Down, Down, Down

Language: English

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La furmiga
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La chasse est ouverte
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Oratorio de los trabajadores

Brano raccolto da George Korson da un minatore di Antracite della Pennsylvania
Edito su CD nel 1997
Songs and Ballads of the Anthracite Miners

Sung by William E. Keating at Pottsville, Pennsylvania, 1946. Re­ corded by George Korson.

'Down, Down, Down,' started out as a barroom ballad but its swing and charm have won it general acceptance even beyond the anthracite region. It re· lates the experiences of a miner reporting for work with a hangover. But it is more than the record of a tipsy worker's muddled thoughts. Its significance lies in its refiection of the miner's daily buffetings and the surprising good humor with which he faces them.

Originally the ballad had about forty stanzas, but because it was too long to sing without interruption, it was broken up into groups of stanzas correspond­ ing to the levels of an anthracite mine. At each level, the customers standing around the bar would yell, "Time out for a round of drinks! " The singer's drinks were on the house, his traditional preroga­ tive.

'Down, Down, Down' had a word-of-mouth exis­ tence for a number of years before being set down on paper. Bill Keating, now sixty, was unable to write until he was thirty-two (he learned his ABC's in the army during World War I). Even after he be­ came literate, wielding a pen was more irksome to him than a miner's pick. It was much easier to make a ballad out of his head and just sing it. How fmally in 1927 he came to write down the ballad has be­ come a legend in Schuylkill County.

For the story and complete text, see: George Korson, Minstrels of the Mine Patch, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1938, pp. 38-53; B. A. Botkin,
A Treasury of A merican Folklore, Crown, New York, I944.
Songs and Ballads of the Anthracite Miners
1.With your kind attention, a song I will trill,
All ye who must toil with the pick and the drill,
And sweat for your bread in that hole in Oak HilI,
That goes down, down, down .

2.When I was a boy said my daddy to me:
"Stay out of the mines, take my warning," said"he,
"Or with dust you'll be choked and a pauper you'll be,
Broken down, down, down."

3.But I went to Oak Hill and I asked for a job,
A mule for to drive, or a gangway to rob.
The boss said, "Come out, Bill, and follow the mob
That goes down, down , down. "

4 . I was booked the next day to go down in the mine,
I goes into Tim Harvey's and samples some (moon J shine.
With a real near-beer headache, I reported on time
To go down, down, down.

5.Said Pete McAvoy, "Here's Bill Keatin' the scamp."
Just back, Pete supposed, from a million-mile tramp.
Then he showed me the ''windie'' where I'd get a lamp
To go down, down, down.

6.The lamp man he squints through the windie at me, "What's your name and your age and your number?"
said he.
"Bill Keatin ', I'm thirty, number twenty-three,
Mark that down, down, down."

7.With a frown of disfavor, my joke it was met,
For an argument plainly, Jim Griffiths was set.
For he told me that divil a lamp would I get
To go down, down, down.

8.1 said, " Mr. Lamp Man, now don't leave us fight;
Can't ye see by me eyes I was boozin' all night?
Sure the mines will be dark and I'U have to have light
While I'm down, down, down."

9.With an old greasy apron, he polished his speck,
He declared of the rules he'd be makin' a wreck,
If he'd give me a lamp without a brass check
To go down, down, down.

10.Then I found the supply clerk for whom I inquired,
He was stubborn as blazes, with malice all fued.
He gave me a lot of red tape and the check I required,
To go down, down, down.

11.I at last had the check that would peacify Jim,
So into the windie 1 flung it to him.
"Now," said I, "quit your grumblin' and give me a glim
To go down, down, down."

12.A contraption he gave me, a hose in a box,
'Twas so heavy I though t it was loaded with rocks.
If a car jumped the road, you could use it for blocks
While you're down, down, down.

13.By two rusty clamps it's attached to your cap,
And the box it hangs onto yout hip by a strap,
Oh, the man that transported them lamps to the Gap
May go down, down, down.

14.Then into the office I sauntered to Sam.
With a cheery "Good mornin'," says I, "Here I am,
With booze in me bottle and beer in me can
To go down , down, down .

15.He said, "Billy, me bucko, how are you today?" "Outside of a headache," I said, "I'm O.K.
I've been samplin' the moonshine in every cafe
In the town, town, town."

16."Now, where was this job at?" I wanted to know.
"Was it up in the new drift?" but he shook his head, no.
"When you hit the fifth lift you'll have one more to go,
So go down, down. down ."

17.I asked him what tools would I need in the place. "Very few ," said the boss with the grin on his face. "One number six shovel and damn little space
While you're down, down, down. "

18.When you're drivin' the gangway you need lots of tools,
And you buy them yourself, it 's the anthracite rules,
But a laggin' suffices to drive balky mules,
When you're down. down, down.

19. At drivin ' mules I'm not overy slick
But the plugs in Oak Hill I showed many's a trick,
When I hollered " Yey" if they started to kick,
They went down . down, down .

20.Then up to the head of the shaft I made haste,
I saluted the top-man and stood in my place.
I says: "Give me a cage for I've no time to waste,
Let me down. down , down."

21."All aboard for the bottom!" the top-man did yell,
We stepped on the cage, and he gave her the bell.
Then from under our feet. like a bat out 0' hell,
She went down, down, down .

Contributed by Dq82 - 2019/11/11 - 10:01

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