Dirty Danny

“Dirty Danny” appeared in the Maritime Labour Herald December 13, 1924 and is composed in a “Come All Ye” ballad format. The composer only offers an abbreviation for the name as “P.E.P.” to help disguise his/her identity.

LYRICS

Come All You honest workers and listen to me,
When you hear my story with me you’ll agree,
Arrested for nothing, and glad to admit,
One evening last week when coming from the pit.

Now a Company policeman, a man I know well,
And for to expose him the truth I must tell,
Wherever you see him you hear people say:
‘There goes Dirty Danny – belongs to East Bay.’

One evening of late, coming home from the mine,
As I walked along, some wood I did find,
It being my intention – the truth I must say –
To use it to kindle a fire the next day.

I had not gone far when I heard someone shout:
‘You’re taking great chances, you better look out.
I will have you arrested and a fine make you pay.’
Remarked Dirty Danny – belongs to East Bay.

Without hesitation I threw the wood down,
And quickly departing for home I was bound;
But two evenings later I’ll have you to know,
McAuley came afrer [sic] me and I had to go.

Now when I did appear, His Honor did say:
‘Now you’re charged with stealing, what have you to say?’
I pleaded not guilty, but this was no good –
Dirty Danny, he swore I was caught with the wood.

I tried to explain, but I saw it was no use
His honor remarked, ‘Sir I want no excuse,
You will pay $7.50 or else put up bail,
Or the rest of this night you will spend in the jail.’

Now, times being hard and my dollars but few,
I had to consider just what I could do:
To pay $7.50 was sure hard on me –
I will never forgive him, His Honor, A.B.

Now Dirty Danny, your friends are but few,
And what I hear men say if you only knew,
You’d be so ashamed you’d decide on a cruise
And go back to East Bay and hide in the spruce.

Now one thing I’ll mention, I almost forgot,
I hope, Dirty Danny, hard luck is your lot,
And everyone slight you wherever you be
Just to remind you of what you did to me.

Now to conclude, and to finish my song;
The truth I have stated, you’ll find it’s not wrong
I hope to get even – if I live some day
With my ‘friend’ Dirty Danny belongs to East Bay.

MLH 13 Dec 1924, p.6

By NIPPER MACLEOD

 NIPPER MACLEOD – VOCALS 

About Nipper MacLeod

Former coal miner, Nipper MacLeod, hails from New Waterford and is a lead singer with the Men of the Deeps coal miners’ choir. He plays guitar and is known for his many mining and Cape Breton songs. He performs regularly at house parties, concerts and clubs in Cape Breton Island.

“Dirty Danny” appeared in the Maritime Labour Herald December 13, 1924 and is composed in a “Come All Ye” ballad format. The composer only offers an abbreviation for his/her name as “P.E.P.” to help disguise his/her identity. P.E.P. is Phillip Penny from Sydney Street, Glace Bay. His grandson says, “Philip composed many songs at the time and would sell them at the pit head to miners finishing their shift, unfortunately the family did not save these songs.” The song tells the story of a miner who steals kindling on coal company property and gets arrested by Dirty Danny, a company policeman from East Bay. The judge in the song is referred to as “A.B.” who we think is A.B. McGillivray, a colorful, local liberal magistrate of the day. Dirty Danny was Danny McGillivray from East Bay who, it is said, left Glace Bay after this song was composed, a testament to the power of folksong in the coal mining towns of the 1920s.

The Ballad of Slim McInnis // The Ballad of Slim McInnis - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  1. The Ballad of Slim McInnis // The Ballad of Slim McInnis - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  2. Doscomocracy // Doscomocracy - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  3. Trampin’ Down the Highway // Trampin’ Down the Highway - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  4. Quaint Harbour // Quaint Harbour - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  5. Blackheart’s of the Company // Blackheart’s of the Company - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  6. Stand the Gaff // Stand the Gaff - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  7. Michael’s Tune // Michael’s Tune - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  8. Arise Ye Nova Scotia Slaves // Arise Ye Nova Scotia Slaves - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  9. Whatever It Takes // Whatever It Takes - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  10. The Wearing of the Red // The Wearing of the Red - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  11. Down at Sydney Steel // Sydney Steel - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  12. Stronger then Steel // Stronger then Steel - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  13. Steel Winds // Steel Winds - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  14. A Cape Breton Lament // A Cape Breton Lament - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  15. An Seann Tigh Sgoil // An Seann Tigh Sgoil - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  16. Friday Evening // Ian MacDougall - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  17. The Voice of the Worker // The Voice of the Worker - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  18. Daughters Awake // Daughters Awake - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  19. Cape Breton Miner and Besco // Cape Breton Miner and Besco - Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  20. Miner’s Wife // Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest
  21. Steel Workers Lament // Songs of Steel, Coal and Protest