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What did you do in the war, Ewan?

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Charley Noble 19 Dec 09 - 12:43 PM
Jack Blandiver 19 Dec 09 - 01:08 PM
Jim Carroll 19 Dec 09 - 01:13 PM
MGM·Lion 19 Dec 09 - 01:17 PM
Jack Blandiver 19 Dec 09 - 02:30 PM
Jim Carroll 19 Dec 09 - 02:43 PM
The Sandman 19 Dec 09 - 05:20 PM
Spleen Cringe 19 Dec 09 - 06:13 PM
The Sandman 19 Dec 09 - 06:13 PM
The Sandman 19 Dec 09 - 06:17 PM
MGM·Lion 19 Dec 09 - 06:59 PM
Jim Carroll 19 Dec 09 - 08:00 PM
Spleen Cringe 20 Dec 09 - 03:38 AM
Jim Carroll 20 Dec 09 - 03:45 AM
Jack Blandiver 20 Dec 09 - 04:12 AM
Jack Blandiver 20 Dec 09 - 04:17 AM
Spleen Cringe 20 Dec 09 - 04:46 AM
MGM·Lion 20 Dec 09 - 04:47 AM
GUEST,guest 20 Dec 09 - 07:16 AM
The Sandman 20 Dec 09 - 07:30 AM
Jim Carroll 20 Dec 09 - 08:08 AM
Jack Blandiver 20 Dec 09 - 09:11 AM
Jim Carroll 20 Dec 09 - 10:03 AM
Jim Carroll 20 Dec 09 - 11:08 AM
Dave the Gnome 20 Dec 09 - 11:15 AM
Les in Chorlton 20 Dec 09 - 12:07 PM
The Sandman 20 Dec 09 - 12:23 PM
The Sandman 20 Dec 09 - 12:26 PM
MGM·Lion 20 Dec 09 - 12:36 PM
Richard Mellish 20 Dec 09 - 12:50 PM
Jack Blandiver 20 Dec 09 - 12:59 PM
The Sandman 20 Dec 09 - 01:46 PM
Dave Sutherland 21 Dec 09 - 03:24 AM
GUEST,guest 21 Dec 09 - 03:37 AM
Jack Blandiver 21 Dec 09 - 03:40 AM
Folkiedave 21 Dec 09 - 04:01 AM
The Sandman 21 Dec 09 - 05:30 AM
Jim Carroll 21 Dec 09 - 07:52 AM
Jim Carroll 21 Dec 09 - 08:39 AM
MGM·Lion 21 Dec 09 - 08:44 AM
Jim Carroll 21 Dec 09 - 10:00 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 21 Dec 09 - 10:17 AM
MGM·Lion 21 Dec 09 - 12:34 PM
The Sandman 21 Dec 09 - 12:34 PM
GUEST,guest 21 Dec 09 - 01:25 PM
MGM·Lion 21 Dec 09 - 01:31 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 21 Dec 09 - 01:55 PM
The Sandman 21 Dec 09 - 02:16 PM
Jim Carroll 21 Dec 09 - 03:01 PM
MGM·Lion 21 Dec 09 - 04:04 PM
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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 12:43 PM

Jim-

Thanks for your additional note describing in more detail your history with Ewan and Peggy.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 01:08 PM

Please stop digging - this is getting embarrasing.

No digging here, old man - just saying what I've been saying all along in this thread - and others, that whilst I've always loved his ballad singing (apart from a brief crisis a couple of weeks back detailed below) I find the rest of his work rather mediocre musically and soiled by political polemic. In my view, he is most certainly not a musical genius - just a canny ballad singer. The occasion I saw him was one of the most bitterly disappointing concerts I've ever seen - there I was expecting Thomas the Rhymer, instead I got preached at for an hour about the correct political response to Apartheid illustrated by some of the worst self-penned songs I've ever heard. Now that was embarrassing.

