase "The Big Hewer" and decide for yourself! (You might also get "Singing the Fishing" and "The Ballad of John Axton" at the same time; you are unlikely to be disappointed!).

However, to try to answer your question,the "Big Hewer" was the creation of MacColl (or, possibly, the Radio Ballads team).

The Radio Ballads were made by recording ordinary people; hours of interviews for each ballad. These interviews were then intersperced with songs and music, largely composed especially to accompany the "Ballad". The intention was to present a portrait of "extraordinary 'ordinary' people", mainly in their own words.

At the time they were revolutionary in allowing people to speak in their own voices; prior to then it would be usual to have an announcer (complete with BBC English) "report" the voice of the people. Indeed, I would say there are many ways in which the Radio Ballads laid the foundation for "Documentaries" as we know them today (whether on Radio or Television). Also, artisticly, the best of them still stand up very well today.

George


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The big hewer
From: GUEST,Roger the skiffler
Date: 25 Jul 01 - 06:51 AM

I think I'm right (there's always a first time) that MacColl took memorable phrases and sentences from the recorded ordinary people to spark off or weave into the lyrics of the radio ballads.If you can't afford the full Ballads ,the Big Hewer appears on one of his other records, possibly the Angry Muse?
RtS (not at home, can't check)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The big hewer
From: GeorgeH
Date: 25 Jul 01 - 10:10 AM

What I think you're referring to, Roger, is the way that snippets of "actuality" were cut into the songs. The recording of "Shoals of Herring" with these interjections from Sam Larner has been included in a number of compilations at different times. There may be instances where phrases from the informants were incorporated into the songs MacColl wrote for the Ballads, but they don't exactly spring into my mind . .

BTW these extracts were quite literally cut into the song recordings . . the Ballads were edited by the old technique of cutting the recorded tapes with a razor blade and splicing them together . . .

[Unlike the interview heard recently on Radio 3 where some pretentious US composer claimed to have been literally torn in two by a dichotomy (or some such) between minimalism and heavy metal . . He was so unintentionally absurd we just had to give up listening to him . . .]


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The big hewer
From: GUEST,Roger the skiffler
Date: 25 Jul 01 - 10:28 AM

....and I think the compilation/selection record I'm thinking of was on a budget label "Golden Hour" or "Best of", but as it's at home...I thought I'd read somewhere (sleeve notes?) an example where he said (words to the effect) "X said Y and it was such a wonderful phrase that called out to be turned into a song".
Not that it matters, still powerful listening.
RtS (Damn CRS)


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