Sam Church, the United Mine Workers' answer to Dolly Parton, has burst onto the country-and-western music scene with a twangy, toe-tapping ode to coal - and a few lumps for President Carter and Energy Secretary James R. Schlesinger Jr.
In what the UMW touts as a "grass-roots national anthem . . . destined to be a collector's item," UMW Secretary-Treasurer Church recorded his thoughts about the nation's energy policy in Nashville a couple of weeks ago.
The result was a gold-labeled 45 rpm record that Church and his wife, Patti, the co-lyricist, proudly premiered yesterday at the UMW headquarters, where it can be purchased for $3, with proceeds to go to striking miners.
One of the many rhapsodic highlights is the suggestion that God prefers coal over nuclear power.Another is that the Carter administration hasn't got the message.
In a ballad entitled "There Is No Better Way," the Churches had this to say about global energy politics:
"Our miners are not working because of Arab oil,
Let's fight for independence, why the hell don't we use coal!"
And, on the flip side, they said in a song called "Black Gold":
"American take warning, there something you should know,
"There would be no Three Mile Island if we burning coal . . .
"Even the smallest accident, and we must evacuate,
But it was God's intention 'black gold' should be our fate."
The 42-year-old Church said he has never done much singing out of the shower and doesn't plan to relinquish his job as the No. 2 officer of miner's union for a singing career, although he didn't rule out another record or two.
He said he embarked on the project as a way to combine fundraising for the union's strike relief fund and propagandizing for the union's contention that the Carter administration should put more emphasis on coal production.
Despite Carter's designation of coal as the centerpiece of his energy program early in his administration, production has lagged to the point that 12,000 of the union's 180,000 members are now out of work, Church contended. He called for increasing the output of coal-burning generating plants and devoting more time and money to coal gasification technology.
As for the record, he said a campaign is under way to get coal-country disc jockeys to play it, and added that it also may go on sale commercially in the near future.
Asked if Carter and Schlesinger will get a chance to hear it, Church noted that he'll be meeting next week with members of Congress on the coal issue, and added, with a grin, "I'm sure they'll all hear the record." CAPTION: Picture, Sam and Patti Church with a copy of their record, "There Is No Better Way." By James M. Thresher - The Washington Post