Go West, Young Man, Go West

Leaving Cape Breton Island for employment is something that many working class families have faced in the past and this tradition continues at present. “Going out west,” as this song demonstrates, was a choice that workers reluctantly made in order to survive the hard times in 1925.

LYRICS

The winter winds are bleak and drear,
Methinks I better move from here;
Fly, fly, Old Timer, fly away
Before that dark December day
When gloom descends upon the town
And when the mines are all shut down,
When idle workers walk the street—
Up, up, Old Timer, work your feet.
Hark ye the hungry people’s cries,
The birds have left (and birds are wise)
Were naught but wisdom now methinks
To leave the ship before she sinks.

What comes? This shadow o’er my mind
For those I love and leave behind,
But some there are I cannot like—
I hopes you perish, Ike Mclke.*
I don’t forget our little clash,
I hopes the “pluck-me”** stops your hash;
Beware the evil eye of me—
I’ll have revenge, you wait and see.

I know not whether north or south
Or east or west I’ll roam,
But this I know, the night is dark
And I am far from home;
And creditors, dear creditors,
Don’t think I mean you wrong,
If you wake up some morning
And find that I am gone.
Yes, I know that you are short
Just the same as I,
But I’ll pay you, yes, I’ll pay you
In the sweet by and by.

By STEVEN FIFIELD

 STEVE FIFIELD – VOCALS AND ALL OTHER SOUNDS 

About Steven Fifield

Steven Fifield comes from Sydney. He writes songs, he sings them, he plays the guitar.  
He’s an everyman poet whose intensity and honesty when playing is always present. Steve has performed throughout the maritimes and will venture farther. He has a cat named Arthur. Sometimes he drinks tea, sometimes he drinks coffee.

Resources

Dawn Fraser introduces this poem with the following statement: “I was never very proud, indeed I was somewhat ashamed, of the following rhyme which was written while I was in flight from the starving sections of the extreme eastern part of industrial Canada in the year 1925. In justice to myself I might state, however, that this farewell was written under certain handicaps while I had to keep one jump ahead of the conductor on the night train out of Sydney. However, when that official finally caught up with me, he proved to be a good fellow who knew me. He shared the contents of his lunch can with me and let me ride free to the end of his run.” 1 [1] Fraser. Echoes From Labour’s War (Toronto: New Hogtown Press, 1978), p. 82.References Fraser, Dawn. (1978). Echoes From Labour’s War. Toronto: New Hogtown Press.

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