The Big Hewer

Ewan MacColl
Language: English

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Si tratta della canzone che dà il titolo ad una delle “radio ballads”, i documentari musicali sulle diverse realtà sociali inglesi che MacColl e la Seeger, insieme al produttore della BBC Charles Parker, realizzarono tra il 1958 ed il 1964.
La trascrizione integrale della puntata.

Fu poi inclusa in diversi dischi di MacColl, a cominciare proprio da “The Big Hewer” del 1967, incisione su vinile di quella trasmissione radiofonica dedicata in particolare ai minatori del carbone del Northumberland, Durham, South Wales ed East Midlands.
Testo da Mudcat Café

Il “Big Hewer” è il minatore per antonomasia, lo spirito immortale dei minatori del carbone, una figura mitica e leggendaria analoga, per esempio, al “Casey Jones” degli operai delle ferrovie o al “John Henry” dei lavoratori di colore, insomma, un “supereroe” creato, a partire da episodi e personaggi reali, dal sudore, dalla fatica, dalla sofferenza e dal sangue di generazioni e generazioni di lavoratori nell’Inghilterra e poi nell’America del 700 e dell’800.



British coalminers have many stories of a legendary hero known by various names, including Temple, Tempest, Jackie Torr, Bob Towers, and, in Wales, Isaac Lewis. He is also known as "The Great Miner" or "The Big Hewer". He is to the British coalfields what Paul Bunyan was to the US logging camps and John Henry to the African American railway builders.

This song was specially written for the documentary Radio Ballad, The Big Hewer, first broadcast by the BBC in 1961.
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 me 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!

Contributed by DonQuijote82 - 2011/6/16 - 10:51

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