For A Song

Have you written a song inspired by a father?

I’d like to mention one, one inspired by a Kentucky father.

“Which Side Are You On,” is a ballad written by Florence Reece,

the wife of  coal minder Sam Reece & also the daughter of a coal-miner.

There are several ideas about the song’s origins, with a 2011

book about the song following the version told at the Highlands Education

Center by the song’s originator during her 85th birthday festivities.

In May of 1931, Sam Reece had to run off from his

children and wife to save his life. A Kentucky sheriff was after him.

The sheriff was aligned with powerful coal company owners.

Sam was dedicated to union-creation; he was an activist for the rights of miners

and their families.

He was also the father of seven children, including a baby.

The children were terrorized in their own house.

They huddled together under their parents’ bed to avoid being shot.

Their mother, Florence was with them.

She was so angry at the gunmen who were affiliated with the local sheriff, who was aligned with the coal companies, that she put her anger into words & found music to match it.

Her ballad was recorded by many, including Pete Seeger, and versions are still sung around the world today.

I wouldn’t know about this fine book (cover pictured here) created by author George Ella Lyon & illustrator Christopher Cardinale, but for the annual May graduation of the Hollins University children’s literature program, which my family & I attended.

Opening a surprise gift from a friend, I found  this picture book about the famous song.

It’s an important addition to your biography bookshelves.

♥ ♥ ♥

I smile at the thought of my dear Dad who is worthy of his own song, having developed a keen appreciation of nature & world wonders that he passed on to me when he was well into grandfather age. Born in 1903, he  experienced the rigors of a hard-scrabble farm life. One of my favorite memories is of his  bundling me up & carrying me outside to gaze at the constellations.

I also shine my smile on other fathers who I’ve been close to, or who still are in my life at Father’s Day. I am with one mighty fine Daddy, I just visited several in New England, & I look forward to visiting the home of a wonderful father this summer in Orlando.

Lucky, lucky, lucky to know these men, am I. HAPPY FATHERS DAY!

Resources for further reading:

2 thoughts on “For A Song

  1. As soon as I read the title of the song it began playing in my head. One of the most enduring things we can leave behind is a good song.

    My dad (as far as I know) never wrote songs, but he sang many. I can still hear his pleasant, crooning voice in my mind–although the songs he sang were often silly old chestnuts like “My Grandfather’s Clock.”


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