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Joe Peel

[ Roud - ; Mudcat 23983 ; Peter Bond]

Peter Bond sang his own song Joe Peel in 1977 on his Trailer LP It’s All Right for Some. The album’s sleeve notes commented:

Joe was a miner and ex-Rugby League player from Flimby in West Cumberland. Sicicosis forced him to give up work in the pit to work above ground but he never stopped doing things for people. The kindest man I’ve met—everyone knew Joe and everyone liked him.

June Tabor covered this song in 1980 on her and Martin Simpson’s album A Cut Above. She was accompanied by Dave Bristow playing piano. This track was also included in June Tabor’s 4CD anthology Always.


Workington way, when lads left school,
’Twas just the pit and foundry beckoned,
Young Joe went down to hew the coal,
But not for long, so some folks reckoned.
For Joe could tackle hard and Joe could run,
He only needed time for growing,
And soon he’d signed his name to play
And to the city moved away.

Now on the sports page he’d appear,
The idol of the local lasses.
Out on the field he played it fair
While all the girls made forward passes.
Until another match turned people’s heads
Jarrow lads v ruling classes.
And with no future in it now
It’s home again and up The Brow.

Back underground to hear no lark
For thirty years from dawn till evening,
Until the coal had left its mark
And to the bank the earth returned him,
No more to sweat his days out in the dark,
Some years on top the dust had earned him.
And all the while the sickness grew,
Still he’d ask what he could do for you.

He’d do odd jobs for one and all
Though snow was thick or rain was teeming.
And all the world would seem to call;
The kettle never finished steaming.
“Reach up”, he’d say, “By God, you’re looking thin”,
While mischief in his eyes was gleaming.
“If Lizzie thinks you’re hungry still,
They’ll be nowt for us in her will.”

The day you left I stayed outside
With scalding tears, no comfort knowing.
We all turned up to say goodbye;
The church was filled to overflowing.
𝄆 You’d never have believed it if you’d seen
How many people mourned your going,
And just how lucky folks still feel
To say they knew Joe Peel. 𝄇