Malvina Reynolds: Song Lyrics and Poems  

Mrs. Clara Sullivan's Letter

Notes: words by Malvina Reynolds, music by Pete Seeger; copyright 1963 Abigail Music Company, renewed ---------? 1991. Based on a published letter in a labor newspaper by a coal miner's wife.

Dear Mister Editor if you choose,
Please send me a copy of the labor news.
I've got a son in the Infantry,
And he's be mighty glad to see
That someone, somewhere, now and then,
Thinks about the lives of the mining men,
In Perry County.

In Perry County and thereabout
We miners simply had to go out.
It was long hours, substandard pay,
Then they took our contract away.
Fourteen months is a mighty long time
To face the goons from the picket line
In Perry County.

I'm twenty-six years a miner's wife,
There's nothing harder than a miner's life,
But there's no better man than a mining man,
Couldn't find better in all this land.
The deal they get is a rotten deal,
Mountain greens and gravy meal,
In Perry County.

We live in barns that the rain comes in
While operators live high as sin,
Ride Cadillac cars and drink like a fool
While our kids lack clothes to go to school.
Sheriff Combs he has it fine,
He runs the law and owns a mine
In Perry County.

What operator would go dig coal
For even fifty a day on the mine pay-roll!
Why, after work my man comes in
With his wet clothes frozen to his skin,
Been digging coal so the world can run
And operators can have their fun
In Perry County.

When folks sent money to the Hazard Press
To help the strikers in distress,
They gave that money, yours and mine,
To the scabs who crossed the picket line,
And the state militia and the F.B.I.
Just look on while miners die
In Perry County.

I believe the truth will out some day
That we're fighting for jobs at decent pay.
We're just tired of doing without,
And that's what the strike is all about,
And it helps to know that folks like you
Are telling the story straight and true,
About Perry County.

Malvina Reynolds songbook(s) in which the music to this song appears:
---- The Muse of Parker Street
---- The Malvina Reynolds Songbook

Other place(s) where the music to this song appears:
---- Peter and Annie Blood-Patterson: Winds of the People [lyrics & guitar chords only] (Sing Out, 1980?)
---- Broadside No. 25 (late April 1963)

Malvina Reynolds recording(s) on which this song is performed:
---- [none]

Recordings by other artists on which this song is performed:
---- The Best of Broadside 1962-1988 (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings SFW CD 40130, 2000)
---- Coal Mining Women (Rounder CD 4025, 1997)
---- Seeds; The Songs of Pete Seeger, Vol. 3 (Appleseed Recordings APR CD 1072, 2003)
---- Pete Seeger: We Shall Overcome: The Complete Carnegie Hall Concert (Columbia C2K 45312, 1989/1963)
---- Pete Seeger: I Can See a New Day (Columbia CS 9057, 1964)
---- Bob White: Collector's Series (Front Hall FHR-011, 1977)
---- listen to video

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This page copyright 2006 by Charles H. Smith and Nancy Schimmel. All rights reserved.

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