Saturday, August 1, 2015

North Country Blues

Miners get priced out.
Mine shuts down, cripples the town,
Men drink, the kids leave.

Here's a depressing song about the collapse of a mining town in northern Minnesota. It's from the 1963 album "The Times They Are a-Changin'," and it might be inspired in part by Bob Dylan's home town of Hibbing Minnesota -- though I can't be sure. 

1. Red iron pits go empty, old men sit around with no work, broken windows are replaced by cardboard, town is empty.
2. Woman with grown children recounts her childhood: her mother died, so her brother raised her.
3. Years go by. People mine iron. Woman's brother dies in the mines, just like their father did.
4. She passes the winter, drops out of school and marries a miner.
5. Food and plenty for three years. One baby each year. Mining company cuts shifts in half, then closes the mine shaft and lays off more people, then shuts down the whole operation.
6. Why did they shut the mine? Wall Street investors considered the costs too high, and the company chose to get its iron from cheaper mine labor in South America.
7. People turn to alcohol and loafing in the misery.
8. Her husband disappears, leaving her alone with the kids.
9. Winter is coming, stores are shutting, the children are getting ready to leave town.

At least you have your health!

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