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The Pound a Week Rise

Coal Miner's Protest Song

“The Pound a Week Rise” always makes me think about the relationship between the working classes and so-called liberal politicians. You go to the big man with your hat in your hand, pointing out how hard you work and how little you get paid. He makes some statement of empathy and you feel all warm and fuzzy toward him- this guy looks out for the little man! So you work as hard as you can to get him reelected, and then when he gets what he wants, the mask comes off. He turns out to be a politician like any other. You get “pie in the sky” instead of any actual benefits.

The situation in this Ed Pickford protest song isn't exactly the same, because it's coal miners and an English aristocrat instead of blue-collar voters and liberal politicians. The pie in the sky is still just as illusory, and the hypocritical statements of empathy are just as meaningless. A person's actions show what their feelings really are, and what they really were all along.


This song has been recorded by a lot of folk singers, including Dick Gaughan and folk-rockers Seven Nations. I found this version while trying to find the Seven Nations version on Youtube. I like it better, because the singer for Seven Nations has a flat and unemotional delivery that doesn't really convey the depth of passion and anger in this song of betrayal. Their version is energetic and exciting, but this version is done with feeling.