> Danny Spooner > Songs > Jowl, Jowl and Listen

Jowl, Jowl and Listen

[ Roud 3191 ; Ballad Index JRVI093 ; Mudcat 40360 ; trad.]

Karl Dallas: One Hundred Songs of Toil

Jack Elliott sang Jowl and Listen Lad live at a concert presented by the English Folk, Dance and Song Society at the Royal Festival Hall, London on 4 June 1965. This concert was published in the same year on the EMI/HMV album Folk Sound of Britain. He also sang Jowl, Jowl and Listen on his 1969 posthumous album on the Leader label, Jack Elliott of Birtley.

Pete Elliott and chorus sang Jowl and Listen in 1972 on the Topic album of “ballads and songs from Newcastle and thereabouts”, Canny Newcassel. Tony Wilson commented in the sleeve notes:

A local headmaster, Walter Toyn of Whickham, collected this song from Henry Nattress of Low Fell. For those unfamiliar with the pitmatic it should be explained that the song describes how an experienced pitman warns a raw recruit to find out whether the coal face is secure by striking (jowling) it with the haft of his pick before commencing to hew coal.

Danny Spooner sang Rap ’er te Bank, interspersed by Richard Leach reciting the poem Jowl, Jowl and Listen, on his 1978 album Danny Spooner and Friends.


Pete Elliott sings Jowl, Jowl and Listen

Chorus (after each verse):
Jowl, jowl and listen, lad,
Ye’ll hear the coal face workin’.
There’s many a marra missin’, lad,
Because they wadna’t listen, lad.

Me father aalwes used te say
That pit-wark’s mair than hewin’.
Ye’ve got te coax the coal alang
An’ not be rivin’ and tewin’.

Noo the deppity craals from flat te flat
An’ the putter rams the tyum uns.
An’ the man at the face must knaa his place
Like a mother knaas her young uns.