Traditional and contemporary folk from the British Isles


A radio-ballad about Britain’s coal miners by Ewan MacColl, Charles Parker & Peggy Seeger

The Big Hewer – ‘a poetic documentary with worker heroes,’ as The Times called it – charts the lives of Britain’s coal miners, in the Northeast, East Midlands and South Wales.

‘In The Big Hewer, about coal mining and The Fight Game, about boxing, the radio-ballads find men titanic enough to live up to their pretensions. Listening to these two, you can really believe that there were giants in those days.’ THE INDEPENDENT

1  When you hew a lump of coal… 1.21
2  Out of the dirt and darkness I was born… 3.46
3  Schoolday’s over, come on then, John… 2.33
4  Now don’t be late… 2.17
5  You’re at the pit bank… 2.40
6  Oh dear, the experience to go down the pit… 5.55
7  When I am down in the pit… 1.54
8  So now you know the coal how it is got… 3.26
9  Jimmy, come back, come back… 2.25
10  Yes… he was working next to me.. 4.05
11  And yet it’s good to come from the pit… 1.34
12  Three hundred years I hewed at the coal by hand… 2.48
13  Down in the dark… 2.44
14  In Durham and Northumberland, I’m sorry for to say… 2.41
15  A miner has to possess that sense of humour… 3.21
16  Coal is a thing that’s cost life to get … 5.40
17  Today, safety is the prime factor… 4.54
18  Deep down in a man’s heart 4.18

Script, song lyrics and music: Ewan MacColl
Orchestration and musical direction: Peggy Seeger
Actuality recording: Ewan MacColl, Charles Parker and Peggy Seeger
Production: Charles Parker
Technical Direction: John Farrington

Isla Cameron, Ian Campbell, Joe Higgins, Louis Killen, A.L.Lloyd, Ewan MacColl
Jim Bray double bass
 Brian Daly guitar
 Alf Edwards English concertina, harmonica, clarinet
 Alfie Khan tin whistle
 Peggy Seeger autoharp, guitar, mandolin, 5-string banjo


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