On September 9th 2016 I was approached by Les Moore of the UK Miners Pension Scheme for Justice and Fair Play Association. Les wanted me to write a song. He wanted the song to pay back what he called a Debt of Honour miners felt they owed the thousands of people who had clubbed together during the darkest days of the 1984-85 Strike to give them a Christmas they have never forgotten. Les had seen people in his village becoming ever more reliant on the local food bank and felt it was time to act.
I duly obliged, and ‘Merry Christmas From Hatfield Main’ was born.
Recorded in two sessions, one at home in my shed in mid-September and the other at Stainforth Central Club on October 30th, where The Hatfield Brigade, a choir made up of former miners and their families, turned it into something very special indeed. The song was released on 28th November with all proceeds going to a new community Hardship Fund for anyone struggling to make ends meet under austerity.
It was quite a journey. The music video shot by Michael Lee Toas of MLT Productions is here:
We had so much fun over the two months following the recording, from radio interviews to telly appearance on BBC Look North….
and press coverage from The Morning Star, The Canary, The Prole Star and The Daily Mirror.
We sang together at two very special gigs. Firstly the #StandUp4Labour event at Wakefield Unity Works Theatre….
and then the ASLEF Annual Dinner at Doncaster Trades and Labour Club where we were joined on stage by none other than Mr Jeremy Corbyn…..
We did a flashmob in Frenchgate Shopping Centre….
And we made a ‘Story Behind….’ video too…..
And in the end we decided we’d loved the whole process so much we’d do it all again next Christmas. Plans are already afoot for a new song together, and if we have our way, a re-recording of ‘Merry Christmas From Hatfield Main’ featuring the colliery band….but these are as yet pipe dreams, only time will tell. One thing I can tell you though, is that you write the Hatfield Brigade off at your peril and absolutely ANYTHING could happen from here.
Watch this space.
Going forward, sales from ALL Joe Solo downloads on Amazon and I-Tunes will go direct to the Hardship Fund, and we hope our song will top that up every Christmas from now until there’s no longer any need for it.
We will return.