Song for Ginger Goodwin

He grew up in Yorkshire County
On the class war battle lines
From the age of 14 years
He was working in the mines
He saw the children dying
Of hunger and disease
His family was evicted
And he headed overseas
Cape Breton, Nova Scotia
Was where he landed for a while
Then he hopped a freight
For about three thousand miles
Ended up out west
By Nanaimo Bay
Where he worked the Number Five pit
And spent his final days

Let’s remember the departed
And for us the things they gave
As we’re gathered here
By Ginger Goodwin’s grave
As we’re gathered here
By Ginger Goodwin’s grave

In England and in Canada
From the east out to the west
The miners lived and died
At capital’s behest
Ginger saw the writing
That was covering the wall
One Big Union was the watchword
For the workers one and all
Ginger organized the miners
And they struck for better pay
And they struck the Dunsmuir Colleries
And fought to see the day
When the labor movement
Could say its work was done
With a world run by workers
For the good of everyone

Chorus

When the “War to End All Wars” came
He knew it was a lie
He said he wouldn’t fight for the bosses
He wouldn’t kill or die
He had blacklung from the mines
But they called him fit to go
So he hid out in the mountains
Out in the rain and snow
The cop who went to find him
This is what he said
“I’m gonna bring him in
Whether that’s alive or dead”
The people gained a martyr
Who would never leave our side
And ten thousand workers marched
When they heard that Ginger died

Chorus

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Sheet music:
Song for Ginger Goodwin

“Song for Ginger Goodwin” originally appeared on the 2009 CD, Ten Thousand Miles Away, and the following year on the CD, Troubadour:  People’s History in Song.

I was invited by labor activists in British Columbia to play at an annual commemoration of Ginger Goodwin, which is how I first heard of this British-Canadian labor leader and antiwar activist.

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