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#1140742 - 05/14/18 02:48 PM Upper Big Branch Mining Disaster - WV  
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E Swartz Online content
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I wrote this song a few year's back--never have posted song until now. I've recently tweaked the production and decided to post it.

For those of you that remember this mining accident which happened in Montcoal, WV 2010. Montcoal is a small community about an hour's drive south of Charleston, WV. It truly was a tragic mining accident that probably shouldn't have ever happened if "Massey Energy Co" had heeded mining inspector's warnings about deficient ventilation systems -very sad. This is probably my favorite song-write, as I have roots from WV on one side of my family. I used to travel often on business within that state and always enjoyed those folks as much as any I've ever met--a proud folk of their mountain state. Though this tribute is primarily directed to the Upper Big Branch miners and families, I also wanted the song to also pay tribute to those many other WV miners lost over the past century.

Hope you like the song, comments always welcome.

steady-eddie


Upper Big Branch Mining Disaster

UPPER BIG BRANCH MINING DISASTER - music/lyrics by: e.swartz


(Violin intro)

The trees, were just budding, and spring was in the air
But deep within the mountain, twenty-nine were in despair
West Virginia, youíve been here before, a few more miners found heavenís door
An hour or so south of Charleston, on a winding coal river road,
The Upper Big Branch in Montcoal, my God why did she explode!
We can only wonder why, those brave men had to die

Chorus: Oh why, please tell me why, Massey please, explain to me

A coal minerís life is risky; families know that from the start
But thereís little consolation, when so many are torn apart
It doesnít seem fair, to trade your soul, for a lousy lump of coal
You know, itís not the first time, that tragedy has found our mines
There was Monongah, Bartley, and Sago, and Farmington #9
The list goes on, and itís way too long, to mention all in this song

Chorus: Oh why, please tell me why, Massey please, explain to me (Violin Solo)

ďWest by God Virginia,Ē weíre crying with you today,
Your mountains are the backbone, of the Eastern USA
It doesnít seem fair, to trade your soul, for a lousy lump of coal
From Maine to California, from the Black Hills to the Bayou
We send our tears via radio, this nation mourning for you
We can only, wonder why, those brave men had to die!

The trees, were just budding, and spring was in the air
But deep within the mountain, twenty-nine, are now, in your care

(Violin Outro)

#1140743 - 05/14/18 03:40 PM Re: Upper Big Branch Mining Disaster - WV [Re: E Swartz]  
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Calvin Online content
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Hello Eddie,


Wow, loved it all but........ your vocals are SUPER-DUPER.


Calvin


http://www.soundclick.com/bands/0/calvinstewart

#1140744 - 05/14/18 04:54 PM Re: Upper Big Branch Mining Disaster - WV [Re: E Swartz]  
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That is one impressive write Eddie. Calvin is right, your vocal is amazing in this tune. Very emotive vocal. Loved the violin and mando. Just the right touches. This is a great song and great production. You should be real proud of this one.

Dave

#1140745 - 05/14/18 05:58 PM Re: Upper Big Branch Mining Disaster - WV [Re: E Swartz]  
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eddie,

It is understandable why you like this write. It is exceptional.

The production is super, too.

Your vocals are some of your best. (It would be nice if the sibilance could be tamed a bit). The harmonies are extraordinary.

Very well done.

fj

#1140746 - 05/14/18 06:20 PM Re: Upper Big Branch Mining Disaster - WV [Re: E Swartz]  
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Hey, Eddie:

I agree with Floyd. The harmonies (because they are so difficult with my gear) really deserve attention as we applaud your vocal and heartfelt write. Thanks for sharing... and caring about folks who work underground every day.

