Have you ever heard the song, ‘A Working Man?’ Strangely, it was written and sung by a Canadian lady, Rita MacNeil back in the 1980s. It’s one of those songs that can stir your soul and get tugging the heartstrings. My family came from the coal pits of South Wales, so every time I hear it played or sung, it reminds me of what they went through. I remember one Uncle saying that ‘Merthyr is not a place you want to wake up in,’ although I’m sure it’s different now.
As Good As Pavarotti
You can imagine my surprise, during the summer months on a warm evening visit to the local pub, we were welcomed by Emrys, in full flow, singing ‘A Working Man’ acapella style. Being a Welshman, he sings as only a Welshman can sing, full of emotion, every word clearly defined and sounding as good as Pavarotti in his day. I could feel the hairs on my neck standing up.
Make A Date
We spoke afterwards and I congratulated him on his singing and in particular, singing ‘that song.’ I think he was surprised that I knew it and who had written it. As I play the guitar, we talked about having some sort of duet in the future, he singing the song while I try and accompany him on guitar. One of those moments where you make plans but nothing ever comes of them. However, this time it would be different.
New Year’s Eve
Fast forward to New Year’s Eve, 2022. A celebratory night of music with everyone in fancy dress was arranged, again, in our local pub. Emrys had got up earlier to sing with the band, a firm favourite of everyone, ‘Delilah’ and great fun with an audience that was enjoying every second of the night. However, ‘A Working Man’ wasn’t sung, not at that time.
As the evening moved on and we all celebrated the welcoming of 2023 at midnight, things started to get a little quieter. I soon got the opportunity to play the guitar with Emrys singing. I was honoured, nervous, scared even and perhaps had one too many beers, but I wasn’t going to let this chance pass me by. The bonus too is that it is captured on video for posterity. It may not seem much to anyone else, but I love this song, I love how Emrys sang it and I was so pleased to be a part of this performance.
If you would like to see the original version of the song, it’s here.