album cover True and Bold (1986)

[STUC 2]

Engineer Clarke Sorley
Producer Dick Gaughan & Clarke Sorley

Artist : Dick Gaughan

Dick Gaughan : Vocal, Guitars
Jim Sutherland : Percussion
Clarke Sorley : Bass, keyboards
William Jackson : Uillean pipes, Whistle

Track Notes

songtext Miner's Life Is Like A Sailor's (Trad. arr. Gaughan)

The words of this are probably American and the melody is a Welsh hymn.

songtext Schooldays End (Ewan MacColl)

Written in more optimistic times, this song took on an unexpected irony after the pit closures of the 80s

songtext Farewell To 'Cotia (Jock Purdon/Trad)

About the closing of the 'Cotia - abbreviation for 'Nova Scotia' - coal mine. Its real name was Harraton but it was given the nickname 'Nova Scotia' (New Scotland) because of the large number of Scots who worked there, including Jock Purdon, who wrote this song. The closure of a colliery is a time of mixed emotions for the miners who worked there. Indeed, the whole relationship between miners and coal mines is one difficult for outsiders to really understand.

'Robens' was Alf Robens, later made a peer, who was the head of the National Coal Board and was responsible for the first major wave of pit closures. He promised miners, particularly those in Scotland, Northumberland, Durham that if they moved south to the coalfields of Nottinghamshire then they would have secure jobs and a bright future, hence the ironic reference in the song to 'Roben's Promised Land'. Jock Purdon worked at the 'Cotia and this song is therefore directly out of his own personal experience and emotions.

The tune is a variant of Come aa ye tramps an hawkers.

songtext Auchengeich Disaster (Norman Buchan/Trad)

songtext The Pound a Week Rise (Ed Pickford)

songtext Collier Laddie (Trad. arr. Gaughan)

songtext Which Side Are You On? (Music: Trad / Words: Gaughan / Reece)

songtext Drunken Rent Collector (Words: Gaughan/Music:Trad)

Reworked from a song in A.L.Lloyd's Come All Ye Bold Miners.

songtext Blantyre Explosion (Trad. arr. Gaughan)

songtext One Miner's Life (Ed Pickford)

Written in NE English dialect, which I translated into Scots where appropriate.

songtext Ballad Of '84 (Dick Gaughan)

See the notes which accompany the text in the Songs archive.

Historical Footnote

Recorded at Clarke Sorley's Sirocco studio in Kilmarnock

celtic knotwork

Towards the end of 1983 I was approached by Doug Harrison on behalf of the Scottish Trades Union Congress to see if I would be interested in making a record of songs from the Scottish Mining communities. He was concerned at the fact that at Union congresses he would often sing songs, particularly songs about mining, and find that the very people these songs were about had never heard of them and he wanted to do something to help restore these songs back to the communities they had come from. I agreed wholeheartedly and we began to plan the recordings and list of songs to be included. Then at the beginning of 1984 I had serious voice problems which put me out of action for 7 months.

celtic knotwork

Two months later, in March 84, the National Union of Mineworkers called a national strike against the closure of coal mines and we were into a year of very hard struggle. There was a massive propaganda battle going on with the press and media lined up on the side of the Government and there were many artists who aligned themselves on the side of the miners. I have never subscribed to the rather silly notion that artists should be impartial and I took a completely partisan position behind the NUM. Human beings are not robots and I have never met a human yet who was actually impartial about anything - we all have feelings, views and opinions and these influence what we do. Objective reporting is not the job of artists; we describe the universe as we see it, complete with our prejudices and opinions.

Like many other musicians and singers, I spent much of that year doing concerts all over the country to raise money and support for the NUM. But I also believe that singing songs is not in itself enough - if I was to effectively put the miners' case and claim to speak on their behalf then I had to play as full a part in their struggle as I could so that I could then fully understand their views and represent those properly in concert. So, for most of that year, I was Chair of the Leith Miners' Support Group which involved spending Saturdays collecting food and money in Leith and then delivering this to the Lothian Central Strike Committee at Dalkeith. In the process, I made many friendships which remain precious to me.

celtic knotwork

And I saw part of the role of "folk" musicians as being to reintroduce the mining communities we became involved with to the wealth of songs and traditional culture which were rightly theirs. And we were able to do this, not by taking an evangelical approach but by getting out there and fighting on their side. They were able to clearly see that here were musicians taking an openly combative stance in their support and singing songs which were about them and people like them. So they listened and within a few months people who would never have dreamed of setting foot in a Folk Club were enthusiastically joining in with singing songs they had never known existed but which they found actually voiced their experiences and feelings - because circumstances had restored these songs to contemporary relevance and they were no longer merely antiquarian relics of some bygone age.

And, paradoxically, many folksong-loving conservatives who the previous year would have quite cheerfully sung that quaint old ditty, "Blackleg Miner", were suddenly forced to confront the unpalatable fact that what they had always regarded as a harmless little song about some far-off past events was in reality a venomous attack on scab labour and that it was now impossible to sing it without that being interpreted as a thunderous declaration of support for the NUM.

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