Ballad of Slim McInnis

LYRICS

Original Lyrics to Dosco’s Inferno by John Slim McInnis

Oh! tired am I of the ceaseless toil
And the endless cares and woes
Of the paupered years and the deathless fears
That a low paid worker knows.

All my toil filled life has been fraught with strife
And all that I have to show
Are the callused palms of these workworn  hands
And a faltering step and slow.

From my early youth like a soul-less brute
In a Godless way I’ve slaved,
In Dosco’s mills where the labour kills
And hastens an early grave.

I’ve shovelled ore thru a furnace door
In the heat of the boiling steel
Where the stink and glare of the poisoned air
Makes a man feel faint and reel.

Oh! I’ve grown sick of the look of brick
And the paddles and tongs and pails
Of the mud and the mire and Mclntyre
And the flame that never fails.

The checkers so hot and Foreman Watt
And Ritchie who’se always there
Like a Simon Legree be seems to me
With a cruel and crafty stare.

The charging cars and the hammer and bars
And the smoke of the metal trains
The ladles and pans, the barrow and fans
And the screech of the hoisting cranes.

Oh! weary am I of the few who try
To scab and pamper the boss
Confidential men and those who pretend
A concern for production lost

For the many must work for the few who shirk
The high paid few who prize
The money and ease and the luxuries
Of private enterprise.

Those hypocrites who rack their wits
And worry and scheme and plan
For a christian way to lower the pay
Of the honest working man.

But bear in mind there will come a time
And come it soon, I pray
When the stooge and boss aside we’ll toss
And build for a better day.

Then we’ll produce for the common use
For the man in field and ditch,
And we’ll liquidate the profit rate
Along with the idle rich.

So for better or worse I’ll end this verse
On a note of hope my friend
“There’s a crimson star that shines afar,
And the longest night must end.”

Chorus and music added by Kev Corbett
And it’s one, two , three, woe is Me,
I’m working at the Dosco Mill,
I love my girl and the boys in the shop,.
And the rest can go to hell

By Kev Corbett

KEV CORBETT – VOCALS, SLIDE GUITAR & BASS, JASON MINGO – DRUMS

Lyrics Composed by steelworker John Slim McInnis 1940,  and Kev Corbett, 2015

About Kev Corbett

Kev Corbett is a Halifax-based musician and songwriter whose paternal granddads were Cape Breton steelworkers and coal miners. His granddad ‘Ed’ Corbett (1908-1966) was a President of Steelworkers’ Local 1064 during the 40s and 50s, and also brought Labour support to the eventual building of the Canso Causeway. He was a union brother to Slim McInnis, who wrote the poem that became the verses to this song.

Information about composer John Slim McInnis:

In the early years of the unionization of the Steel plant there were songs, many  of which are now forgotten,  that also played a significant role in the  steelworking community  of Cape Breton Island. Like the protest songs from the 1920s, some of these were published in pro-labour newspapers of the time. Many  were passed along as broadsides to  fellow workers inside and outside the gates of the plant. As with the protest songs from the 1920s,  many were published  under pseudonyms; however most steelworkers and their families,  without a doubt, knew who the composers were. One songmaker who wrote under a number of pseudonyms including “”Beachcomber”   and “Anonymous”s wrote  a series of songs from the 1930s until the 1970s. His name was  John J. “Slim” MacInnis.
His most popular song among steelworkers, “Dosco’s Inferno,”  provides a bleak account of working in the blast furnace. He used  the pseudonym “Little Twisted” when this verse was first published.  Clearly the songmaker is familiar with the kinds of work at the plant. The song refers to many kinds of work at the plant including shoevelling ore, smelling chemical odors,  and the material culture of a plant: furnaces, ladles, pans,  tongs, pails, and  boiling steel.

MacGillivray, Don. 1991. “Work Poetry/Poésie de Travail: The Industrial Verse of Slim Mcinnis.” Labour/Le Travail 28: 271-284.

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