Skip to main content

Coal Digging Blues

Mark Allan Jackson
CD  978-1-933202-11-2


Coal Digging Blues: Songs of West Virginia Miners, compiled by Mark Allan Jackson, is the eighth addition to the WVU Press Sound Archive series. Drawing upon gospels, blues, and country musical influences, the musicians on this compilation explicate the hardships and hopes of Great Depression-era West Virginia coal miners. The songs and stories on the CD were collected by folklorist George Korson when he traveled to mining communities in northern and eastern West Virginia in the 1940s. Some of the songs from Korson's visit were released by the Library of Congress under the title Songs and Ballads of the Bituminous Miners, but the majority of them are being released to the public for the first time here on Coal Digging Blues. Many of the songs are performed by African-American miners, a marginalized group in the history of mining who bring to the collection their rich musical heritage and sui generis sound. A booklet of detailed notes on the performers, their songs, and the history of coal-camp songs in West Virginia, as well as contemporary photographs, is included with the CD.


  1. Drill Man Blues by George Curley Sizemore
  2. Going Democratic by George Curley Sizemore
  3. The Snitcher by George Curley Sizemore
  4. Bill Green Better Run On by The United Four Quartet
  5. I Can Tell the World What the Union Has Done by The United Four Quartet
  6. I Dont Want to Go Down Yonder by The United Four Quartet
  7. Coal Digging Blues by Jerrel Stanley
  8. The Brave and Trembling Motor Man by Jerrel Stanley
  9. A Little Lump of Coal by Orville O.J. Jenks
10. Its On in Washington by Orville O.J. Jenks
11. John L. Lewis Blues by Orville O.J. Jenks
12. Union Blues by Orville O.J. Jenks
13. How Beautiful Union Must Be by Orville O.J. Jenks
14. The Union Coal Mines in the Sky by Orville O.J.


Mark Allan Jackson is Associate Professor of Folklore and English at Middle Tennessee State University who specializes in political expression in American music.  He has published essays, reviews, and commentaries in such journals as American MusicThe Journal of American HistoryPopular Music and SocietyThe Journal of American FolkloreJournal of Folklore Research, and The Tennessee Folklore Society Bulletin


"This is the story of a country being formed, of a history being made."
Mike Jurkovic, Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange