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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