Okay, maybe not the most universally accepted slogan, but there’s definitely something to the magic of music coming out the the coal region of the country, specifically Kentucky.
From legends like John Prine and Loretta Lynn, to modern stars like Tyler Childers and Sturgill Simpson, to the super young and talented Logan Halstead (he’s from West Virginia, but still holds true), artists that come from the hard-nosed regions where coal once was, and still kind of is, king have something special to their music.
Here’s 8 of the best songs about coal:
Johnny Cash – Loading Coal
Classic Johnny Cash. A well-told story about a young man growing up and trying to make his way in the world, but never finding the dollar he was promised, it’s a common tale in mining country.
John Prine – Paradise
From his debut album in 1971, long before most of the public knew it, John Prine went deep on the horror that strip-mining can bring to a town. The Chicago native wrote “Paradise” for his father who grew up in a Kentucky mining town.
Logan Halstead – Dark Black Coal
This kid’s only 17? Anyone who can write a song like this is crazy talented, but doing it before you’re even legally allowed to buy cigarettes is just unreal…
Sturgill Simpson – Old King Coal
Sturgill isn’t afraid to tell it how it is. While he acknowledges a major issue that plague miners (black lung), the nothing left behind when the area’s only industry is shut down by city folks isn’t much better…
Loretta Lynn – Coal Miner’s Daughter
The actual daughter of a coal miner, Loretta sings about a loving home made possible by the back-breaking work of her father. An anthem of sorts for the people who grew up like that, this song will speak to people for generations and is one of the best in country music’s history.
Tyler Childers – Hard Times/Coal
For me, these two songs are the ones that let people know who Tyler Childers is. Raw, edgy, stripped down and heartfelt, these two songs hit the pulse of coal country like no other. The fact he was only 19 when they were released makes it that much better.
Charles Wesley Godwin – Coal Country
The West Virginia native has proven himself to be a gifted storyteller, writing power songs about the beauty and pain of life in Appalachia. His debut album Seneca was absolutely stellar and we’re looking for the follow up due out sometime this year.
“It’s my best attempt to examine the current state of things. I tried to give a perspective of what happened and what came out of it and how I see things playing out, for better or worse.”