North Country Blues
Come gather 'round friendsAnd I'll tell you a taleOf when the red iron pits ran plentyBut the cardboard filled windowsAnd old men on the benchesTell you now that the whole town is empty.
In the north end of townMy own children are grownBut I was raised on the otherIn the wee hours of youthMay mother took sickAnd I was brought up by my brother.
The iron ore pouredAs the years passed the doorThe drag lines an' the shovels they was a-humming'Til one day my brotherFailed to come homeThe same as my father before him.
Well a long winter's waitFrom the window I watchedMy friends they couldn't have been kinderAnd my schooling was cutAs I quit in the springTo marry John Thomas, a miner.
Oh the years passed againAnd the givin' was goodWith the lunch bucket filled every seasonWhat with three babies bornThe work was cut downTo a half a day's shift with no reason.Then the shaft was soon shutAnd more work was cutAnd the fire in the air, it felt frozen'Til a man come to speakAnd he said in one weekThat number eleven was closin'.
They complained in the EastThey are paying too highThey say that your ore ain't worth diggingThat it's much cheaper downIn the South American townsWhere the miners work almost for nothing.
So the mining gates lockedAnd the red iron rottedAnd the room smelled heavy from drinkingWhere the sad silent songMade the hour twice as longAs I waited for the sun to go sinking.
I lived by the windowAs he talked to himselfThis silence of tongues it was buildingThen one morning's wakeThe bed it was bareAnd I's left alone with three children.
The summer is goneThe ground's turning coldThe stores one by one they're a-foldin'My children will goAs soon they growWell there ain't nothing here now to hold them.