None of which, of course, has anything to do with the topic of the thread.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 01:13 PM

Dig away
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 01:17 PM

I can't help agreeing with Sweeney on that one - I said in my review of Journeyman for The Times (which some of you I know have read & if anyone else would like a copy just PM me yr steam-mail address & I will gladly send you one), that I wouldn't give a dime-a-dozen for his political songs - though I think his original songs of men-at-work [Schooldays Over, Champn at Keeping 'Em, Shoals, The Fight Game...] are in a class of their own for contemp folksongs, way ahead of practically all others [tho - a slight drift - I think Peter Bellamy's Farewell To The Land the best of the lot of them].


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 02:30 PM

There are exceptions to every rule, MtheGM - I once heard a chap in a singaround at the Fylde give a performance of Shoals that rang true on every level. I am an unrepentant Bellamist, a rule that has no exceptions that I can think of, though he's attracted his fare share of folklore over the years, has he not?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 02:43 PM

A matter of taste really.
Songs like Ballad of Accounting, Brother Did You Weep, Fields of Viet Nam, The Island, Sharpville, Jimmy Wilson....... loads of others are political markers as to what was going on in the latter half of the 20th century - many others, as with many traditional political songs, were for the moment and quite often had no reason to continue once that moment was past.
P O'B'ws point was that songwriters had no business in interfering in with political events which should be left to the people themselves, which is utter nonsense.
Many of us where incensed with what was happening in Apartheid South Africa, Viet Nam, The Miners Strike, Chile, Greece.... and were only too glad to have good well-crafted songs which enabled us to give vent to our anger.
MacColl was persistently the finest polemicist on the scene - there has never been IMO anything as strong as well as so artistically perfect, as near as dammit, as 'White Wind' (not really a single song).
Songs like Freeborn Man, Dirty Old Town, Manchester Rambler, all making political statements, have remained standards on the folk scene decades after they were made. It's always surprised me that Tenant Farmer and Ballad of the Carpenter, two other political pieces, weren't more popular than they were.
Some of MacColl's (and Peggy's) songs were heavy-handed, but they did the job they were intended for and I can't think of one of them being a real flop.
Peggy's 'Song of Choice' remains, for me, one of the finest political songs ever written (alongside Jack Warshaw's Allende's Song).
Can't remember having heard Bellamy's 'Farewell To the Land', but I wouldn't have sought it out as I was never enamoured to either his singing or his politics.
All in the ears of the listener I suppose.
There are a number of excellent chapters in Ian Watson's Song and Democratic Culture In Britain which I would highly recommend to anybody interested in the subject.   

Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 05:20 PM

Ewan must have thought his political songs were good, but often they were written for a specific purpose to highlight a particular injustice, and undoubtedly were not intended, to be anything more than ephemeral.
perhaps its important to analyse why Ewan was a good ballad singer,he understood that he was telling a story, his diction was clear, and he realised that the song was strong enough to stand on its own without accompaniment, ...and without distracting instrumental breaks,and general ponceing about[as is the case with Steeleye Spans version of Thomas the Rhymer].
EWAN had respect for the tradtional songs he sang, and that is evident in his performance of them.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 06:13 PM

Personally I find Stalinism dreary and depressing. Despised all it stands for my entire left-wing life. Would cross the road to avoid pissing on a burning tankie. I always associated EM with the Stalinist wing of the left and kept away from him, apart from his ballad singing. Bet he hated anarchists.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 06:13 PM

Jim,I agree and disagree,I was not a fan of his politics either, but then I dont share the same politics as other esteemed singers[Iam constantly surprised by how many Conservatives there are on the English Folk scene]
but I disagree with you about his singing,he had some qualities, that many other singers dont have,the abilty to enter into the story of a song, in a QUITE different way to MacColl,but able to bring it to life just as well.
Peter Bellamy[imo] was a spontaneous singer,I doubt if he ever sang the sanme song in exactly the same fashion.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 06:17 PM

above should read of [ as other esteemed singers]


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 06:59 PM

Let me clarify what I wrote at 01.17 PM - I did not offer to distribute free copies of Journeyman: I said if anyone would like a copy of THE REVIEW I WROTE OF IT FOR THE TIMES WHEN IT FiRST APPEARED I would gladly send one. I have reread what I wrote & still think I expressed myself OK, but obvsly not clearly enuff as 1 or 2 people appear to have misunderstood.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 08:00 PM

SC
MacColl may have written Stalinist songs in his early days (Ballad of Stalin) but none of his later songs (mid-fifties onward) could be described as such IMO.
There is a tendency to lump everything left wing as Stalinist - I am a left winger, but vehemently anti-Stalinist (though I think I understand to some degree why Stalinism took a hold of the left - due mainly to my family experiences).
The pro-Chinese songs (China Me Old China) etc (in fact that's the only one I can think of) came as near as any to being S...ist, but, I thought, fell short - complicated.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 03:38 AM

"I am a left winger, but vehemently anti-Stalinist"

Me too.

Glad to hear EM moved away from it to. Too many left wingers of that generation held onto it like they were the last band of zealots shoring up a crumbling religion (I remember one telling me that when the tanks rolled in Prague in 68, it was a fine example of "socialist diplomacy". for a moment I thought he was joking...).

I really like his Bothy Ballads album - Lamachree and Megrum is wonderful. I wish he'd stomped on the feckin' ocarina though!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 03:45 AM

"I really like his Bothy Ballads album"
One of my favourites too.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 04:12 AM

complicated.

Do we know what Peter Bellamy's politics were? We all know of his father's allegiances - or are they just rumours too? I guess we'll have to wait for the biography, which in any case would make as fascinating a read as Ewan MacColl's I'm sure, even though his life was tragically cut short at the tender age of 46. In the songs he sang - be they traditional, Kipling or from his own pen - Pete Bellamy bore testimony to a persuasive sort of humanism perhaps best summed up in Kipling's A Pilgrim's Way. I've heard that song described a by some as a Socialist Hymn - probably the same ones who invariably assume The Land is a call to the English peasantry to rise up against their oppressors and take back what is rightfully theirs! It is, of course, no such thing, but, like Gungadin, would acknowledge an essential individual humanity in the midst of what might be otherwise considered a circumstance of functional inevitability - be it the historical continuity of feudalism - or yet of war. In other words, like Kipling, I think Peter Bellamy's politics were painted with a very small brush indeed, using a vast palette of subtle shades - unlike the broad paint-roller strokes of Ewan MacColl for whom the world was red or blue and the individual was of lesser consequence than the cause of righteous ideology. How else might we account for so divisive a work as Daddy, What Did You Do in the Strike? which even at this distance puts shivers down my spine. Complicated? Well, certainly not in Ewan's view of things, who might reduce the struggles & sufferings of human lives to so simplistic, and potentially lethal, a polemical equation.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 04:17 AM

I really like his Bothy Ballads album - Lamachree and Megrum is wonderful. I wish he'd stomped on the feckin' ocarina though!

I don't think I've ever heard this - Lamachree & Megrum being all all-time favourite of mine...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 04:46 AM

Don't worry S... the ocarina is on a different song!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 04:47 AM

Suibhne - PeterBellamy's father's history is not rumour, He told me himself that he was born in 1944 after his father was released from imprisonment under Emergency Regulation 18b at beginning of WWii, along with Oswald & Diana Mosley et al, as he had been one of Mosley's most immediate deputy blackshirts. Pete was not exactly proud of it, but found it interesting, I think. His own politics tended to the right - a sort of humanitarian conservatism; like my own, really, I suppose. I am no leftie; but not really a rightie either. More an empiricist, believing in trying to judge every issue on its own merits. Apolitical as far as possible, I suppose you would call it. Peter was the same; a certain nostalgia, à-la Kipling, for the best of Empire but trying not to forget its abuses either.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 07:16 AM

Just to say that JC's last 3 posts are almost pleasant in nature.

My work is done.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 07:30 AM

Suibhne, Peters father is irrelevant to the discussion, but read a biography of Mosley and you will soon find out
[quote]I think Peter Bellamy's politics were painted with a very small brush indeed, using a vast palette of subtle shades - unlike the broad paint-roller strokes of Ewan MacColl for whom the world was red or blue and the individual was of lesser consequence than the cause of righteous ideology.
this statement is pure unfounded speculation, you knew neither MacColl or Bellamy.
you would do better to leave it to those who knew both people.
Jim Carroll knew Ewan well.MGM knew Peter well.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 08:08 AM

"Just to say that JC's last 3 posts are almost pleasant in nature."
Don't get too smug; you aint seen nothin' yet!

"How else might we account for so divisive a work as Daddy, What Did You Do in the Strike? which even at this distance puts shivers down my spine."
It sent (and still sends) shivers down my spine to think that Augusto Pinochet's friend was allowed to smash the mining industry, throw many thousands on the dole and destroy whole communities; while describing anybody who opposed her as "The Enemy Within" and telling us "there is no such thing as society" - now that's what I call divisive - but that's my (and was MacColl's) take on the miners strike.
People took sides - that's what happens in cases like these:

"They say in Harlan County
There ain't no neutrals there,
You'll either be a union man
Or a scab for J H Blair,
Join the NMU, join the NMU."

It shouldn't really be an issue here (unless we want a replay of those events - in which case, re-open another thread).
In the years I was involved with the Singers Club (despite stories to the contrary) I never witnessed anybody being prevented from singing or interrupted because people objected to the contents of their songs, though I did visit many other clubs where I was asked not to sing political or contemporary or accompanied material. Ewan and Peggy and members of the Critics Group were regularly having similar attempts at restrictions put on their performances. Yet it was the Singers Club that got the reputation for being repressive!
I'm pretty sure any decent club would, quite rightly, draw a line at racist material, but, say a pro-Thatcherite song would more likely have provoked heated debate in the bar, and quite likely opposition in kind from the resident singers; can't see the harm in that.
But in the main, censorship of songs because of their politics (which appears to be rumbling away in the background of this debate) is a no-no as far as I'm concerned.
I never experienced it myself, but some years ago a number of singer friends of my were shouted off the stage because they sang what were regarded as 'sexist' songs - the result - we lost a large slice of our best material. The same happened with some of the whaling songs - pity!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 09:11 AM

this statement is pure unfounded speculation, you knew neither MacColl or Bellamy.
you would do better to leave it to those who knew both people.


Hardly unfounded, GSS. It's pretty evident from their work what their respective approaches & agendas were - assuming PB had a political agenda as such, unlike EM who made his political agenda his life's work and ultimately, I fear, the ruination of his craft. Once again I must state that 1) this isn't about them personally, rather through their art and public reputation - and 2) this is my personal opinion, which I am in any event entitled to.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 10:03 AM

"assuming PB had a political agenda as such, unlike EM who made his political agenda his life's work and ultimately, I fear, the ruination of his craft."
To apply a little balance here, MacColl did what singers have done down the ages and sang songs which reflected his beliefs and opinions (political songs go back at least to the 10th century and are to be found in both Latin and English).
Bellamy ressurrected and sang some of the Kipling songs that helped send a generation of young men to their deaths in the trenches (until his own son was killed and he was converted to the futility of war!)
MacColl's songs largely called for a world of equality and fairness, Kipling's glorified an obscenely brutal Imperialist war - both political agendas - take your pick.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 11:08 AM

"Kipling's glorified an obscenely brutal Imperialist war"
Should read Kipling's glorified an obscenely brutal Imperialist war and the virues of Empire"
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 11:15 AM

Kipling's glorified an obscenely brutal Imperialist war

I'm not so sure he glorified it, Jim. The ford o'Kabul River and Cholera camp being good descriptions of certain horrors. I don't claim to know all his work but even some of the famous - The afore mentioned 'Gungadin' and 'Tommy' give accounts of the issues faced by soldiers rather than glorifying any particular campaign. I am left with an overall impression of someone who saw war through a cynics eye rather than one who revelled in it.

Just my two pen'urth though.

Cheers

Dave


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 12:07 PM

Good point Dave. I would sing Tommy if I could do it justice and Oak, Ash & Thorn any time - we pick, we choose, as we do with MacColl and we embrace some of what either say or stand for but not all.

L in C


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 12:23 PM

I dont think PETER had a political agenda, he certainly never talked about politics on stage, my opinion [and I did know him and saw him perform often],Ithink he enjoyed singing,and enjoyed singing traditional songs,and enjoyed singing in harmony with others[YT].
furthermore , I never heard him push Conservative[Tory] politics.
his back ground may well have influenced his love of Kipling.,but as other have pointed out,his Kipling repertoire,was not just empire beating tub thumping
you [suibhne] described MacColl as considering the individual of lesser consequence than righteous ideology,as you did not know Ewan ,how can you justify such a crap statement.
I did not know him very well,on one occasion I found him very arrogant,on another occasion I found him friendly and good company.
I think you are also over romanticising Peter Bellamy.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 12:26 PM

PETER would love the fact he was getting this attention,and being compared with Ewan.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 12:36 PM

Absolutely right about Pete, Dick. He had no explicit party allegiance, but his opinions were eclectic and empirical; as indeed, to a considerable degree, were Kipling's — hence I feel the appeal. It is only too easy to attack Kipling as an Imperialist jingoist: but that is facile; he was altogether more subtle than that.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 12:50 PM

I'm much relieved to see that the flaming has subsided in recent postings, most of which I agree with: particularly MtheGM's.

I wouldn't mind seeing some more discussion of the folklore about MacColl as folklore, as distinct from discussion of the man himself.

Richard


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 12:59 PM

how can you justify such a crap statement.

Because of what he wrote, GSS - I've already linked to one of his songs - the one I paraphrased for the title of this thread. It's not a matter of knowing him, but looking at his work, and drawing conclusions based on that work.

I think you are also over romanticising Peter Bellamy.

There can be no over-romanticising Bellamy? Bellamy was the very embodiment of romance, heart and soul. I met him on numerous occasions & saw him perform on numerous others. In fact, the first time I met him I hadn't even heard of him. He approached me upstairs in a pub looking for a floor to sleep on after a gig because no one seemed prepared to put him up - all a far cry from the five-star hotel room the same club organisers were complaining about Ewan MacColl insisting upon around the same time! In the event PB found somewhere nearer (I lived an hours bus ride away at the time and a further mile hike through the muck and the mire at the other end!) but when I mentioned the incident to a friend a few days later he set about converting me to the Bellamist cause...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 01:46 PM

Suibhne, Yes, that is why his singing was so good because he let himself go in the song.,he expressed himself through his singing as a blues singer would do.

but, you are in danger of turning him into a cult figure, what is this Bellamist cause nonsense, buy all means expose people to his work, but you are a bitteen OTT.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 03:24 AM

"all a far cry from the five-star hotel room the same club organisers were complaining about Ewan MacColl insisting upon around the same time!"
Is that another bit of MacColl Folklore SOP?
While I would agree that they would expect a bit more than a sleeping bag on a setee, on the three occasions that I was involved in booking them in South Shields they were quite content with The Marsden Inn, a nice pub that did accommodation but hardly 5 star!Also as I recall they did contact us on one occasion to say that they would be staying with friends in the area and such accommodation would not be required.
I do remember a story about a couple involved with another North East club who re-decorated their spare room having agreed to put MacColl and Seeger up only for Ewan and Peggy to contact the organisers nearer the date to say that they had arranged their own accommodation.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 03:37 AM

"I'm much relieved to see that the flaming has subsided in recent postings"

Me too. So much less unpleasant isn't it. Those tempted to be apologists for bad behaviour, please take note.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 03:40 AM

Is that another bit of MacColl Folklore SOP?

I recall that one quite vividly actually, spoken with some vitriol by one of the organisers, who no doubt had his own axe to grind. As I say, it struck me as odd when PB was reduced to begging a bed from strangers who weren't even at his gig!

That bit about the people redecorating their room especially shows the sort of respect they were held in though, doesn't it? A touching detail.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 04:01 AM

5-star Hotel? In the 60's there weren't any in Hull when I booked them. They asked for "accommodation" meaning not someone's house. We put them up in a town centre B and B.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 05:30 AM

most of us have stayed at peoples houses when doing gigs,however in Scotland it seems a little more customary for oragnisers to book guest artitts in to B and B,on every occasion[4 times at least]I played Inverness Folk club,I was booked in to a B and B,I never refused the accomodation.
incidentally, I have recently had a gig cancelled at Mansfield folk club[6 months notice ],not only does this mean I have lost my gig money,but I have also an added expense finding accomodation for the night.
but nobody gives a fiddlers fart,and I can do sweet f a about it.
so it happens to all performers not just Peter Bellamy.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 07:52 AM

Oh dear - just when I thought this thread was beginning to climb the ladder along comes a snake and - bang - down in the gutter again; ah well!
Accommodation:
MacColl and Seeger were fanatics about giving a good performance at a club and in order to do so they persisted with voice and relaxation exercises to keep their voices in form. I know they both did this for a short period each morning as I was woken up by ahhhh and eeee noises on several occasions when I stayed with them. They also recommended it to Critics Group members - whether we took their advive is another matter.
When they were on tour (they seldom did single bookings outside the Home Counties) they asked for accommodation roomy enough to have space to work. MacColl's persistant bad health made some of the longer tours fairly stressful. They also liked to be able to invite people back to ther room after the show occasionally.
5 star Hotel my arse.....
Their booking form (I have one somewhere) explained the situation and asked that accommodation included working space - that's it.
I visited their accommodation when they appeared at the MSG in Manchester, a club sucessful and wealthy enough to have put them up in the Piccadilly Plaza, should they have requested it. They were staying at a somewhat run-of-the-mill guest house next to Salford Cathedral, a few minutes walk from the venue. Any information to the contrary would be gratefully received.
Am also happy to give information on any othey bit of salacious gossip - the songs MacColl stole and claimed as his own, the ripping off of traditional sinegrs, the auditions floor singers had to undergo - even the one about the hedgehog!
Plouter away folks!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 08:39 AM

PS
"Those tempted to be apologists for bad behaviour, please take note."
And those inclined to be pompous, self-important eejits also please take note
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 08:44 AM

I am sure Jim speaks entire truth there. Whereas [slight drift alert but I think it follows logically from preceding]: as to American folksingers sent over by their record companies in 50s & appearing at Ewan & Peggy's Ballads&Blues — I was once one of a group invited back for a drink at his hotel by Ralph Rinzler about 1956; & where should he take us but The Dorchester in Park Lane!!! — I remember Robin Hall waxing highly satirical as we walked folkie·scruffily thru that lobby & getting us looked at somewhat quizzical by many a Dowager & retired Cavalry Colonel!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 10:00 AM

A footnote to my 'accommodation' bit.
Ex-Critics Group member Luke Kelly was once booked at the Grimsby club and was put up by two people who (I think) were friends of E & Ps, Tom and June Fahey. In the morning they were alarmed to hear strangulated groans coming from the bathroom and eventually, receiving no response to their frantic knocking, they forced an entry into the bathroom only to find Luke in the shower doing his voice exercises.
The story can be verified in Des Gerrihey's biography of Luke entitled LUKE.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 10:17 AM

Ralph Rinzler sent over by his record company about 1956 ? Too early.

Ralph was certainly in London in 1959 and appearing at the Ballads & Blues regularly. As far as I am aware he hadn't made any recordings at that time. (The Greenbriar Boys recordings came later) I believe he was doing what many Americans were doing at that time, leaving university and doing the European trip similarly to Peggy Seeger. In fact when Peggy's visitor's visa ran out and she had to leave the country temporarily it was Ralph that took over her guitar and banjo lessons. It is my understanding that Ralph was not a poor man and if was staying at a decent hotel at that time then it certainly wasn't by earning any money on the folk circuit.
I don't believe that Ralph returned to the UK after his brief stay here until he brought Doc Watson over in the sixties.

Undoubtedly some so called folk performers have come over on promotional tours but at that time I can't at present think of any.
Possibly Vanguard chipped in something when Ralph and Doc did their visit but apart from that ?

Ralph was certainly someone to whom lovers of American "folk" music owe a great debt.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 12:34 PM

Hoot - Thank you for this clarification. It must have been early in 1959 [could it possibly have been late -58?], as I was married at end of March 59 & it was certainly before that. I always assumed he must have been subsidised by some commercial outfit, & took it to be his record company, as The Dorchester is not just 'a decent' hotel, but one of London's top-price places, up there with The Savoy & The Ritz. If, as you say, Ralph was paying for it himself he must have been a very wealthy man indeed. I didn't know him that well — well enuff to be one of those invited on the occasion but never close friends — so obviously I didn't have the impertinence to ask him how he could afford such accommodation for what was quite a long stay in London. I remember him as a charming and obliging man — once lent me his guitar to sing when Ewan called me up from the floor & I hadn't brought my own instrument as this was somewhat unexpected: even recall what it was I sang — Queen Eleanor's Confession. So you will observe that my recollection is quite clear even if I hadn't quite got the time in perspective.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 12:34 PM

what is the one about the Hedgehog?
PS
"Those tempted to be apologists for bad behaviour, please take note."
And those inclined to be pompous, self-important eejits also please take note
Jim Carroll.
could you explain, Jim,I havent a clue what you are talking about.the most important thing about this thread,is that wehave had achance to appreciate Ewans singing.
I thought he did a better job of Lord Randall[a boring song] than Gordon Hall, but not as good as the traveller singer,[my apologies I have forgotten her name,a senior moment] that you recorded .


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 01:25 PM

Good Soldier - JC is referring to my gentle attempts to lower the level of vitriol seen in the earlier part of the thread.
    Please note that anonymous posting is no longer allowed at Mudcat. Use a consistent name [in the 'from' box] when you post, or your messages risk being deleted. Guest,guest is not an acceptable user name.
    Thanks.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 01:31 PM

G.g - hardly gentle: you denounced JC with no provocation as being a 'most unpleasant person' when all he had done was speak up in defence of a former dear friend and benefactor. I fear you are being a little disingenuous. But now the thread has balanced itself, for heavens sake let's all kiss & make up - please!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 01:55 PM

"let's all kiss & make up - please!"

Amen :)

Anyway as an aside, it's on recently hearing Ewan's rendering of Thomas that decided me on learning it myself (though Id always been curious, previously I'd only heard Steeleye's "version" which makes no sense whatsoever to me).

I thought I was doing OK tonight - I explained to my partner prior to starting to sing that "it's a story in verse form" - but I think he dozed off half-way through.
No doubt got a few years to go before I am err 'captivating' with those lengthy Ballads!
Mind you, he hates me singing anyway, so I could always blame it on him! :)

Love Thomas to sing though, so engaging!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 02:16 PM

Thomas The Rhymer, is a great song,[imo]in a different league to Lord Randall.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 03:01 PM

"what is the one about the Hedgehog?"
The story is told about John Brune (though it might be apochrophal) travelling to London by train with a cardboard box on his lap into which he continually peered.
An elderly lady in the seat opposite asked him what he was looking at and he said it was his pet hedgehog who was rather ill and he was taking it to a vet in London. He went on to say that the problem was that the house he lived in had no garden and he was unable to get a steady supply of worms and slugs which were the hedgehog's regular diet.
The lady offered to help by sending a supply from her garden and asked for a name and address, to which Brune replied, "Ewan MacColl, 35 Stanley Avenue, Beckenham, Kent."
I thought it was amusing; so did MacColl when he heard it, though he never said whether he got anything through the post.
It was certainly more amusing and imaginative than the scrawling of 'Arsehole' on the back of a guest performers chair, which appears to have taken our OPs fancy.
Brune later went on to greater things when he nearly managed to sabotage one of the most important (artistically and socially), piece of radio broadcasting ever made, The Travelling People'.
"Lord Randall [a boring song]"
No it isn't.
"my apologies I have forgotten her name,"
Mary Delaney - a wonderful Travelling lady who can be heard on the double CD 'From Puck To Appleby, available from the Musical Traditions site and from us in Ireland (thanks for the opportunity of a shameless plug).
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 04:04 PM

'Lord Randall' doesn't bore me either — I find it a fascinating story of love perverted to betrayal: what a wonderful irony in his use of "true love" in this context, when she has just poisoned him.

No arguing with de gustibus, however, is there?


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