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2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act

01 Oct 07 - 04:33 AM (#2160920)
Subject: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Shimrod

The publication of a new biography of Ewan MacColl has just been announced:

'Class Act: The Political and Cultural Life of Ewan MacColl' by Ben Harker (pub. Pluto Press). Publication is scheduled for 25th October 2007.

I can't wait to read it!


01 Oct 07 - 04:51 AM (#2160934)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Dreadnought

That does look interesting.

Here's a bit more info from the University of Michigan Press website:

Ewan MacColl is one of the outstanding British singers and songwriters of the mid to late 20th century, and his work has been covered by artists including Roberta Flack, Johnny Cash and the Pogues. He was also a committed political activist. For sixty years he was at the cultural forefront of numerous political struggles, producing plays, songs and radio programs on subjects ranging from the Spanish Civil War to the Poll Tax. A founder-member of Theatre Workshop, MacColl as the famous company's resident dramatist, and his plays earned the admiration of contemporaries including George Bernard Shaw, Sean O'Casey and Hugh MacDiarmid. MacColl lived an energetic and colorful life.

This is the first biography of MacColl, and was prepared with the authorization of his collaborator and widow, Peggy Seeger. It charts MacColl's early years, his involvement in the Communist Party, in radical theatre, his pioneering radio programs, as well as his extensive work in the British folk-revival. Exhaustively researched and energetically written, this is an illuminating account of a major and controversial twentieth-century political artist.

Ben Harker is a lecturer in English and Sociology at the University of Salford.


01 Oct 07 - 07:46 AM (#2160991)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,MIKE

WAIT FOR IT....................M


01 Oct 07 - 09:30 AM (#2161048)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Les in Chorlton

Yes ....... 4 and counting


01 Oct 07 - 09:50 AM (#2161065)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: bubblyrat

I only discovered yesterday that his real name was Jimmy Miller, as was mentioned elsewhere on this site. Is it really true ??


01 Oct 07 - 09:50 AM (#2161066)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Big Al Whittle

what are you waiting for?


01 Oct 07 - 09:56 AM (#2161068)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Big Al Whittle

I jut looked on Amazon - the hardcover version is £45.


01 Oct 07 - 10:03 AM (#2161072)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Les in Chorlton

He was initially an actor / playwright, actors sometimes have "actor names". John Wayne etc.

Oh yes warming up now


01 Oct 07 - 10:14 AM (#2161086)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: curmudgeon

I just pre-ordered the paperback edition for $20.00 USD.


01 Oct 07 - 12:20 PM (#2161195)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Shimrod

"I only discovered yesterday that his real name was Jimmy Miller, as was mentioned elsewhere on this site. Is it really true ??"

Yes. And it's also true that Bob Dylan's real name was Robert Zimmerman ... so what's your point?


01 Oct 07 - 01:57 PM (#2161292)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: greg stephens

And John Wayne's was Marian Montgomery. Dian Dors on the other hand, was Felicity Fluck.Neither of those two wrote any songs worth speakinbg of about Joe Stalin.


01 Oct 07 - 02:01 PM (#2161296)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Big Al Whittle

Marian Montgomery the jazz singer...my god that woman could act, I never suspected for a moment. although he did walk funny - come to think of it.


01 Oct 07 - 02:13 PM (#2161301)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Roberto

Ewan MacColl: always many sharp comments on him. But if you consider his overall work you can't ignore the importance, and often the beauty, of it. The song in praise of Stalin: most intellectuals failed to do their duty in the age of totalitarianisms. But Ewan MacColl was not only the song to Stalin. R


01 Oct 07 - 03:00 PM (#2161335)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Folkiedave

And Lois Maxwell (Jane Moneypenny of the Bond movies) who just passed away - was Lois Hooker. Now why did she change her name?

I will put forward my theory as to the name change which I always reckon he got wrong.

Many early twentieth Scottish writers took their (pen) names from earlier Scots poets, Christopher Grieve (Hugh Mc Diarmid) being the best known example. There never was a poet called Ewan MacColl - but there was one called Evan MacColl. I just wonder if he got it wrong.


01 Oct 07 - 03:13 PM (#2161345)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Les in Chorlton

I have changed my name to AX04 UJE
for obvious reasons


01 Oct 07 - 03:33 PM (#2161353)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Shimrod

Right! That's got all the tiresome (and oh so boringly predictable) stuff about MacColl's name out of the way. Can we now have a discussion about his achievments as a playwright, songwriter, ballad singer etc., etc.? Pretty please!!


01 Oct 07 - 03:38 PM (#2161358)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

Simros,
Wanna bet
Jim Carroll


01 Oct 07 - 03:43 PM (#2161360)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Fred McCormick

I heartily agree. Just for the record, I have been told that the hardback edition has been delayed until the end of October and the paperback will be issued at the end of February next year. I need to confirm these dates with Pluto. So if there's any change I'll report back.

In the meantime could people who feel like indulging in juvenalia, about Ewan MaColl's name, or any one else's, please confine their thoughts to another thread.


01 Oct 07 - 03:51 PM (#2161362)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

Simros - did I type Simros - were's me pills, sorry Spindoc
Jim Carroll


01 Oct 07 - 04:15 PM (#2161379)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Borchester Echo

Ch-ch-ch-changes, turn and face the strange
Ch-ch-ch-changes, pretty soon now you're gonna get a little older.
Time may change me, But I can't trace time


(David 'Bowie' Jones)

What's in a name?
Look at the content.


01 Oct 07 - 04:18 PM (#2161383)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: curmudgeon

You were right, Jim.


01 Oct 07 - 07:23 PM (#2161484)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Folkiedave

Juvenalia? Trivia possibly. Of interest? - possibly to some.

Sorry Fred, I will make sure everything I write is well-researched and full of interesting content in future. Just like you do.


01 Oct 07 - 07:31 PM (#2161489)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: curmudgeon

The seller I ordered from still gives the release date as the end of October for the paperback. I hope I'm not paying five months in advance - Tom


02 Oct 07 - 03:46 AM (#2161683)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Big Al Whittle

I had measureless respect for Ewan and Peggy, but I still want to buy it as cheap as possible.

I got the Bert Jansch book Dazzling stranger for about three quid on e-bay. I'd recommend that to anybody - a lot of chit chat about the early days of the great folk scare and all the personalities.


02 Oct 07 - 04:16 AM (#2161693)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jon Bartlett

Dick of CAMSCO - got a price yet? I'm sure you'll sell dozens!

Jon Bartlett


02 Oct 07 - 05:31 AM (#2161724)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Fred McCormick

I've just rung Pluto Press, who tell me that the paperback and hardback editions are out now and can be ordered from their website at http://www.plutobooks.com/shtml/aboutpluto.shtml

Bibliographical/pricing info listed on the site is;

CLASS ACT. Ben Harker

Paperback. 9780745321653. £15.99. $24.95. €23.00
Hardback. 9780745321660. £55.00. $75.00. €80.00

I mentioned the fact that it is shown as not yet available on Amazon, and am told that delays of this kind are fairly normal normal with them.


02 Oct 07 - 05:53 AM (#2161730)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Folkiedave

Comes to £18.95 including postage - for the paperback.


02 Oct 07 - 06:49 AM (#2161748)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Dave Hanson

It will be on Amazon before the weeks out, new and used.

eric


02 Oct 07 - 06:52 AM (#2161750)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Dave Hanson

Just looked, it already is.

eric


02 Oct 07 - 06:53 AM (#2161751)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Folkiedave

Class Act: The Cultural and Political Life of Ewan MacColl         
        
Class Act: The Cultural and Political Life of Ewan MacColl by Ben Harker (Hardcover - 1 Aug 2007)
Buy new: £46.99    2 Used & new from £46.99
Usually dispatched within 4 to 6 weeks
Eligible for FREE Super Saver Delivery.


02 Oct 07 - 08:57 AM (#2161832)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Dave Hanson

I'll wait for the paperback.

eric


02 Oct 07 - 10:52 AM (#2161943)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Big Al Whittle

The only thing is, you're only allowed to read the bits about where you come from.


02 Oct 07 - 11:20 AM (#2161972)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: greg stephens

Nice one!


02 Oct 07 - 01:37 PM (#2162125)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

Shimrod.
I think his most important contribution was his songwriting.Ihave never seen any of his play so cant comment on that.Dick Miles


02 Oct 07 - 02:07 PM (#2162164)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Greg B

Do you have to read it with your finger in yer ear?


02 Oct 07 - 02:31 PM (#2162187)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Les in Chorlton

No, please no, irony, sarcasm,wit, clever understatement yes?


02 Oct 07 - 02:32 PM (#2162189)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Shimrod

"I think his most important contribution was his songwriting.Ihave never seen any of his play so cant comment on that."

There is no doubt that MacColl was a great songwriter, Cap'n - no-one would dispute that. But, through his magnificent singing, he introduced me to the great ballad repertoire of these islands, and I am forever in his debt for that. He also made an LP called 'The Manchester Angel' which is my favourite recording of all time - and a wonderful 'showcase' of English traditional song.

Finally, nearly 40 years ago now, I attended one of the weekend singers' workshop sessions which he and Peggy Seeger used to run and that was a truly life-changing experience.

There are few artists who have had such a positive impact on my life as Ewan MacColl.


02 Oct 07 - 02:49 PM (#2162202)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST

Ah,
But did you ever meet Robert Zimmerman?
Jim Carroll


02 Oct 07 - 04:42 PM (#2162279)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

I think Maccoll was a better songwriter than Dylan.


02 Oct 07 - 04:59 PM (#2162291)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: curmudgeon

Discussing Ewan MacColl and Bob Dylan in the same thread is akin to contemplating Thomas Jefferson and George W. Bush at the same time.

When I recived for my 15th birthday the LP "Bad Lads and Hard Cases" my life changed. I had, from my earliest years, an interest in British folk song, but had been completely unaware of the reality of that music. And the fact that I was also given "English Street Song" by Lloyd assured the transition.

I am eagerly awaiting this new tome - Tom Hall


02 Oct 07 - 05:47 PM (#2162325)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Shimrod

"I think Maccoll was a better songwriter than Dylan."

I thought that there was no answer to that, Cap'n - but 'curmudgeon' proved me wrong!

"But did you ever meet Robert Zimmerman?"

As it happens, Jim, no. But then if I'd had a choice (which I didn't have - but let's just imagine) I'd have chosen to meet Ewan - worked out quite well, really, didn't it?


03 Oct 07 - 05:07 AM (#2162554)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Big Al Whittle

Then there's Ronnie Hazelhurst - Ewan MacColl's name stood for absolutely nothing in the world of Blankety Blank, and indeed the whole world of popular quiz games themes.

Can you imagine Terry Wogan trying to get a bit of atmosphere going for the Supermatch Game to the Thirty Foot Trailer or Shoals of Herring?

The whole history of the world might have been different without Ronnie and the light hearted magic and gentle comedy of his work.
Blanketty blank!
need I say more...?


03 Oct 07 - 06:43 AM (#2162616)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Shimrod

WLD - was your last post intended to be read as irony or sarcasm?


03 Oct 07 - 07:01 AM (#2162627)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Folkiedave

Probably not really intended to be read.


03 Oct 07 - 10:13 AM (#2162716)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Big Al Whittle

well seriously, does it matter who could piss furthest up the wall: Ewan, Bobby, or Ronnie?

The post was intended as a biting satire on the naive empiricism that attempts to quantify and compare the merits of two great songwriters.

Okay?


03 Oct 07 - 10:26 AM (#2162721)
Subject: RE: Folklore: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST

I couldn't agree more, enough of this - I ask friends to refer to the earlier thread concerning the nature of Ewan's trousers. Search on Ewan McColl's Trousers or there abouts.The sooner we get to the bottom of this issue the better!

I am yours fraternally

Les, but sometimes moor


04 Oct 07 - 12:03 AM (#2163327)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Gerry

It's odd to see this described as the first biography of MacColl - doesn't his autobiography count?


04 Oct 07 - 03:53 AM (#2163396)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Big Al Whittle

well as one of his boyhood friends remarked in the tv documentaries about him wasn't totally to be trusted with the facts. In particular the friend said that EM had told a previous documentary maker that as a boy he had roamed around Manchester with a head ful of lyrical thoughts about Engels. the friend said this was in fact rubbish.

one of the main problems of the revival is that we haven't attracted critics of any great note. Literature had Leavis, Tillyard and Wilson Knight - we had Karl Dallas and Colin Irwin. Both nice guys apparently - but neither of them inclined to challenge whatever load of balls singers were talking that week - at least not in print.

Its okay, but there is no account - and it becomes very difficult in retrospect to understand just how some of these unique talents did develop.


04 Oct 07 - 07:22 AM (#2163489)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Dave Hanson

If you are talking about Eddie Frow, he went on to say that in general Ewan MacColl was accurate but in the particular [ ie detail ] inaccurate.

eric


04 Oct 07 - 07:31 AM (#2163497)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

Eric and WD40,
The friend was not Eddie Frow, but a young Jewish man whose name escapes me, but can be found on the obituary film (Ballad of Ewan MacColl).
Eddie however did tell me that he remembered MacColl's father as a fine singer - a claim which is often challenged.
Both Eddie and Ruth had/have an enormous respect and a pride in Ewan as "a Salford lad who never gave up the fight".
Jim Carroll


04 Oct 07 - 07:50 AM (#2163508)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Big Al Whittle

The thing also to remember is that Ewan and Peggy were gigging musicians - a bit like a cottage industry.

I remember one night they were both somewhat dispirited because a record company (I can't remember if it were Argo or Decca) had refused to sell them their own records to sell at gigs. This record company had decided instead to pulp all their records, because 'it wasn't the company image they wanted to project'. Ewan and Peggy were like the rest of us - in competition with the big boys of the industry.


The point I'm trying to make is that when you are presenting your work to the world - you look for the most entertaining and engaging way to present yourself (well you do if you have a scintilla of sense!). Not necessarily the most factual.

I think for this reason the Christy Moore book is pretty amazing. Instead of a chronological blow by blow account - he tells his story song by song - all the songs that have graced his professional repertoire. How they cam to be there and what he thought that made him want to inhabit them. I think Christy must have put this book together when he was probably so ill that he thought his playing days were almost over - for some of the soul searching and truth telling has a real ring of honesty.


04 Oct 07 - 07:58 AM (#2163512)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Folkiedave

I do not know about his father but I seem to remember his mother was a good singer.


04 Oct 07 - 11:12 AM (#2163662)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,guest

"I think for this reason the Christy Moore book is pretty amazing. Instead of a chronological blow by blow account - he tells his story song by song - all the songs that have graced his professional repertoire. How they cam to be there and what he thought that made him want to inhabit them. I think Christy must have put this book together when he was probably so ill that he thought his playing days were almost over - for some of the soul searching and truth telling has a real ring of honesty."

Could not agree more, weelittledrummer. A book like this is hard to beat... but also, a man like Christy is hard to beat. Lucky he was wrong about his touring days being over ! He's kicking as never !

Is the EM autobiography available still ? would be interesting to read both books together ...


04 Oct 07 - 12:06 PM (#2163710)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: curmudgeon

"Journeyman," MacColl's autobiography can be had for between $67.00 and $307.00 US


06 Oct 07 - 06:48 AM (#2165000)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Susanne (skw)

What good luck I got it for 11 pounds in 1993! Still, there were questions it left unanswered, so I'll be looking forward to getting my copy of Harker's book. (Is he any relation to Dave Harker, by the way?)


06 Oct 07 - 08:52 AM (#2165059)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

(Is he any relation to Dave Harker, by the way?)
God , don't think so and sincerely hope not - go and wash your mouth out!
Jim Carroll


06 Oct 07 - 09:32 AM (#2165079)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Folkiedave

The last copy of Journeyman on Ebay went for £85.00 or thereabouts.

I reckon (speaking as a bookseller) that £35.00 - £50.00 depending upon condition would be a good price.

Speaking from memory the problem with it (as Peggy identifies right at the start) is that it misses out almost as much as it admits. Hardly anything about Jean Newlove for example, very little about any of his children.

Still, his autobiography he can write what he likes.


06 Oct 07 - 09:50 AM (#2165091)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Bonzo3legs

But he was a nasty little control freak, was he not?


06 Oct 07 - 09:52 AM (#2165094)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Folkiedave

And tell me how do you know that?

Met him a lot of times did you?

Spend a lot of time in his company?

Or did someone tell you and you have repeated it?


06 Oct 07 - 10:00 AM (#2165102)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: stallion

Ben is a lovely man, a very good guitarist and has toured, and possibly still is touring, the folk clubs with his wife Emily Weygang. I would like to think we are good friends and he and Emily are sorely missed since they moved to Manchester


06 Oct 07 - 11:21 PM (#2165617)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Joe_F

Does it reveal, at last, what he did during W.W.II?


07 Oct 07 - 03:01 PM (#2165990)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

"Does it reveal, at last, what he did during W.W.II?"
Don't think Ben was in W.WII.
If you mean MacColl - Many of us know what he did during W.W.II; we've discussed it ad nauseum; however, I'm sure it will be a great excuse not to talk about him as the great singer he was.
Jim Carroll


07 Oct 07 - 04:16 PM (#2166044)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Winger

Well, some of us have discussed it, Jim but we're none the wiser. Those who claimed to have known him personally seem to prefer to draw a veil over MacColl's WWII service and chide the rest of us for "prying".

I was one of those who laid out the cash for "Journeyman" when it was published and was disappointed at how selective it was about certain periods of his life. Can you enlighten us, Jim?

Oh, and he was a great singer, too.


07 Oct 07 - 04:23 PM (#2166051)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Big Al Whittle

well he wasn't really left wing enough to join MI5 (most of whom were Colonels in the KGB). And as someone who'd spent most of his time poncing about onstage, he was hardly great material for the killing machine - so I suppose he started working towards creating a vision which became the English Folk Scene.

I doubt if it were time wasted, whatever he did. he wasn't that sort of bloke.


07 Oct 07 - 05:51 PM (#2166102)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Bonzo3legs

How to be a control freak!


08 Oct 07 - 02:44 AM (#2166290)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

MacColl deserted from the army, was on the run for a period (don't know where but it doesn't matter), then returned to the North of England and joined Joan Littlewood working with Theatre Workshop.
I'm pretty sure Ben Harker has all this period covered.
We were all aware of this in The Critics Group, and he was not averse to discussing it with us.
Would you include in your autobiography that you had broken the law and were technically still a criminal?
It has been an issue, along with his name change, his Scottishness and his singing with his hand over his ear while sitting back-to-front on his chair, that has prevented a serious discussion on his singing and his ideas on that subject.
I hope it will not be the case this time, but I won't put money on it.
Jim Carroll


08 Oct 07 - 04:10 AM (#2166312)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: stallion

Knowing Ben, he wouldn't let sentimentality get in the way of scholarship, he has probably dealt with his sources sensitively, coaxing rather than bullying, I don't think one will find any journalism in it, he is a very thoughtful academic. Having said all that I am sure there will be detractors cos they can. I haven't read it yet but I shall look forward to it.


08 Oct 07 - 04:20 AM (#2166316)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Big Al Whittle

Don't get so het up Jim. At least people are talking about him - they haven't forgotten him.

Most of us will make as much lasting impression as wee in the River Thames. Keats said something to that effect.


08 Oct 07 - 12:27 PM (#2166567)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Winger

Thank you, Jim, for shedding at least a little light on MacColl's WWII life. I'd like to learn more, and maybe Harker's book will do that.

Whilst many will prefer to stick to discussing MacColl's singing and his ideas on that subject, others (myself included) see his influence as much wider. His songwriting was undoubtedly politically inspired (both locally and globally)and therefore I find it interesting that he decided to sit-out (if that's what he did)the greatest conflict in human history and completely ignores it in his autobiography (self-incriminating risk acknowledged).

If he was merely a "singer", Jim, I'd agree with you, but he wasn't. Inquiring into his beliefs, his actions, his influence doesn't mean that we're anti-Ewan, just as it doesn't mean that we believe in St. Ewan.


08 Oct 07 - 02:02 PM (#2166658)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Shimrod

I've got this sneaking suspicion that if Ewan MacColl had played an electric guitar (perish the thought - but let's just imagine!) no-one would have given a toss about his politics, his name change, his war record etc., etc. After all 'guitar heroes' and rock stars are expected to behave badly and can drink to excess, take drugs, have sex with hundreds of groupies, smash up hotel rooms, adopt obscure religions or political philosophies and are idolised for such behaviour. Was Ewan's real sin that he didn't bow down before the 'Great God Rock'? And then did he compound that sin by having strong beliefs and by being a highly original artist who followed his own vision - rather than being a slave to fashion?


08 Oct 07 - 02:21 PM (#2166675)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Big Al Whittle

no. his 'sin' was that he bad mouthed people who were in the folk club movement, who may not have conformed to his vision - but they were still on the side of the angels - and he did have some very dim followers who took it upom themselves to be rude to the young Donovan/Dylan clones who were flooding the folk clubs - and that was no way to treat young would be converts. His dullard friends emptied the folk clubs, but that wasn't his fault.

However his virtues far outweighed his faults. he was a great man, and I am glad I met him. he was intellectual without being superior in attitude - he wore his knowledge very lightly. he was passionate about his desire to be an artist. he worked damned hard to put a good show on, and he really did encourage you to do 'your' thing - if he didn't feel it was some homogenised crap you had picked up off the radio.

In short, one of the good guys.


08 Oct 07 - 03:54 PM (#2166732)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

"If he was merely a "singer", Jim, I'd agree with you, but he wasn't."
No, he wasn't; he was somebody who evolved a unique approach to the singing of traditional songs; but in order to discuss this you have to climb the shit mountain of name change, Scottishness, politics, war-record, and his refusal to be a member of the folk Luvvies.
Describing his decision to opt out of the war as "sit-out (if that's what he did)the greatest conflict in human history", is somewhat simplistic, as I know personally coming from a left-wing family background.
"No. his 'sin' was that he bad mouthed people who were in the folk club movement, who may not have conformed to his vision "
Where? the problem was he hardly wrote anything and what he did write was concentrated in putting forward his own ideas, rather than pulling down those of others (would that the same could be said of his critics (with a small c). Any badmouthing he was said to have done was in Chinese whispers form, and about as accurate.
Is anybody going to take odds on how many column inches are going to be spent on this thread on MacColl as a creative artist?
I agree with 'im (Shimrod).
Jim Carroll


08 Oct 07 - 04:14 PM (#2166745)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Winger

"you have to climb the shit mountain of name change, Scottishness, politics, war-record, and his refusal to be a member of the folk Luvvies"

You talking to me, Jim?

Whatever relationship with Ewan MacColl, it appears to have taken you to a place where you can only suffer those of a like mind who wish to worship at the shrine of St. Ewan.

Maybe this is a good time, Jim, to put aside those personal memories and take a considered look back at those wonderful songs he wrote, his superb recordings and the many other activies he was involved in. Your paranoid response to questions about his WWII days is akin to a pubescent girl's adoration of a pop star.

What the frig is a "folk Luvvie" anyway?


08 Oct 07 - 05:09 PM (#2166783)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Big Al Whittle

well the badmouthing was in the form of interviews - there were always people who wanted to interview him. and journalists love a Oasis bashes Blur type face off - without seeing that there could be implications.

I think the thing is - you can be laudatory about an artist's purple patches - but its not really what interests people in biographies and autobiographies of this type.

what people want to know is - how did he become what he was? What was it about how he lived and where he came from that made him a great creative artist, as a opposed to me - who became a nobody.

and if you shroud periods of your life in mystery and mythologise your past - you're not really playing the game. after all - you're taking the people's money.


09 Oct 07 - 03:15 AM (#2167050)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Les in Chorlton

I saw him and Peggy once and have some records. For what it's worth I think they were as good as it gets. They wrote some great songs and they were a massive influence on the second revival.

I suppose a reasonable question to ask is something like:

What was the longer term effect of going AWOL from a war that most people, including those on the left, would say had a good outcome? I guess Jim would have a view?


09 Oct 07 - 03:46 AM (#2167057)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

I have no real interest in talking about MacColl as an individual; I knew him long enough to be able to make an assessment of what kind of an individual he was, and that's enough for me.
What I would like to see discussed is his ideas on singing - have been persistently disappointed in this over the last thirty by side tracks and cul-de-sacs such as above.
No Winger, I am not talking to you specifically, it was a general comment.
What is a Folk Luvvie - well; as I was just saying to Martin the other day................
In the early sixties MacColl, a reasonable successful professional singer, took the decision to work with less experienced 'wannabe' singers. While others in his profession (most of whom queued up to get the boot in on him) were happily getting on with their careers, he and Peggy devoted an evening a week to greenhorns like me who were struggling to become reasonable singers of traditional songs and songwriters using traditional forms. They did this for nearly ten years. The end result was around 300 tapes of workshops of ideas, excercises, experiments, performances.... a decade of work on traditional singing absolutely unique.
Those tapes now lay in Birmingham Central Library largely unused (with another set on the shelves behind me as I write).
Because of the mantra that usually follows the mention of MacColl's name, the ideas that were tossed around, tried out, succeeded and became established with those involved, or failed and were discarded, will probably never see the light of the folk club, which I believe to be an awful shame.
The same goes for the 6 month long interview Pat and I did with him on his ideas on singing after The Critics Group broke up.
It seems to me that the revival as it stands today has largely run out of steam, yet there is this reservoir of energy and ideas lying dormant: daft I call it.
I confess I get prickly when I see the same old usual dragged out about MacColl; call it my sense of fair play.
Ewan and Peggy devoted the time and energy they did to the music they loved unstintingly, without expecting any return. Nobody else in the revival other than those who were influenced by them spent anything like the time they did helping other performers.
No, they certainly weren't/aren't saints. Working with MacColl could be difficult; he often got it wrong and jesus, some of his ideas were off-the-wall. But he cared enough about the music to put the hours in and he shared what he had and what he believed. They threw their home open, and made available their library and the result of their researches to anybody who asked.
I don't know many others in the revival I can say that of.
Jim Carroll
WLD' you didn't respond to my comment about MacColl not knocking other singers, but there again, it was a rhetorical one.


09 Oct 07 - 04:06 AM (#2167063)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Les in Chorlton

Jim,

I would PM but you are a guest. It is difficult for most of us to recognise the influence of Ewan and Peggy. They were probably the biggest influence on the revival. Perhaps they were simply much more influential than anybody else. They sang, they recoded, they collected they wrote,they organised clubs, they toured, they supported other people on a greater scale than anybody else.

