Hard Life on the Cut

by Ian Campbell


boat

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It's a hard life for a girl on the cut
Doing the work of a full grown man
Pushing a barrow and shov'lin' the coal
Plenty of work on her hands

It's a hard life for a wife on the cut
Spending her days with a bargee man
Sharing his work through the good times and bad
Coping as well as she can

It's a hard life for a mum on the cut
Rearing her family the decent way
Mending and cooking and keeping them clean
Nothing but work all the day

Recorded by 'The Ian Campbell Folk Group' on the lp 'Contemporary Campbells' Transatlantic TRA 137 (1965). 'Contemporary Campbells' was reissued combined with 'New Impressions' in 1997 as a Transatlantic CD (ESM ED 523).


In 'The Ian Campbell Folk Group Songbook' (published 1965) Ian Campbell writes that this was 'Written for a radio programme about life on the Midland cuts or canals. When taken out of context this song looks rather lost, and loses a lot of its effectiveness. Still, I rather like the tune and would be glad if anyone could find a use for it.'.

David Blagrove in the sleeve notes to Straight from the Tunnels' Mouth writes : This song dates back to the late fifties. It's a plaintive number but rather too full of self pity to be of natural growth from the boats, but one which nevertheless sums up the less picturesque side of boating. The worlds on this record were sung by a young boatman in that erstwhile repository of boating culture, The Greyhound, Hawkesbury Junction, about 1963.

Also recorded on :