Babies in these mountains
Song about mountain top removal
Peak: #54 (150,318 songs currently in Acoustic)
Peak in sub-genre: #10 (13,363 songs currently in Folk)
June 29, 2015
MP3 3.5 MB, bitrate 128 kbps.
Tom Neilson © Tom Neilson
Story behind the song
I used to live and work in Harlan, KY in the 1970s so was familiar with the culture of coal mining. Plus, my mom was born in the coal fields of WV. At the Blue Hills folk festival, I met Teri Blanton who updated me on what was happening in Eastern KY and I told her I would write this song for the people there. It is based on the stories of pit miners and other community members in Eastern KY.
Grandfather lost his leg in the Leslie County mines
My Uncle Sam had a coal tattoo on his cheek bone for all time
All of us been branded in our bones, our skin, & lungs
But we’re proud to be coal miners in these mountains where we’re from.
Then over in Knott County, they blew off a mountain top
The redbuds gone forever & the running water stopped.
We’ve lost 100,000 acres, as our mountains are blown away.
Water runnin red as blood from toxic sludge decay
Little Jeremy Davidson with dreams inside his head
Had a boulder blown off a mountaintop crush him in his bed.
Company dug up the coffin of Bidge Ritchie’s infant son
Pitched him down the mountain side into oblivion
Bush’s law says it’s ok to dump waste into our streams.
As smoke fills up the holler from Bill Caylor’s profit schemes.
Well I wonder if Bill Caylor ever had a place he loved
Then watch it disappear under a flood of tons of mud.
Jim Gooch (McConnell) of Kentucky is on the company dole.
& Obama in the white house likes to talk about clean coal
Over 40 years of presidents say strip mining is ok
But none of them ever had clean coal strip their home away.
We’ve made babies in these mountains, on our ancestral ground
Gone to church and slept in peace for generations on
(Dug the coal & raised our families – now union jobs are gone)
Coal companies got their thugs, and cops, and politicians they own
We've got families, farms, and history that make this holler home.
(Took our jobs, destroyed the land that made this holler home.)