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"Witch Hazel Mine" on the new '35....


dhanners623

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Here's a tune of mine, "Witch Hazel Mine," that I have recently reworked. Switched some verses around and stuck it in a different key. The J-35 seems well-suited to the sound I'm after in this song. Were I to record it, I'd add an instrumental break with mando or fiddle. Haven't met too many mando players in Kuwait, and the fiddle players I've encountered have not been dependable.

 

https://youtu.be/AFfEz2lZgaQ

 

(For the life of me, I still can't figure out how to embed the video inthe post....)

 

Here are the lyrics:

WITCH HAZEL MINE

© 2016 by David Hanners

 

In Spring these hills blossomed, smell of sycamore and pine

Hollers stayed cool come heat of summertime

Now, it's all rusted, empty coal cars on old tracks

Streams run red from acid runoff, jobs ain't comin' back

 

Still, we thank God for the Witch Hazel Mine

And the coal miner's brew

For without them, lord, what would we do?

 

Seams of coal we cut enrich wealthy men

They bust the unions, throw safety to the wind

Then tell us we're lucky we still have this mine

Rest played out, this town is dyin'

 

(chorus)

 

(bridge)

Step into the mine, step closer to death

Say one last prayer with your last clean breath

Daylight fades, good men confess their sins

God himself can't dig you out if the back caves in

 

Witch Hazel Mine dark as Death itself

You might make it out alive but it will wreck your health

I've heard dyin' miners float through a tunnel to a light

Deeper down this hole just takes you closer to the night

 

(chorus)

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Good tune/delivery/vocal. Enjoyed it with my two year old grandson who stayed with it clear through - nice job of holding the audience! Got many hipsters in Kuwait?

 

Kuwait is full of hipsters and metrosexuals. I stick out like a sore thumb....

 

And I often have to entertain my 2-year-old grandson, Yaqoub, and his 9-month-old sister, Meysa, with the guitar, so I have experience working to keep kids' attention.

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Kuwait is full of hipsters and metrosexuals. I stick out like a sore thumb....

 

And I often have to entertain my 2-year-old grandson, Yaqoub, and his 9-month-old sister, Meysa, with the guitar, so I have experience working to keep kids' attention.

Can't say I envy you the metro types. They're too - let's say - indecisive for my taste and comfort level. It's difficult for me to fit in sometimes or keep a low profile. Other former Marines, outlaw bikers, cowboys, musicians of southern background, and possibly the Sasquatch community don't present much problem. Hipsters have enough leftover vibe from the Beat 1950's types that I tolerate them OK, though I'm pretty sure I scare hell out of 'em unintentially. Met my wife when I was a college professor, and she says that the first time she saw me she figured I was studying auto mechanics. Crosses to bear, eh? 😖

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This is a really cool tune, David. Like it a great deal. A real "slice of life" from perhaps the 30s-40s in Appalachia. Perhaps current-day for people in areas of Virginia and Pennsylvania. Lots of great analogies in this set of lyrics. "Witch Hazel Mine dark as Death itself

You might make it out alive but it will wreck your health" definitely stands-out for me. Good stuff, my friend. And the J35 sound has the right aura around it for this kind of music. Splendid. [thumbup]

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This is a really cool tune, David. Like it a great deal. A real "slice of life" from perhaps the 30s-40s in Appalachia. Perhaps current-day for people in areas of Virginia and Pennsylvania. Lots of great analogies in this set of lyrics. "Witch Hazel Mine dark as Death itself

You might make it out alive but it will wreck your health" definitely stands-out for me. Good stuff, my friend. And the J35 sound has the right aura around it for this kind of music. Splendid. [thumbup]

 

Thanks for the kind words. Your comments got me thinking that maybe the song should be reworked (yet again) and here's the version I'm looking at now. Thoughts?

 

WITCH HAZEL MINE

© 2016 by David Hanners

 

Witch Hazel Mine dark as Death itself

Even if make it out it will wreck your health

Each step down the mine, one step closer to death

Say one last prayer with your last clean breath

 

Still, we thank God for the Witch Hazel Mine

And the coal miner's brew

For without them, lord, what would we do?

 

In Spring these hills blossomed, smell of sycamore and pine

Hollers stayed cool come heat of summertime

Now, it's all rusted, empty coal cars on old tracks

Streams run red from acid runoff, jobs ain't comin' back

 

(chorus)

 

(bridge)

Seams of coal we cut just enrich wealthy men

If not for the UMW they'd throw safety to the wind

Tell us we're lucky we still have this mine

Rest played out, this town is dyin'

 

Daylight fades, good men confess their sins

'Cause God himself can't dig you out if the back caves in

They say dyin' miners float through a tunnel to a light

Deeper down this hole just takes you closer to the night

 

(chorus 2x)

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I like your rework, too. Interested to see/hear how it'll be once you're really satisfied with the composition. Don't lose some of the most powerful lines along the way, though....��

 

Thanks. I think at this point it is just a matter of getting what's there in the right order. The story (such as it is) has to flow. I feel the second version gets the fact we're talking about a mine up front (literally in the first line) and the "clean breath" line sets up the second verse about the good ol' days. And then you end with dying miners. I think the second one works a bit better, but I'm open to opinions.

 

I wrote the bulk of the song years ago as music for a play for one of my late brother's theater students, but it never had a chorus. She used it as-is, but I always felt the song was unfinished and needed a chorus. Then one night, I had a dream in which I heard Gillian Welch singing the line, "Thank God for the mine and the coal miners brew, for without them what would we do?" I woke up and wrote down the line. It struck me as being perfect for the song. But then I started worrying that it was something I'd heard somewhere else so I Googled all kinds of permutations of the line and, fortunately, nothing turned up.

 

I wanted to make the song about a mine near West Terre Haute, Indiana, and even found a list of mines that used to be in the area, but none of them sounded "musical" enough to use. Then I came up with "Witch Hazel Mine" as a name. Googled it and found nothing, so I figured I was safe.

 

And if anyone out there has contact with Gillian Welch, she would sound great singing this song....

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I do like the lyrics to both. I agree that you have to decide what order you want the verses......I prefer the first version of the song, primarily because it flows better for me than the second version. In the second version, you're opening verse already brings us to what is the likely conclusion for a life of working in a mine: poor health/death. I already know the "end of the story." I think the first version presents a more full picture. You setup the scene of a pretty countryside before you introduce us to the dark side of life for the people living there. In the second version, the first verse begins and literally ends the story...Beyond that, there are lots of real good lines in both sets of these lyrics. If you get the chance, take a look at John Prine's song, Paradise. Like you do in your first version, he sets-up the scene before taking us down the dark path. We get an indication of how bad things got by knowing how good they once were............All that said, I like the way you draw pictures with words.

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