Two Odes to Disaster


Recently while thumbing through a stack of records in our apartment, I came across this tucked away and mistakenly forgotten 7″ 45 by Cora Lee McCoy and Sharon Lynn McCoy. I think we procured this record about 5 years ago in a thrift store in Madera, CA. We’ve never heard anything like it. Ms. McCoy intones her narrative in rhythmic, rhyming cadence, accompanied on piano by the other Ms. McCoy, playing melody with her right hand, and one note, drone-like bass with her left. And, while the two events recounted here (the Buffalo Creek Disaster and the Prestonsburg School Bus Wreck) seem to serve simply as preambles to sermons about putting one’s faith in the Lord, Ms. McCoy’s descriptions of the disasters are full of morbid curiosity, and fascinating because of it.

If you yourself are curious, morbidly or otherwise, you may wish to read about Buffalo Creek on the West Virginia Division of Culture and History’s website. There is also a book by Gerald M. Stern on a lawsuit pursued against the mining company whose negligence apparently caused the disaster. As for the Prestonsburg School Bus Wreck, aka the Big Sandy Bus Accident of 1958, there is plenty of stuff. Here’s something from the Kentucky National Guard eMuseum, and something else from rootsweb. Here’s a great blogpost featuring more music about the Wreck, here’s a feature film, and here, even, is a Prestonsburg School Bus Wreck “haunt.”

We’re guessing the date of this recording is the mid-to-late 1970s. We’re also making a guess this is Cora Lee McCoy’s find-a-grave page.

Here are the songs (listening works best with Chrome or Safari):