zondag 3 november 2013
Only a Miner 1927 / Only a Hobo (1963)
"Only a Miner Killed" was written as a poem by John Wallace Crawford (1879)
His first book, The Poet Scout, was published in San francisco in 1879. Included was "Only a Miner Killed," written after Commodore Vanderbilt's death on January 4, 1877.
While in Virginia City, in 1877, a wagon passed up Main Street, with a soiled canvas thrown over it. Some curbstone brokers rushed out to investigate, and when they returned were asked what was the matter. "O," replied one, "It's only a miner killed." Old Commodore Vanderbilt died on the same day and the papers were full of accounts concerning this multi-millionaire. A paragraph in the Virginia City Chronicle, referring to the above incident, suggested the following verses:
In its first printing, the poem was headed by a few lines which hinted at a Nevada (Comstock silver mining) setting:
It is assumed that Crawford's poem preceded the song by a decade, but there is an outside chance that the mining song was in tradition before Vanderbilt's death and was heard by Crawford.
The decade of the 1880's seems the likely time for the transformation of Crawford's poem... into a folksong.
In his book "Ozark Folksongs" Vance Randolph says that Mrs. Coral Almy Wilson remembered hearing "Only a Miner" in 1888.
Duncan Emrich in his book "American Folk Poetry" obtained the dates 1890 and 1897
Wayland Hand was given 1900, 1904, and 1908, when he was recording for the LOC in 1946 and 1948
As enumerated by Archie Green in his book "Only a Miner", the song was collected many times by the Archive of Folk Song and others, with various informants placing the date they learned the song in the 19th century, the earliest being 1888.
The FIRST version of "Only a Miner" seems to be recorded by Doc Roberts, Charles "Dick" Parman and Charles "Ted" Chestnut who formed the Kentucky Thorobreds.
Kentucky Thorobreds - "Only a Miner"
Recorded September 1927
Released on Paramount 3071, 1928;
And on Broadway 8070 [as Old Smokey Twins]
I didn't find a sound-file of this one yet, but only 1 year later Ted Chestnut and Doc Roberts did record the song again on the Gennett-label (this time with Asa Martin on guitar)
Ted Chestnut 1928 (as "He’s Only a Miner Killed in the Ground")
Acc. by Doc Roberts (fiddle) and Asa Martin (guitar)
Recorded August 23, 1928 in Richmond, IN
Released on Gennett 6603, Champion 15587 (as Cal Turner) and Supertone 9180 (as Alvin Bunch)
On the same date Ted Chestnut recorded a song called "Only a Tramp", which is similar in style to "Only a Miner" in lyrics and in melody.
Bob Dylan would use the melody of "Only a Miner" and part of the lyrics of "Only a Tramp" (or "The Tramp in the Street") for his song "ONLY A HOBO"
With the help of John and Alan Lomax, in August 1933, Blind James Howard recorded a version in Harlan County with the title "Hard-Working Miner".
This version was also contained in Lomax's book "American Ballads and Folksongs" (1934)
(c) Aunt Molly Jackson - (as "Poor Miner's Farewell")
This was Aunt Molly Jackson's 1932 variant of John Wallace Crawford's "Only A Miner Killed"
John Greenway's rendition on "The Songs and Stories of Aunt Molly Jackson" (Folkways FH 5457; ca. Feb 1961) appears to be the most likely "model" for Bob Dylan's own "Only A Hobo"
Here's the story of how Aunt Molly Jackson came about composing this song
Listen here (after Aunt Molly tells her story the song begins at 4 min and 3 sec)
(c) Hedy West 1963 (as "Miner's Farewell (Poor Hardworking Miners)"
Listen to a sample here (song #12):
(c) Bob Dylan 1963 (as "Only a Hobo")
Bob might have heard Bob Davenport singing "Poor Miner's Lament" in The Troubadour in London, before composing "Only A Hobo".
Bob Dylan recorded "Only a Hobo" on a few occasions.
--As Blind Boy Grunt he recorded a version in January/February 1963 at the Broadside offices in New York. He was accompanied by Happy Traum on this version, which was released in September 1963 on the next album:
"Broadside Ballads Vol. 1" - mono vinyl LP, Broadside Records BR 301 (USA).
Listen to a sample here:
--In August 1963 Dylan recorded a DEMO of the song for Witmark & Sons.
The Witmark DEMO was officially released in mono in Oct 2010 on The Bootleg Series Vol. 9 - The Witmark Demos 1962-1964.
--The version released on The Bootleg Series Vols. 1-3 is an out-take from "The Times They Are A-Changin" album, recorded Columbia Studios, New York, 12 Aug 1963.
As I said above for his song "Only a Hobo", Bob Dylan used the melody of "Only a Miner" and part of the lyrics of "Only a Tramp" (or "The Tramp in the Street")
In 1961 Bob Dylan already had used the melody of "Only a Miner" for his version of Sara Carter's "Railroading on the Great Divide"
Listen here to Bob's version of "Railroading on the Great Divide"
(c) Mike Seeger 1966 (as "The Hard Working Miner")
Listen to a sample here:
(c) Rod Stewart 1970 (as "Only a Hobo")
(c) Bob Dylan 1971 (as "Only a Hobo")
Recorded in September 1971 (outtake for the Greatest Hits II-album)
Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica – Bob Dylan
Backing Vocals, Banjo – Happy Traum
This 1971 Dylan-version pretty accurately followed the arrangement of the Rod Stewart-version.
(c) Hazel Dickens 1986
(c) Jonathan Edwards and the Seldom Scene (1988)
(c) Patrick Street 1993 (as "Prince Among Men")
(c) Andy Irvine 1995 (as "Prince Among Men")