Dazed & haggard faces stagger from the dragon’s lair
If I can’t pronounce half the places, still less can I breathe the air
You stumbled on a line out of a world you won’t forget
Sometimes you just can’t do justice, sometimes you just stay in debt
It’s May Day in the Valleys and the 30s are here still
Though the European money has swept the slag heaps from the hills
Pockets are all emptied into slot machines and bars
Lungs are shot with coal dust and the hills are black with scars


Do you still dream of the valleys where the iron wagons rolled  
Are you riding on the songs they sang and the tales they told
Do your dreams ring out in the dark like steel or clog your veins like coal
In the small hours when you’re sleeping are you back in the Land of Black Gold


You’ll remember village rivals, muddy boots and rugby balls
Roof-lifting choirs and pithead bands, dance floors and billiard halls  
Butties who could hold their weekend beer and wouldn’t run from a fight
You courted on the cobbles and you sang all through the night
Go back now you’ll find crowds of ghosts and some you’d recognise
Drifting over derelict burial grounds, shuffling under raining skies
You can scuff your new suburban shoes where the railway used to be
Shunting coal and steel and sweat and men to Cardiff and the sea


Do you still dream of the valleys where blood was bought and sold 
Are you reeling from the songs they sang and the tales they told
Do your dreams flash in the dark like steel or clog your veins like coal
In the small hours when you’re sleeping are you back in the Land of Black Gold


 
They say sleep a night on Cader Idris you wake up either a madman or a bard
But when I was young the times were changing, I wanted an electric guitar
But the shifting years didn’t touch your ears, your ground was a chapel bass
A voice with the grain of grief in its heart deep as a coal face
The works bus stopped at the depot gates by the sheds of Merthyr Vale
Blast furnaces turned the night sky red, preacher warned of the flames of Hell
Cold steel made the railway lines, steel made the men within
The same steel made the strings of my grandfather’s mandolin


Do you still dream of the valleys where the iron wagons rolled  
Are you riding on the songs they sang and the tales they told
Got to reach into the darkness, got to get some iron in your soul
In the deep of your midnight are you down in the Land of Black Gold


You’d sign on as Special Constables and blow for the Police Band
Till the last pit helmet torch went out and the last canary sang
Till the polished boot of the law stepped up to the beat of changing times
Drumming their truncheons on their shields and squaring up to the picket line
Now the tools are in museums and the pits have all gone dark
And the new world is a hollow in the hills and in the heart
There’s a battered trumpet blowing from the last colliery band
For the martyrs of Tonypandy and the flowers of Aberfan


Do you still dream of the valleys where the iron wagons rolled  
Are you riding on the songs they sang and the tales they told
Do your dreams ring out in the dark like steel or clog your veins like coal
In the small hours when you’re sleeping are you back in the Land of Black Gold

 

 

words & music (c) Michael Bruce 2009


Black Gold.mp3

 

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