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Miner's Lifeguard / A Miner's Life

[ Roud 3510 ; Ballad Index BSoF730 ; trad.]

Miner's Lifeguard is an American trade union song. The Digital Tradition attributes it to Charles Davies Tillman with words anon., and says it is “an 1890ish parody on Life is Like a Mountain Railway, ca. 1870”.

Jim Mageean and Johnny Collin sang Miner's Lifeguard in 1979 on their Sweet Folk All album Make the Rafters Roar.

Dick Gaughan sang Miner's Life Is Like a Sailor's on his 1986 album of songs of the Scottish Miners, True and Bold. He notes in his song archive that he changed a few lines to “to make it specific to the 1984/5 NUM Strike”.

Joan & Dave Malloy sang A Miner's Life on the 1993 miners' benefit cassette Undefeated.

Bob Fox and Benny Graham sang The Miner's Lifeguard in 1995 on their Fellside CD of songs of the mining communities of North East England, How Are You Off for Coals?. This track was also included in 2001 on the Fellside 25th anthology, Flash Company. He returned to in in 2015 on The Pitmen Poets' eponymous album, The Pitmen Poets.

Isambarde sang A Miner's Lifeguard in 2006 on their CD Barnstorming.

Sound Tradition sang A Miner's Life on their 2015 Sampler.

Note: A Miner's Life as sung by e.g. Tom Gilfellon on The High Level Ranters' 1975 album The Bonny Pit Laddie is quite another song that was written by Ed Pickford.

Lyrics

Miner's Lifeguard in the Digital Tradition

Miner's life is like a sailor's
'Board a ship to cross the waves.
Ev'ry day his life's in danger,
Still he ventures being brave.
Watch the rocks, they're falling daily,
Careless miners always fail.
Keep your hand upon the dollar
And your eye upon the scale.

Chorus (after each verse):
Union miners stand together,
Heed no operator's tale,
Keep your hand upon the dollar,
And your eye upon the scale.

Soon this trouble will be ended,
Union men will have their rights.
After many years of bondage
Digging days and digging nights;
Then by honest weight we labour
Union workers never fail.
Keep your hand upon the dollar
And your eye upon the scale.

Let no union man be weakened
By newspapers' false reports,
Be like sailors on the ocean
Trusting in their safe lifeboats.
Let your lifeboat be Jehovah
Those who trust Him never fail.
Keep your hand upon the dollar
And your eye upon the scale.

You've been docked and docked, my boys,
You've been loading two to one;
What have you to show for working
Since this mining has begun?
Overalls and cans for rockers,
In your shanties, sleep on rails.
Keep your hand upon the dollar
And your eye upon the scale.

In conclusion, bear in memory,
Keep the password in your mind:
God provides for every nation
When in union they combine.
Stand like men and linked together,
Victory for you'll prevail,
Keep your hand upon the dollar
And your eye upon the scale.

Dick Gaughan sings Miner's Life Is Like a Sailor's

Miner's life is like a sailor's
Board a ship to cross the waves
Every day his life's in danger
Still he ventures, being brave
Watch the rocks, they're falling daily
Careless miner's always fail
Keep your hand upon your wages
And your eye upon the scale

Chorus (after each verse):
Union miners, stand together
Do not heed the Coal Board's tale
Keep your hand upon your wages
And your eye upon the scale

You've been docked and docked again, boys
You've been loading three for one
What have you to show for working
Since your mining days began?
Worn-out shoes and worn-out miners
Blackened lungs and faces pale
Keep your hand upon your wages
And your eye upon the scale

In conclusion, bear in memory,
Keep this password in your mind
Workers' strength cannot be broken
When in Union we combine
Stand up tall, and stand together
Victory for you'll prevail
Keep your hand upon your wages
And your eye upon the scale

Sound Tradition sing A Miner's Life

Miner's life is like a sailor's
'Board a ship to cross the waves.
Ev'ry day his life's in danger,
Still he ventures being brave.
Watch the rocks, they're falling daily,
Careless miners always fail.
Keep your hand upon the wages
And your eye upon the scale.

Chorus (after each verse):
Union miners stand together,
Do not heed the owner's tale,
Keep your hand upon the wages,
And your eye upon the scale.

You've been docked and docked again, boys,
You've been loading two to for;
What have you to show for working
Since this mining has begun?
Worn-out boots and worn-out miners,
Lungs of stone and children pale.
Keep your hand upon your wages
And your eye upon the scale.

In conclusion, bear in memory,
Keep the password in your mind:
God provides for every worker
When in union they combine.
Stand like men and linked together,
Victory for you'll prevail.
Keep your hand upon the wages
And your eye upon the scale.

Links

See also the Mudcat Café thread Tune Req: Union Miners / Miner's Lifeguard.