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Daddy, What Did You Do In The Strike?

by Ewan MacColl & Peggy Seeger

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The Media 02:25
Every second of every minute, every hour of every day, The babblers work at building Babel, listen to what they say. Reading the news and feeding their views to the minds of a captive nation, Blending fact and fantasy: the official interpretation. Every night in a billion rooms, a billion minds are fed On a diet of pre-digested pap prepared by talking heads. Opinion-makers, phonies and fakers, talking to earn their pay, Gazing out of their plastic world and talking our lives away. Every time that a working man or woman demand their rights, The Talking Machine works overtime to prove that black is white. Strikers are traitors, paid agitators, miners are surly brutes, But don’t let the viewers see the coppers teaching ’em with their boots. Every day the smooth-faced pundits forecast on the box: ‘The miners’ strike is lost,’ they say, ’and Scargill’s on the rocks.’ Lies, defamation, misinformation, this is the testing time - He kept faith with the men who elected him and that is a major crime. Every time there’s a strike in Poland the lads at the BBC And Thatcher’s mob weep crocodile tears. Hurrah for democracy! The Sun and The Mail both joyfully hail the Poles’ solidarity; Let British workers go on strike, they sing in a different key! For solidarity’s good for Poles ... but not for you and me!
There’s a bloke I know in Scabsville who’s known as Holy Joe; He’s working on a face down in the mine. On his way to work you’ll see him give the finger to his mates As the cops escort him through the picket line. Chorus: The kids all call you ‘Brown Nose’, Holy Joe. They say the Coal Board bought you long ago. A scab who covered wife and kids with shame, If they’ve got any sense they’ll change their name. You can see this man of principle performing on the box, ‘Freedom’ is a favourite word of Joe’s; It’s a case of ‘I’m all right, Jack!’ and he’s free to be a scab, That’s the only principle he knows. (chorus) You can tell him that his job’s in danger, he won’t turn a hair; He doesn’t understand the simple fact That when they start to close the pits they won’t know when to stop Or hesitate to give Brown Nose the sack. (chorus) Joe just loves his video, his telly and his car, But he doesn’t think the union’s all that hot; He’s forgotten the old-timers who made the union strong, Who fought for all the benefits he’s got. (chorus) The other night I dreamed that Holy Joe came to the pit; Butch MacGregor with an axe was standing guard. He said, ‘We’re grateful for the way you helped us smash the N.U.M. Now you’ve served your purpose, here’s your cards.’ (chorus) Holy Joe grew pale as death and cried, ‘You can’t do that to me!’ ‘Sucker, do you wanna bet?’ said Mac. ‘We can flush you down the toilet, we can bury you in slack Now you don’t have any union at your back.’ (chorus) The moral of this story is directed at the mugs Who’ve taken on the blacklegs’ dirty role: By scabbing you’re endangering the future of the mines And asking for a lifetime on the dole. (chorus)
Miner's Wife 02:39
Many’s the time I’ve sat by the fire and thought how the coal is won; Waiting to hear his step at the door when another day’s work was done. Many’s the time I’ve listened and trembled to hear that warning bell, Dreading to hear that knock on the door and dreading the news they might tell. He was killed on a Friday morning, on a Good Friday. I shall always remember ... a stone fell on him and they brought him home. I see him now - they brought him in on the stretcher ... on the floor there, in his pit-dirt ... and the men bathing him on the floor. (Mrs. Thomas, Wales 1960) Home from the mine in his pit-dirt they bring him, the neighbours they stand by the door. The fire will gyan oot and the bairns will gyan hungry, he’ll walk to the pit no more.
If there’s anyone there has a moment to spare and can give undivided attention, I’d be grateful if you’d give a minute or two and consider some points I would mention: There are slanderous tongues ever ready to wrong and murder the fine reputation Of the lads with big feet who by pounding the beat are protecting the peace of the nation. There are shortsighted folks who insist that these blokes are just uniformed masters of thuggery; There can be no dispute, if they didn’t put the boot in the country would all go to buggery. So try and keep calm when they’re twisting your arm or planting a fist in your gob; When they’re giving you hell in a cold prison cell, they’re only just doing their job. When Hitler and Co. were running the show, assisted by Germany’s coppers, If a nose was too big or a mind was too active, its owner was sure of the chopper. Socialists, Communists, Jews and trades-unionists landed up dead or in quod, And the police were in there, of course, doing their share - ah, but they were just doing their job. Il Duce, the bully, and Franco, his cully, both loaded their countries with chains; And in the front ranks of these two mountebanks were the police of both Italy and Spain. In South Africa, El Salvador, Guatemala, where they call working people ’the mob’, The screams and the yells from the punishment cells show the police are just doing their job. If you’re black or just brown, if you’re jobless and down, if you speak for a world which is saner, If you stand up and fight for what’s yours by right, if you’re an anti-nuclear campaigner: Remember the chap in the comical hat is one of humanity’s crosses - Wherever there’s trouble, whatever the struggle, he’ll be on the side of the bosses.
It was in the year of ’84 shit really hit the fan, When Mac-the-Knife MacGregor (Maggie Thatcher’s hatchet-man) Said, ‘Another twenty pits will have to close to meet the plan, And we’ll dump another thirty-thousand miners.’ Daddy, were you with the first of the first? Did you tell the N.C.B. to do its worst? Or did you save your lily liver, Sell the union down the river? A scab, a blackleg, one forever cursed! When Arthur Scargill heard the news, he cried, ‘This Yankee slob Is a gift from Cowboy Reagan and he’s here to steal our jobs, Do an axe-job on the union for the crummy Thatcher mob, But we’ll show him what it means to be a miner!’ Daddy, did you man the picket line? Did you fight to save the future of the mines? Or did you take the wrong direction, Did you squeal for police protection, Did you let ’em see your India rubber spine? When the Yorkshire lads came out on strike, they said, ‘It’s evident, The only way to stop MacGregor and the government Is to bring the lads out everywhere from Scotland down to Kent, And we’ll show ’em what it means to be a miner.’ Daddy, what did you do in the strike? Did you stand there with your mates and join the fight? Or did you show a yellow belly, Spill your guts out on the telly, Did you let the bosses fill you full of shite? Some didn’t heed the strike call, for guts and brains they lack, They’re the colour of a primrose though their hearts and legs are black, And their noses are all brown with being up the rear of Mac, They’re just a bunch of dirty blackleg miners. Daddy, did you march at the head? Did you stand there on the picket line unfed? Or did you sell your mates to have a Fortnight on the Costa Brava? Did you choose a two-week holiday instead? Well, the battle it is joined at last, the forces they are massed: On their side, the press, the telly, all the weapons of their class, Plus MacGregor and his blacklegs, but we’ll never let ’em pass, For the N.U.M.’s the weapon of the miners. Daddy, what did you do in the strike? Did you scab and let your workmates wage the fight? How the neighbours stood and booed us, Said we had the stink of Judas, Daddy, what did you do in the strike?


A musical documentation of the 1984 miners' strike. Produced in collaboration with the NUM.


released July 14, 1984

Produced by Calum MacColl
Recorded by Nick Godwin
Recorded at Parrot Studios, Bromley


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Ewan MacColl London, UK

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Ewan MacColl is known to most as a songwriter and singer, but he was also of significant influence in the worlds of theatre and radio broadcasting. His art reached huge numbers through the folk clubs, greater numbers through his recordings and untold millions through the radio. ... more

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