----Dave

#1140760 - 05/14/18 10:08 PM Re: Upper Big Branch Mining Disaster - WV [Re: E Swartz]  
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Ohio
Floyd,

I did adjust the sibilance slightly. I couldn't get too aggressive or I'd lose the airy feel with the vox--but I do think I've improved it as a result of your comment. Much oblige!

steady-eddie

#1140766 - 05/14/18 10:40 PM Re: Upper Big Branch Mining Disaster - WV [Re: E Swartz]  
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Everything is coming together on this, Eddie. Lyric, vocal, arrangement and production. Love this - yes this is one to be proud of!

Scott

#1140768 - 05/14/18 11:37 PM Re: Upper Big Branch Mining Disaster - WV [Re: E Swartz]  
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Hey Calvin,

Thanks pal!


Hi Dave, & thanks!

I wanted a little "Appalachian mountain feel" to the song. Jacob Stockdale played both fiddle & mandolin for me, I did the acoustic tracks. Jacob "was" a wonderful Blue-Grass fiddler and won three Ohio State Junior titles. I unfortunately stated "was," as he's been convalescing for nearly a year in regards to a serious gunshot head wound--so very sad. He also played the fiddle on my version of The Erie Canal song I posted a couple of year's back. I pray that he may play the violin again, but I do not know much recent details of his prognosis, as his family has been pretty private with the matter, and understandably so. He is only about 23 years of age.

steady-eddie

#1140769 - 05/14/18 11:40 PM Re: Upper Big Branch Mining Disaster - WV [Re: E Swartz]  
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Dave,

Thank-you for your kind support and comments--always appreciated. I do have a lot of compassion for those fellas that work so hard underground.

Regards,

steady-eddie

#1140771 - 05/15/18 02:03 AM Re: Upper Big Branch Mining Disaster - WV [Re: E Swartz]  
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Coal mines are practically a thing of the past now Ed in the UK.
They were nationalised in 1947? I believe but coal consumption declined through the decades until all of the major pits closed. We even imported coal from the USA among others when eventually there was only Š handful left .
The closures also signalled hardship for many mining communities.
Beautiful song Ed perhaps one of your best postings.
Poignant hearfelt story . The vocal and production excellent.
Perhaps one you could present to the community as a tribute?
Regards
John


We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. Oscar Wilde
#1140772 - 05/15/18 07:48 AM Re: Upper Big Branch Mining Disaster - WV [Re: E Swartz]  
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Some wonderful lines here, Ed.
Love the intro. Fine arrangement too.

Vic


It's never too late? Yes it is, so do it now.

If, given time, a monkey can write the complete works of Shakespeare maybe there's hope for me.
http://www.soundclick.com/vicarnold

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#1140778 - 05/15/18 06:45 PM Re: Upper Big Branch Mining Disaster - WV [Re: E Swartz]  
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Hey Scott,

Thanks for your thoughts--appreciated!

steady-eddie

#1140794 - 05/16/18 10:55 AM Re: Upper Big Branch Mining Disaster - WV [Re: E Swartz]  
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Hey John!

Thanks for your thoughts and story. The USA mountain music has some Scottish roots, I tried to let some of that come through with this one to relate to the Appalachian folks especially with fiddle/mando/harmonies. Coal is making a little come-back in our country, especially the cleaner coal.

I had an interesting conversation a couple of year's back. I was making a sales call at a residence in southern WV. As we normally do with conversations when meeting a new face we "small talk" at first then more serious questions surface like "what kind of work are you involved with?" I asked this fellow that question and he replied that he was a mine inspector in WV. That response immediately made me think of Upper Big Branch mining accident, so I asked him about that and if he was familiar with those circumstances. He nodded and said he was one of the inspectors, but would rather not discuss the issue in which I obliged him of course. He did say that it was a "double edged sword," that no miners were forced to go into a mine and that they were aware of the neglected safety issues and knew the risks. He also did say that the issues should have been addressed by mine ownership--sounds like a politician doesn't it? I saw no reason to pursue the conversation and realized that he didn't want to either. My take on this tragedy is that an employer shouldn't exploit those employees in this manner--the employer knows that these guys have to put food on their families tables--and there aren't an abundance of jobs/industry nearby for them to have many alternatives, and wanted to avoid the hundreds of thousands of dollars to upgrade ventilation systems. Things are "better" now, as I believe this last mining disaster woke up the everyone to say: "Fix it or shut it down."