That is why people want to know what they were like and what made them tick. And that's why I think it is reasonable to ask questions like:

What was the longer term effect of going AWOL from a war that most people, including those on the left, would say had a good outcome?

The Marxist left, particularly the Communist Party of Great Britain, was strong and influential in the 50's because of the success of the Soviet Union in the war. How comfortable was McColl in that climate?


09 Oct 07 - 05:07 AM (#2167094)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Llanfair

Have you never thought of getting those sessions published, Jim? I for one would be delighted to hear them and learn from them.

I sing some of Ewan McColl's songs, learning them before I knew they were written by him. I have most of the "Radio Ballads", which I love, and I have huge respect for the man, even though I haven't always agreed with his politics.


09 Oct 07 - 05:17 AM (#2167096)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,redmax

I'm looking forward to this, it's been a while coming. Having spoken to Ben a few times about it I'm sure he was the right choice for this work. As has been mentioned above, he's a good, clever guy who's really done his homework on this.

Sad to see the sledgehammers coming out. Perhaps it's a backhanded compliment to the scale of MacColl's achievements that his faults are magnified so. Who can look back on each and every chapter of his/her life and be proud of all of them? Perhaps his complete omission of WWII years in Journeyman was a little craven, but on the whole when I read it I didn't feel his ego seeping through the pages!


09 Oct 07 - 05:23 AM (#2167100)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Folkiedave

It seems to me that the revival as it stands today has largely run out of steam

Jim all of what you say I would agree with - except that bit.

There is a big resurgence of interest in folk music at the moment in England and Scotland as far as I can see, and I do go to a lot of around festivals.


09 Oct 07 - 06:59 AM (#2167136)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: curmudgeon

"What I would like to see discussed is his ideas on singing..." - Jim Carrol

I'm in complete agreement with your sentiment, Jim. However, you seem to be the only person on Mudcat who really knows a lot about this. Please expand and elucidate, probably on a new separate thread .

Thanks - Tom Hall

BTW, my copy of the book was shipped yesterday.


09 Oct 07 - 08:56 AM (#2167191)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Big Al Whittle

Well Jim - of course the problem is that you can't see its an insult when you tell someone what they're doing isn't folk music - when that's exactly what they've put considerable effort and commitment into trying to create.

But it is an insult.

However i really liked and respected him and Ewan.

As for his work going to waste - I don't think so. and if it does - join the club - none of us are getting any younger. I imagine a greater proportion of Ewan's work will be remembered than most peoples.


09 Oct 07 - 08:59 AM (#2167196)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Big Al Whittle

that should read
'However i really liked and respected him and Peggy.'


09 Oct 07 - 09:31 AM (#2167214)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,theleveller

Personally, I thought he was an arrogant pain in the arse. He applied rules to everyone else but not to himself. I went to the Singers' Club once in the 60s, sang a very old trad. song called Robin Hood and the Fifteen Foresters which starts 'Robin he would to fair Nottingham'. However, as I come from Yorkshire he said afterwards thatI shouldn't be singing it - even though there's far more evidence that Robin Hood originally came from Yorkshire than Nottighamshire. I think I told him to f**k off and walked out (I believe that Bert Jansch did pretty much the same thing). Loved Peggy Seeger, though.


09 Oct 07 - 11:11 AM (#2167269)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Bryn Pugh

I could be wrong, and I am prepared to be, but I had the privilege of hosting Ewan McColl and Peggy Seeger on more than one occasion at MSG.

I don't like all the non-traditional material they were responsible for ; I wouldn't go out of my way to buy any one of the Radio Ballads. That said : -

I couldn't give a flying fuck about name change, Ewan's politics, or any of the other canards that people trot out whenever his name is mentioned - and I would bet a month's salary (and I am a qualified Lawyer !) that those who trot out said canards got it fourth or fifth hand, and never met Peggy, Ewan, Jim Carroll or me.

What I remember is their unfailing courtesy, that Ewan drank brown over bitter and Peggy drank cider. The only time Ewan ever marked my card was when I announced 'Jowl and Listen, Lads' as traditional.

Why doesn't Alex Campbell, equally as dead, and who couldn't sing two consecutive verses towards the end, get the shit that's thrown at Ewan McColl ?

My comment in an earlier thread, that he damaged the Folk Scene, was based on a misunderstanding of the 'ethnic' jibe, and I apologise to Ewan's shade for this.

Jim C - I think we're (you, in particular) flogging a dead horse, old son ; as someone once wrote (paraphrasing, cos I can't remember the exact quotation) the good men do is interred with their bones ; the evil lives after them.

I never understood the Irishism "begrudgers".

I do now.


09 Oct 07 - 02:20 PM (#2167386)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

"The Marxist left, particularly the Communist Party of Great Britain, was strong and influential in the 50's because of the success of the Soviet Union in the war. How comfortable was McColl in that climate?"
Les,
The Marxist left was in total disarray over the war. At the outset it was condemned as an Imperialist adventure by the Communist Party of Great Britain - then the Soviet Union was invaded and they did a somersault. The Gen. Sec. of the C.P, Harry Pollitt, resigned over the change of policy.
My father had 3 brothers, one joined the tank regiment and was decorated as a war hero, two refused (as Irishmen) to have anything to do with it.
It was an academic argument as far as my father was concerned as he had been wounded in Spain and came home to find himself with a police record as a 'premature anti-fascist' - work that into the general run of things if you can; I can't!
I hope to select some of the important bits of our recordings of Ewan's work and offer them to whoever is interested (if anybody).
"Well Jim - of course the problem is that you can't see its an insult when you tell someone what they're doing isn't folk music - when that's exactly what they've put considerable effort and commitment into trying to create. But it is an insult"
WLD; I didn't say what he is doing isn't folk music - I said he wasn't a traditional singer, which is different.
Sorry, getting confused - doesn't this belong to another thread?
Jim Carroll
PS I will get my membership sorted as soon as I get the time (when the bloody grass stops growing in the acre we euphemistically refer to as a garden).


09 Oct 07 - 02:54 PM (#2167406)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Shimrod

Jim,

If you get the chance to get some of MacColl's work on singing into the public domain, please do. As I've said before I attended one of Ewan and Peggy's weekend workshops in the late 60s (in a schoolroom in Huntingdon, if I remember correctly). It was elecrifying stuff!

Admittedly, I was an impressionable lad - but nothing has made such a big impression before or since - a complete revelation. Obviously (and regrettably) the details have faded over the years but I like to think that the basic principles that I learned in the course of that weekend have stayed with me.


09 Oct 07 - 03:22 PM (#2167424)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Les in Chorlton

Jim,

I understand the points you make about the Marxists and the war. But after Stalingrad and the Yalta the CP put all that behind them and were able to feel that the Nazis had been defeated by the Soviet Union and so their version of history gave them rising membership at least until 1956 and Hungary.

Perhaps that is the climate which created McColl's reluctance to talk about what he did in WW2?


10 Oct 07 - 03:10 AM (#2167790)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

theleveller
Sorry - I don't believe you. It was never the policy of The Singers Club to demand that singers from the floor sang only songs from their region, or from anywhere, and to make such a demand would have been insane.
The idea that a singer from Yorkshire shouldn't sing a song from Nottingham is, frankly b******* (or bollocks, as we say in Lancashire).
The Club policy was outlined in a letter from Peggy Seeger in the correspondence pages of The Living Tradition, No 39. July-August 2000, (in the good old days when that magazine had a correspondence page).
Every club had a policy (even if it was a policy not to have a policy).
There were those that forbade instruments, or those where you only sang English songs, no matter where you came from, there were American based clubs where, if you sang something else, it was made quite clear you would not be welcome back.
Our policy was decided by an audience committee, was aimed solely towards the residents and, of course, those we booked.
It was originally suggested by Alan Lomax and was aimed at opening up and establishing the British repertoire, and you know what-it worked!
Jim Carroll


10 Oct 07 - 03:50 AM (#2167805)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Folkiedave

And here is a link to the article that Jim mentions.


10 Oct 07 - 04:51 AM (#2167825)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Bryn Pugh

Thank you, FolkieDave, for this.

Thanks to Peggy Seeger's candour and not least her humility, the "ethnic" canard can now be consigned to the dustbin of history.

That said, here is a warning to the next person to trot it out -

If you are in my hearing, and within my reach, I shall do you a bad and a woeful.


10 Oct 07 - 05:01 AM (#2167832)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Les in Chorlton

Steady Bryn, seek legal advice first. Must go have to walk the Irwell Valley way, for obvious reasons


10 Oct 07 - 05:07 AM (#2167836)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Bryn Pugh

I am a Lawyer - whose advice would you like me to seek ?


10 Oct 07 - 07:16 AM (#2167878)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,theleveller

Jim Carrol said:
"Sorry - I don't believe you. It was never the policy of The Singers Club to demand that singers from the floor sang only songs from their region, or from anywhere, and to make such a demand would have been insane"

Frankly Jim, I don't give a stuff what you believe - that's what happened. I don't think anyone has the right to tell you how a folk song should be sung. That's the whole point of folk music - it's comes out differently with every performer and changes over time. Ewan wanted everyone to do things his way and you got short shrift if you didn't.

Someone asked why Alex Campbell doesn't get flack. Probably because he was a nice guy and thought folk music was fun. Having burst loudly into the room when I was singing at a pub in Bayswater, he came up after and apologised and told me that the first song I'd sung (Robin Hood as it happens) was OK but the second one was s**t. We had a good laugh and he bought me a drink - or was it the other way round?


10 Oct 07 - 07:48 AM (#2167895)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Folkiedave

Time after time the members of the club I helped to run asked us to book Alex Campbell and time after time the committee refused.

The local university booked him and he was appalling, drunken, boorish behaviour with long boring anecdotes about nothing in particular and about three songs in an hour. At least we never had the question of booking him raised again.

I seem to remember he apologised after that as well. He certainly had a drink.

There were in the past a number of folk performers with alcohol problems. One or two of them were could still perform drunk and some of them couldn't. He was one of those that couldn't.

And I do have every sympathy with people with alcohol problems. An awful disease.

I have seen Ewan in a blazing temper and Peggy in tears immediately after a concert, but he was still courteous.


10 Oct 07 - 07:54 AM (#2167898)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

"Frankly Jim, I don't give a stuff what you believe -"
Pleased to hear it.
"Ewan wanted everyone to do things his way and you got short shrift if you didn't."
No he didn't.
Around 1965 MacColl and Lloyd attempted to draw together some of the dispirit section of the revival, so they called a meeting in a pub in Soho, The John Snow. I have a recording of it.
The three speakers were Lloyd, Campbell and Bob Davenport, MacColl was the chairman.
Lloyd spent his 20 minutes being nice to everybody; Davenport told them that art was middle class and 'not for the likes of us workers' and Campell (somewhat 'tired and emotional') said 'ah love the auld folk' then whined incessantly about 'young performers getting the same fees as me'.
Davenport shouted down every speaker from the audience who disagreed with him and brought the proceedings to an explosive conclusion by declaring the Jeannie Robertson was a crap singer.
Personally I'd prefer a bit of friendly advice offered by Ewan.
Jim Carroll


10 Oct 07 - 08:23 AM (#2167910)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,theleveller

Ah, happy days!

Being used to the friendly, laisser-faire atmosphere of Yorkshire folk clubs I couldn't stand the bitchy, proscriptive atmosphere I found in most London venues so i stopped playing for years (sighs of relief all round)until I eventually drifted back to Yorkshire in a round about way. Anyway, the beer's better, so I'll be drinking a toast to Alex Campbell - drunk or sober I thought he was a nice guy and he certainly had more influence on me than Mr MacColl, but probably not in a good way.


10 Oct 07 - 10:05 AM (#2168006)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST, Sminky

Shirley Collins (SC) in an interview by Johan Kugelberg (JK):


JK: And I know how central Ewan MacColl is to the history of British folk music but as far as him as a performer and a singer, he is an exclusivist.

SC: Absolutely. I'm so grateful to find somebody who is on the same wavelength as me here. I've always been slightly on the edge of all this. Because MacColl and Seeger and Peggy Seeger, they're such proselytizers. They've got an agenda and everything is going to fit that, and I mind that terribly. They're usurping all these songs to make their own point and that's not what these songs are about. What you're doing is representing generations back. The minds and the hearts and the work of all those people, and you haven't got the right to take it over and make it a political statement.


10 Oct 07 - 10:45 AM (#2168039)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Leadfingers

Jim - You cant deny that Ewan was somewhat hypocritical about what was and was not acceptable as a folk song - A definate case of "Do as I say , Not as I do !"


10 Oct 07 - 11:07 AM (#2168057)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Bryn Pugh

Jim Carroll has already posted, whether here or elesewhere, that Ewan McColl

'frequently got it wrong, and jesus some of his ideas were off the wall'.

Apart from Shirley Colins's statement (which is her opinion to which she is perfectly entitled)posted by Sminky, where, Leadfingers is your evidence of hypocrisy ?

I thank FolkieDave for hisa posting to the effect that many people who never met Ewan McColl labelled him arrogant.

Suggest you take a look at the thread started by redmax - I think you'll find that people who met Ewan McColl, like me, accepted him for what he was - a courteous encourager of talent great and small.

Dis it ever occur to the begrudgers (see my earlier post) that Ewan McColl was never comfortable with being lionised ?


10 Oct 07 - 11:17 AM (#2168062)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Borchester Echo

Yeah, yeah, Shirley Collins was waffling on about her feud with Ewan in Folk Britannia. I think she's utterly and completely wrong to try and make out that people from generations past were not making political statements about their lives, their working conditions and social inequality through their music. Of course they were, just as their heirs do today.

As for Leadfingers' complaint that Ewan was 'hypocritical' about what was and what was not acceptable as folk song, where's there any evidence for this? I think you'll find that what Ewan was concerned about was performance standards. His own repertoire was extraordinarily varied and supremely well executed and his wish was that others should aim at an equally high standard.

Ewan was above all an actor. What he achieved (with Joan Littlewood) in the Theatre Workshop, with Peggy and Charles Parker with the Radio Ballads and with the Critics in The Festival Of Fools was a magnificent amalgam of agitprop theatre and people's music.


10 Oct 07 - 12:17 PM (#2168121)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: maeve

Jim Carroll- I would be very interested in listening to the tapes you mention. I widh I could contact you to see if this is possible. I listen to my own Lizzie Higgins interview tapes often and always learn something new. I think you realize you have a treasure there. Can it be shared?

maeve... in Maine


10 Oct 07 - 12:44 PM (#2168142)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST, Sminky


"It is difficult, however, to determine retrospectively why the clubs became so narrow-minded about this [authentic] performance practice, which did not leave much room for innovation and eventually led to a musical dead end. Many observers blame MacColl - and he indeed aliented performers not only by setting up rules but by being extremely dogmatic about them. Stories and comments I heard in my interviews suggest that he must have been a very difficult person. Several performers evidently fell out with him, as Frankie Armstrong, a long-time member of the Critics Group, recalled:
'He did polarize people in a way that Bert [Lloyd] didn't. I think this was partly to do with his politics; Bert was a much more complex political thinker that Ewan. Ewan tended to be much more dogmatic about everything. There was this period when he tried to insist that people should only sing songs from their own region - he put many people's backs up because it was very rigid, very judgemental and prescriptive. There were those who would hold him in great respect and would still be influenced by him but find his dogmatism off-putting.'
"

Britta Sweers - Electric Folk: The Changing Face of English Traditional Music


10 Oct 07 - 04:31 PM (#2168306)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

Maeve
Have intended for a long time to do a selection of recordings we have of Ewan teaching.
Occasionally I get pissed off and think - who cares, but the two threads running at present make me think enough people do to make the effort worthwhile; so will knuckle down and get something done.
In the meantime, (until I get my membership problem sorted), if you contact Folkiedave I'm sure he will let you have my e-mail address.
Regarding Folk Brittania - as Bryn said, SC's (and Frankie's and others opinions only). Peggy said all that was to be said about the Singers Club policy of singing regional material only in the letter I quoted.
The old guard's attitude to Ewan was summed up by somebody who's work and opinions (on Irish music) I otherwise respect tremendously.
Reg Hall claimed on FB that it was Ewan's and Bert's aim to set up Eastern-European-type 'folk ensembles', and for evidence, produced sleeve notes of an old Folkways record which he said proved it. I knew for a fact that both Ewan and Bert detested these ensembles, so I checked my copy of the notes in question. Sure enough - there it was in black and white. Unfortunately, what Reg had neglected to mention was the fact that neither E or B had had anything to do with the writing of the notes, they were written by an American collector (Sydney Robertson Cowell?)
Jim Carroll


10 Oct 07 - 04:34 PM (#2168310)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Shimrod

So now 'Guest, Sminky' quotes someone called Britta Sweers author of something called, "Electric Folk: The Changing Face of English Traditional Music". I think I've vaguely heard of it - but haven't read it. I wonder if the term "Electric Folk" could be significant?

Recall what I said earlier (08 Oct 07) about Ewan's biggest mistake being that he didn't play an electric guitar? Just think, if he'd strummed that Stratocaster he'd be remembered as a hero now - rather than the blackest of (acoustic) villains who had opinions (oh no!!).


10 Oct 07 - 05:05 PM (#2168334)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: maeve

Thanks, Jim. Will do.

If there are any elves running about here, perhaps one may have time and the inclination to change my post at 12:17, 09/Oct 07, to read "wish" rather than "widh". Thanks.


11 Oct 07 - 01:25 AM (#2168567)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Big Al Whittle

Jim keeps saying we ain't talking about his music.

I tell you what I liked about his music - and its not something all these traddy types seem to latch onto. His music had an 'edge' to it. There was a point of view there - a real human quality.

If you took your tory friends to one of their concerts, they would be inchoate with rage at the dismissive attitude to their ideology. People who would hum contentedly along to The Sex Pistols would be ready to physically attack you for taking them to see Peggy and Ewan.

But it wasn't just that political thing - there something of Martin Luther and 'Here I stand' in his attitude to his music.

Since he's gone - folkmusic has been timid stuff. Nothing much to agree with or disagree. It doesn't growl any more. Okay you get bands like The Levellers - but theres so much going on. theres Dick Gaughan - but the accent is so strong, half the audience don't know what he's saying in England

Somehow Ewan got his nose up to yours (in some people's cases he entered the nasal cavity) and he growled!


11 Oct 07 - 04:44 AM (#2168623)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Les in Chorlton

A long way from Cecil?


11 Oct 07 - 05:39 AM (#2168647)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Folkiedave

but the accent is so strong, half the audience don't know what he's saying in England

I am not so sure they understand him in Scotland either. But his music and his voice are great.


11 Oct 07 - 06:32 AM (#2168669)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST, Sminky

So now 'Guest, Sminky' quotes someone called Britta Sweers author of something called, "Electric Folk: The Changing Face of English Traditional Music".

The book contained a quote from Frankie Armstrong, a member of the Critics Group. Of what relevance is the book's title?

I am a great admirer of Ewan, but if we are to discuss his life/career/personality/beliefs/singing then it has to be 'warts and all'. Otherwise there's no point.


11 Oct 07 - 06:48 AM (#2168680)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Borchester Echo

This is the 'direct quote' allegedly from Frankie Armstrong: " There was this period when he tried to insist that people should only sing songs from their own region".
IF she said this, she knows a great deal better than I do that it is a tortuous bending of the actualité. Hands up all those who still haven't read Peggy Seeger's LT piece?
Thought so.


11 Oct 07 - 07:06 AM (#2168686)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST, Sminky

"People got furious with him because he insisted in his club if you were English you sang English songs, if you were Scottish it was Scottish songs."

An 'alleged' quote from Martin Carthy
Colin Harper - Dazzling Stranger: Bert Jansch and the British Folk and Blues Revival, p.31


11 Oct 07 - 07:22 AM (#2168694)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Folkiedave

The policy was actually that "If you were singing from the stage, you sang in a language that you could speak and understand".

It wasn't MacColl's policy it was that of the club and was decided by the members and singers of that club. It was only meant for the club. First of all Ballad and Blues and later Singers Club.


11 Oct 07 - 07:23 AM (#2168695)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Borchester Echo

Sigh.

Not Ewan. The membership. Pegy Seeger wrote:

The decision to lay down guidelines for what you could sing on stage was not made by Ewan MacColl - it was made by the residents and members of the B&B Club (later known as the Singers Club). If it became hewn in stone - well, that's the way things go.

This policy was meant for OUR club, not for other clubs. The policy was simple: If you were singing from the stage, you sang in a language that you could speak and understand."


Martin C thought this was quite a good idea as it made him (and others) get off their arses and explore English material. That and the other 'rule' about not repeating a song within three months.

Dazzling Stranger, now that's a very strange book. Should have been two separate books really - a Jansch bio and a potted history - but somehow it's all shovelled in together and reads as through it's been finished in a hell of a rush. [Publisher, tearing hair, shrieking 'Oh, FFS, let's get something out'].


11 Oct 07 - 08:22 AM (#2168717)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,theleveller

Well, well, unsurprisingly, these MacColl threads have brought the 'folk Fascists' or, rather, 'folk Stalinists' out of the woodwork, chanting their totalitarian mantras, shouting and stamping their feet and branding anyone who dares to criticise the Great God MacColl as a liar or an idiot.

It happens every time.

Whilst I admire some of his political aims and ideals, from where I stand, looking back over 45 years as a folk aficionado, I see his 'folk', as opposed to his 'political', legacy as largely a negative one – he and his cronies, with their Critics Committees, insistence on the purity of the genre and attempts to hijack folk music to suit their political agenda, painted it into a corner, marginalising it and rendering it inaccessible to a wider audience than might otherwise have been the case. In their hands, the folk revival failed to make it our of resuss.

Surely, isn't it time we shook off this straitjacket once and for all? After all, there are many others who have, over the years and more recently, had a far greater and more positive influence on the folk genre.

And to weelittledrummer; if you think that folk music today is timid stuff, you need to get out and hear more music. Now, where shall I start……….?


11 Oct 07 - 08:30 AM (#2168722)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Borchester Echo

Now, where shall I start……….?

The Mike Harding Show? Though I fear it might be too cutting edge for you.


11 Oct 07 - 08:39 AM (#2168732)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST, Sminky

Where did I say it was Ewan? I'm quoting from other people who were there at the time who say it was Ewan.

"'I remember going to the Singers Club a couple of times with Anne [Briggs]', says Bert. 'If you were a Scots person you were expected to to sing Scottish songs.'"

Bert Jansch
ibid p.162

I believe Bert (a Scot) had a fairly decent grasp of the English language, or at least he had the last time I talked to him.

PS the book was 4 years in the writing. A second edition appeared last year, presumably after a more considered re-writing. Inexplicably, the above quotes are still there.


11 Oct 07 - 08:44 AM (#2168741)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Les in Chorlton

leveler, are you doing a bit of shouting and stamping yourself? No, perhaps not.

I rather suspect that very few people who sang in or went to folk clubs in the 60's new much about McColl and the fine detail of what he thought, did or sang.

His major legacy was his songs. Lots of people sang them and many of them were and remain excellent.

"They sang,(He and Peggy) they recoded, they collected, they wrote,they organised clubs, they toured, they supported other people on a greater scale than anybody else." (My post above)

Yes, that's what they did and it was influential. Some people also did this but most people involved in the folk scene either did some of these things or not much. That's why McColl and Seeger were influential.

As for the politics, he came from a time when people thought socialism in some form was possible, it seems less possible now.

In the 60's many of us sang Irish Rebel songs, American Civil rights songs, Scottish Bothy Ballads and joined the Communist Party and most of us stopped doing it not because of the policy of the Singers Club but for the same kinds of reasons that got the SC to that point - it didn't feel right most of the time.


11 Oct 07 - 08:56 AM (#2168749)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Dave Sutherland

When John Revie, a MacColl, Singers Club, associate opened The Barleycorn folk club in Newcastle in 1970 along with Stefan Sobell he declared it would adopt the Singers Club policy whereby singers would perform songs "from their own cultural media". This meaning that those of us born in this country would sing songs from the British Isles, not just from our particular region. Since a good 90% of those attending on a Saturday night would have been born and bred in the North East it would have become pretty insular if all we had sung were Geordie songs (and a good 50% of my repetiore is from the North East). John himself had a huge collection of songs some English and Scottish but the majority of them Irish - I never heard him sing a Geordie song yet!


11 Oct 07 - 09:27 AM (#2168771)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

"Well, well, unsurprisingly, these MacColl threads have brought the 'folk Fascists' or, rather, 'folk Stalinists'"
Did somebody mention a mantra?
Jim Carroll


11 Oct 07 - 09:41 AM (#2168778)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

"I am a great admirer of Ewan, but if we are to discuss his life/career/personality/beliefs/singing then it has to be 'warts and all'. Otherwise there's no point."
Couldn't agree more.
Nice balanced discussion so far - only one ointment in the fly
Jim Carroll


11 Oct 07 - 10:29 AM (#2168812)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Bryn Pugh

Jim C - Greetings

At slight risk of thread-creep, would I be right in thinking that the 'young Jewish man' to whom you adverted ealier was Benny Klein ?

Don't you just love these who never knew Ewan McColl or Peggy Seeger trot out the same usual shit ?

I am glad your years in London were so productive and - all I can say is that some of the Manchester critics (sm'c' deliberate !) wqere sorry to see you go.

They were good sessions in that alehouse on High Street.all


11 Oct 07 - 10:30 AM (#2168813)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Bryn Pugh

Sorry - that should have read 'productive and rewarding'


11 Oct 07 - 11:07 AM (#2168840)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,theleveller

"Don't you just love these who never knew Ewan McColl or Peggy Seeger trot out the same usual shit ?"

I assume by that you mean have their own valid opinions.

Hark! Do I hear the tramp of jackboots again?


11 Oct 07 - 11:15 AM (#2168849)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Bryn Pugh

How is it possible for a second, third, fourth or fifth hand opinion to be 'valid' ?

Hearsay is not evidence, regardless of how much the utterer would like it to be.

Leveller - please read the key words - 'never knew'.

As to what you think you are hearing, ever thought it might be tinnitus ?


11 Oct 07 - 11:25 AM (#2168857)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,theleveller

Err - I never met Shakespeare, Karl Marx, Oscar Wilde, the author of Beowulf etc, etc. but I have opinions on their work and their influence. You don't know me but you seem to have an opinion on what I say. Work it out!

