Fire In The Hole references

 




"Fire In The Hole" refers to the term used by coal miners blasting-away rock to make a living. The cry was a way to warn other miners that a dynamite triggered explosion was about to take place. Coal miners in Atlantic Canada came to represent the struggle and toil of seasonal and manual labourers in that part of the world. Their dark and dangerous work will always be associated with the Springhill Mining disaster.

During the creation of the Canadian Pacific Railroad, workers blasting their way through the Precambrian shield of Northern Ontario and the Rocky Mountains of the West were also known to have used the term regularly, at times before literally throwing a flint or stick of dynamite into a crevass of rock.

In the United States, coal miners led the labour movement for workers rights. In 1933, the efforts of a group of organized and committed miners led to the National Industrial Recovery Act which granted workers the right to form unions and bargain collectively. A folk song inspired by the movement, called "Fire In The Hole" was written by Hazel Dickens in the 1950's. Dickens grew up in the coal mining villages of West Virginia during the Depression, and some of her lyrics are directly referenced in the Hip's "Fire In The Hole." A re-recording of Hazel's song was released in 1987 for the film soundtrack to "Matewan" on the Hip's current US record label: Rounder Records.

Hipbaser and perceptive Hip fan, withnail pointed me in this direction:

Fire in the Hole
by Hazel Dickens

"You can tell them in the country, tell them in the town
Miners down in Mingo laid their shovels down
we won't pull another pillar, load another ton
or lift another finger until the union we have won

Stand up boys, let the bosses know
Turn your buckets over, turn your lanterns low
There's fire in our hearts and fire in our soul
but there ain't gonna be no fire in the hole

Daddy died a miner and grandpa he did too,
I'll bet this coal will kill me before my working days is through
And a hole this dark and dirty an early grave I find
And I plan to make a union for the ones I leave behind

Stand up boys, let the bosses know
Turn you buckets over, turn your lanterns low
There's fire in our hearts and fire in our soul
but there ain't gonna be no fire in the hole

There ain't gonna be no fire in the hole"

When performed live, The Tragically Hip version of the song is usually preceded by Downie's "This is the song I hate, or is it a song a hate..." rant. At the time of the songs release, it was believed to be a reference to the then resurgent and now thankfully dead neo-Nazi movement in Southern Ontario. The CBC's "Fifth Estate" ran an expose on the inner workings of the white supremacist movement during the early part of 1994. The program included a look at the Heritage Front, a then growing hate group, and their use of heavy metal bands to spread their word.

The songs angry tone, the possible reference to Nazi propaganda film "Triumph of the Will," and its direct and attacking lyrics, may be a reference to the bands personal disgust with these people and their intolerant message.

The "Fifth Estate" broadcast centered on a CSIS (Canadian Secret Intelligence Service) operation which eventually rotted the Heritage Front from the inside. In 2005, the groups leader was shot and killed in Toronto.

Ben Traub dropped this on me:

"It's the song I hate/this is the song I hate" are the last lines of Sonic Youth's Song Yough Against Fascism from 1992's Dirty."

The Hip version:

You triumphed over will
You had immunity to kill
You had your dreams fulfilled
And I love you still
But there's a power beyond control
There's a fire in the hole
Ah the nights are getting cold
All your secrets will be told
Turn your lanterns low

As long as you can dig up proof
As cold as water through the roof
Brutal as depicted truth
That kid's a fuckin' goof
Turn your lanterns low
But there's a power beyond control
There's a fire in the hole
Yeah the nights are getting cold
All his secrets will be told
Turn your lanterns low
Alright

I'd like to stand up soon and show
I'd like to let some people know
I'd turn my bucket over
I'd turn my lantern low
But there's a power beyond control
There's a fire in the hole
Yeah the nights are getting cold
All my secrets would be told
Turn your lanterns low
Alright
Alright

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