Friday, August 28, 2015

Friday Tunes: Rye Whiskey and Wine

This week’s installment of labour themes in popular culture (courtesy of colleague Jason Foster) is Danny Michel’s Rye Whiskey and Wine”. 

The song is an evocative look at the aftermath of the closure of a mine (or mill) in a one-industry town. The description of the detritus of a failed industry that is left behind ("just old rags and paint can and old turpentine") is poignant.

While ghost towns are a bit of a cliché, they do exist. In BC, we have Kitsault which was built to service a mine and then abandoned after 18 months when commodity prices crashed. The town was abandoned in 1983 and sits basically trapped in time.

While the Global story is predictably cheery and upbeat (barf), the song talks about what happens to the people when their town dies. The sense of despair in the last verse is pretty touching.

Rye whiskey Rye whiskey
Rye whiskey and wine
I get all misty every time

There's just old rags and paint cans and old turpentine
Everyone's leaving, they shut down the mine
They cleaned out the storefront and they took the stained glass
They pulled out the trani and they syphoned the gas

Shiver me timbers, shiver my spine
I drink to the sawmills and the western white pine
So hitch up the horses 'cause I feel just fine
I'll ride them to Carmacks and I'll bring back more wine

The chapel, the legion and the freemason hall
They left all the keys here it's like I own them all
So I'll buy the next round since we're frozen in time
Don't bother calling I cut all the lines

-- Bob Barnetson

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