Harlan County USA: Songs of the Coal Miner's Struggle

Harlan County USA: Songs of the Coal Miner's Struggle

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Harlan County USA: Songs of the Coal Miner's Struggle

Anyone who's paid attention has known well before the Sago mining disaster that the plight of the coal miner remains one of the most shameful and tragic in American industry. Many of the songs on this collection were on the soundtrack of Barbara Kopple's wrenching, Academy Award-winning documentary from 1976, Harlan County USA, and, sadly, have only become more resonant and relevant with the mounting tally of mining disasters. Those tracks have been supplemented by related recordings by the likes of Norman Blake, Doc Watson, and Merle Travis (performing his own legendary contribution to the coal-mining song, the spare, stark, and sobering "Dark as a Dungeon"). Those who saw Kopple's film will remember Hazel Dickens's plaintive, earthy performances, which made her a one-woman Greek chorus signaling the hard times and struggles ahead. She's featured on 7 of the 22 cuts here, and those are all powerful, especially her a cappella cry of the heart, "Black Lung," about the physical ravages that left one miner questioning God's mercy. The daily drudgery and the daily exploitation by "the capitalist system" are explicitly detailed and cursed in Sarah Ogan Gunning's searing, a cappella activist anthem, "Come All You Coal Miners," and the violence visited on reformers is recounted by Dickens in "The Yablonski Murder," on which her outrage and anger are set against a loping, easygoing bluegrass arrangement that contrasts with the horror of the "cold-blooded murder" the singer describes. Country Cooking supplies a lighthearted moment via a sprightly mandolin-fiddle duet on "Trouble Among the Yearlings," but otherwise this collection brooks no frivolity -- after all, lives are at stake.

Product Details

Release Date: 05/23/2006
Label: Rounder / Umgd
UPC: 0011661402621
catalogNumber: 614026
Rank: 126406

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Norman Blake   Guitar,Vocals
Jerry Douglas   Dobro
Merle Travis   Guitar,Vocals
Doc Watson   Vocals
Hazel Dickens   Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Sarah Ogan Gunning   Vocals
Nimrod Workman   Vocals
Blaine Sprouse   Fiddle
Tom Adams   Banjo
Phyllis Boyens   Vocals
Gaither Carlton   Fiddle
Dudley Connell   Guitar,Vocals
Kenny Kosek   Fiddle
Bob Dalsemer   Banjo
Pat Enright   Guitar
Jim Garland   Vocals
Tommy Goldsmith   Guitar
Lamar Grier   Banjo
Mark Hembree   Bass
Dewey Renfro   Bass
Ralph Rinzler   Mandolin
Tracy Schwarz   Fiddle,Vocals,Tenor (Vocal)
Bob Siggins   Banjo,Guitar
Dick Staber   Mandolin,Vocals
Roland White   Mandolin
Earl Yager   Bass
Roy Huskey   Bass
Charlie Collins   Guitar
Connie Gately   Guitar
Fred Gately   Bass
Akira Otsuka   Mandolin
John Kaparakis   Guitar
Red Roberts   Fiddle
Florence Reece   Vocals
Béla Bleck   Banjo
Eloise King   Guitar,Baritone (Vocal)
Nancy Short   Cello
Lou Martin   Mandolin

Technical Credits

Norman Blake   Composer
Johnson Mountain Boys   Producer
Merle Travis   Composer
Guy Carawan   Producer
Hazel Dickens   Composer,Producer,Adaptation
Jean Ritchie   Composer
Mike Seeger   Engineer
Tut Taylor   Producer
Aunt Molly Jackson   Composer
Sarah Ogan Gunning   Composer
Nimrod Workman   Composer
Phyllis Boyens   Adaptation
Candie Carawan   Producer
Ronnie Freeland   Producer
Jim Garland   Composer
Ken Irwin   Producer,Adaptation
Ralph Rinzler   Producer
Tracy Schwarz   Arranger,Liner Notes
Mark Wilson   Engineer,Liner Notes
Traditional   Composer
Florence Reece   Composer
Highlander Center   Producer
Shelly Romalis   Liner Notes
Brad SanMartin   Liner Notes
Eric Skillman   Cover Design

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Harlan County USA: Songs of the Coal Miner's Struggle 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago