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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Jim Carroll Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing (165* d) RE: Critical discussion of Ewan MacColl's singing 30 May 20


"excellent song"
It is Dick, and it's no surprise that it's among the most popular of MacColls songs among The Travellers - we heard it sung in a few sessions we were in with them
The way it was used on the Radio Ballad, alternating the verses with talk by The Travellers, illustrates the point I has making of how Ewan used the speech of the people he wrote about to make his best songs
THIS IS AMONG MY FAVOURITES - I sing it whenever I get the opportunity now
The subject, Ben Bright, was a retired (sort of) Merchant seaman who was 'discovered' working as an escapologist's assistant on London Bridge
He had sailed under sail and worked as a 'Shellback' (a sailor who has no home ashore) for most of his working life
He was also a 'class conscious' humanitarian who jumped ship in the 'Hungry Thirties' and joined the 'Wobblies', (International Workers of the World') in California, working as a Trades Union Militant, along with T. Bone Slim and Elizabth Gurley Flynn, with the fruit pickers
How unusual this was among sailors at the time was illustrated by the somewhat cp-doffing Stan Hugill who described the I.W,W, as "The I won't workers"   
Hugill knew Ben and didn't think much of his activities
James Madison Carpenter recorded songs from Ben when he was in Swansea
Ewan and Peg had been recording songs from him for a month or so in North London, when they turned up at his 'digs' to find that he had taken a job as a deckhand on a ship bound for Australia - he was nearly 80 then
They got a last card from him a few months later - he was working on a coaster 'Down Under'   
The found out later that what had inspired Ben to go back to sea was when, he got into a blazing row with two 'City Gents' on a London bus, who were declaring loudly that the striking binmen should be "thrown in jail"
Someone well worth a song
Jim


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