Dream of the Miner's Child, The

DESCRIPTION: "A miner was leaving his home for his work When he heard his little child scream." She had dreamt of his death in the mines, and begs him not to go to work that day. But he must go to work. (In some versions the song ends with a mining disaster)
AUTHOR: Andrew Jenkins?; also attributed as "Words: Robert Donnelly, music: Will Geddes" (see NOTES)
EARLIEST DATE: 1922 (Randolph); for "Don't Go Down in the Mine, Dad" the earliest date is 1910 (sheet music)
KEYWORDS: father work mining children dream disaster death
FOUND IN: US(Ap,So) Australia
REFERENCES (9 citations):
Green-OnlyAMiner-RecordedCoalMiningSongs, p. 113-115, "Dream of the Miner's Child" (2 texts, 1 tune, plus a text of "Don't Go Down in the Mine, Dad")
Randolph 859, "The Dream of the Miner's Child" (1 text)
Shellans-FolkSongsOfTheBlueRidgeMountains, pp. 64-65, "The Miner Child's Dream" (1 text, 1 tune)
Richardson/Spaeth-AmericanMountainSongs, pp. 40-41, "The Dream of the Miner's Child" (1 text, 1 tune)
Burton/Manning-EastTennesseeStateCollectionVol1, pp. 21-22, "The Miner's Child" (1 text, 1 tune)
Spaeth-WeepSomeMoreMyLady, pp. 141-142, "The Dream of the Miner's Child" (1 text, 1 tune)
Paterson/Fahey/Seal-OldBushSongs-CentenaryEdition, pp. 131-134, "The Miner" (1 text, collected as a conflation of "The Miner" and "The Dream of the Miner's Child")
Cohen-AmericanFolkSongsARegionalEncyclopedia1, pp. 220-221 "The Explosion in the Fairmount Mines" (1 text, slightly reworked by Blind Alfred Reed but still so close that it can be considered a version of this song)

Roud #2334
Vernon Dalhart, "The Dream of the Miner's Child" (OKeh 40498, 1925) (Columbia 15046-D [as Al Craver], 1925) (Victor 19821, 1925) (Cameo 812/Lincoln 2429, 1925; Romeo 332, 1927) (Pathe 32150/Pathe 032150/Perfect 12229, 1925) (Edison 51649 [as Vernon Dalhart & Co.], 1925) (CYL: Edison [BA] 5085 [as Vernon Dalhart & Co.], 1925) (Gennett 3197, 1926; Challenge 505, 1927; Herwin 75502, n.d.; rec. 1925) (Banner 1672/Domino 3642/Oriole 545/Paramount 33176/Regal 9978, 1926; rec. 1925) (Vocalion 5086/Vocalion 15217, 1926)
Stanley Kirkby, "Don't Go Down in the Mine, Dad" (Regal [UK] G-6460. 1910; on Protobilly)
Morris Brothers, "The Dream of the Miner's Child" (Bluebird B-8841, 1941)
Arnold Keith Storm, "The Dream of the Miner's Child" (on AKStorm01)
Keith Whitley, "Dream of a Miner's Child" (Rebel SLP-1504, 1971; on Protobilly)

cf. "Les Reeder" (theme)
cf. "Blockader Mama" (theme)
NOTES [195 words]: How solid is the 1922 date from Randolph? The Vernon Dalhart recording, which became near-canonical, credited Andrew Jenkins as author, and it certainly has his style. Could he have taken bits from, "Don't Go Down in the Mine, Dad" and perhaps elsewhere, then built a new song from them? - PJS
I would add that I have a copy of the original sheet music, published in 1926 by Shapiro, Bernstein & Co and copyrighted by P. C. Brockman (who also owned the copyright, e.g., of "The Death of Floyd Collins," which is surely by Jenkins). This sheet music credits the song to Jenkins (interestingly, it does not list an arranger for the piano accompaniment).
So I grant that this is a very interesting question. Randolph's text is certainly much like the standard version. The book assuredly prints a date of 1922. What's more, Randolph had two other pieces from the same informant, and both were dated 1922 also. So I cannot resolve the question.
Cohen, in discussing Reed's rewrite of Jenkins's version, says that the Jenkins text was loosely based on a 1910 song "Don't Go Down in the Mines, Dear Dad," by Robert Donnelly and Will Geddes. Maybe that explains part of it. - RBW
Last updated in version 5.1
File: R859

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