I met MacColl face to face and I have commented on that. I have also commented on what I think his influence was on folk music, based on 45 years of observation.

If you don't like free speech, don't come on the board.

Personally, I'm in favour of it.


11 Oct 07 - 11:30 AM (#2168863)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,theleveller

Oh, and thanks for asking; yes, I do suffer from tinnitus - it's a distressing complaint, especially for a musician.


11 Oct 07 - 12:16 PM (#2168886)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Les in Chorlton

leveler, just as a point of clarity do you think this untrue?

"They sang,(He and Peggy) they recoded, they collected, they wrote,they organised clubs, they toured, they supported other people on a greater scale than anybody else." (My post above)


11 Oct 07 - 01:02 PM (#2168928)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Darowyn

Is this the British disease, like Chinese whispers with an escalating degree of authoritarianism?
EMcC- "It would be a good idea if we sang songs from our own cultural background"
Singers Club Committee:- "You should sing songs from your own cultural background"
Club organiser:- "You may only sing songs from your own cultural background"
Another Club organiser (thirty years on and now a card carrying Folk Nazi (or Stalinist)):-"You are a traitor to the Folk Tradition if you sing songs which are not from your own cultural background, because E McC said so"
I think that is the same "jobsworth" attitude that make EU membership such an issue in the UK. We care too much about the letter of the rules.
As the Latin saying goes.
Humanus sum. Nihil mumanum mihi alienum est.
I am a human. Nothing human is alien to me.
Cheers
Dave


11 Oct 07 - 01:40 PM (#2168958)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

Daryowyn
Wasn't like that - sorry.
The idea came from Lomax first.
He was concerned that so many early revival singers were singing American material that he suggested (to MacColl and Lloyd - who had also tries their hand at American songs) that there was a danger of the American repertoire swamping the clubs, and that maybe they should concentrate on the Brit material.
The did so - but as Peggy pointed out - it was for the residents of Ballads and Blues and later, Singers residents.
Whether other clubs came along and said, 'that's a good idea....' who knows (maybe somebody out here.
Jim Carroll


11 Oct 07 - 04:03 PM (#2169025)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Shimrod

Let's get a grip!
This 'infamous' policy was confined to ONE club! And surely, at the time, if you didn't agree with that policy you just didn't sing at that particular club (there did happen to be hundreds of other clubs to choose from at the time). Where was the harm (I think that, under the circumstances which prevailed at the time, it was a GOOD policy)? What was at risk - other than egoes?

I think that this constant, tiresome harping on about that long-dead policy is a cover for those who found, and still find, MacColl's views - on folk music - not just politics - just too challenging and unconventional. And I mean unconventional in the sense that they had little too do with contemporary fashion and popular music. Now if had just picked up that Stratocaster ...


11 Oct 07 - 04:27 PM (#2169047)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Winger

Oh, dear, Shimrod. What's all this electric guitar stuff? You seem to be under the impression that the world of folk music is divided into two camps - those macho enough to appreciate the "real thing", and those lily-livered "folk Luvvies" who like their music with a little pop influence.

You don't get out much, Shimrod, do you. There's a big world out there and there's lots of people with lots of different views on folk music. Are you suggesting that to enjoy the music of MacColl excludes you from other kinds of music?


11 Oct 07 - 05:18 PM (#2169090)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Shimrod

'GUEST, Winger' you wrote:

"You seem to be under the impression that the world of folk music is divided into two camps - those macho enough to appreciate the "real thing", and those lily-livered "folk Luvvies" who like their music with a little pop influence."

Umm, yes, I do actually. That sums it up nicely (apart from the word 'macho' - which isn't really relevant)!

Turning to 'Guest,theleveller', you wrote:

"Well, well, unsurprisingly, these MacColl threads have brought the 'folk Fascists' or, rather, 'folk Stalinists' out of the woodwork, chanting their totalitarian mantras, shouting and stamping their feet and branding anyone who dares to criticise the Great God MacColl as a liar or an idiot."

So, 'theleveller' it seems that you believe that anyone who you happen to disagree with, or has a different set of opinions to you, is a 'Fascist/Stalinist', do you? Do I detect a tiny bit of exageration there?
Has anyone prevented you from expressing your opinions or attempted to supress those opinions by declaring them illegal? Has anyone persecuted you on the basis of your ethnic backgound, religion etc.? Has anyone prevented you from earning your living by blacklisting you from your chosen profession? Has anyone banged on your door in the middle of the night and arrested you? Has anyone subjected you to a show trial? Has anyone imprisoned you without trial and tortured you? Has anyone sent you, or members of your family, to a concentration camp?
Perhaps you'd like to compare notes with the people of Burma or Zimbabwe - it could be that those people could restore in you a sense of proportion ...


11 Oct 07 - 05:35 PM (#2169109)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,theleveller

Well, now Shimrod, that's a total misinterpretation of what I believe and, indeed what I have said. I'm afraid that this debate goes back a long way and if you take the time to go and read some of the comments made about me and others in the past on the BBC Folk and Acoustic board, you'll get a better idea of what I'm talking about. One of the people who made those comments has now been banned from that board for extreme and immoderate behaviour, but features in the above debate.

I have no objection to people disagreeing with me; indeed, the reason I come onto boards like this is for lively debate. As I have always maintained "I may disagree with what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it". I do, however, object to being branded a liar and told that my opinions are "shit". So, perhaps you should get your sense of proportion right and take the terminology in the context that it is intended - I did not say Facists or Stalinists, i said 'folk Fascists' and 'folk Stalinists'. The difference may be a subtle one but is essential to the debate.


11 Oct 07 - 08:31 PM (#2169240)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

I'm not sure that I particularly care about whether Ewan MacColl was a tyrant or a saint but I am concerned about the attitude to people I (and a great many others, I'm sure) hold esteem. Shirley Collins's and Frankie Armstrongs's views aew "opinions only". "Shirley Collins was waffling on...", Frankie Armstrong is accused "a tortuous bending of the actualité". I think that means lying.

Reg Hall is dismissed as one of the "old guard" (surely he is a generation after MacColl and Lloyd) and attacked for assuming that performers hold some sort of responsibility for the sleeve notes on their recordings.

I don't think this puts the pro-MacColl lobby in a good light.


12 Oct 07 - 02:57 AM (#2169379)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

Shimrod,
'folk Fascists' and 'folk Stalinists' 'jackboots. (all used by theleveller).
Irony, not exaggeration is the word that springs to mind; the above language is designed to suppress discussion, as is the application of hidden agendas such as that of Winger who said that I held the views I do because I found myself 'not appreciated'.
If people can't respond directly to the argument rather than resort to invective there is little point in these discussions (occasionally, both are to be expected, but replacing argument with this sort of viciousness gets nowhere and proves nothing). In the cases of Shirley Collins and Frankie Armstrong, people addressed the statements of both of them made rather than relying on meaningless namecalling.
I referred to Reg Hall as 'the old Guard' because he came from the early days of the revival (50s, when he was playing in Camden Town with Michael Gorman and Margaret Barry) and was (and still is) one of MacColl's most vociferous knockers. The sleeve notes I referred to were not his but that of an American collector; he quoted them dishonestly to discredit MacColl and Lloyd, giving the inaccurate impression that they had been written by either/both of them - re-view the programme if you are able.
Jim Carroll


12 Oct 07 - 03:33 AM (#2169388)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Borchester Echo

Somebody calling himself, singularly inappropriately, 'The Leveller', refers above to a 'ban from the BBC F&A forum for 'extreme and immoderate behaviour'. If he means me (and I think he does), this is inaccurate.

I was instructed, firstly, to make an undertaking not to refer to perceived links between Smooth Operations and a highly dubious music production and distribution business and this I refused. Secondly, I was one of three people threatened over an alleged breach of House Rules for outing a ridiculously annoying, inane airheaded troll who is now, thankfuly, scarcely welcomed anywhere.

As for Shirley Collins, I heard what she said, I cannot agree on the basis of personal experience, and said so. As for Frankie Armstrong, this was merely a quote and more than likely a misquote about which I shall, nevertheless, ask her when I see her. As far as 'Old Guard' Reg Hall is concerned, I've been meaning to take up his comments on FB about the attribution of sleeve notes à propos East European ensembles, and will do so (if I remember) when I see him later on today.


12 Oct 07 - 03:46 AM (#2169393)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Bryn Pugh

I was going to respond to Leveller's diatribe, but what's the use. I am neither a folk fascist nor a folk Stalinist, but there are some out there who won't accept this. I leave this discussion sadder but wiser. At least I have the balls to post under my true name.


12 Oct 07 - 03:49 AM (#2169395)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,theleveller

Sort of the pot calling the kettle black, isn't it, Jim? Perhaps you should reflect on calling me a liar before you start trying to take the high moral ground about free debate and name calling. Far from trying to suppress discussion (what would be the point of that, for god's sake? You obviously haven't bothered to read what I wrote two threads above.)I'm trying to stop myself and the others who are less than enthusiatic about MacColl from being shouted down by the hard liners who won't hear of any other opinion but there's. Perhaps you should look at the remarks of Mr Pugh, above, if you want to mete out criticism. If you're not enjoying the debate, no-one's forcing you to take part. Personally, I'm having a great time.

Les in Chorlton wrote:
leveler, just as a point of clarity do you think this untrue?

"They sang,(He and Peggy) they recoded, they collected, they wrote,they organised clubs, they toured, they supported other people on a greater scale than anybody else."

Sorry, Les, it's such a sweeping statement that no-one could prove or disprove what you say. "on a greater scale than anyone else" covers a lot of ground. Who do you have in mind?

If you're asking me if I hold a different opinion, the answer is 'yes'. I think there are people who have been, and still are, far more influential than the MacColls. The names that immediately spring to mind are The Watersons and Msrtin Carthy. I may be a bit biased regarding the Watersons (but, hey, there's plenty of that around on this thread) because they were always around during my early years in folk music; I frequently used to go to their clubs and they came to mine. They were always very generous with their help and encouragement. What a contrast to the atmosphere in the clubs I visited when I first arrived in London! I think their lifetime achievement (so far) far outstrips that of MacColl and his group, especially with the younger generation that is carrying the torch forward. Mr Carthy's record speaks for itself.


12 Oct 07 - 03:57 AM (#2169398)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,theleveller

Diane, I apologise if I misrepresented your reasons for leaving the BBC board. I didn't know about it until some time afterwards and certainly missed the passion of your arguments - but certainly not the invective and personal remarks. No, I don't believe in denying people the right to have their say - thaqt's exactly the my remarks about 'folk Stalinism'. I've now said this on numerous occasions, but it just seems to be ignored.


12 Oct 07 - 08:52 AM (#2169453)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Bryn Pugh

"Personally, I'm having a great time."

I wonder why that don't surprise me ?


12 Oct 07 - 10:12 AM (#2169531)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

From Peggy Seeger's article -

It is possible that they [Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie] have inherited some of Ewan's intransigence and argumentative temperament

Seems to apply to all of MacColl's supporters.


12 Oct 07 - 10:15 AM (#2169537)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Bryn Pugh

Afraid to name me, Snail ? See my earlier post as to use of my true name for postings.

Not called Brian, by any chance, are you ?


12 Oct 07 - 10:17 AM (#2169540)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Shimrod

"No, I don't believe in denying people the right to have their say"

'Theleveller' no-one is denying you your right to have your say! After all, you've said it, haven't you? As far as I can see what seems to get up your nose is people disagreeing with you.

PS: Note that it is not I who has labelled anyone a 'Fascist' or 'Stalinist' ('folk' or otherwise) - and neither do I intend to. In my opinion those are terms too loaded with hatred, grief and suffering to be bandied about lightly in a mildly heated discussion about the British Folk Scene.


12 Oct 07 - 10:22 AM (#2169543)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Big Al Whittle

''Theleveller' no-one is denying you your right to have your say!'

No, but Jim more or less called him a liar over Nottingham/Yorkshire story.

does sound a bit weird, doesn't it?

I dunno what to make of it all.


12 Oct 07 - 10:27 AM (#2169547)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

Bryn Pugh

Afraid to name me, Snail ? See my earlier post as to use of my true name for postings.

Not singling you out in particular, Bryn. There are several on here who are rubbishing people I respect in their effort to defend MacColl. I specifically quoted Diane Easby and Jim Carroll in my earlier post.

Not called Brian, by any chance, are you ?

No, I'm called Bryan and can be found here.


12 Oct 07 - 10:49 AM (#2169561)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Borchester Echo

Who are you saying I rubbished, Mr Snail?

In my post above at 3.33, I said:

(1) that I disagreed with the statement Shirley Collins made on FB (quite a vicious attack as it happens) that Ewan MacColl had misappropriated music that did not belong to him.

(2) that I was doubtful that Frankie Armstrong had been quoted accurately and that I would ask her about her experiences with Ewan (which as far as I can see were exactly the same as mine but continued for much longer) next time I saw her.

(3) that I would similarly speak to Reg Hall about the attribution of the sleeve notes (also made in FB), about which he had no doubt made a genuine mistake.

And I also drew people's attention time and time again to Peggy Seeger's LT piece which described exactly what did happen at the Singers'.

In fact I didn't even rubbish the Leveller when he sounded off about me in a dispute with the BBC/Smoothops about which he admitted he knew nothing but relied on malicious hearsay.


12 Oct 07 - 11:02 AM (#2169572)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Les in Chorlton

leverler,

1. They sang,(He and Peggy)
2. they recoded,
3. they collected,
4. they wrote,
5. they organised clubs,
6. they toured,
7. they supported other people on a greater scale than anybody else."

"Sorry, Les, it's such a sweeping statement that no-one could prove or disprove what you say" - Prove? Very hard to do.

I recognise that some people did more of some of things and did some of them better. I am hard pushed to thing of any person or persons who did all these things so much and so well. It is because they did so many things so well that they were and are influential.

"on a greater scale than anyone else" covers a lot of ground. Who do you have in mind?

Well, I don't, not because I have some kind of bias, I simply cannot think of anybody. If you do please let us know what you think.

If you're asking me if I hold a different opinion, the answer is 'yes'. OK Opinion is a word easy to deal with. Carthy and the Watersons? Never fail to excite, friendly, generous, talented, original, hard working, in certain areas the most influential people around. But not in the all encompassing way that E & S have been.

Best wishes

Les Jones


12 Oct 07 - 12:11 PM (#2169645)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

Diane Easby

Who are you saying I rubbished, Mr Snail?

In your post of 10 Oct 07 - 11:17 AM you said -

Yeah, yeah, Shirley Collins was waffling on about her feud with Ewan in Folk Britannia.

That strikes me as a pretty good rubbishing. I know Shirley; she doesn't waffle. I think you realised this when you changed it to "I cannot agree".
Shirley clearly has strong opinions as can be seen in this interview.

In your post of 11 Oct 07 - 06:48 AM you said -

This is the 'direct quote' allegedly from Frankie Armstrong: " There was this period when he tried to insist that people should only sing songs from their own region".
IF she said this, she knows a great deal better than I do that it is a tortuous bending of the actualité.


You seem to be squirming a bit here. Not sure who to call a liar, Britta Sweers or Frankie Armstrong. What are you going to do if you find out it's true?

It was Jim Carroll who rubbished Reg Hall, attacking him for assuming that MacColl actually ready the LP cover notes before it was released.   He has since escalated this by saying "he quoted them dishonestly to discredit MacColl and Lloyd".

I feel that those who support MacColl could put up a better case by producing evidence instead of either trivialising their opponents or calling them liars.

I'll leave the Leveller to fight his own corner.


12 Oct 07 - 12:27 PM (#2169662)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,theleveller

"I'll leave the Leveller to fight his own corner."

Thank you, small crustacean, but not right now - Im off down the pub.


12 Oct 07 - 12:30 PM (#2169666)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Borchester Echo

(1) Shirley Collins was waffling. And it was embittered waffling at that. A public slagging of one dead artist by another who isn't.

(2) No, I don't know either whether the Sweers person (who I do not know and whose work I have not read) got it wrong or if Frankie Armstrong was embellishing rather a lot or being more than a tad forgetful. What will I do if I discover Frankie really did speak as quoted? Have a conversation in private, obviously.

(3) Whaddya mean, 'leave the Leveller to fight his own corner'? He's already admitted he hasn't a clue what he's talking about.

Going out now. To see Reg Hall . . . who isn't my opponent. Nor is Ms Collins nor Ms Armstrong, last time I checked.


12 Oct 07 - 12:33 PM (#2169670)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Shimrod

What really puzzles me is why people are still pushing trivial tittle tattle about a creative genius who is 18 years dead? And why do those same people insist on endlessly regurgitating that tittle tattle rather than considering the genius's considerable achievements?

It's no wonder that those of us who value and admire MacColl's achievements get a bit tetchy!

This appears to be mainly a UK syndrome - I notice that a number of North American contributors, to another thread on this board, are a lot more balanced in their assessments.


12 Oct 07 - 12:34 PM (#2169671)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Winger

"language is designed to suppress discussion, as is the application of hidden agendas such as that of Winger".

1. You're the one who tried to suppress discussion when I inquired about MacColl's WWII activities.

2. Please enlighten me about these hidden agendas, Jim. So far as I know, we've never met, but somehow you view me as "the enemy". A sure sign of paranoia.

Drop the "reds under the bed" approach, Jim. This is 2007, not 1957. Stop trying to stifle discussion on this forum.


12 Oct 07 - 01:35 PM (#2169722)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

Yo wrote
"Clearly, you feel that the revival has left you behind and does not show you the respect you feel you are due. Words like "infested" suggest a note of bitterness towards those who are merely a mirror image of yourself."
I wrote:
"as is the application of hidden agendas such as that of Winger who said that I held the views I do because I found myself 'not appreciated'".
Jim Carroll


12 Oct 07 - 01:52 PM (#2169733)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

This thread [imo] illustrates one thing,there are some very unpleasant/aggressive people on mudcat.Dick Miles


12 Oct 07 - 01:56 PM (#2169736)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Big Al Whittle

oh yes and throughout the world Dick!

Terrible, isn't it! what a dilemma! what on earth shall we do about it?

I know, plan of action:

1)hands up all the stalinists/fascists.
2)seeing as you're not too fussy about that sort of thing - you could liquidate all the others.


12 Oct 07 - 02:00 PM (#2169739)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: curmudgeon

The book just arrived and looks to be a well written tome. Even a very brief perusal in the middle encountered Jim Carrol's name a couple times re: the Critic's Group.

Perhaps when others have their copies and at least have begun to read them we can begin this discussion anew without any nastiness - Tom Hall


12 Oct 07 - 02:26 PM (#2169761)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

Jim Carroll,have you thought about getting some sheep,and some electric fencing for your overgrown acreage,you wouldnt have to waste your time cutting the grass then.Dick Miles


12 Oct 07 - 03:13 PM (#2169785)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

Hello Cap'n - nice to have you back - hope you are feeling more yourself.
Re the acre - thought of getting the Travellers in to Tarmac it.
Jim


12 Oct 07 - 05:49 PM (#2169875)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Big Al Whittle

well Jim what did you really think of the Yorkshire/Nottinghamshire story?

on the face of it - it sounds absolutely fucking crazy, but there were some crazy fuckers around at that time. I know , I met some. there used to be this club in Brum on the Ringway, called The Grey Cock - mad as hatters, all in fisherman's smocks. I think Charles Parker had something to do with it.

I've never encountered more shit music and encyclopaedic arrogance in my life - and that's a long time.

MacColl was, like all geniuses, somewhat out of whack with common humanity. But I could live with that. I had catholics and tories as friends - and a lot of muslims, and Hindus and rastas and IRA sympathisers as friends at that point.

If you're reasonably mature, nothing anybody says should really phase you. If they pick up a machine gun, that's something else.


12 Oct 07 - 06:02 PM (#2169883)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Shimrod

In the recently published 'The Folk Handbook' (Backbeat, 2007) there is a section entitled, 'Folk Portraits' by one John Morrish. This section consists, as its name suggests, of a series of brief portraits of people associated with (mainly) English folk music. Names include collectors such as Baring-Gould, Sharp and Vaughan Williams, traditional singers such as Harry Cox, Sam Larner and Fred Jordan and post-war revival figures such as MacColl and Lloyd.

In the portrait on MacColl we learn that he and Peggy Seeger introduced a 'songs from [your] own tradition' policy at the Ballads and Blues (sic) club and that MacColl, "alienated many in the folk world". We learn very little about his achievements except that he was a "driving force behind the 1950s revival" and that he wrote 'Dirty Old Town' and 'first Time Ever ...'.

The next portrait is of Peter Kennedy and this is a rather bland and uncontroversial account of Kennedy's life and achievements.

BUT - and here's the point, last year the 'Musical Traditions' website (www.mustrad.com) published an article on the (recently deceased) Kennedy ('Enthusiasms No. 53', Sept. 2006 - I'll let you read it - if you're interested). This article made 28 (yes TWENTY EIGHT !) negative allegations against Kennedy. Everyone of those allegations made the alleged sins of MacColl pale into insignificance. If any of them are true (and I have no way of knowing if they are) then Kennedy was a much 'badder hombre' than MacColl ever was.

BUT it's MacColl who gets the bad-mouthing and the on-going incessant negative flak. The question is WHY? I suspect that the bad-mouthers have an agenda; how about exploring what that agenda might be?


12 Oct 07 - 06:23 PM (#2169896)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Big Al Whittle

No go on Shim - tell us what the agenda is?

were all agog!

I'm not a whole gog, but I'm about quarter gog.


12 Oct 07 - 10:59 PM (#2170027)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Winger

Oh my God! I'm beginning to think that a couple of our posters are posting from a mental asylum. All this stuff about hidden agendas, electric guitars, and "why don't you go an pick on Alex Campbell".

For my part, I've already said that I thought he was a superb singer but my inquiry about his WWII service apparently was enough to get me excommunicated from the Church of St. Ewan.

I would imagine the man himself would have been embarrassed by their fawning devotion to him.


13 Oct 07 - 03:12 AM (#2170096)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

"well Jim what did you really think of the Yorkshire/Nottinghamshire story?"
Winger.
I joined the Critics group in 1969. Pat and I were members of the audience committee of the Singers Club for around a dozen years.
We were residents of the club for a time.
I can state categorically that during that period there was no policy that said that Lancashire singers only sang songs from Lancashire......
We were singing songs from everywhere, and Ewan and Peggy threw open their tape library in order that we could build our repertoires. It was Ewan who encouraged Londoner, John Faulkner to learn 'The Forger's Farewell'(IMO one of John's best songs); the source was Robert Cinnamond from Belfast.
Regarding the period pre-1969.
In 1978 Pat and I interviewed Ewan over a period of 6 months. One of the points we covered was this one. He explained it as I have stated on this thread and as Peggy explained it in her letter to The Living Tradition. I know Peggy and I knew Ewan; I don't know Leveller - I really don't know what more to say.
I believe (and given the above limitations) I know for certain that it was never part of the Singers Club Policy.
It is not my habit ever to call people liars. If I have misunderstood Leveller I apologise unreservedly.
There is no attempt on my part (or anybody's on this thread as far as I can see) to canonise MacColl, though, throughout my association with the revival there has been a persistant and open attempt to demonise him. PLEASE TELL ME THAT THIS IS NOT THE CASE.
My comment originally on this thread was not to stifle discussion on his war record, but to (hopefully) open a discussion on his work on singing. Once again, as with so so so many attempts in the past, this has not happened.
I don't give a toss what people think of MacColl as and individual; my own opinions are based on my personal memories of him and nothing is going to change those memories.
I do believe that the work we did in The Critics Group was important and could play a part in the future of the singing of traditional songs. I could be wrong, but until we try it we'll never know - will we.
All I can say is 'the earth moved for me'.
Jim Carroll


13 Oct 07 - 09:54 AM (#2170260)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Folkiedave

I have made it clear that I am a fan of MacColl, and I certainly don't lionise him. My own experience of those that knew him well, or met him on a number of occasions or met him once or twice, is that he was courteous and polite and helpful.

Loads of people will tell you that he was arrogant, told you what to sing, said you couldn't do this and you couldn't do that. They invariably heard it from someone else.

So I contradict them with my own experience. Jim does it with his (much deeper) experience. Nothing to do with fawning devotion but a lot to do with facts.

I tried to say in another thread how hard he worked at his stage performances. Would that others did the same.


13 Oct 07 - 10:44 AM (#2170275)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

Folkiedave

So I contradict them with my own experience. Jim does it with his (much deeper) experience. Nothing to do with fawning devotion but a lot to do with facts.

Shirley Collins, Frankie Armstrong, Reg Hall and The Leveller also had direct experience but they are brushed aside as "waffling", "a tortuous bending of the actualité", "dishonesty" and not being believed (which, I think, is the same thing as calling them a liar).

It is without question that MacColl was a major influence on the folk revival, helped and encouraged a lot of people, wrote some splendid songs and all the other things that Les in Chorlton listed above.

It is also very apparent that he mightily pissed off a number of people. Not just cockneys who wanted to be Leadbelly or Birmingham Folkies who wanted to be North Sea Fishermen but people who were significant players in the revival in their own right.

I cannot see what is to be gained by denying this and rubbishing those who have the temerity to say so.

I wasn't there. I cannot have the direct experience, but as an inheritor of what happened in the fifties I am entitled to know the truth, not just the sanitised version that the MacColl camp want to give me.


13 Oct 07 - 11:17 AM (#2170291)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Big Al Whittle

well allright, but would you want to be remembered for the people you pissed off? its not like he was always going round jumping on peoples toes.

you know how much the backward looking trad folk movement cheeses me off. but I can assure you this was a decent guy, and he deserves that we should try and think of him at his best - as I'm sure most of us would like to be remembered.


13 Oct 07 - 11:19 AM (#2170293)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: curmudgeon

The Snail wrote, "I wasn't there. I cannot have the direct experience, but as an inheritor of what happened in the fifties I am entitled to know the truth, not just the sanitised version that the MacColl camp want to give me."

Being American, I wasn't there either. I did get to hear MacColl and Seeger once in 1970. I too would like to know more, and I'm not all that sure that what we're learning from Jim and Dave is a "sanitised version."

But unlike some others on this thread I bought and am reading the book, which afterall, is the subject of this thread - Tom Hall


13 Oct 07 - 11:34 AM (#2170298)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

weelittledrummer

well allright, but would you want to be remembered for the people you pissed off?

I'd like to be remembered for who I really was, not some fictionalised version.

To accept the version of MacColl that his supporters present, I have to accept that a number of living people I admire are wafflers, dishonest, bitter "more than a tad forgetful". If his reputation can only be preserved by disparaging the living, there's something seriously wrong.


13 Oct 07 - 11:41 AM (#2170302)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Folkiedave

My version is not sanitised - simply me experience.

Jim can speak for himself - but from his contributions to this and other threads - it is pretty obvious what he will say.


13 Oct 07 - 11:44 AM (#2170305)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

curmudgeon

I'm not all that sure that what we're learning from Jim and Dave is a "sanitised version."

It is sanitised in the sense that it excludes the evidence of people who were there and did know him but came away with a different impression of the man.


13 Oct 07 - 12:00 PM (#2170311)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jeri

Snail, people can only tell their own version. It would be ridiculous if he were to presume to speak for those who disagree with him.

In a discussion of the book, as in every other discussion about Ewan MacColl, there are some who seem to be desperate to tear him down. I've heard all of the rumors and I've heard stories that can be considered to be possibly true. I've heard it all and if you or anyone else is going to keep on parroting the same stuff, I'll take it as an indication I can safely ignore what you say as trolling.

I expect that some people's self esteem is based on the importance and respect their targets have recieved. If someone's greatly respected and you attack them, you believe you look important. It doesn't work like that. In this case, the attackers look needy and unoriginal.

Next time, perhaps someone who wants to start a serious thread might request it be moderated to avoid replaying the same old stupid arguments.


13 Oct 07 - 12:21 PM (#2170323)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Borchester Echo

It certainly sounds a useful idea to have a subsequent thread moderated.
Not for the purposes of censorship but for brevity and avoidance of repetition.
I have spoken from my own personal experience, not nearly as extensive as that of Jim (or Frankie for that matter), but it reflected nevertheless the huge and positive influence Ewan MacColl had on me.

I have said that I will discuss the Frankie discrepancies with her whenever I see/am otherwise in contact with her. As for Reg Hall, well I didn't see him last night after all but I did run into Bob Davenport. As he was chiefly concerned (as is his wont) with trying to provoke a rendition of My Way, I didn't ask his opinion. Sorry.


13 Oct 07 - 12:21 PM (#2170324)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

I'm sorry Jeri but I can't relate anything in your post to anything I have said. I have no wish to tear MacColl down. I am not denying Jim's or Diane's or Dave's or WLD's experience of him. What I am objecting to is the attitude of some, Jim and Diane in particular, who dimiss the experience of others who knew him as waffling, bitterness and lies. In particular Shirley Collins, Frankie Armstrong and Reg Hall. I have met all of them and do not recognise the descriptions that have appeared in this thread.

Will somebody please explain why it is all right to criticise them but unacceptable to criticise MacColl?


13 Oct 07 - 12:29 PM (#2170327)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Shimrod

I notice that no-one has taken up my point about Peter Kennedy. And before anyone asks why Kennedy is relevant to this discussion I will repeat that, in a very recently published book, MacColl is 'demonised' (to use Jim carrol's term) YET AGAIN, whereas, in the adjacent section, in the same book, another significant figure in the UK folk world, Peter Kennedy (who may have deserved demonisation), is let off the hook.

This contrast is just too striking to go unremarked upon. In my view there are a number of reasons why MacColl has been, and continues to be, demonised (thus unjustly obscuring his considerable achievements):

(i) A lot of people didn't like his politics.
(ii) He was not particularly influenced by contemporary fashions and popular culture. His vision was a lot broader and more mature than that. This meant that, usually by implication, he was seen to criticise some people's tastes in music - in this country the greatest crime that an individual can commit outside of murder and paedophilia. My comment about electric guitars was meant satirically - but I note that some people have taken me literally.
(iii) He was a highly influential figure but he wasn't particularly liberal with his praise - I suspect that quite a few people thought that they deserved his praise - and when he didn't comply their 'noses were put out of joint'.
(iv) He believed in, and practiced, constructive criticism. Criticism is the lifeblood of any developing artform - but a lot of people (with fragile egoes) are offended by it.
(v) He refused to sanction the 'anything goes in a folk club' ethos - in fact his ideas tended to militate against such an ethos. Thus all the comedians, would be rockers and "snigger snoggers" (to pinch Diane Easby's term) etc., etc. who flooded the clubs in the 70s/80s didn't have his 'official sanction' (which, for some unaccountable reason, they seemed to desperately need).

Now I await the comments suggesting that, by advancing these hypotheses, I am somehow paranoid or mad. Some constructive arguments to the contrary would be better - but I don't hold out much hope!


13 Oct 07 - 01:02 PM (#2170349)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

GUEST,Shimrod

I notice that no-one has taken up my point about Peter Kennedy.

As I recall, Peter Kennedy has had a pretty bad press. The difference between him and Ewan MacColl is that there is no solid body of supporters saying how perfect he was and that anybody who disagrees is a waffling, bitter liar.

Would you care to demonstrate how your hyotheses apply to Shirley Collins and Reg Hall?


13 Oct 07 - 01:21 PM (#2170359)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jeri

Regarding who it's OK to criticize, it's not the criticism I object to so much as the endless repetition of the same things and the selfish lack of the common decency it would take to stay on topic. Start a new thread or use one of the numerous other Ewan MacColl-related troll threads to re-play this. Let the thread about the book BE about the book.


13 Oct 07 - 01:37 PM (#2170371)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

Jeri, I am responding on this thread to attacks made on this thread against people I admire. Please don't call me a troll for that.

Let the thread about the book BE about the book.

Tell Diane and Jim, not me.


13 Oct 07 - 01:56 PM (#2170386)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Shimrod

Actually, 'The Snail' I have never, ever said that MacColl was perfect. Although I admire MacColl greatly I don't think that he got everything right. Of course he had his faults, like everyone else - but he also had considerable virtues which have been obscured by the constant, petty sniping.

Actually, Peter Kennedy's achievements were pretty considerable too. But the fact is that his alleged misdemeanours don't seem to have obscured his achievements in the way that those of MacColl (who was 'guilty' of much lesser alleged sins) have been.

As for Shirley Collins and Reg Hall - I happen to admire them too (particularly Ms Collins). There is a good chance that neither of them saw eye-to-eye with MacColl (there's no law that says that they had to!). But I don't observe either of them engaging in constant, insidious character assasination!


13 Oct 07 - 02:03 PM (#2170392)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Folkiedave

5himrod - there was a whole thread about Peter Kennedy last year started by my response to Rod Stradling's article. I am not going through it again.

Suffice to say anyone saves up allegations, repeats them 3 months after someone has died, who repeats those allegations on the internet and then asks for evidence to support those allegations is going the wrong way about things. (IMHO)

I did not know enough about Peter Kennedy to comment on the allegations.

And I am not fond "anything goes in folk clubs" either, and I don't see anything wrong with standards. If MacColl thought the same way and I have no idea whether he did or didn't, then good for him.


13 Oct 07 - 02:29 PM (#2170404)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

Shimrod

Actually, 'The Snail' I have never, ever said that MacColl was perfect.

And I have never said you did.

But I don't observe either of them [Shirley Collins and Reg Hall] engaging in constant, insidious character assasination!

That is what they are being accused of and receiving on this thread.


13 Oct 07 - 03:57 PM (#2170445)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

Can we clear up a few things with a few facts.
My comments regarding Reg Hall:
On Folk Britannia Reg quoted from the sleeve notes of an album entitled (Irish Jigs, Reels and Hornpipes - Willie Clancy and Michael Gorman', Folkways FW 6819) as being evidence of MacColl and Lloyd's aim to form "Eastern European type folk ensembles" in the early days of the revival (both Bert and Ewan, Bert particularly, hated those ensembles as being erzatz, watered down folk music. On the programme the sleeve notes were actually shown.
I have my copy of the album in front of me at the moment and I see that the notes were written by Henry Cowell. There is no indication that either Ewan or Bert had anything to do with the making of the album.
I don't know if anybody has a copy of Folk Britannia, but it should be quite easy for anybody who has to find the reference.
I was particularly saddened because of my respect for Reg's work on Irish music.
Frankie's comment on Ewan's attitude to regional material.
You have my personal involvement with Ewan and the club; you have Peggy's letter to The Living Tradition; I haven't transcribed Ewan's interview, but it's accessible at the British Library and at the Irish Traditional Music Archive in Dublin.
Please help me out here; if you were in my position, what version would you accept?
I have never met or even seen Shirley Collins so I can't say one way or the other whether her assessment is a fair one; all I can say is it doesn't tie up with mine.
MacColl was not popular with his fellow revivalists in the early days for a number of reasons; Shimrod touched on many of them quite adequately as far as I'm concerned.
How unpopular he was, was illustrated by an incident which took place during the making of 'The Travelling People' Radio Ballad, where one individual was prepared (and nearly did) sabotage the making of that programme.
As much as I find embarrassing pointing out things 'wot I rote' perhaps people might like to read the interview with Sheila Stewart in 'The Living Tradition' (issue 41, Jan, Feb 2001) and my response in the following issue (issue 42, letters page, March, April 2001).
There were also the series of exchanges in Musical Traditions, which I was involved in, when it was intimated that MacColl stole 'Shoals of Herring' from traditional singers. Can't give a date for this latter, but it was at the time of the re-issue of 'Now Is The Time For Fishing' on CD, for which (I think) I did the notes.
Around the same time Peggy was accused of refusing to allow additional material to be include on that album; in fact, she had never been asked.
Ewan and Peggy have been the target of a great deal of abuse down the years. Contrary to the accusation that they spent a great deal of time knocking other members of the revival, neither of them wrote very much, not of their own ideas nor of their opinions of the revival, so much information we have is based on hearsay.
It seems obligatory that before we can get down to discussing their work, it is still necessary to climb the shit mountain.
Jim Carroll


13 Oct 07 - 07:26 PM (#2170546)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Shimrod

"But I don't observe either of them [Shirley Collins and Reg Hall] engaging in constant, insidious character assasination!

That is what they are being accused of and receiving on this thread."

"TheSnail" that is not true - and you know it!

Comments that both of these people said ONCE, sometime in the past (and quite probably meant), have been dredged up and used as part of the barrage of 'sticks-and-stones' flung at MacColl and his reputation.

It's the posthumous character assasination, and the completely unbalanced assessment of a distinguished career, that I (and I suspect others) object to - not the fact that other figures in the post-war revival may have had disagreements with MacColl.


13 Oct 07 - 09:03 PM (#2170591)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

I'd better make it clear that I am in no way trying to denigrate the achievements or influence of Ewan MacColl. The man will clearly go down in history as one of the major figures in the British folk revival of the second half of the 20th century not to mention his work in the theatre, his political stand and his support for public access to the countryside. He wrote some great songs. The first time ever I saw your face will probably be being discussed on a Mudcat thread in five hundred years time.

Jim Carroll

MacColl was not popular with his fellow revivalists in the early days for a number of reasons

That is a refreshing admission because the prevailing impression from some contributors up to now has been that MacColl was universally loved by all who met him and that anyone who said otherwise was dishonest, embittered or in some way mentally confused. They were also accused of getting their information at second, third or fourth hand even when they knew him personally.

I am now totally confused about the record notes business. Are you really saying that Reg Hall quoted from the sleeve notes of a record that had no connection with MacColl and Lloyd whatsoever?   This seems utterly bizarre.

I have never met or even seen Shirley Collins

You should. You would be charmed. I last saw her two days ago and she was as lovely as ever. I was in the post office a while ago when I heard this VOICE behind me. Shirley buying stamps has more music in her than many contemporary folk superstars. She is not the waffling bitter woman that Diane makes her out to be.

I don't want to take sides in the debate over MacColl's character, I just want those who do not share your opinion to be able to say so without being denigrated in the way they have on this thread.

You (Jim), Diane, Dave, Shimrod and (rather equivocally) Bryn think he was wonderful; Shirley Collins, Reg Hall and The Leveller (and, I suspect, a few others) do not.

Please help me out here; if you were in my position, what version would you accept?


13 Oct 07 - 09:05 PM (#2170592)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

Shimrod

That is what they are being accused of and receiving on this thread."

"TheSnail" that is not true - and you know it!


Please read Diane's and Jim's posts. Until you show some evidence of having done so, I won't bother to respond to you.


13 Oct 07 - 09:34 PM (#2170610)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Effsee

Mr.Mollusc,or Gastropod if you prefer, but certainly not Crustacean,..."one of the major figures in the British folk revival of the second half of the 20th century"...I believe the song "The Manchester Rambler" was one of Ewan's early compositions from 1932.


13 Oct 07 - 09:46 PM (#2170621)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

Effsee

I believe the song "The Manchester Rambler" was one of Ewan's early compositions from 1932.

Ah but that would be in his theatrical period rather than his folk revival days. Let's not quibble over details.


13 Oct 07 - 10:00 PM (#2170628)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Effsee

Erm, no actually I think that might be in his "Protest Songwriter " days actually.
Och yes, let's split hairs, why not?


13 Oct 07 - 10:11 PM (#2170633)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

Whatever.


14 Oct 07 - 04:04 AM (#2170732)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

"Are you really saying that Reg Hall quoted from the sleeve notes of a record that had no connection with MacColl and Lloyd whatsoever?   This seems utterly bizarre."
That is exactly what I am saying; the notes were written by Henry Cowell - bizarre or what?
Sorry, my earlier posting shouldn't have gone off - I hadn't finished it (anticipation of a great night of music in my local pub made my finger twitch - wasn't disappointed) This is the bit wot I rerote.

Ewan and Peggy have been the target of a great deal of abuse down the years. Contrary to the accusation that they spent a great deal of time knocking other members of the revival, neither of them wrote very much (an issue I disagreed with them on, on a number of occasions), not of their own ideas nor of their opinions of the revival, so much information we have is based on hearsay. WLD says earlier that MacColl slagged off his fellow revivalists; it would be interesting if he could produce some concrete examples of this.
We admirers of MacColl are accused of elevating him to sainthood – not true. He was a human being with human faults, yet each time we attempt to discuss him as an artist we are met with a barrage of abuse and rumours – as has been pointed out,he has been dead eighteen years, yet still – the beat goes on. We don't idolise MacColl, but we do refuse to participate in this particularly distasteful exercise in grave-dancing – as far as I'm concerned- guilty as charged.
Jim Carroll


14 Oct 07 - 06:54 AM (#2170780)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

Jim Carroll

That is exactly what I am saying; the notes were written by Henry Cowell

I think I'm seriously losing the plot here. Why was Henry Cowell discussing MacColl and Lloyd on a record of music by Willie Clancy and Michael Gorman? By the way, is this the Henry Cowell you are talking about? If so, aren't you (to borrow a phrase) being a bit economical with the actualité by describing him as "an American collector"? Further digging on the internet shows that he was a close friend of the Seeger family having helped Peggy's mother Ruth in her career as a composer. Reg may have felt that he was a man who could speak with some authority on the subject.

Ewan and Peggy have been the target of a great deal of abuse down the years.

Why? I'd like to know. Not because I want to join in that abuse but because it will give me greater insight into the nature of the folk revival.

so much information we have is based on hearsay.

What Shirley Collins and Reg Hall have to say is not hearsay but they still get rubbished for saying it.

we do refuse to participate in this particularly distasteful exercise in grave-dancing

But does that mean that we can't talk about the fact that important players in the folk revival did have serious problems with him?

Bryan Creer


14 Oct 07 - 07:11 AM (#2170789)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Folkiedave

Why not ask them? I never knew MacColl all that well, just met him on a number of occasions, but the one described is not the one I recognise so I couldn't say.

One thing for certain - as I said earlier in the thread - many of the assertions are built up on myth - from people who never met him.


14 Oct 07 - 07:59 AM (#2170805)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

Folkiedave

Why not ask them?

Perhaps I will if the opportunity arises but I have to admit, I don't know any them well enough to encroach on what may be sensitive subjects.

many of the assertions are built up on myth - from people who never met him.

I don't care. I am talking about the bad-mouthing that people who did actually know him are getting for not agreeing with those who think he was utterly wonderful.


14 Oct 07 - 08:15 AM (#2170809)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Borchester Echo

Anyone who does contentious pieces to camera for network television in a programme that's been repeated more times than The Sound Of Music or The Wizard Of Oz must surely expect a fair bit of questioning and challenging. They wouldn't have agreed to take part otherwise, would they?


14 Oct 07 - 08:23 AM (#2170813)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

Then question or challenge them instead of insulting them or calling them liars.


14 Oct 07 - 08:37 AM (#2170819)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Borchester Echo

Shirley Collins made some very embittered accusations against Ewan MacColl in front of millions. All those (including me) who were somewhat surprised at such intemperance are not 'insulting' her by merely referring to the broadcast which she presumably wants people to see. Next time I see her in the Post Office queue it'll be the first thing I mention.

In the same series, Reg Hall was talking about some sleevenotes which he was assuming Ewan had approved. He was clearly not in full possession of the facts. As I've said, I'd hoped to see him last Friday but he wasn't there. I'll be asking him when I do see him (and if I remember and if we don't have more interesting things to talk about).

As for Frankie Armstrong, has anyone read or even seen this book from which the alleged quote is culled? I haven't. Again, I might ask her when I see her. Anybody could.


14 Oct 07 - 08:56 AM (#2170820)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

Diane Eas

Shirley Collins made some very embittered accusations against Ewan MacColl in front of millions.

...and you accused her of waffling. Clearly MacColl must have done something to seriously piss her off. Aren't you interested to know what?

Even Peggy Seeger refers to "Ewan's intransigence and argumentative temperament". Are you going to accuse her of lying too?


14 Oct 07 - 09:07 AM (#2170824)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Borchester Echo

OK, she waffled some very embittered accusations . . .

I know what pissed her off. She doesn't like what Ewan did to songs (adapting and nicking tunes for his own work). She says they didn't 'belong' to him.
She might as well be as dismissive of Ashley Hutchings . . . hmmm, she probably has been.
Not a lot to do with "intransigence and argumentative temperament". Just "artistic differences".


14 Oct 07 - 09:50 AM (#2170845)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

"I think I'm seriously losing the plot here. Why was Henry Cowell discussing MacColl and Lloyd on a record of music by Willie Clancy and Michael Gorman?"
He wasn't
Reg Based his statement on the last sentence of this sleeve note. Neither MacColl not Lloyd are mentioned in the insert:
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES
Michael Gorman is a 58 year old traditional fiddler from Co. Sligo, Southern Ireland.    He has "been playing fiddle since he was 8 years old.    James Gannon .of Achontry, Co..Sligo, a great fiddler, heard Michael whistling fiddle tunes and offered to teach him the fiddle if he could get hold of an instrument.    Michael got his fiddle and was apprenticed to Gannon and later to Michael Gorman, who taught every fiddler of note in West of Ireland.    Gorman soon became a notable fiddler in the county Sligo style, a style which (unlike that of Donegall) eschews heavy down-bowing and achieves its effects by highly elaborate fingering.    From being champion fiddler of the district, Michael became regional champion and later national champ.    He has represented Ireland at International folk festivals. In his younger days he was also renowned as a dancer with a nice, clean style of footwork.    Even today, after a lifetime of heavy work, he will, if moved or excited, dance a jig or a hornpipe while accompanying himself on the fiddle.    He has made many recordings for B.B.C. folk music archives, has broadcast and been in television.    During the day he works as a railway porter at Liverpool Street Station, London, and is one of the folk musicians who is helping to build the British Folk Song and.Dance Ensemble.
Jim Carroll


14 Oct 07 - 11:28 AM (#2170868)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

This is like a treasure hunt; one clue leads to the next.

Did the British Folk Song and Dance Ensemble exist? Were MacColl and Lloyd involved with it? Was Michael Gorman working with them in any way?

This is the link I should have given for Henry Cowell. I didn't realise which part of the site I was looking at when I harvested the address. Sounds like a man who would know what he was talking about.


14 Oct 07 - 12:56 PM (#2170920)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

On one occasion I was doing a support for EwanMacColl/PeggySeeger[late Eighties] .
Peggy made an astonishing remark,she said there dont seem to be many people writing good songs in England at the moment,which is the opposite of what they found in the USA.
At the time the following people were writing good songs, Peter Bond, Leon Rosselson,Anne Lister,Bill Caddick,Richard Grainger,Jez Lowe and many more,they appeared not to have heard of many of these., I didnt ask their opinion of Leon Rosselson.
IMO Ewan and Peggy became isolated,and out of touch from the rest of the folk revival,partly because they didnt like having support acts,and partly they didnt visit or get booked at many English/uk folk festivals at this time ,they tended to operate in their own isolated sphere,and were unaware what other people were doing in the British Folk Revival,much happened that did not involve the Singers Club.Dick Miles.


14 Oct 07 - 01:12 PM (#2170933)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Big Al Whittle

Can't be that pissed off with Ashley - she was in The Etchingham Steam Band. She used to have a stick like a hobby horse and thump it on the floor to the music. There was most of Six Hands in Tempo in that line up.

God, I hate being old.


14 Oct 07 - 01:18 PM (#2170936)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

"Did the British Folk Song and Dance Ensemble exist? Were MacColl and Lloyd involved with it?"
No idea if it existed - Bert and Ewan certainly weren't involved.
Personally, I think it was more likely to have been an EFDSS idea. I think MacColl assisted Ralph Rinzler to record Michael Gorman for and album called Irish Music in London Pubs, but I don't think it went any further than that
Cap'n,
Ewan and Peggy were professional singers who were booked all over the UK. They organised tours for themselves (Pat did a couple for them at one time) and they played to packed houses wherever they went. At the Spinners Club in Liverpool, where I first saw them, it was necessary to book a couple of weeks in advance in order to be guaranteed to get in, Manchester (MSG) was the same. Sounds fairly successful to me. They didn't like festivals, though they appeared at Keele once - Ewan said "never again".
As far as songwriters were concerned, don't know when he made the remark but Peggy edited the New City Songster for around 20 years which included compositions from songwriters from all over the UK and Ireland;
WLD contributed a song to one issue.
Jim Carroll


14 Oct 07 - 01:44 PM (#2170949)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

I told you when PEGGY made the remark,LATE 1980,S.
Cap'n,
Ewan and Peggy were professional singers who were booked all over the UK. They organised tours for themselves (Pat did a couple for them at one time) and they played to packed houses wherever they went. At the Spinners Club in Liverpool, where I first saw them, it was necessary to book a couple of weeks in advance in order to be guaranteed to get in, Manchester (MSG) was the same. Sounds fairly successful to me. They didn't like festivals, though they appeared at Keele once - Ewan said "never again".
As far as songwriters were concerned, don't know when he made the remark but Peggy edited the New City Songster for around 20 years which included compositions from songwriters from all over the UK and Ireland;
WLD contributed a song to one issue.
Jim Carroll,
I never suggested they were not successful,just out of touch with the rest of the revival.yes we all know about New City Songster,her being editor proves nothing,professional songwriters of a high standard,publish their own songs,they do not need to send them to NCS,
This to me epitomises the mistake they made,over emphasing the importance of the singers club,and NCS.
Ewan and Peggy were gifted performers,they were excellent songwriters,and very good singers,she is also agood musicianthey were both helpful to others with research,but they also made mistakes and like all of us had feet of clay .


14 Oct 07 - 02:10 PM (#2170973)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Big Al Whittle

well there were a lot of other songwriters used to send there work to NCS and found the experience useful . As I remember there was the work of Eric Bogle, Miles Wooton, Jack Warshaw, as well as Ewan Peggy and Hamish's in the NCS. Are these not 'profesional songwriters of a high standard'.

I was terrifically proud of getting in NCS. My work has never found favour in the folk world, but Ewan and Peggy did me a great service in giving me that little bit of recognition that kept me going as a songwriter.

The thing about Peggy and Ewan was that they did their own thing. They were far too bohemian and plain intelligent for the world of poxy folk music - with all its stifling orthodoxies.

They didn't mind telling you something that would upset you - but so bloody what....! Most of us can't go a day without upsetting some eejit on the mudcat. Weigh that against a lifetime of achievement, and trying and committment, and be nice to his memory. please.

PS See the Lincolnshire folksong competition thread. if Peggy and Ewan hadn't encouraged me, I might never have made it to be alongside the Seal Sanctuary on The Skegness website - not to mention writing the 17th most popular football song in Germany!


14 Oct 07 - 02:50 PM (#2170999)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

WLD The point I am making is this,and I should have phrased it better,
Some professional songwriters did send their songs to NCS,but many didnt,and didnt want to and didnt need to,therefore Peggy relying on NCS as an indicator of which new songs were being written throughout the UK,was/is not a valid way of getting a true representation and I believe they over emphasised the importance of the NCS.however NCS song books were of a high standard.
What they hadnt realised was that times change, Some Songwriters wanted to have more control over publishing of their material,and that a songwriting publication with a limited distribution[NCS],was mot necessarily the best way of publicising ones material,They preferred to bring out their own songbooks,or record them.
I have never sent any of my songs to NCS,and I am sure there are hundreds of somgwriters like me .Dick Mileshttp://www.dickmiles.com


14 Oct 07 - 02:58 PM (#2171004)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Big Al Whittle

well at the time , there wasn't an internet - and there certainly weren't many other people out there encouraging you.

And Ewan and Peggy made it clear that publishing the song in NCS would protect your interest - and not exploit you. Honestly Dick - they were really bloody nice.

they deserve better than all this slagging off.

I hate to think what they're going to say about someone like me who's been a bit of a bastard in his time.


14 Oct 07 - 03:50 PM (#2171033)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

I think I really need to see Folk Britannia to find out what really did go on. Is it on DVD?


14 Oct 07 - 03:51 PM (#2171034)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

Cap'n
Who said she ran NCS for the benefit of 'professional songwriters. Her aim was to encourage songwriting and to circulate the many good songs that were being written by non-professionals. I can think of very few professional songwriters whose songs would suit the NCS.
Again, as with the Critics Group, it was an example of them being prepared to spend time helping other singers, not a particularly prevalent attitude among professional singers then or now.
How did they 'overemphasise' the importance of NCS. She just did it off her own bat for free and ploughed back anything that was made into the next issue.
"Songwriters wanted to have more control over publishing of their material"
I think you're right, which reminds me of an earlier thread discussing the reluctance to share material.
Sorry about the Ewan/Peggy confusion regarding the dearth of songwriters.
I believe she said something similar on television. Maybe she felt, like me, that much songwriting has become far too introspective and private. Tom Munnelly put it well in The Journal of Music in Ireland when he wrote, "you feel like tapping them on the shoulder and asking permission to come in".
This does not mean there aren't good songwriters about, just not as many IMO.
Not the case in Ireland with Con 'Fada' O'Driscoll, Sean Moan, Fintan Vallely, Tim Lyons et al - and of course Scotland has the magnificent Adam McNaughton.
Ewan and Peggy's contact with the rest of the revival changed radically after the John Snow fiasco, but this didn't mean they were not aware of what was happening - they just chose to work with the Critics - thanks be to whoever!
Having said this, they were leading figures in The Peace Movement, The Anti-Apartheid campaign, various anti-fascist organisations, the Folksingers For Freedom in Viet Nam (proud to say I stood shoulder to elbow with Peggy in Grosvenor Square (would have been shoulder-to-shoulder but I'm not tall enough). It goes without saying they were fairly unstinting with their time and energy - and there are only so many hours in the day.
Of course Ewan wasn't perfect - who is; but he must have been a baaad, baaad boy to deserve to be slagged off eighteen years after his death.
Jim Carroll


14 Oct 07 - 05:07 PM (#2171082)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

Jim .I think my posts have been balanced,I have pointed out many of their good points.
I did not say she ran it for the benefit of professional songwriters,
WLD gave some examples of professional songwriters whose songs did suit the group ,Bogle, Warshaw and Wooton.
WLD,You are right they were/are honest people,financially and creatively.
Jim,I too,along with many others in the folk scene have attended many CND,Anti Apartheid, and Anti poll tax demonstrations.Dick Miles


14 Oct 07 - 05:50 PM (#2171124)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

Jim,What was the reason for them not liking festivals,did they feel that they didnt fit into a local community ,as well as the best folk clubs?


14 Oct 07 - 07:25 PM (#2171194)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Barry Finn

Geeze, How the hell could 2 individuals have done all this stuff, Impossible, I say. Who has that kind of energy, that kind of compassion for others, that kind of talent, that kind of free time, that kind of orginisational skills, that kind of mind to be able to trap all that data, that kind of willingness to collect then to share that collection so freely, that much ink to have written so much & been so dispised by so many. They couldn't even enter the US for a period of years to perform they were hated so much by the US governement, that says something right there that they must've been doing something humane, God, how the hell did anyone not overlook some of their human failings. How the hell do any of us get by without being perfect, always having someone tapping us on the damn shoulder, "can I have a word with you?" or "A moment of your time, please?", "fuck off you pesty folkie & leave me the fuck alone!". You all should give it a rest & be happy that they did what was alomst imposible & stop digging up the dirt that's best left over the poor fucker's grave. I don't think any of us hasn't pissed off at least a few folks when it comes to music but there are none of us here that have done so much for it as they have, tough shit. From most of what's been posted here with very few exceptions they've slighted so few & been so more than for most every one else in the many fields that their lives covered that those who want more keep digging but leave the dirt that over his body alone, there's nothing left their but a dead body & there's no sense in cutting that up.

As for not knowing about all the hidden talent writing songs then or today, please, we all have only 2 ears each & if there's alway someone in one of them that cuts down your chances to half.

Barry


14 Oct 07 - 07:34 PM (#2171202)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

Trash the reputations of the living to protect the memory of the dead?


14 Oct 07 - 07:52 PM (#2171214)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Big Al Whittle

snail, cos he disagreed with people - perhaps expressed himself badly in some situations.

nobody's trashing anyone - except MacColl.

If people wanted to take his words and misconstrue them into bad behaviour - its the last thing he would have wanted. Really he was okay.

My songs take all my money, all my time and they don't get anywhere in the folkworld - cos I think 'traditional' music is a load of bullshit. An insult to my intellect. Nobody handed this pile of rubbish down to me. I've suffered from the shits who have twisted MacColl's words more than most, although not as much as the ones of my generation who are dead.

But it doesn't mean Ewan wasn't a great and decent human being.

rest easy

al


14 Oct 07 - 08:02 PM (#2171218)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: curmudgeon

Snail - The living at least have a chance to defend themselves.

On another front, has anyone posting to this thread even bought the book?

I've gotten to the time of his desertion from the army. Anyone else gotten that far?


14 Oct 07 - 08:37 PM (#2171225)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Barry Finn

I'd be happy (actually overjoyed) to read it after you're done Tom, thanks for the offer. HeHeHe. Or has it already been spoken for, finiances are bad this month.

Barry


14 Oct 07 - 08:46 PM (#2171229)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

weelittledrummer

nobody's trashing anyone - except MacColl.

and Shirley Collins, and Britta Sweers and Frankie Armstrong and Reg Hall and the Leveller and anyone else who dares question MacColl's perfection. Read the thread WLD.

I think 'traditional' music is a load of bullshit

I know you do WLD. You've said so a great many times. Nobody cares.

curmudgeon

Snail - The living at least have a chance to defend themselves.

Aginst abuse and being called a liar? Not easy.


14 Oct 07 - 09:29 PM (#2171247)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Big Al Whittle

'anyone else who dares question MacColl's perfection. '

thers only you who seems to think he should have been capable of perfection.

I know you don't care what I think, bit at least I do think.

doesn't seem to be a lot of cerebral activity in your corner, pal. just a load of snotty remarks about a great man. You invoke all these people, I doubt any one of them would deny his greatness as an artist.


14 Oct 07 - 09:38 PM (#2171254)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Effsee

Mymy, what a stushie. I never met the man but have enjoyed and admired his works for decades. This thread has brought to mind the words of a man I think Ewan might have admired.

Then gently scan your brother man,
Still gentler sister Woman,
Tho' they may gang a kennin' wrang,
To step aside is human:
One point must still be greatly dark,
The moving Why they do it;
And just as lamely can ye mark,
How far perhaps they rue it.

Who made the heart,'tis he alone
Decidedly can try us,
He knows each chord it's various tone,
Each spring it's various bias,
Then at the balance let's be mute,
We never can adjust it,
What's done we partly may compute,
But know not what's resisted.

Robert Burns
The address to the unco guid, or rigidly righteous

Hmmm?


15 Oct 07 - 02:41 AM (#2171324)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Jim Carrooll

"Jim,What was the reason for them not liking festivals,did they feel that they didnt fit into a local community ,as well as the best folk clubs?"
Why should you assume this Cap'n?
It seems to me a case of applying a somewhat unpleasant motive to something perfectly reasonable - not an entirely original approach to MacColl and Seeger.
I don't like festivals - I find them impersonal and uncomfortable. The ones I have been to, mainly The National, have been far too curate's eggish and diverse. The only one I thoroughly enjoyed was at Sutton Bonnington the year it went Irish; Junior Crehan, Eamon McGivney, Bobby Casey, The Keane Sisters, Kevin and Ellen Mitchell, Frank Harte, Cathal Goan - lovely stuff.
I realise that not eveybody likes the same type of thing as me, but I much prefer the more intimate, concentrated singing week-ends we have here, Ennystymon (RIP), Roscommon, Sligo, Cork (singing week-end), Frank Harte weekend.
Hand on heart - the big festivals never once made me feel "I didn't fit in" - I just don't like them.   
Snail
"Shirley Collins, and Britta Sweers and Frankie Armstrong and Reg Hall" were not being slagged off; they all made statements which were disagreed with and in each case the statements were challenged, not the individuals concerned - do you think this has been the case with the MacColls
Off to Kerry for a few days to do some research
Enjoy
Jim Carroll


15 Oct 07 - 05:25 AM (#2171380)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Bryn Pugh

'. . . They didn't like support acts. . . "

Welcome back, Capting, and I hope you are feeling better, and your relarive as well and hapy as may be.

Capting - I supported Ewan McColl and Peggy Seeger on several occasions, both as 'support' and as MC.

Where, please, is your evidence for the above statement, that they didn't like support acts ?

I have commented here (I think) and in other threads as to their courtesy, and encouragement of talent great and small. Perhaps I am biased, as I was complimented on my singing of a version of Child #1 by Peggy, called 'The Devil's Nine Questions'.

What I abominate is the slagging-off by those who never met Ewan McColl and/or Peggy Seeger - of, for that matter, Jim Carroll or me.

It isn't a case of 'McColl right or wrong' with me - I have said earlier that there was, and is, a fair bit in their music that I do not care for. As people, though, and speaking from my own acquaintance - they do not deserve, and have never deserved, the shite thrown at them.

I will finish on a repetition - How can a second, third, fourth or fifth hand opinion be 'valid' ? Hearsay is not evidence, regardless of how much the utterer would like it to be.

I, too, do not care for festivals. I far prefer the intimacy of a folk club.


15 Oct 07 - 06:13 AM (#2171401)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

WLD

Have you actually ready ANY of this thread? I'l ignore you until you say something that actually relates to anything that was really said.

Jim

You don't consider accusing people of waffling and lying as "slagging them off" then?

Bryn

How can a second, third, fourth or fifth hand opinion be 'valid' ?

Why do you keep repeating this mantra when what we are talking about are people who did know him personally?

I'm beginning to think that nobody is interested in the real Ewan MacColl, only the legend. You'd better not read the biography then in case you find something you don't like.


15 Oct 07 - 06:59 AM (#2171421)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Bryn Pugh

Snail - Perhaps you did know him personally. I certainly did.

I said that I was reiterating, but it is the second part of my (as you call it) 'mantra' which I think is the more important :

that 'Willie' heard 'Marjorie' say that 'Bruno' had heard that 'Googeen' had been told by Joe Bloggs that Lizzie Dripping had said that Ewan McColl was arrogant, rude and unhelpful.

I have read the biography, thank you very often, and I didn't find anything I didn't like.

I also didn't find many surprises, which is not to say that I was familiar with the materials.

Tell you what - I'll give you another chance to have a pop at me for repeating myself :

it is not a case, with me of 'McColl right or wrong'.

I knew a man, not a legend.


15 Oct 07 - 07:22 AM (#2171431)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

I am not remotely interested in what 'Willie' or 'Marjorie' or 'Bruno' or 'Googeen' or Joe Bloggs or Lizzie Dripping had to say about MacColl.

Shirley Collins new MacColl. Reg Hall new MacColl. Frankie Armstrong new MacColl. The Leveller met MacColl. Dammit, Peggy Seeger who I have quoted earlier new MacColl very well indeed. What they have to say is not hearsay, but anything they say that dosn't fit the party line seems to be inadmissable evidence.

Do you mean you've read the Ben Harker biography several times? Then how about returning to the thread subject and telling us a bit about it.

I knew a man, not a legend.

Then tell us about the man. I'm willing to bet that it will be a lot more interesting than the legend.


15 Oct 07 - 08:03 AM (#2171443)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Bryn Pugh

Sigh.

Wit, or sarcasm, as you choose, can be wasted on some.

Had I read the biography more than once there would have been a comma between 'thank you'and 'very often'.

Similarly, I use 'knew'- note the 'k' - as the perfect of 'know' as in 'acquainted with'. 'New', to me, connotes that which is fresh, ; or 'previously unknown' or 'not previously acquired'. Perhaps you omitted or elided the 'k' in your hurry to have a pop at me.

The phrase 'thank you very often' is a Northern humorous one, variants being 'thank you not enough' or 'thank you very glad'.

Being humorous, clearly it passed over your head.

I have said all I have to say about Ewan McColl - I have said all I know.

I am glad that you agree Hearsay to be inadmissible. Perhaps you might explain your use of 'party line', because that has gone over my head.


15 Oct 07 - 08:24 AM (#2171453)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

This is a technique I have come across before. Have a go at someone's typos to avoid actually addressing what they said.

The people I have listed KNEW MacColl. They had first hand experience of what he was like. What they have to say is not hearsay.

The "party line" is that MacColl was invariable polite and helpful and much loved by everyone who knew him.

I have said all I have to say about Ewan McColl - I have said all I know.

Apparently you don't want to know any more.

'thank you very often'

My parents are from Merseyside. Never heard it before.

Have you read Ben Harker's biography? Any comments?


15 Oct 07 - 08:28 AM (#2171455)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: theleveller

Hi folks, hope everyone had a nice weekend.

There's been mention above about people commenting before they've read the biography. Personally, I haven't read it but, then, I was just pasing on a personal experience. Will I read it? Maybe, but I've a huge reading list and it's somewhere near the bottom. I wonder how many people read it simply to see if they're mentioned.

One aspect that has been mentioned that I do find really bizzarre is the Critic's Circle. Who were the critics and what were their credentials for being critics? Were they elected or self-appointed? Did they criticise personal style, content, or what? How does this fit in with the whole point of folk music; that any performance is relevant because it is the music of the people, not of some elitist group?

Perhaps it's the rather pompous and authoritarian name, but it immediately brought to mind 'Animal Farm' with the pigs sitting in judgement on the other animals. Were there slogans written on the wall, like '4/4 good; 2/4 bad'?


15 Oct 07 - 08:31 AM (#2171457)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

Double take.

Bryn, are you saying that what Peggy Seeger said was hearsay?


15 Oct 07 - 08:47 AM (#2171466)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Dave Sutherland

Leveller, MacColl explains the purpose of The Critics Group very clearly in "Journeyman". In a nutshell the group's name was meant to infer that they were there to criticise themselves.


15 Oct 07 - 08:57 AM (#2171474)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

JIM,as a matter of fact I prefer folk clubs to festivals,Iam sorry if I didnt express myself very well.I wondered if their reasons were the same as mine.
my reasons are this,in a good folk club,there is a feeling of being in a community,or part of a local community,that the club has a local flavour[Swindon folk club is a good example].whereas festivals can be,[not always]rather like glorified road shows, one act following another with out any continuity.,or relevance to the local community
,or the localconmmunity being involved at all.
Bryn,they did prefer to work without support acts,they said this to organisers,they told the organiser of the concert,of which I did the support[we thought Dick Miles was very good],but we prefer to work without support acts,and if you wish to book us again,that is how we prefer to work.
I am fairly sure,when I booked them for Bury ST Edmunds folk club[They gave a great night],they booked into a hotel,had exact stipulations for when they would perform,stipulations for certain kind of seats[this is not a criticism, just a fact].


15 Oct 07 - 09:07 AM (#2171484)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

Peggy, was very complimentary about my song accompaniment and playing,and unfortunately from my point of view[I am always keen to hear other peoples approaches to song accompaniment on the Concerina],didnt use her concertina for the rest of the night.Their performance that night was one of the highlights of my time as organiser of BuryStEdmunds folk club.Dick Miles


15 Oct 07 - 09:35 AM (#2171503)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Bryn Pugh

Mr Snail - no ; yes ; no ; and no.

I can speak only for the Manchester critics, of which I was a member at Jim Carroll's invitation.

The purpose of this, as I understood it, was to criticise - CONSTRUCTIVELY - my interpretation and presentation of the traditional songs I was at that time singing.

There were, as I remember, seven of us, and through Jim C's generosity, I has access to materials and techniques on singing which otherwise I might not. I was delighted to receive advice from singers on the Manchester scene more experienced than I, or less, as the case might be.

Dave S has the rights of it - we were there to criticise constructively one another ; analyse, and, above all else learn from those with greater experience - Ewan McColl, via Jim C, being one of these.

At no time was any criticism (with one exception, which I shall outline below) directed to any other than a Member of the Manchester Critics ; and at no time was any such criticism other than constructive. I can say whose singing I don't care for, at any time, but I would not think, now or then, of criticising another's singing.

To give an example : 'Your breathing is shit in that song, Bryn - try . . . etc.'

The criticism to which I referred in the earlier paragraph was apropos the night Jim C came to Critics and announced 'Ewan wants me down in London'.

I wouldn't dream, now or then, of criticising the singing of another. Criticism never went outside the Manchester critics membership. I can say, now and then, whose singing I do not care for.
Let it be remembered (since I shall be pulled up for repeating myself) that I said, of Ewan McColl and Peggy Seeger, I do not care for much of the non-traditional material they were responsible for. Let it further be remembered that I have posted to the effect that I have followed and damn near worshipped Martin Carthy since 9th October 1966 - my 'Sam Larner' moment.

For the last time, I hope : I never found Ewan McColl anything but courteous and helpful. If that is toeing the party line, so be it. If others had different experiences, fine.

I never said Ewan McColl was much loved - from what has been going on in this thread, anything but.

I have read the Harker biography. From what has been going on in this thread, anyone who expects me to comment on it should bear in mind the axioms :

'Only a dog comes back after a kicking'.

'Only a fool puts his balls in the mangle twice'.


15 Oct 07 - 09:38 AM (#2171505)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Folkiedave

I am not sure who or what the "Critic's Circle" is. However if you mean the Critic's Group which is referred to a number of times in this thread then there is an article here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Critics_Group

I don't normally take Wikipedia as gospel - but in this case it covers my understanding of what the Critics Group was about.

They were simply criticising each other with the aim of improving their own performances and thus needed no credentials to criticise anyone else. So really the last two paragraphs are just based on a mis-understanding. (Does no-one ever look in Google before asking questions like this?)

I have eventually found the one remaining copy of the New City Songster I have, which is Volume 9 and dated October '73. There were twenty-one eventually. Because of a printing problem no's 4 and 5 were combined. A number 22 was written but never published. This Volume 9 will be going up on ebay (blatant plug) around the end of October.

Here is what is says in the introduction:

"Over the past year we have had many many songs sent in - the production is prodigious. The editors have spent long hours listening to tapes, pouring over hand-written texts have importuned every singer or writer to 'please send us everything you write'.

To such a request, some people say "O you wouldn't be interested in the stuff I write". Or "I have lots of different kinds of songs, they're not like the one you just heard" Or.."The NCS has such a particular song in it..........". Our reply is that we are interested in every song anyone ever writes. We have found from experience that a writer is not always the best judge of his material, that in a tape of a dozen really bad songs you can find agem. So the tapes and letters come rolling in anywhere from 10 to 25 songs per week".

Later on they say they are willing to make tapes of the songs for those who do not read music, for the costs of the tape and 10-15p towards the Songster Fund.

I think this bears out very well what Jim was saying about them both being willing to share their time and expertise.

As for them not liking festivals, Peggy will be doing the Shepley Spring Festival next year (second blatant plug in one reply).


15 Oct 07 - 09:47 AM (#2171513)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

Bryn Pugh

If that is toeing the party line, so be it. If others had different experiences, fine.

Thank you Bryn, you have finally stopped dismissing other peoples experiences as hearsay. Now if we can just persuade a few of the others, we might start to get a picture of the real Ewan MacColl.


15 Oct 07 - 09:56 AM (#2171521)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Bryn Pugh

Please, Mr Snail -

If this is how it came over, my unresrved apology.

My dismissal of other peoples' experiences was reserved to those who repeat the other party lines - 'ethnic' ; finger in lug ; etc., and who never met Ewan McColl and Peggy Seeger, but repeated scurrility they had heard from others.

If it came over differently; if it came over as my having a go at those who HAD met or known either and both, then I am sorry that such people do not have the pleasant memories of Ewan McColl and Peggy Seeger which I have.


15 Oct 07 - 10:08 AM (#2171529)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

Thank you Bryn. I'm afraid that is how it came over.

I have no wish to denigrate Ewan McColl and Peggy Seeger. They were clearly hugely important figures in the folk revival and I would like to know more about them but I want to know the whole truth not just a partial version. There are some on this list who have attacked people who were/are also important in the revival in ways they do not deserve simply to protect their image of McColl and Seeger.

I may even have to buy the book.


15 Oct 07 - 03:04 PM (#2171755)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Winger

Phew! You've been a busy lot over the weekend and it'll take me some time to read through this stuff.

But thankfully, we seem to be making some progress. In particular, Jim and I have found some common ground at last: "they were leading figures in The Peace Movement, The Anti-Apartheid campaign, various anti-fascist organisations, the Folksingers For Freedom in Viet Nam".

And some people see MacColl merely as a singer, Jim!

It appears that his politics informed his song-writing and quite possibly his views on traditional song. But it still leaves me wondering about the WWII years. I've heard (hearsay, of course)that he was quite prolific in his songwriting during that time. Does anyone have any information about that?

Since the Harker biography appears to deal with that era, it's definitely on my wish list.


15 Oct 07 - 03:30 PM (#2171777)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Shimrod

"One aspect that has been mentioned that I do find really bizzarre is the Critic's Circle. Who were the critics and what were their credentials for being critics? Were they elected or self-appointed? Did they criticise personal style, content, or what? How does this fit in with the whole point of folk music; that any performance is relevant because it is the music of the people, not of some elitist group?"

Oh dear! Here we go again! I believe that Folkiedave and Bryn Pugh have dealt with this point more than adequately - but I do find this sort of thing really, really, really irritating!!

"Any performance" is NOT adequate if it does not do justice to the genius of the people. This was a central point of Ewan's teaching. To suggest that any old shite will do for the people's music is patronising in the extreme and, I contend, ELITIST!


16 Oct 07 - 10:33 AM (#2172309)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

The critics group, did contain some good singers,whether they were elitist is irrelevant,what they did, was try to make suggestions to people[who wanted criticism] as to how they could improve their singing,that is a good thing,whether their criticisms were right is another question,their intentions were good.
Personally I never felt it necessary to join them.I did ask people for advice [such as Isobel Sutherland],in the end Ithink more can be acheived[stylewise] from listening to good traditional singers like PhilTanner and Harry Cox.
I always thought MacColls presentation was very good,the same can be said for Roy Harris,the best way to learn[imo] is to observe other good performers,this can be done without forming a group such as The Critics.Dick Miles


16 Oct 07 - 11:49 AM (#2172355)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: curmudgeon

Now having just completed "Class Act," I found the book a fine biography, informative, thoroughly documented, good photos, an overall good read.

This is a "warts and all" book. MacColl's detractors will find grist for their mean spirited mills, and thos who admire his achievements will gain some new insights. If nothing else, this book demonstrates that MacColl's flaws, unlike our own, have become magnified in light of his outstanding accomplishments.

The book doesn't have answers for all the questions on this thread. It is a study of MacColl's "Cultural and Political Life." And while his WW II activities are well documented, the reasons are not. I would tend to look to a line in one of his songs;

"But I'd sooner never travelled if the only way to see
The world was through the battlesights of a Mark IV 303."

As to Winger's question about songwriting during this period, there was virtually none. He was still immersed in theatre. Before "Dirty Old Town," c. 1950, the only songs he'd penned were "The Manchester Rambler," his reworking of "Jamie Foyers," and "Browned Off."

While many condider MacColl to be a song writer and revival singer, at the time he met Alan Lomax, he was a source singer, having abosorbed his songs from his parents and the Scottish community of Salford.

Buy the book or borrow it, but read this book. Then come back for further discussion - Tom Hall


16 Oct 07 - 10:58 PM (#2172686)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Joe_F

Curmudgeon: -- and, presumably, the Second Front Song?


16 Oct 07 - 11:16 PM (#2172698)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Nerd

Curmudgeon, I haven't read the new bio, but I have read much of the other MacColl literature, and you're off on some of the history. In the Essential Ewan MacColl Songbook, Peggy Seeger points out that Ewan wrote political songs for nine different factory newspapers in the 1930s (I've only found one in the book, from 1932...since there is no date index, it's hard to know if there are more in there!)

He also wrote songs like "The Plodder Steam" in 1939, "The Leader's a Bleeder" (about Sir Oswald Mosley!) in 1943, "The Second Front Song" in 1943-44, "Ivor" in 1944, "21 Years" in 1946, etc.

Given that he was a professional songwriter and actor by the age of 18, and a professional radio playwright by 21, I doubt if too many collectors would ever consider him a "source singer." We could, of course, argue at length about what that term means, but MacColl, like Bert Lloyd, learned at least as much about folksongs from books as he did from his family and community, even as a teenager (Seeger recounts that he spent most of his time during the depression reading in the Manchester Library.)

Like Lloyd, MacColl is situated in a way between the tradition and the revival--but he was never, I think, a "source singer."

I'll certainly read the book when I can!


17 Oct 07 - 03:39 AM (#2172774)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Folkiedave

I am not sure about the usefulness of the phrase source singer and prefer to use "tradition bearer". In that case since he sang songs he learnt from his mother - who I am fairly sure has songs in the School of Scottish Studies archives and was regarded as a "tradition bearer" - then there is a good chance he learnt those from her.

As far his early song-writing - I feel sure Joan Littlewood mentions in her biography that "he wrote a song a day" at some point when he was married to her. But I haven't a copy of the book to hand to check.


17 Oct 07 - 03:41 AM (#2172776)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Folkiedave

Sorry posted before I checked. Should read "then there is a good chance he ought to be regarded as a "tradition bearer".


17 Oct 07 - 04:50 AM (#2172801)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Nerd

That seems reasonable, folkiedave.


17 Oct 07 - 12:25 PM (#2173052)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Winger

Thanks, Folkiedave, I believe it was the Joan Littlewood book that gave me the impression that MacColl was writing quite prolifically during the war years.


18 Oct 07 - 03:01 AM (#2173422)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST

Ah, that's better - amazing what a few days surrounded by lakes, mountains and beautiful weather does for the soul.
Regarding MacColl a being a source singer. It is true that he got songs from his mother , Betsy. There is an album 'Garland For Betsy' on which they both sing songs from her repertoire.
There is also this from 'Prospero and Ariel, (The Rise And Fall Of Radio) by D.G.Bridson, Victor Gollancz Ltd.1971.
"MacColl had been out busking for pennies by the Manchester theatres and cinemas. The songs he sang were unusual, Scots songs, Gaelic songs he had learnt from his mother, border ballads and folk-songs. One night while queueing up for the three-and-sixpennies, Kenneth Adam had heard him singing outside the Manchester Paramount. He was suitably impressed" (can't lay my hands of the date of the incident, but I think it was around 1936).
However, MacColl always rejected the label 'traditional'; I think Folkiedave's point is an accurate one.
Regarding his output as a songwriter, while looking for above I came across this gem of misrepresentation from a radio programme on the history of Topic Records, 'Little Red Label'.
".....but ultimately, in the sixties, when he formed The Critics Group, he was very anti songwriting, which led to kind of bizarre situations, kind of Bob Dylan coming down at the infancy of his career, and MacColl kind of feeling ambivalent about it, which is bizarre. I mean, to a lot of people Bob Dylan couldn't sing properly, he also wrote his own songs or updated old songs, and all those things were a bit of a no-no in the philosophy of The Critics Group who thought they were just purely there to kind of dust down old songs".
Is it really any wonder we get pissed off sometimes?
When Karl Dallas organised a symposium in honour of Ewan on his 70th birthday, I was asked to speak on the work of the Critics Group. I have been trying to cut this down to a manageable size, but, like Topsy, it just growed. I'll keep slogging at it, but I may have to leave it as it is and send it out to whoever is interested-if anybody. This is what I've got so far.
"In the early sixties a group of people not happy with what was happening in the revival, approached Ewan and asked him to take singing classes, these included Bob Davenport, Eric Winter and Enoch Kent. He refused, but agreed to organise self-help workshops to work on singing.
In preparation for this he devised a number of technical exercises, on voice production, pitch and tone control and relaxation along with a series of singing exercises for coping with articulation, diction and managing difficult intervals. A number of these were ones which had been used by him in Theatre Workshop.
Early members included Gordon McCullough, Bobby and Helen Campbell, John Faulkner, Sandra Kerr, Alasdair Clayre and Luke Kelly. The first meetings concentrated on technique, but also included the listening to and discussion of recordings of traditional singers.
Once the technical exercises had been established a format was devised where a singer was asked to perform a number of varying types of songs and perform them to the group, who would then discuss them and, if appropriate, make suggestions on how they might be improved. Ewan took no active part in the discussion, but acted as a chairman and, where necessary, made sure that all the suggestions that were made were fully understood. After the discussion had reached some sort of a conclusion the singer was asked to comment on his/her performance and on the ideas thrown up in the course of the evening. A song, or maybe two, was selected and worked on by the entire group, including Ewan.
The singer was then asked to bring back one of the songs a couple of weeks later.
The whole process was entirely voluntary; it was never demanded that singers must take up suggestions made during the criticism; the only obligation members were under was to turn up regularly, and that there should be some indication that the members were working on their singing. If singers were having problems, other members stepped in to help with private sessions; I was assisted by John Faulkner, Sandra Kerr and Dick Snell.
Quite often Ewan would assist privately and Peggy ran regular instrumental classes.
Other work included research on specific areas of repertoire (The Critics were the first to open up the London Repertoire with the two Argo albums); group song-writing sessions (resulting in Grey October and The Hull Trawler Disaster, among others), and numerous other ongoing projects.
The hardest part of the work was the initial act of singing in front of a group of people who you knew were going to subject your performance to close (if friendly) scrutiny, but once you had got over this idea, it was plain sailing (and incidentally, once you could sing in those circumstances, you could sing anywhere - I can honestly say that, whatever problems I now have with my singing, I never feel nervous in front of an audience).   
Jim Carroll


20 Oct 07 - 04:04 AM (#2175130)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

Well - that brought the house down, didn't it - Sorry 'bout that?
One last request.
Some time in the late seventies - early eighties Radio 2 (I think) produced a programme on the Radio Ballads. It lasted around an hour and was an overview of the series - probably the most comprehensive ever made.
We have a very bad (unlistenable) recording of it.
I wondered does anybody have any information on it. Any help would be appreciated.
There are rumours that a book on the series is in preparation.
Jim Carroll


20 Oct 07 - 07:51 AM (#2175206)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

Jim Carroll

Well - that brought the house down, didn't it

Hang on a minute Jim, we haven't finished reading it yet.


20 Oct 07 - 12:36 PM (#2175345)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

Thanks snail - needed that
Jim Carroll


15 Dec 09 - 11:40 AM (#2788868)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Charley Noble

Evidently, with the exception of Curmudgeon, no one who had posted in this thread had read the biography or reported on the experience if they had. I find that observation difficult to understand given the energy that was expressed or at least released in this thread.

I'm finally plowing through my copy, and have made it through to the late 1940's. I find the discussion of political theatre very interesting and I may have to read Joan Littlewood's book as well.

Charley Noble


15 Dec 09 - 02:55 PM (#2789008)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: MGM·Lion

--- one of the main problems of the revival is that we haven't attracted critics of any great note. Literature had Leavis, Tillyard and Wilson Knight - we had Karl Dallas and Colin Irwin. Both nice guys apparently - but neither of them inclined to challenge whatever load of balls singers were talking that week - at least not in print --- WLD 4 Oct 07 03.53

Let me belatedly and immodestly say that an incomplete picture is provided here.

-Michael Grosvenor Myer- sometime regular columnist for Folk Review; folk record, concert, festival critic, The Guardian; folk book critic, The Times = &c &c &c — 'Not to know me argues yourself unknown' (Shakespeare)


06 Dec 15 - 05:13 AM (#3756064)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: MGM·Lion

'Not to know me argues yourself unknown' (Shakespeare)

Not Shakespeare -- Milton: Paradise Lost IV 830

Sorry!

As I never tire of saying : "Accuracy matters".

≈M≈


06 Dec 15 - 05:39 PM (#3756238)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

As I never tire of saying : "Accuracy matters".
Jim Carroll, take note "Accuracy matters........" This includes reading others posts accurately.


07 Dec 15 - 04:24 PM (#3756525)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

MacColl was a fine songwriter who gave a lot of thought to his presentation of songs.


26 Jan 16 - 01:02 PM (#3768330)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Gavin Paterson

I got the book for xmas and just finished it. I enjoyed it very much as a fact finding mission but it added little to my understanding of his music. I don't think the author is a musician so it's down to us to dig into the music on places like this. I've had a good read through the old threads and there's a lot of good reading there. This site is a great resource now.

Reading the book sent me running to Spotify, Folkways, Topic and here to be a bit of research.

I was pretty well familiar with his written songs but not so much his own recorded versions. I have to say I like his own versions of his own songs.

What I didn't realise was just how many trad ballads he seems to have been the first to record. There must be as many national repertoire ballads to come via MacColl as there are his written material.

The Clancys, Dubliners, Ian Campbell, and lots more have a large amount of 'trad' MacColl in their songbooks. For their 3rd album, and the first to have songs from outside of Ireland, The Clancys blagged a good few songs from a just-issued Folkways MacColl & Seeger LP.

And it's a shame that efforts to discuss his music always resort to bickering about his other stuff. I *am* interested in reading about the Singers Club and the rights or wrongs of the Critics Group. But don't you think it's more important that the only recording of him singing Jamie Foyers has been out of print for years? And that most of his Topic 10" 78s have languished unheard for years.? That is a huge whole in the culture of these islands.


26 Jan 16 - 01:16 PM (#3768337)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

But don't you think it's more important that the only recording of him singing Jamie Foyers has been out of print for years? And that most of his Topic 10" 78s have languished unheard for years.? That is a huge whole in the culture of these islands."
Yes, I agree.


26 Jan 16 - 01:31 PM (#3768340)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"What I didn't realise was just how many trad ballads he seems to have been the first to record."
137 Child Ballads, some in multiple versions
More than happy to help in any way I can J to give you access to his recordings - live and otherwise.
PM me
Jim Carroll


26 Jan 16 - 01:50 PM (#3768344)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Gavin Paterson

Thanks Jim. I've enjoyed reading your words on these threads. I will do that very thing, ta.


26 Jan 16 - 06:42 PM (#3768403)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,jon bartlett

MGM Lion, have you published any longer pieces? And where might I find them?

Jon Bartlett


27 Jan 16 - 03:51 AM (#3768460)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: MGM·Lion

Thank you for your enquiry, Jon. 'Longer' than what, exactly? I was regular contributor of the Tailpiece in Folk Review in the 1970s, & also wrote there a few folk-themed parodies of known writers -- Conan Doyle, Damon Runyon, et al, & won some of their limerick & clerihew competitions, all of which I collected and self-published under title "The Despair of Dime Zillion" - one or two copies on Amazon last time I looked. But I have never published a full-length book as such. I have always regretted that, tho I can write features & reviews & brief prose & verse take-offs &c, I was born without the true creative gene. Unlike my late first wife, who was novelist & poet & biographer & critical writer, whom, if interested, you will find in Wikipedia under --Valerie Grosvenor Myer--.

≈Michael≈


27 Jan 16 - 06:18 AM (#3768492)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Jon Bartlett

Thanks for this, Michael. I shall PM you in a day or so.

Jon Bartlett


07 Apr 16 - 04:18 AM (#3783931)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GeoffLawes

In case someone would like it . This is very cheap.
Journeyman: The Autobiography Of Ewan Maccoll Price: £ 1.43Shipping: £ 2.27 Within United Kingdom

LINK to Abe Books listing
There are many other Ewan MacColl related books on the same listing but none as cheap as this.


12 Apr 16 - 03:51 AM (#3784821)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GeoffLawes

That copy seems to have been snapped up but the next best deal is still a bargain, I think.

Price: £ 2.99-£ 2.70 Within United Kingdom ( Same link as above)


12 Apr 16 - 04:14 AM (#3784824)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

Thanks for that Geoff - some gems among that lot.
Jim Carroll


12 Apr 16 - 03:05 PM (#3784944)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

Ewan MacColl, his influence can still be seen in the UK Folk Revival, his influence can be seen here today in County Cork, mainly the singing of his songs and indirectly in the resung repertoire of Luke Kelly.


23 Jan 18 - 11:53 AM (#3901261)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

i have just read journeyman, an interesting read, very occasionally Ewan pontificates on music and shows his lack of knowledge, but on the whole a very good read


23 Jan 18 - 12:24 PM (#3901272)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"Ewan pontificates on music and shows his lack of knowledge, b"
Should have come to you to put him straight, shouldn't he Dick !!!
Oh dear
Jim Carroll


23 Jan 18 - 03:35 PM (#3901328)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

Yes Jim,I would have put him straight, if he had asked, but Iwould consider it to have been rude unless he had asked
Ewan was a fine songwriter and singer but was not much of a musician, Peggy is a fine musician., and was responsible for most of the musical arrangements
Jim when will you stop being so defensive about Ewan. an example of ewan bollocks is page 306," the way of holding the fiddle is different"
no, Ewan not necessarily, the classical hold does not prevent a musician from being a good fiddler, what it does is allow the fiddler to play in third position in the style of n boyle, if he desires it also just like good posture in perfomance for singers allows the fiddle to perform without physical problems, this does not mean that fiddlers who hold the fiddle in a non classical way will inevitably have problems some do, some do not, one example who has is Liz Carroll, but there are others who have not, what is important with fiddle playing[regardless of the genre of the music] is how you hold the bow to enable good wrist movement. Ewan was pontificating on a subject he was ill informed about.


23 Jan 18 - 03:38 PM (#3901329)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

however what he says about programming and other aspects of performing[ balance of repertoire is very good


23 Jan 18 - 06:23 PM (#3901344)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"Yes Jim,I would have put him straight,"
Get help Dick
Jim Carroll


24 Jan 18 - 10:28 AM (#3901459)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

Jim it is you that needs help, please do not misquote, my quote was
Yes Jim,I would have put him straight, if he had asked, but Iwould consider it to have been rude unless he had asked.
you are constantly misquoting and insulting people on this forum , get help yourself


24 Jan 18 - 12:36 PM (#3901493)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Vic Smith

you are constantly misquoting and insulting people on this forum


24 Jan 18 - 01:26 PM (#3901508)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

The phantom thumb strikes again - and then rides off into the sunset
Jim Carroll


24 Jan 18 - 02:43 PM (#3901527)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Hootenanny

Riding off into the sunset?

Sounds like the guy who accused me of being dishonest but has yet to show me where. Despite two requests.


24 Jan 18 - 07:05 PM (#3901569)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"Despite two requests."
You've had your answer twice Hoot
A dyslexic, a megalomaniac and a typo-stalker - three for the price of one!
Jim Carroll


25 Jan 18 - 05:33 AM (#3901634)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

is it necessary to turn every discussion in to perpetual puerility?.


25 Jan 18 - 05:55 AM (#3901642)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

You talking to yourself again Dick
Jim Carroll


25 Jan 18 - 06:49 AM (#3901653)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Hootenanny

Jim,

You seem to be a little confused, I didn't ask for you CV. But it does explain a lot.


25 Jan 18 - 07:09 AM (#3901660)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,CJ

No one is perfect.

MacColl, like all of us, had many flaws.

Refusing to even accept that basic fact makes so many of your arguments instantly questionable, Jim, as we are all SO aware of how heavily you side with Ewan, who was a mere mortal. It's similar to a football fan refusing to believe any criticism of their own beloved team, despite them languishing mid-table and at times being beaten by teams who on paper would appear weaker.

Queue an arrogant response from Jim.


25 Jan 18 - 08:07 AM (#3901664)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Vic Smith

You would think that someone who has read a statement about himself like -

you are constantly misquoting and insulting people on this forum

would at least pause to reflect that there may be something to consider in that way he words his posts here, but no, three posts later, he goes with -

A dyslexic, a megalomaniac and a typo-stalker - three for the price of one!

What does this further insult achieve but serve as further evidence of Dick's claim of this poster's sustained policy of defamation of those who have the temerity to disagree with him.
I am sure that I am not the only person who comes to Mudcat for reasoned discussion, perhaps lightened when things get a bit heavy with some humour. Yet when this person enters the discussion, anyone else who posts risks the chance of receiving the sort of bile encountered in my quotation from him above.


25 Jan 18 - 08:19 AM (#3901666)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Vic Smith

And as for typo-stalker, I was giving the person who insulted me in this way the huge benefit of the doubt in calling his lapse a "typo" when it was clear that he did not realise what a huge mistake it was not to know the difference between the Venerable Bede, the Northumbrian monk of the 7th/8th century and his rendering of this as the Veritable Bede!

Of course, it could have been his keyboard not interpreting his typing accurately again.....


25 Jan 18 - 11:38 AM (#3901697)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: MickyMan

My voice recognition just entered "Ewan" as "You Nguyen".    I thought that was quite serendipitous, since MacColl was an undesputable "You Nguyen" man from the get-go!


25 Jan 18 - 02:09 PM (#3901739)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST

seem to recall that in the classic book '1066 and all that' the early Christian saint in this thread was called the Venomous Bead....... bit of light relief from the 'puerility' currently on offer?


25 Jan 18 - 03:25 PM (#3901758)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"MacColl, like all of us, had many flaws."
He had indeed, knew him long enough to observe them up close
I have little interest in what people thought of MacColl
It does concern me that, of all the people I knew in the revival, he did the most work on making sense of folk song and passing on what he learned
He did this within a group though mutual discussion and sharing ideas one with the other - a process made possible by he and Peg throwing open their home to others for one night a week over a period of nearly ten years - I was lucky enough to be part of that for a short time.
As far as I know, nobody was doing anything similar and few attached importance to folk songs as an art form
That, like everything MacColl did, didn't always work, but the process was recorded and remains as a body of unique work (nearly 200 tapes worth)
I have the recordings and have been trying to raise interest in this work for several years - as with our recordings of Walter Pardon et al, there is no interest in this project in Britain so we have finally got Limerick University to agree to house it in their Wold Music Department and possibly make it available to the general public by putting it on line.
I've long given up any hope of holding a rational discussion on MacColl's work without first having to scramble over a garbage mountain of army records and name change (this latter often from Robert Zimmermann or John Pandrich fans)
"Venerable Bede, the Northumbrian monk of the 7th/8th century and his rendering of this as the Veritable Bede!"
If you care to check the Roud book thread you will find that I have quoted the name at least three times, using the correct spelling - but we mustn't let that spoil you fun, must we?
My once respectful memories of you have been wiped away by your childishly snide behaviour of late Vic
Only someone bereft of intelligent argument resorts to typos as a substitute for argument and discussion
Up to now I have never insulted you - when you pointed out the pressure broadside writers worked under I mistakenly (apparently) took it you were saying something I have always said - that they were poor songwriters because of the speed they were forced to work to earn their pennies
It was never a deliberate attempt to misinterpret what you said, but it would mean a climb-down for you to accept that, so I don't hold out too much hope and, truth to tell, I no longer care
Jim Carroll


25 Jan 18 - 05:05 PM (#3901783)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Vic Smith

but we mustn't let that spoil you fun, must we?

But it was a funny mistake! I didn't want it to be anything other than a lighter moment. If I had made such a slip and someone had pointed it out, I would have laughed at my own error and probably posted something else to continue the joke. Instead, the perpetrator, rather than seeing the funny side of his own error - the two words are quite close, after all - resorted to insult, which in my book is rather sad!

Up to now I have never insulted you... [Objection, M'Lud- I would like at this point out that there have been a number of such occurances, for instance, I give in evidence Exhibit A. The accused wrote "You really have gone over to the dark side, Vic." This was for a posting which he disgreed with. I won't waste the court's time with the numerous other examples. One only has to look two lines above the 'no insult' claim to read "your childishly snide behaviour of late Vic" and this, your honour, I would submit that a reasonable man would regard as an insult.] ... when you pointed out the pressure broadside writers worked under I mistakenly (apparently) took it you were saying something I have always said - that they were poor songwriters because of the speed they were forced to work to earn their pennies.
It was never a deliberate attempt to misinterpret what you said, but it would mean a climb-down for you to accept that, so I don't hold out too much hope.

In response to this, I need to draw the attention of members of the jury to the statement of my learned friend, Lord Miles of Ballydehob when he stated "you are constantly misquoting and insulting people on this forum" which turns our attention from the 'insulting' element of the charge to the 'misquoting' part.
In my post about broadside writers, I pointed out that the writers of the rather tiresome prose broadsides claiming to be last speech of some poor felon standing on the gallows had to finish their work quickly without time to correct any errors or to polish their words before the prisoner was swinging at the end of the rope. I likened the 'last speech of...' broadsides to football programmes; both had to be sold before the crowd dispersed (and please note 'speech' writers rather than 'songwriters' as was stated by the accused. I made no claim about the quality of their writing 'poor' or otherwise.
I now 'climb-down' not from the gallows, but from this thread but 'I don't hold out too much hope' that the light-hearted banter of this response will be received in the manner it was presented.

Finally, may I point out another slip - Guest CJ wrote - 25 Jan 18 - 07:09 - Queue an arrogant response from Jim. when he clearly meant "Cue an arrogant..." etc. I wonder if CJ - if he responds - will see the funny side or return with an insult!


25 Jan 18 - 05:23 PM (#3901789)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,CJ

Yes Vic, I noticed that too, but was typing on my phone and couldn't work out how to correct it. TBH, i wanted to delete the entire line, it was too catty.

I like Mudcat. I barely post, but use it as a resource frequently. It saddens me when the more researched members of the community fall into ridiculously entrenched mud-slinging.


25 Jan 18 - 07:02 PM (#3901809)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: keberoxu

"New," my foot --
it was new eleven years ago?


25 Jan 18 - 07:59 PM (#3901819)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,paperback

[precious] Jim, men say iron sharpens iron and in this you are indomitable and as a junior will presume to also say a kind word never broke anyone's mouth [\precious]


26 Jan 18 - 03:30 AM (#3901845)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Modette

I love the idea of a 'Wold Music Department'? Is its head called 'Chalkie'?


26 Jan 18 - 03:49 AM (#3901848)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"But it was a funny mistake! I didn't want it to be anything other than a lighter moment. "
Sure you did Vic!!
That's why you continued to make a point of it right up to the present
It's an old ploy on this forum - "when in doubt, find a typo"
"perpetrator," definition "a person who carries out a harmful, illegal, or immoral act."
"I would like at this point out that there have been a number of such occurrences"
That was a long, and sometimes quite distressing thread
Being an unashamed fan of courtroom dramas I have become fascinated by the behaviour of shyster lawyers who attempt to destroy the credibility of witnesses by presenting their evidence out of context
Because the subject is as important to me is it is I was fairly careful not to blow my top, as I occasionally do - there were a few lapses when things became personal and nasty -I never resorted to personal attacks, but others did - one individual in particular - "attention seeking", "politically driven", "no support", "if you want to criticise, go and write your own book", "you's never written one. I've written three"... and a pm that virtually descended to hate mail
In true dramatic form, you selected and my lapses and ignored the rest - all good stuff for 'Law and Order UK'. pretty shabby way of debating.
You've done the same here
"A dyslexic, a megalomaniac and a typo-stalker - three for the price of one! "
Hoot persists in demanding an answer three times to the question he keeps asking - maybe sarcasm is the lowest form of with, but it's handy occasionally
Dick - well, we've all seen how Dick behaves occasionally - I've been threatened with violence by him in the past
And you - hardly the hard-done-by victim with the behaviour I have described
As I say, typos are often handy refuges when there is nothing else
Finished here I think Vic
Jim Carroll


27 Jan 18 - 05:37 AM (#3902117)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Jim Bainbridge

occasionally dipping into mudcat as I do, discussions about MacColl are amazingly vitriolic.
My opinion of him doesn't matter, and Mr Carroll's humourless tunnel vision about the man will not provoke a reply from me.
It just reminds me of the time in the sixties when Sunderland FC (benighted then as today!) signed the inspirational Rangers player Jim Baxter.
Local fans saw him as the saviour of the club, and could see no fault in his play. Eddie MacIntyre (Jarrow raconteur and singer) was heard to say in the middle of a football discussion in the pub...

'That Baxter, he's only got one fault'

   This was greeted by a stunned silence- was his fault a poor tackling technique, slow reactions, or a suspect hamstring? Surely the new hero was perfect in every way?

After a suitable interval, Eddie said- 'Oh yes, he has one fault, he once had a filling in his back left molar....

Thought I'd share that with you- Eddie is still active on Tyneside, and can be seen in action on YouTube- look up 'Doreen Henderson's 90th birthday party'


27 Jan 18 - 06:32 AM (#3902129)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

Why do you - or does anybody do that Jim?
I've made my point about MacColl - he did a mass of research into folk song and took a day a week out of his life to work with younger and less experienced singers while the rest of the superstars got on with their careers
THat's the MacColl I knew for twenty years
Three decades after his death, people are still digging him up to give him a kicking - which says what needs to be said about both him and them
I have no interest in canonising MacColl, even if I went in for that sort of thing or believed he deserved it.
He left behind a body of work that, in my opinion, needs to be discussed and might, just might, help sort out the shambolic revival we are left with
Apart from the personal pleasure I still get from his singing, and the work he left behind, that is my attitude to a dead friend
The sick necrophobia that prevents such a discussion from taking place represents everything that went wrong with an important and extremely enjoyable part of my life
Jim Carroll


27 Jan 18 - 11:16 AM (#3902186)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

we are trying to discuss his work including his failings as well as his good points, but we are then insulted and misquoted by you.


27 Jan 18 - 11:31 AM (#3902193)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"but we are then insulted and misquoted by you you are not Dick - you are trying to show how clever you are
"very occasionally Ewan pontificates on music and shows his lack of knowledge,"
What did you think of the book, (apart from MacColl's failings, of course)?
Personally, I found it a little disappointing - not because of any 'lack of knowledge' but because it was written in a hurry and at a particularly bad period of his life
I feel it would have been far better if it had been written before The Critics Group broke up, or some years later, when the effects of the break-up had died down.
There are much better autobiographical accounts of Ewan and even better biographical ones, mainly in sound form and partial - 'Parsley, Sage and Politics' is pretty good, and the six part series recorded in Ireland is even better
Jim


27 Jan 18 - 02:25 PM (#3902253)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

I f you bothered to calm down and read my posts properly you would be aware that i had already given my opinion and now i quote
I am reading this and also reading journeyman , which i find a more interesting read, i have admiration for peggy as a performer, but i dont think this biography does her justice in fact it has in my opinion a negative tone and a critical carping flavour. so Jim ifound it an interesting read.no i did not find it disapoiinting .
it seems honest and explains a lot about his back groun
d and his approach to performing and songwriting, it is IMO, good. he talks openly revealing his good points and his flaws which include his lack of musicianship.
he thought a lot about performance, he analysed and intellectualised folk music, the plus side of which is the legacy of fine songs he wrote. I would recommend this book as a good read


29 Jan 18 - 02:08 PM (#3902646)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge

Don't think you quite got it, Jim- yer man MacColl certainly contributed greatly to the 'folk revival' but really there is a bit more to it! Even Jim Baxter wasn't perfect- that was the point!!!

I went to the Singers' club a few times in the sixties, although never sang or played- I wasn't asked- it wasn't that sort of place, was it? We were there to pay homage to the saviours of the tradition, not to take part in it.
I respect the songs EM wrote, many were and are, excellent, but he wasn't really the man of the people his political views would demand. I found his approach analytical and the club itself to be extremely self-satisfied and worthy, unlike the other London clubs of the time, mostly with a very different approach, the best of which stressed enjoyment and involvement but with no lack of quality-

   in particular the Fox at Islington- Bob Davenport & Co-   BOO!


29 Jan 18 - 02:41 PM (#3902651)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

I've said my piece on MacColl as an individual - I had twenty years to reach the conclusions I did, including a period when I lived with them while I was looking for a home and job
I'll go by that rather than a few visits to the Singers Club any day
Perssonal tastes don't enter into any of this
Can I just remind you that, some time ago, when I related a couple of personal experiences (rather than spiteful folklore legends) describing the nastiness of your own particular hero, you threw a hissy-fit that anybody should speak ill of such a hero of the people.
You appear to reserve a right for yourself that you are not prepared to extend to others.
Another occasion when MacColl's work becomes a no-go area
Ah well!! ]It's not me that doesn't get it
Let's leave it there
Jim Carroll


01 Feb 18 - 05:01 PM (#3903301)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

yes leave it and go away.
this book is excellent and i am rereading it, his comments on performing are particularly good ,i thought it interesting that he and peggy actually practised forgetting part of a ballad and then ad libbing, what a brilliant idea. the people that cannot get away from reading from texts should take note


03 Feb 18 - 05:51 PM (#3903689)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge

I don't intend to be drawn into another pointless argument about EM v BD but don't know where the 'hissy fit' came from- - shows you have a lively imagination- you seem very sensitive about that one incident! origin somewhere in that tunnel vision I suppose?

Knowledgable as EM was, my first impression of him was when he & Peggy Seeger came to our Marsden Inn club over 50 years ago and only entered the crowded club room to do their 2x 45 mins, showing absolutely NO interest in hearing the locals or even talking to them. I've never forgotten that....


