Saturday, April 23, 2011

Hazel Dickens has left the picket line

Hazel Dickens, one of the great musical artists of the U.S. working class, died yesterday. She was 75. Sister Dickens sang well and long and loud on behalf of the workers and poor, especially the miners and mining families of Appalachia. For anyone who's ever mined or known miners and miners' families, which includes those of us like me who've never been near a mine but have done strike solidarity work over the years, hers is the voice of the class struggle in mine country. And will always be. Here's a clip of Hazel Dickens singing at a 1989 benefit for the Pittston strike. I suggest you watch the whole thing.

There are many other good YouTube videos, but really, just go buy some of her CDs. And to see her sing a fuller version of "Which Side Are You On?" to another group of strikers, watch Barbara Koppel's great documentary Harlan County USA. (Correction: Hazel Dickens sings "Black Lung" in the movie. Florence Reece sings her song "Which Side Are You On?" Even more reason to watch this great 1976 film.)

Hazel Dickens presente!