In the metabolism of the Western world the coal-miner is second in importance only to the man who ploughs the
soil. He is a sort of caryatid upon whose shoulders nearly everything that is not grimy is supported.
Whatever the downsides of coal mining have been, Orwell was certainly correct about its importance to the building of our civilization.
And coal mining has also inspired an extraordinary number of good songs…indeed, coal seems almost up there with the sea as a source of musical inspiration.
Some of the songs that come to mind include…
Coal Tattoo, Billy Edd Wheeler
Dark as a Dungeon, Tennessee Ernie Ford
Coming of the Roads, Billy Edd Wheeler
Daddy’s Dinner Bucket, Ralph Stanley
Last Train from Poor Valley, Norman Blake
Paradise, John Prine
Coal Mining Man, The Roys