BD has his faults, have known him long enough to know that but you seem to think EM had none, it's quite clear! I do recall the Singers club well & it was boring as hell..., enough to put people off for life- bit like your posts.
& hello Dick, it may be you find his book interesting & I can't contradict that, but I think if I had a copy, I'd put it under that shoogly table in our kitchen...
Buenas Noches   Jim


03 Feb 18 - 08:24 PM (#3903704)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"I don't intend to be drawn into another pointless argument about EM v BD but don't know where the 'hissy fit' came from-"
You went spare when I criticised Davenport
"showing absolutely NO interest in hearing the locals or even talking to them. I've never forgotten that."
I first got to know Ewan and Peggy because they insited on talking to locals ansd sitting in when the residents were performing - In Liverpool, in Manchester, in Crewe, and in every other Club
They insisted that the members of the Critics Group did the same
Are you sre we're talking about the same people ?
We booked guests every month - most of them sat in the bar and waited till it was their turn to perform
Your story of the Singers Club being "the club itself to be extremely self-satisfied and worthy," is also crap
It was no such thing - certainly in the twenty years I attended
There was no regular audience as such - People came to see Ewan, others came to see Peggy, some came for both, some for Bert, for Frankie Armstrong and Bert Lloyd - all different, some for different resident groupings and regular guests like Tom Paley
We had a regular Irish audience because it was policy to regularly book Irish performers
In the summer it was crammed with visitors to London - especially Americans ans Scots
There was never a regular "club" as such -
Why do you people make these things up?
The club was devoted to presenting good songs well sung - it was never intended to be a get-together
Any socialising was done in the bar later or in some of the outside activities and trips out - even the research projects
It took the music seriously - that's why it lasted as long as it did with good turnouts
Ill tell you something Jim - If Ewan had thrown the a fraction of the unprofessional nastiness at fallow performers and enthusiasts that people like you are still throwing at him thirty years after his death he would have deserved all the shit that people like you make up about him
In the years I knew him I never heard him once slag off a fellow folkie, certainly not in public
Some people make a career out of it (not mentioning any names of course!!)
He must have done something right to cause such insecurity among you people
Jim Carroll


03 Feb 18 - 08:25 PM (#3903705)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

By the way EM V BD - in your dreams
No competition
Jim Carroll


04 Feb 18 - 03:37 AM (#3903718)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

Ewan was a successful performer and songwriter, as a performer I am curious to understand why? he was a mediocre musician, but he had a partner who was very competent.
in my opinion he was a very good writer, he presented his material well and was professional in his attitude.
He along with others did much to keep the uk folk revival going for many years. I think he is needed now because the folk revival is going in a direction of passive consumerism, one of the things that attracted me in the first place to the uk folk revival that it was an oasis for home made music.Ewan was a strong charcter, who was committed to the uk folk revival, to trying to acheive political and social change[all things that I would agree with]
I did not always agree with his folk club policy and avoided his club,though in hindsight I understand why he was trying to do what he thought was right.
I did not know him as well as Jim Carroll, but my impressiin of him was that he was humourless and on occasions overbearing and patronising.He was also generous with his time and experience, and   tried to help other performers
I believe they unintentionally isolated themselves from the uk folk revival[ this opinion is a result of a conversation i had with Peggy], but he has left lots of very good songs and was someone who could steer the present rudderless ship of the uk folk revival towards home made music and higher standards of performing.
I am interested to read his advice about performing and songwriting, the fact that I did not like him or want to go to his club does not mean that I did not rate him as a performer or song writer and while i dont think he was always right, I think the uk folk revival at this moment in time needs someone who is strong enough to push it away from passive consumerism
Alternatively perhaps we need another skiffle revival,skiffle encouraged so many young people to take up home made american based folk music., it was the antitnesis of the present dayuk folk revival which in the hands of commercial agents appears to worship the pursuit of money and passive consumerism turning the music in to another form of sanitised folky flavoured pop music


04 Feb 18 - 03:59 AM (#3903719)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"he was a mediocre musician,"
You have me there Dick - what did he play?
He was a brilliant tune adapter - he seldom used tunes lifted straight from other songs but adapted them out of all recognition to the original
When Peggy published his songbook she sent us a list of a dozen tunes she couldn't trace
He and Peggy, Lloyd and Lomax started the reviaval with a gang of other enthusiasts
He was far from hmourless - he was actually enjoyable and stimulating company
He neverf patronised, on the contrary, he told you what he thought of you and your singing straight from the shoulder if you asked him - that was why some people disliked him
Over and over again, i saw singers at the club sing from the floor and go to MacColl for comments - he told you exactly what he thought, what he thought was good and how he felt it could be improved
That was how The Critics Group worked - we all did exactly that to each other's singing -
I still do when I think it will be received in the manner it is offered and I expect the same from others when I sing
Pat and I work this way at home though she no longer sings because of vocal problems - it is an ideal way to keep on form
After your opening comments on this thread, I hardly think you are in the position to call anybody patronising if you don't mind me saying so (I'm sure you do)
They didn't isolate themselves from the revival - theyy were largely ostracised because they didn't go with teh flow, accept the increasingly crap standards and stuck to an identifiable type of song
You can still get dozens of newly-re-issued MacColl and Seeger albums - most of them, in fact
How many folk stars can you say that about?
As you say - the proof of the pudding...
Jim Carroll


04 Feb 18 - 05:53 AM (#3903736)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

that is your opinion, some of what you say is true,some of it i disagree with. yes i have listened to some of the critics group meetings, and my opinion is different from you, he was trying to help, but in my opinion he is overbearing and controlling the situation, Ewan was in charge.
I also listened to the clip of the meeting with Ewan, Bert, alex campbell and bob davenport, and in my opinion AlexCampbell talked more sense than anyone else when he said and i quote,
"does that mean Icannot sing woody guthrie songs because i am not american". Jim ,the singers club policy was flawed, that was a ridiculous decision that prevented scottiish people from singing woody guthrie or american songs at their club.
meanwhile peggy seeger who was not from the appalachian mountains was allowed to sing appalachian songs, despite not being from appalachia, just completely bizarre


04 Feb 18 - 06:47 AM (#3903744)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jackaroodave

"By the way EM V BD - in your dreams"

Now there's a ghastly thought. ;-)

I admire BD this side idolatry, but his proposition, "I'll let you be in my dream if I can be in yours" struck me as one of the worst "lose-lose" bargains I'd ever heard. Throw EM in there with him and I wake up screaming.


04 Feb 18 - 06:47 AM (#3903745)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Vic Smith

The two gentlemen with the same forename appear to differ in their memories and appreciation of The Singers Club, so I thought that it might be useful to have a third view on the subject. This is text-scanned from pages 81 - 82 of The Elliotts of Birtley by Pete Wood Herron Books [2008] ISBN 9 780954 068233 In fairness it ought to be pointed out that one of the Jims is quoted in this extract :-

Some time in the early '60s there was a Club trip to the Singers' Club in London at the request of Ewan and Peggy. A 40-seater coach was duly filled and down they all went. Some have mixed feelings about the trip, saying MacColl was arrogant and didn't let them sing. They had thought they were taking over the Club for the night. In fact, however, it was just the Elliott family that had been asked to go. Imagine the effect of these boisterous Geordies, all het up and raring to go, on the staid Singers' Club audience of that time!
However, as Bob Davenport, the Gateshead singer long exiled in London, comments, Jack was told what to sing at the Singers' Club. It seemed he was there as a performer, obliged to pop up from time to time in order to illustrate a point from MacColl's 'lecture'. He was delighted to find that when invited to sing at the Fox Club in Islington, he could sing anything he liked when he liked! (Different approach, different people, the Folk Revival had it all.)
Jim Bainbridge, long-exiled singer and musician, and member of the legendary Marsden Rattlers of the 60s and 70s, has this to say:
"Tolerant folk clubs taught many of us that, given the opportunity, most singers improve with time and experience, and that this serves the tradition much better than the quality control exercised at Ewan MacColl's Singers Club. MacColl was a wonderful songwriter and promoter of the tradition as he saw it, but as a man of the theatre - with little time for imperfection - his ideas for improving the quality of singing were applied via technical advice and analysis rather than absorption by exposure to the perceived inadequacies of unbelievers. No less a singer than old Jack Elliott of Birtley was once castigated by this crowd - after a return visit to the Singer's Club, disappointment was expressed that his singing hadn't "improved" since his last visit -What a damn cheek!"
There was also apparently a comment by either Ewan or Peggy that Jack "hadn't moved on", implying that they expected him to develop a stage act, much as they had done. It's sad that they didn't see the true value of such a natural singer who had such a wide appeal without artificial devices. Certainly the way the Elliotts' visit to the Singers' Club was treated looks like that, but for Graeme Miles there was something more. For him, doing it that way was just as artificial a way of presenting the material as was the Owen Brannigan/Peter Pears approach. It seems the essential point here is the different reasons for singing. Both McColl and Brannigan were professional singers, and in my opinion therefore professional entertainers, and they needed a worked-out stage act to make a living. So folkies like me can take a lofty view of Brannigan's style as decidedly 'art' rather than 'folk'. But then McColl didn't sing like a working man or a traditional singer either. (This area will be taken up in more detail later.) But like most things involving MacColl, it was never as simple as that.


04 Feb 18 - 07:57 AM (#3903753)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Hootenanny

Thanks for posting that Vic I hadn't seen it before.

I know of a somewhat similar situation, I was not there but a long time friend (40 years plus) of one of the two people involved was. I make this clear for the sake of The Chief Policeman of Folk Music who has been known to post here.

Mike Seeger was booked at the Singer's Club. In the audience was a regular attendee Tom Paley. I expect that most people here will know that Mike and Tom together with John Cohen were The New Lost City Ramblers who in the minds of many were responsible in a huge way for reviving a huge interest in folk music.

Mike thought it would be a good idea if Tom Joined him for the set as they had worked together so well in the past. I am sure that this would have gone down very well with the people who had paid to see Mike.

However Mike was told NO, he was booked as a single and could only perform solo. I am told that this was little sister's ruling.

Hard to understand.


04 Feb 18 - 08:04 AM (#3903755)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

And, OH YES THE SINGERS CLUB and Peggy Seeger bursting out laughingat a supposed cockney singing a " leadbelly song", by extension Peggy should not be singing appalachian material, as she was not from the appalchians I believe the offending singer who later became quite famous, was from the watford area, not a feckin cockney at all.
" Both McColl and Brannigan were professional singers, and in my opinion therefore professional entertainers, and they needed a worked-out stage act to make a living " quote.
professional entertainers do need a worked out stage act, but they need to be able to vary the act, but they need flexibilty to suit differing audiences., one of the best examples of this that i saw was John Foreman, I was doing a concert with him[ a split gig]at a caravan camping club, John was brilliant he had the audience eating from his hand,his jokes appeared to be spontaneous and were geared towards the campers.
In my opinion MacColls only weakness as a performer was a lack of spontaneity, a tendency to sing the song the same way every time, however despite that he was a very polished professional performer


05 Feb 18 - 03:55 AM (#3903872)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

Ewan was not averse to skiffle at one point in his career in earlier times having recorded with alan lomax ramblers, he then does a complete about turn and is idactic about eveyone other than tom paley and peggy seeger singing songs from the area they come from.Whether this decision was to do with his connection with the CPGB,or whether it was entirely due to Alan Lomax and his influence, is debatable, that is if it is possible to debate with Jim Carroll, anyys as Alex Cambell said, it [prevented scottish people from singing WoodyGuthrie songs at the singers club, which was idiosyncratic and eccentric considering MacColls political views


05 Feb 18 - 04:03 AM (#3903874)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Dave Sutherland

It certainly would be well over 50 years ago that Marsden Inn booked MacColl and Seeger Jim B as I recall being disappointed not being able to get to see them as at that time I was too young to visit licensed premises (rules were much more strict in those days).
However if that was their attitude it had changed immeasurably when they were booked across town at South Tyne Folk and Blues three times between 1969 and 1972. They populated the club room throughout the night; Ewan was most complimentary regarding the standard of the residents and the organisation of the club and both were highly receptive of requests from the audience for certain songs. On one occasion during the interval two of our resident musicians, Terry Kelly and Matty Scott, were playing a few tunes Peggy went across with her concertina and joined in the session playing, as I recall, "The Weaver's March".
The last time we booked them at the end of the night Ewan was asking me all sorts of questions regarding the North East scene such as how Birtley club was doing and how were Ed Pickford and Benny Graham?


05 Feb 18 - 06:54 AM (#3903885)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

I booked them in the 1980s at a folk club Ewan was very interested in the surrounding area, i explained that the main employment was the brewery and the sugar beet factory, they gave a very good evening and listened to all the performers throughout the night.
i did a support for them in concert int the 1980s, Peggy and i had a long conversation about a number of things including songwriting, she said to me when we go abroad we hear lots of good songwriters, but nothing in the uk, I was flabbergasted because at that time there were many good songwriters in the uk, PeterBond, BillCaddick, leon Rosselson keith hancock, to name a few.
on reflection, I can only conclude that they had lost touch with what was going on the rest of the uk folk scene, this was possibly because the often did concerts and preferred to not have any support acts, and that the folk clubs that they did do were only a small minority of their overall gigs


06 Feb 18 - 01:33 AM (#3904027)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

No, he wasn't; he was somebody who evolved a unique approach to the singing of traditional songs; quote Jim Carroll. the same applies to Martin Carthy, Bob Davenport, they allhave their own unique style and approach.
adjective: unique
    being the only one of its kind; unlike anything else.
my impression of listening to recordings of the critics group meetings is this, Ewan pointed out that he did not like a particular approach by another singer to a song , but the way that he said it on the recording was schoolmasterly and authoritarian.to my ears it comes across asEwans way was the only way, my opinion is this;that if people listened uncritically to ewans approach they would sound like Ewan, now


06 Feb 18 - 01:38 AM (#3904028)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

Ewan was a good singer, and his advice on vocal warm up exercises IMO is good and on breath control, but then so would the advice of an opera singer, but IMO every singer should be unique and sound like them selves, they should not sound like PeterPears Ewan or anyone else but them selves


07 Feb 18 - 03:02 PM (#3904257)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

" they should not sound like Peter Pears Ewan"
Course they shouldn't Dick yet the revival you refereed to as Ewan and Peggy    "being out of touch with" was full of Carthy and Joanie Clones, Bellamy Bleaters (Peter's own description of his singing) and Wannabe Waterson mini choirs - all names conveniently overlooked by you.
The whole point of the work of the Critics Group was for each singer to find their own natural voice and develop it as far as possible - traying to sound like anybody other than yourself was discouraged (exapt for being used as an exercise in lerning how the voice was produced by different people.
"I am told that this was little sister's ruling."
The only people to make any "rules" AT THE Singers Clubwas the audience committee - I know bevcause I served on it for years
Nice to see the technophobe have all risen from their ow2n graves while I was away
Back tomorrw with my sharpened stake
Jim Carroll


10 Feb 18 - 09:12 AM (#3904778)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge

Jim c- don't think we'll ever agree on this! I have stated my objective view of MacColl, with my view of some of his faults. I just can't abide your canonisation of the man. I reject your charge of 'unprofessional nastiness' by me- this is totally unfounded and intended to provoke, which is your style, really.

Nor am I a professional, and although I have been paid for my music, it has never been my whole living- never wanted it either! and I can't rival you for nastiness- you say you served five years at the Singers' Club- you deserved more....

Another misnomer- please do not describe me as a 'fallow (sic) PERFORMER'
. That's the nub of this, really - what I took from Bob Davenport was his music with the Rakes, of course, but also his desire to blend into any company, and like Bob, have always tried to be a catalyst for the music rather than a PERFORMER.

Yes i've done concerts and folk clubs, but i think my real place in the movement is in such as the 'open bar' informal song/music/story sessions we did for five years in Leitrim, or which Rosie Stewart still does so well at her singing/music sessions at McHugh's in Glenfarne, Leitrim..
Bob excelled at the social 'public bar' situation, very often well away from any 'folk' context! I recall one night Bob & the Rattlers returning north after a concert at the concert hall in Harrogate. We stopped for a pint in a lively pub a few miles up the road. We chatted to the locals about where we'd been- they asked us to give them a tune. What resulted was a memorable night playing for the 'folk' who knew nothing about 'folk.
We were also once chucked out of a pub in Glencoe for playing 'dirty tunes'- I'll leave you to ponder that one, so it didn't always work! (Bob wasn't there but Donal Maguire was..)
.

Bob Davenport guided us all that evening & many times since and I'll be eternally grateful to him.

You may call yourself a performer, I don't know you, and MacColl also was more interested in the PERFORMANCE of the music he was part of, but I never have been and that' s all I have to say on the matter, except that you become a bit less abrasive and start listning to folk intstead of lecturing them.
nb Bob is fine & living in London, as always
   

I'm NOT a performer


10 Feb 18 - 02:18 PM (#3904817)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

Jim you are being silly billy again, wannabe waterson choirs?, nonsense name me a group who was a copy of them, the other harmony groups were very different examples english tapestry, songwainers,wilson family valley folk, please stop talking codswallop. i can only remeber a few carthy clones ,most poeople using open tunings played in their own style.
anyway jim carroll whoever made the rule at the singers club, it was a flawed rule because it meant english or scottsh people could not sing woody guthrie songs at the singers club, what was also ridiculous was that peggy and tom were allowed to sing songs that were not from their cultural background, they were not from appalachia, the whole thing was an exercise in misguided control


11 Feb 18 - 04:35 AM (#3904892)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

Jim Carroll you have just illustrated your complete lack of understanding of the Watersons music , they were a unique hamony group that had Mike weaving up and down in an unconventional way that has never been copied, they also had an special music that is particular to families singing together, your pontification has only illustarted your lack of understanding and portrays musical ignorance


11 Feb 18 - 04:47 AM (#3904895)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

Sorry - missed this - swept up in a day of concertinas and pipse)
"I have stated my objective view of MacColl"
A few brif views cross a crowded room is hardly objective
You and your bunch of ghouls sally forth, garlic, crucifixes (and typos) firmly in hand, each tie the name "MacColl" is uttered to make sure his ideas are never given an airing
Five years at the Singers Club - I attended it from 1969 up to Ewan's death, and a few times when Peggy revived it.
I have no idea what the "professional" bit is about - I knew very few of them, I am certainly not one of them
"fallow"
Another typo raises it's head - "fellow" of course
My point stands - I know of nobody whp received the mindless kicking MacColl is still getting from other enthusiasts - he never turned on others the way they turned on him
Davenport, in my experience was a boorish lout who shouted down people he didn't agree with at public meetings and spoke loudly over singers who did what he didn't approve of - I gave my examples
Personally, I didn't lie his "when in doubt, shout" approach to singing, and if I wanted to hear an out-of-tune rendition of 'September Song' I'd dig out Walter Houston's beautiful version, but that's a personal taste thing.
I am not a performer - I sometimes sing publicly, but not as often as I would like
I believe that when I do, I should do it with respect both to the songs I am singing and to the people who have the good manners and tolerance to listen
I stopped going to folk clubs when that stopped happening
You describe me as nasty - perhaps you should read your own postings
"name me a group who was a copy of them,"
Around the time I stopped visiting clubs widely you couldn't throw a stone without hitting one that wasn't full of mini chirs trying to sound like on superstar group or another or trying to copy Martin Carthy's hiccoughy phrasing or intrusive guitar accompaniments, or Joanie clones, or Dylan doublers....
It gave justification to all those outsiders who claimed that "all folk songs sound the same" - in many cases they did.
Nowhere did I come across anybody being forbidden to sing songs from anywhare
We had a club policy that encouraged singers to sing songs from their own backgrounds - but that was for the club residents
All clubs have a policy of sorts - I and others were asked on numerous occasions not to sing political songs - as were Ewan and Peggy at some clubs
Some clubs didn't even like any contemporary songs "we are strictly traditional"
I sing Irish and Scots songs and a couple of American ones - if they Anglicise
If they don't, I don't sing them, not because I have ever been "forbidden£", but because they never work in phony 'mid Atlantic', or 'Oirish', or 'Jimmie Glaswiegan' - they sound what they are - false when I can't sing them in my own accent
Jim Carroll


11 Feb 18 - 05:46 AM (#3904902)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Hootenanny

Jim,

Unless the date 1969 in line five of your above posting is another typo, this would indicate that you didn't attend the Singers club for the first eight years of it's existence. Neither if my memory is correct did you ever attend the Ballads & Blues association club from 1956/7 to 1961.

That is a total of about twelve years that Ewan and Peggy were performing together which you never witnessed personally.
However you are still ready to criticise/insult anyone here who did know them in those years and relate their own experiences. I did personally witness Ewan not allowing an English girl to sing an American song but that was around eight years before your time.


11 Feb 18 - 06:05 AM (#3904905)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

From Peggy Seeger's letter to Living Tradition (https://www.folkmusic.net/htmfiles/edtxt39.htm)

The editor wants to know "Who are Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie?" They were members of the Critics Group for most of the life of that group. They were two of the most loyal, industrious and intelligent members by far. It is possible that they have inherited some of Ewan's intransigence and argumentative temperament (that's the way things go?) but there is no doubt that their work in the folksong world has been invaluable and dedicated. Most of the collectors who've done that have had a kind of tunnel vision, without which their work would not have been as productive. They stuck their necks out and their heads are getting chopped off. They are in good company.

Ewan's intransigence and argumentative temperament

Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie have inherited SOME of that. What does that say about MacColl?


11 Feb 18 - 06:19 AM (#3904912)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

" this would indicate that you didn't attend the Singers club for the first eight years of it's existence. "
Not sure I was ever at The Ballads and Blues, but I certainly visited the Pindar of Wakefield and the Boys Club in Red Lion Square whenever I was in London
I moved there in 1969
I first saw Ewan and Peg at the Spinners Club in Liverpool in the early sixties
" I did personally witness Ewan not allowing an English girl to sing an American song "
Isla Cameron maybe?
I hope nobody ever digs up something I did nearly sixty years ago
The policy of singing songs from your own background was aimed at moving audiences away from getting singers to move away from trying to sound like Woodie and Huddy and open up their own repertoires - it was Lomax's idea originally
It led to a healthy, genuine revival of all folk songs, in my opinion
When he first met Ewan and Bert they were both singing American songs with pseudo- American accents
Happy to be described as "intransigence and argumentative" by someone I respect as much as Peggy - I agree what she says about "tunnel vision" and its values
Would the revaival had the same "tunnel vision" when it came to choosing what toput on in their clubs - it might not have led to today's mess
Jim Carroll


11 Feb 18 - 06:37 AM (#3904916)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Vic Smith

'September Song'.....Walter Houston's beautiful version....
This sounds intruiging, but I cannot find any link to it. Can anyone help me?


11 Feb 18 - 06:58 AM (#3904918)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,John Bowden (not a typo!)

Vic: here you go:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3mAT-4FdP4


11 Feb 18 - 07:04 AM (#3904920)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

Thanks John - nice to hear it again
Jim Carroll


11 Feb 18 - 07:07 AM (#3904922)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Vic Smith

Thanks, John. For some reason that Youtube link did not come up on my internet search for his name. I liked the gentle underplayed way he sang it. It puts the song in a different light. To me it's a fine song whoever sings it.


11 Feb 18 - 07:16 AM (#3904924)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,John Bowden (not a typo!)

Jim, Vic, you're welcome! There is a Shortened version which misses out the introductory "back story", and this isn't as effective as this "long" version. It's certainly a demonstration of the fact that you don't need a "perfect" voice to give an effective performance!


11 Feb 18 - 07:36 AM (#3904926)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Hootenanny

Jim,

Not Isla Cameron, Isla sometimes deliberately sang American songs because of Ewan's attitude, she freely admitted that.

"I hope nobody ever digs up something I did nearly sixty years ago" ????

Much of what you constantly put down took part in those years.

1969, you were the new kid on the block.


11 Feb 18 - 07:44 AM (#3904927)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

did personally witness Ewan not allowing an English girl to sing an American song but that was around eight years before your time" I understand this was lisa turner a fine blues singer and guitarist, who wasc told afterwards publicly the rule.
you see Jim,I have been on the uk folk scene since 1965 since the age of 14, not as a profesional performer but as a singer and visitor to folk clubs a little bit longer than you. Dick Miles


11 Feb 18 - 07:47 AM (#3904928)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

the song was single girl or single boy. Jim, you need to show a little respect to others


11 Feb 18 - 07:52 AM (#3904930)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"Not Isla Cameron, Isla sometimes deliberately sang American songs because of Ewan's attitude, she freely admitted that."
Then she deserved to be stopped for deliberately sabotaging club policy, whether you7 agree with it or not
I refused to sing at clubs that asked me not to sing contemporary or politiical songs, not because I agreed with them but because I respected their right to have a policy
Behaviour such as this is typical of the shit thrown around in the revival
"1969, you were the new kid on the block."
I came onto the scene around the time of my 21st birthday - much earlier than 1969 unfortunately
As I said, I heard Ewan and Peg live a couple of years later, got to know them and stayed with them for week-ends around 1965, lived with them for a month when I moved to London, spent a couple of years in the Critics Group, was part of running the Singers for about six years, interviewed MacColl over a six month period, have spent about eight years digising and annotation nearly ten years worth of Critics Group meetings recordings and two years ago spent a month putting together two hour long programmes on MacColls life, which included three dys interviewing Peggy - The Princess Louise half a century ago - what the **** do you know about MacColl?
You haven't left the starting line yet Hoot
Stick around
Jim Carroll


11 Feb 18 - 07:52 AM (#3904931)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

i even remember the days in 1966 when ralph mctell sang blues not his own songs, mainly blind blake songs and that his real name is ralph maytand that he named himself after blind willie mctell, you seeJim i was there before you.


11 Feb 18 - 08:07 AM (#3904935)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

ralph may , typo apologies


11 Feb 18 - 08:21 AM (#3904938)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Vic Smith

I remember Ralph May in the early 1960s on the south London folk scene. He used to be accompanied by his brother who was also his 'agent' and he was as obnoxious and awkward as Ralph was friendly and amenable.

Sorry, following a thread drift.....


