Thursday, May 13, 2010

Coal Tattoo (Billy Ed Wheeler cover)

By Billy Ed Wheeler
Rise Up Singing chapter: Mountain Voices, p.143
Rise Up Singing was edited by Peter Blood and Annie Patterson, and you can buy it from them directly at

Billy Ed Wheeler is from West Virginia, has written some powerful songs, and judging by an interview with him I watched, is really affable and down to earth.

Em - C Em / C D Em - ://
G - D G / G D C D / G - C G / - D Em -

Traveling down that coal town road
Listen to my rubber tires whine
Goodbye to buckey* and white sycamore
I'm leaving you behind
I've been a coal man all my life
Laying down track in the hole
I got a back like an ironwood bent by the wind
Blood veins blue as the coal

Somebody said that's a strange tattoo
You have on the side of your head
I said that's the blueprint left by the coal
Just a little more and I'd be dead
But I love the rumble and I love the dark
I love the cool of the slate
But it's on down this new road looking for a job
This traveling and looking I hate

I've stood for the union, walked in the line
Fought against the company
Stood for the U.M.W of A
Now who's going to stand for me?
I got no house and I got no pay
I've just got a worried soul
And this blue tattoo on the side of my head
Left by the number nine coal

Some day when I die and go
To heaven, the land of my dreams
I won't have to worry on losing my job
To bad times and big machines
I ain't gonna pay my money away
And lose my hospital plans
I'm gonna pick coal while the blue heavens roll
And sing with the angel bands

*A lot of people write (and sing) "buckeye", but R.U.S. has "buckey".

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