Sung by: Seth Mize
Recorded in Mountain View, AR by George Fisher

Click here to listen to the original recording

(Mr. Fisher: “The song called ‘The Old Coal Mine.’ How come you to write this song?”
Mr. Mize: “Well, a man was working in the coal mines, and a rock fell on him. They saved his life all right, but they thought he was dead. But another man heared him a-breathing under this rock. They was gonna shoot the rock off of him. This old man that told me, told me when I was about 15 year old. And that’s been several years back, for I’m now nearly 64. So this old man told me about it. And in ’64 I thought of all this story and wrote the song. And I just write from that, wrote from the story that he told me.”
Mr. Fisher: “I see. Okay. Let’s hear it.”)

I’ll tell you a story about the coal mine,
. . . back in the old time.

This is a true story about the old time
. . . man was a-working way down in the mine.

The man was a-working and a-digging coal down
‘Bout a half a mile back under the ground.

While up in the ceiling, a big rock hung,
And the weight of this rock was two or three ton.

He heared the rock slipping, and he started to run,
But the rock fell down on him as he whirled to run.

Well, the men all gathered ‘round him, and one man, he said,
“We’ll have to shoot this rock off him, for we know he is dead.”

George . . . heared him breathing, and then he said,
“Do not shoot this rock off him, for he is not dead.

“You men all get busy, and don’t lose no time,
For the man that lays under it is Tom Valentine.”

Well, they all got busy, and they lost no time
‘Til they raised the rock up and saved Mr. Valentine.

By the help of a coal car and a boulder by the side,
And the help of the Lord, they saved his life.

They put him in the coal car, and they rushed him down the line,
And the doctor was a-waiting at the mouth of the mine.

They all worked hard to save his life,
To stay with his children and a loving wife.

I worked in the mine back in the old time;
They can close down behind you as you walk through the mine.

You may walk in in the morning when you’re feeling fine,
Not knowing that morning would be your last time.

All Songs Recorded by John Quincy Wolf, Jr., unless otherwise noted

The John Quincy Wolf Folklore Collection
Lyon College, Batesville, Arkansas
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