Thanks John,

steady-eddie

#1140795 - 05/16/18 11:15 AM Re: Upper Big Branch Mining Disaster - WV [Re: E Swartz]  
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Hi Vic,

I sincerely appreciate your thoughtful comments, especially about the lyrics. Lyrics are probably NOT my strongest part of my songwriting, but I've always like these especially.

I produced this version, but a few year's back I had this song produced by a local studio near Canton, Ohio. I was never happy with the version and felt like musically I needed a different sound as it was too country originally. It was then when I realized that I could not afford to "experiment" with songs at $35-50 bucks an hour! That was when I decided to invest in modest recording equipment and build from there. (Saved me a lot of money as a music hobbiest and has given my many hours of enjoyment). Just because I call myself a hobbiest, doesn't mean I'm not serious however.

On a side note: After a session at this studio, the engineer and I were sitting talking about the song etc, and I mentioned to him that I usually fiddle (no pun intended) for sometimes weeks getting lyrics just how I want. I said with this song, I wrote the lyrics in a couple of hours and didn't change anything! He smiled at me and said you were inspired weren't you? I nodded yes. He being a very religious guy said, "maybe you didn't write it......." Well, I got his point, and thought, "who knows, but do believe being inspired does improve creativity in most art forms. I tend not to write at all if I don't feel at least a little inspired by something--it becomes work then, not art.

Thanks,

steady-eddie

#1140824 - 05/16/18 11:59 PM Re: Upper Big Branch Mining Disaster - WV [Re: E Swartz]  
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Eddie,

First off, this is a sweet vocal, soft and inviting. The voice of a storyteller, which is what this song needs, and you deliver the goods in spades. Second, wonderfully written, strong imagery. Third, that lovely harmony in the chorus. So I guess Iím saying this is a winner to my ears. If you're looking for comments and suggestions, I have nothing to offer. If your looking for the admiration of fellow songwriters, well, I canít speak for all, but you have mine. Beautiful and wonderfully produced tune.

All the best to you,

Deej

#1140873 - 05/18/18 08:26 PM Re: Upper Big Branch Mining Disaster - WV [Re: E Swartz]  
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Wow, Eddie, what a super production to go along with these emotive lyrics. In your explanation above you mention how this tragedy may have been averted had management listened to the warnings of the inspectors and I wonder if, instead of repeating some of your lines like you do, you couldn't use some of that real estate for new information about that? Just a thought. A lot of effort and feeling has gone into this project so a great big Well Done to you.

Ricki

#1140883 - 05/18/18 11:22 PM Re: Upper Big Branch Mining Disaster - WV [Re: E Swartz]  
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Deej,

Hey man thank you so much for those ever so kind words--much appreciated. I really tried to exude a sense of compassion with these vocals, and I'm glad you felt it. I don't think I've ever in any song that I've recorded did as many "takes" as I did with this one, as I was really focused on the emotion.

I just visited you're song Lorelei, what a sweet song, unique reminiscent of the 60's sound, yet also has a what I think can be a current vibe!

steady-eddie

#1140884 - 05/18/18 11:30 PM Re: Upper Big Branch Mining Disaster - WV [Re: E Swartz]  
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Rikki,

Howdy! Thanks for the spin and the kind words.

I did indeed consider making the song more attacking towards Massey Energy for perceived and actual neglect. There were law suits and settlements to families from what I understand. But I didn't feel that my purpose was to write a song "throwing stones," rather to address the issue and focus on the compassion for those lost in the tragedy. Stones won't bring them back, maybe another writer would do so, but this song was about the heartfelt compassion for not just these miners, but all those hundreds of miners lost over the last century and beyond. These lyrics flowed from my pen, and I left them as they were.

Thanks so much,

steady-eddie


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