11 Feb 18 - 08:26 AM (#3904941)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"you see Jim i was there before you."
What's up with your numeracy people? - 1962 comes before 1966 on my calendar
It's not important who was here first - it's the work that has been put in in the period that counts
Proper research beats "one enchanted evening - across a crowded room" any day I don't give a toss whether people like MacColl's singing, or took to him during 'Brief Encounters'
I have my own personal experiences which I'm happy to compare with those who knew him well, but I say what I know to be the case as far as I knew it.
What concerns me is that MacColl and the CG put in a decade's worth of work on folk song which, as far as I am concerned, has no precedents
This, along with all the work done by others, Vic Gammon, Roy Plamer, Mike Yates.... and all those who took folk song seriously, holds clues to an extremely important art form
It should not be necessary to scramble over mountains of garbage such as this in order to discuss it - yet it happens each time the subject comes up.
What are you people afraid of?
If MacColl and the rest of us were wrong 0- why can't we state our case instead of this personal mudslinging (in this case, at a long-dead corpse)
If that's not ghoulish in the extreme, I don't know what is
Jim Carroll


11 Feb 18 - 08:33 AM (#3904944)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

Jim you were not the only one who was around at that time, hoot, VIC SMITH and I were all around Hoot and I know that it was different form how you describe, I understand Lisa Turner was told by Ewan publicly in front of the whole club that we have a rule in the club, the rule is that singers must sing songs from their own background, this was after she sang Single girl, are you denying this, Jim?


11 Feb 18 - 08:40 AM (#3904945)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

I also remember visiting groombridge folk club about 1970, this club was run by IsobelSutherland, the booked artists were some members of the critics group including terry yarnell, whilst they were all good singers ,in my opinion they chose some unsuitable songs, this club was a club that encouraged children to perform, the guest artists did not seem to have a clue about whether the songs they sang were suitable for children, imo a classic example of not knowing about performance. apologies for thread drift


11 Feb 18 - 09:36 AM (#3904953)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

Dick - I don't give a toss what happened half a century ago - I really don't
I am concerned about the overall contribution of MacColl, Seeger and all the others that put folk songs on the map for me and thousands of others, whatever mistakes thye might have made on the way
Would tyoy like me to put up the story of the little shit who put up phony "Traveller" recordings and came within a whisker of sabotaging one of the most important radio programmes that helped change the life and conditions of Britain's Travelling people?
Or how about the folkie superstar who used to throw up over the front row of club audiences as an encore, because of the amount of booze he'd consumed
None of these things ever happened at the Singers Club - yet you have defended both, as Jim Bainbridge has defended Bob Davenport's loutishness
The number of Robert Zimmerman's groupies who have banged on about MacColl's name change is countless - none seem to have noticed the ridiculousness of their criticism
It seems you have to have to be a member of a certain club to be able to get away with some things
Give us a break
Jim Carroll


11 Feb 18 - 09:42 AM (#3904955)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"this was after she sang Single girl, are you denying this, Jim?"
I take it that as you only "understand" this you weren't there
Any proof of this Dick - or is it just another story?
That wasn't even a "rule" for The Singers Club" - it was expected from the residents but as I said, all clubs have policies
How many times have you banged on about not being able to use a musical instrument?
Whether you like the practice, you respect it - if you don't like it, stay away
We had to do this with folk clubs that stopped giving us folk songs
Jim Carroll


11 Feb 18 - 10:04 AM (#3904958)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Vic Smith

This, along with all the work done by others, Vic Gammon, Roy Plamer, Mike Yates.....

I will resist the obvious joke about a typo; a joke fades with constant repetition, though very many examples are still being provided by he who posted this; far more than those from another poster who he insults as 'dyslexic'. No, the mention of one of the correctly spelled names in the quotation brought this to mind:-

There are those who think that the experience of the Critics Group and the Singers Club have enriched their lives and they continue to benefit from it. Their opinions are valid but they must not be regarded as facts that cannot be disputed.

There are those who are of the opposite opinion; that it did more harm than good and this includes former members of CG and regulars at SC. Their opinions are valid but they must not be regarded as facts that cannot be disputed.

In the early 1990s I was interviewing Vic Gammon on my BBC Radio Sussex folk music programme Minstrels Gallery. Vic was leaving Sussex to take up an academic post in the north. His contribution to the local scene had been massive as a performer, singer, musician, organiser, dance band musician, researcher, journalist, broadcaster.... etc. The long interview was sort of valedictory broadcast for all that he had achieved.
At one stage I asked him for his opinion on three figures who are regarded as the pioneers of the developing scene in the UK - Henderson, Lomax and MacColl. I looked up my transcription of that interview and here's what Vic said in the relevant section:-
I think that Ewan MacColl was the greatest vernacular songwriter in Britain since Robert Burns. I have learned many of his songs and I often find myself singing them in clubs. He never lost that power, his later songs are amongst his best. I am less impressed by him as a performer and his approach to learning and improving singing has ultimately proved to be unhelpful. With the Critics Group and their self- and peer-opinions, he was leading those involved into a blind alley. The fact that this has not been replicated since is proof of that. There are plenty of workshops now; I run them myself; I go to others led by people that I feel have something for me, but they all have the attitude that says, "Don't take it as the Gospel truth but here's what I have got to offer you".

Vic Gammon's opinions are valid but they must not be regarded as facts that cannot be disputed.

All this, I write and quote to try and point out that it does not matter who was there first, or what any pro or anti statements attempt to prove or disprove. One thing is certain and that is that all the repetitious circumlocution that has seemed endless on Mudcat for years (decades?) will amount to nothing more than a difference of opinion from firmly entrenched positions.

Perhaps it is time to move on.


11 Feb 18 - 11:00 AM (#3904962)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Iains

Perhaps it is time to move on.

YES!


11 Feb 18 - 11:05 AM (#3904964)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"Their opinions are valid but they must not be regarded as facts that cannot be disputed."
They can be disputed by those who know what they were Vic - that includes Vic's opionion
In the years I have been involved, the work has never been given a fair hearing, though the dozen or so albums, including the twenty-odd Poetry and Song albums speak for themselves - groundbreaking stuff
THe relaxation, voice, analysis and interpretation work still remains a mystery
So far it has been impossible to even discuss them
Carthy's 'How Folk Songs Should be Sung' was a spiteful distortion
If today' revival had left us with a healthy scene with some sort of future, all this work might have been superseded - the no-future shambles that we have left makes any effort to find a way out worthwhile
"it does not matter who was there first"
I've already said this
"Perhaps it is time to move on."
As with Steve Roud's reinvention of folk song, I think it worthwhile to continue with trying to bulldoze these garbage-mountains aside and get som decent discussion on this going - feel free toi join in but don't feel obliged to do so
"the obvious joke about a typo;"
An acknowledgement of the stupidity of reducing discussions to this level might repair that particular bit of damage
"YES!"
There - you've got the endorsement of someone who is so interested he hasn't bothered to post to this discussion so far
What more could you wish for?
Jim Carroll


11 Feb 18 - 11:17 AM (#3904966)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Vic Smith

Does anyone think that the post at 11 Feb 18 - 11:05 AM could be regarded as bearing elements of all the repetitious circumlocution that has seemed endless on Mudcat for years (decades?) that I referred to in my previous post?


11 Feb 18 - 11:38 AM (#3904969)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Kenny B (inactive)

Vic Smith
Yes and I hate to admit it but I agreed with Iains


11 Feb 18 - 11:40 AM (#3904971)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Hootenanny

JIM.

My post:

"Not Isla Cameron, Isla sometimes deliberately sang American songs
because of Ewan's attitude, she freely admitted that."

Your reply:

"Then she deserved to be stopped for deliberately sabotaging club policy, whether you7 agree with it or not".

I only heard her at the Ballads & Blues club. We did not have that policy. Read the label.

PS. I have no idea who the other 6 are that you refer too.


11 Feb 18 - 11:45 AM (#3904973)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"Yes and I hate to admit it but I agreed with Iains"
Why do people do this?
Neither you nor Iains have participated in this discussion yet you feel free to walk in and end it whenever it takes your fancy
Pehasps it's time to make MacColl a no area along with "what is folksong"
This becomes ridiculous in the extreme
Why not start a petition?
Repetition Vic - is that really all you've got as a substitute for argument?
You really should be ashamed of yourself - you should have stuck to typos?
Jim Carroll


11 Feb 18 - 12:59 PM (#3904987)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"PS. I have no idea who the other 6 are that you refer too."
Another typo merchant rides again - perhaps it's time to form a club!!
Are you so bereft of intelligent argument that you have to indulge in barrel scraping of this sort?
Checked for typos - can't find any here - will try better next time
Jim Carroll


11 Feb 18 - 01:38 PM (#3904998)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Kenny B (inactive)

From: Jim Carroll - PM
Date: 11 Feb 18 - 11:45 AM

"Yes and I hate to admit it but I agreed with Iains"
Why do people do this?
Neither you nor Iains have participated in this discussion yet you feel free to walk in and end it whenever it takes your fancy

Dear Jim
When people read thereads they dont neccessaily join in however
freedom of speech belongs to eveyone
There are many subjects that u comment on that you have never taken part in but formed opinions based on reading and media reports.
Who are you to deny others the right to do the same thing?


11 Feb 18 - 02:41 PM (#3905010)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"freedom of speech belongs to everyone"
Quite - why are you trying to close a thread then?
"There are many subjects that u comment on that you have never taken part "
Not many, if any, but I have never attempted to close a thread down, whether I'm participating in it or (especially) when I'm not.
Nowt "free" about that Kenny - on the contrary
Jim Carroll


11 Feb 18 - 02:54 PM (#3905019)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Kenny B (inactive)

1 I have no influence in the closing of threads
2 If you are going to quote someone do the decent thing and quote the whole sentence, being selective does you no favours
3 I agree with nowt free part if used responsibly and not in a contrary fashion


11 Feb 18 - 05:11 PM (#3905042)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

I have been out gigging, Jim, has dug himself a hole, he will soon be through to Australia.
Jim please take note of the first verse of this next song.
Sweetheart, I'm bidding you fond farewell
I would be yours some day
I'm bound for a new land, my fortune to try
And I'm ready to sail away

Far away in Australia
Soon will fate be kind
And I will be ready to welcome at last
The person I've left behind

Oh, you can't leave me Jim Boy replied
I would not let you go
But I must leave you, he gently replied
If for only a while, you know

Far away in Australia
Soon will fate be kind
And I will be ready to welcome at last
The person I've left behind

Now it's success or a failure
I will always be true
I'm proud in each day in a land far away
I've been choosing a home for you

Daily he waits at the old cottage gate
Watching the whole day through
Then one day a message from over the sea
And I'm hoping these words are true

Far away in Australia
Now us called the time
When I am ready to welcome at last
The person I've left behind


11 Feb 18 - 06:08 PM (#3905049)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Hootenanny

"Are you so bereft of intelligent argument that you have to indulge in barrel scraping of this sort?"

Jim I have no wish to argue with you I see from the bitchy insulting replies that you make to about 99% of those that don't see things quite the way you do. It's a pointless excercise.

What I have done on several occasions is correct something that you have or somebody else has posted which you/they did not witness and I did. It's no big deal.


12 Feb 18 - 03:36 AM (#3905121)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"Jim I have no wish to argue with you"
You don't argue Hoot, you are no different from those who make your statement and run away - you are every bit as abusive as I have been, I have certainly not been "bitchy" (a nasty, sexist term which needs to be left in the sexist Jurassic Park where it belongs) - I have returned like-with-like
I come here hoping for honest, open, freindly, vigorous discussion - an exchange of ideas - that's what forums like these are supposed to be about
"which you/they did not witness and I did"
Likewise
My experience is just as valid as yours; minbe is more up-to-date, it covers a much longer period than and it is more detailed as it is not based on interpretations from afar, but on a long-time association with MacColl and personal experience of his work and ideas, much of which I was able to put to the test in thirty years of recording traditional singers
Mac'Coll's arguments o folk song made sense when put to a litmus test
I believe folk song needs that type of thought at present
"I have no influence in the closing of threads"
I agree entirely Kenny - then why support the suggestion that you and the proposer are not involved with, should be closed?
Sorry - didn't understand your other two points
"Jim please take note of the first verse of this next song."
I certainly hope you live up to your promise in the first line Dick
"Sweetheart, I'm bidding you fond farewell"
You have my full permission to ignore your promise to be mine!!
Jim Carroll


12 Feb 18 - 03:40 AM (#3905122)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

"Whether you like the practice, you respect it - if you don't like it, stay away"Jim Carroll
that was exactly what i decided to do, along with a lot of others,however that does not mean IM NOT ENTITLED TO POINT OUT THE FLAWS IN THE POLICY OF THE SINGERS CLUB.
on the other hand people like Cyril Tawney went around folk clubs and spoke to singers and in a pleasant way and persuaded many to look at and research and sing songs from their own cultural background[ something that Tom Paley and Peggy were not doing lets face it, they were not from appalaschia,Cyril used a much more effective and less dictatorial approach, I know I was there, and Cyril spoke to me and persuaded me to do just that.


12 Feb 18 - 09:43 AM (#3905130)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Kenny B (inactive)

Jim
My sentence was
There are many subjects that u comment on that you have never taken part in but formed opinions based on reading and media reports.

Your copy or copy and paste was
"There are many subjects that u comment on that you have never taken part "

I was agreeing with Iains & Vics suggestion to "move on" not close the thread did you not understand that?.

Do you understand what you read and do you read your posts critically before you post them or are you like politicians and answer the quiestion you think should have been asked?


12 Feb 18 - 10:06 AM (#3905134)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"something that Tom Paley and Peggy were not doing lets face it"
Can't speak for Tom - he wasn't a resident
MacColl and Seeger gave their home over to researchers to use their books and recordings - they held weekly meetings in their home for getting on ten years as a response to a request to take classes
Nobody else in the revival ever did that
They and other Critics members gave seminars all over the country - and spoke at schools and colleges whenever they were asked
The Group co-operated with some of Britain's finest actors to mak two series of albums of poems and folk songs aimed at children - Poetry and Song and Voices - 22 albums in all
The Singers Club held public talks on the subject of song and music
I do know Tom took instrumental classes
Very few other clubs did any of this and those who did were usually influenced by MacColl and Seeger - Manchester and Birmingham, to name two
If you ever say them appear in public you'll know that their song introductions were an education in themselves
My whole point here has been to get a discussion around the masses work Ewan left behind based on encouraging singers and non-singers to lift the corner and look at what lies beneath the songs we sing - I'm digitising around 200 tapes worth of recordings of the MacColl working with younger and less experienced singers
What planet do you and your meaningless Australian song live on Dick?
You are entitled to put up any flaw you believe exists in any club policy for discussion, just as I am entitled to give an opinion on it.
So far, you haven't come anywhere near what MacColl, Seeger, The Critics, or the Singers Club was about and you have shown about as much interest as mot of the other contributors here - reducing the discussion to "Jim, has dug himself a hole,"
In your dreams Dick
Perhaps you'd like to put your name on the petition to close thids thread?
Jim Carroll


12 Feb 18 - 10:10 AM (#3905135)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Iains

I have followed many discussions on Ewan Maccoll with interest. I have made no contribution because I do not regard the man in any particularly positive light. He wrote some good songs. I do not care for his singing and he came across as an actor rather than performer, complete with affectations and convinced his way was the right way. As I did not know the man personally and thus was reluctant to make what would be a negative contribution. However the mighty carrol has spoken and I would hate to disappoint him.


12 Feb 18 - 10:45 AM (#3905145)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"I would hate to disappoint him."
You don't Ian - I expected no less/more
"mighty carrol "
I come here in the hope of having a discussion on a subject I believe to be important - you come to close threads you obviously have no interest in and to present your 'spiteful child' persona
You've done one of those quite effectively
Jim Carroll


12 Feb 18 - 12:02 PM (#3905169)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Iains

It is not a discussion. It is a diatribe of frothing abuse to all who hold alternative views to your own.
First you whine I have not contributed, then you whine when I have.
If there are any children in the room it surely has to be you. Who is the idiot that keeps cleaning the spit off your dummy and handing it back?


12 Feb 18 - 12:03 PM (#3905170)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

Can't speak for Tom - he wasn't a resident" he was a regular attendor stop being silly.
Far away in australia is not meaning less, do you really not understand the meaning of the song that an eight year old would understand
MY ABILTIES AS A SINGER AND PERFORMER ARE NOT RELEVANT TO THE DISCUSSION, and whatever they are do not prevent me from being a critic of a musical policy that was flawed and proscrptive.
I do remember Peggy Seeger complimenting me... not on my singing but on on my concertina playing when she came to Bury st edmunds folk club, which was satisfying because i rated her as a very good song accompanist, she clearly had a different opinion to you, and since i respect her as a performer that matters to me more than your opinion.   Both Ewan andPeggy.. again passed complimentary remarks about my singing when i did a support for them at leicester phoenix theatre., as i respected them as performers this was pleasing.
Jim you do not understand , i am criticising a policy not Ewan and Peggy as performers


12 Feb 18 - 12:56 PM (#3905185)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"I was agreeing with Iains & Vics suggestion to "move on"
If I have misunderstood your point, I apologise
It's a little difficult to know where to move on to when nobody is responding to arguments (except with personal abuse and self-promotion) except with yet more urban legends about somebody who has been dead for nearly three decades
Like the clubs I used to visit- I'm here for the music I've spent most of my life being entertained by, nothing else
Dick - I really have nothing more to say to you or your ego - go find somebody who is interested in your abusive self-promotion
"First you whine I have not contributed, then you whine when I have."
If you believe personal abuse is contribution we work from different dictionaries Iains
I have neither insulted, nor have I frothed or whined
In three short postings you have have done little else
Jim Carroll


12 Feb 18 - 02:20 PM (#3905209)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Vic Smith

It is very difficult to be able to discuss things with a mindset that believes that writing:-
Dick - I really have nothing more to say to you or your ego - go find somebody who is interested in your abusive self-promotion.
and:-
I have neither insulted, nor have I frothed or whined
and believe that the two statements are compatible and not contradictory.
How can discussion be possible when we are faced with such inconsistent, logically opposite statements? Does making barbed comments with each post strengthen the impact of the points that are being made? If it is felt that Dick is only interested in promoting himself, might it not be more effective to enunciate the reasons for this belief rather than making a bald statement that about him that can only be regarded as insulting?

In my opinion, there has been a considerable amelioration in postings emanating from Ballydehob of late.


12 Feb 18 - 02:40 PM (#3905215)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

" really have nothing more to say to you or your ego "
Fair and even handed as ever Vic
Now try it in context
"and believe that the two statements are compatible and not contradictory. "
Like typos - a bit of pedantry goes a long way
Apart from not having to respond directly to arguments, what do you hope to achieve Vic
"amelioration"
Yeah
Gather your anti MacColl knockers while ye may - as the man said
A wordy post saying nothing
Jim Carroll


12 Feb 18 - 03:37 PM (#3905223)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Vic Smith

Apart from not having to respond directly to arguments, what do you hope to achieve Vic
Fairness.
Exchanges that address previous points that are raised.
A willingness to accept that the opinions of others are valid.
The insertion of humour when things get too heavy.
Addressing ideas in a way that can be free of rancour.
Seeing others treated fairly without comments that belittle them being made.
Discussion
Logical progression of ideas.
Clarity of thought and the way it is expressed.

All of these things.

I am phrasing my words carefully here so as to avoid confrontation. I am reaching out to achieve purposeful exchange which is the goal of interchange of ideas.
It seems that all the post at 12 Feb 18 - 02:40 PM is directed to me, but what I am expected to make of Gather your anti MacColl knockers while ye may - as the man said?
How does Amelioration Yeah explain or advance things?
I'm really trying hard here to see what is behind Like typos - a bit of pedantry goes a long way so that it can be made clear how I should respond.
Please read this in the peace making way it is intended because at the moment nothing is being achieved.


12 Feb 18 - 03:59 PM (#3905230)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

Jim, Peggy Seeger says that you have inherited SOME of Ewan's intransigence and argumentative temperament. If she is right (and you say she is) then you are probably doing more to harm his reputation than anyone else.
Just a suggestion, but before clicking submit, why not pause and ask yourself "Would Ewan say this?"


12 Feb 18 - 04:06 PM (#3905231)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"Jim, Peggy Seeger says that you have inherited SOME of Ewan's intransigence and argumentative temperament."
And you are taking what Pegguy had to say about me out of context Bryan
I have spent a lot of time with Peggy over the last year or so and hse really has no problem with how we work and what we have achieved - she has actually put this in writing in The Living Tradition if you wish to confirm it
I really didn't want to reduce this to being about me

As one sided as ever Vic
Jim Carroll


12 Feb 18 - 04:07 PM (#3905232)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

"English means never having to say "sorry".
Jim Carroll" 17 dec 07, quote
we live in a world of constant change, but here we are 10 years on and Jim Carroll doesnt change, ten years on and he is doing his best to keep up English Traditions, carry on Jim you are showing the world what a fine englishman you are a trusted defender of an English Traditions, never say Sorry.


12 Feb 18 - 04:10 PM (#3905233)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

It's not about you, Jim, it's about what you say. I am just suggesting that you stop and think before you click submit.


13 Feb 18 - 01:57 AM (#3905295)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

Apologies for thread drift but jims comment"English means never having to say "sorry" is Wide of the mark anyway but the first thing that springs to mind was The Queens   remarks here
She told guests from the northern and southern Irish communities: "It is a sad and regrettable reality that through history our islands have experienced more than their fair share of heartache, turbulence and loss ... with the benefit of historical hindsight we can all see things which we wish had been done differently, or not at all."

The remarks, at a dinner in Dublin Castle, former headquarters of British rule in Ireland before independence in 1922, came as dissident republicans staged a small but violent demonstration.

Opening her speech in Irish with "A Úachtaráin agus a chairde [president and friends]", the Queen spoke of the importance of forbearance and conciliation, "of being able to bow to the past but not to be bound by it", and of the many who have suffered the painful legacy of loss. Lord Mountbatten, her husband's uncle, was killed by the IRA off the west coast of Ireland in August 1979. She said: "To all those who have suffered as a consequence of our troubled past I extend my sincere thoughts and deep sympathy."

The Queen spoke also of increasingly strong bonds and values: "The lessons of the peace process are clear: whatever life throws at us, our individual responsibilities will be all the stronger for working together and sharing the load ... The ties of family, friends and affection are our most precious resource ... the lifeblood of partnership across these islands, a golden thread runs through all our joint successes so far and all we will go on to achieve."

The Irish president, Mary McAleese, said the Queen's visit marked a new chapter in relations between the two countries "that may still be a work in progress, but happily has also become a work of progress, of partnership and friendship".

McAleese said: "I am particularly proud of this island's peacemakers who, having experienced first hand the appalling, toxic harvest of failing to resolve old hatreds and political differences, rejected the perennial culture of conflict and compromised enough to let a new future in."


13 Feb 18 - 01:59 AM (#3905296)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

And for the record, I happen to be someone who believes the royal family should be replaced, again apologies for thread drift


13 Feb 18 - 05:46 AM (#3905333)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Vic Smith

As one sided as ever Vic
Jim Carroll

Again trying to phrase carefully and avoid provocation, there are no "sides" in my previous statement. I don't see myself being on any "side" and don't see myself a member of any group or gang. It was an attempt to advocate fairness, civility, clarity, consideration and respect for the opinions of others in postings. It was an attempt to move away from seeing demeaning comments made about others merely for expressing an opinion. If I have been attempting to do otherwise, please explain any objections to what I have been advocating in a lucid manner. I am not on any personal vendetta here. I am seeking at atmosphere where there can be a stimulating and interesting exchange of ideas where differing or opposing ideas and opinions can be made and received without derogatory responses.


13 Feb 18 - 07:45 AM (#3905360)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"Again trying to phrase carefully and avoid provocation, there are no "sides" in my previous statement."
You carefully pint out my outburstts of bad temper and avoid the insults that caused them
Don'tt ever volunteer for Jury duty Vic
I'd comment on the relevance of an ironic comment I once made on Britain refusing to accept responsibility for the Empire - "English means never having to say "sorry" - and the effort that went ino digging it out but I'm sure you'd add that to your list
Jim Carroll


13 Feb 18 - 08:04 AM (#3905369)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Vic Smith

Well, at least I tried.....


13 Feb 18 - 08:14 AM (#3905372)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"Well, at least I tried....."
Not hard enough Vic
You did exactly the same when Steve Gardham was slinging around his personal insults on the 'Roud Book' thread
It doesn't help the "atmosphere" in any way to single out just one culprit - that is taking sides
It's you people who have made this about me - I have attempted to stick to the subject of MacColl
As for the other accusations of "intransigence"
Hands up all those who have shifted their position one iota on this or the Rod book argument
Jim Carroll


13 Feb 18 - 08:50 AM (#3905381)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

Whoops - another 'typo'
"Roud" book, of course
Jim Carroll


13 Feb 18 - 09:08 AM (#3905394)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Vic Smith

You did exactly the same when Steve Gardham was slinging around his personal insults on the 'Roud Book' thread
It doesn't help the "atmosphere" in any way to single out just one culprit - that is taking sides


Ah yes! The Roud thread. That would be the thread where Jim Carroll was insulted on 09 Jan 18 - 04:18 AM when it was written -
you're a doddery old fool, and very few here respect your views.

and I responded straight away by posting
This is a very unhelpful comment and lowers yourself to the main perpetrator of insults on this thread. and I followed it with a request that this insult be removed - which it duly was.
I dislike such rude insulting comments and frequently react to them, sometimes in the thread, sometimes in PMs, sometimes by informing the moderators.
Please accept that the way I have been challenging your comments is not a personal vendetta.... but it isn't going to stop me doing so when I consider that you are out of order.


13 Feb 18 - 09:51 AM (#3905403)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"That would be the thread where Jim Carroll was insulted on 09 Jan 18 - 04:18 AM when it was written -"
You forgot the "self promoter" ad "attention seeker" and the rest of the diatribes Vic
It was after these that your one sided reprimands came
Enough of this - it's interfering with the ghoulish MacColl kicking ritual
Those who quote Peggy might like to recall the time she castigated those who attacked her dead husband "who is no longer around to defend himself"
Jim Carroll


13 Feb 18 - 10:05 AM (#3905407)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

Jim, Dick prodded this thread back into life back in January with a, perhaps, contentious remark about MacColl. You did not contest what he had said, you attacked him personally.

When Hootenanny raised some old row by asking for an explanation of why you had called him dishonest, you responded by calling him "A dyslexic, a megalomaniac and a typo-stalker - three for the price of one!"

You set the tone.

As for the other accusations of "intransigence"
That came from Peggy Seeger and a couple of days ago you seemed to wear it with pride. Out of context? I quoted the whole paragraph and gave a link to the letter in Living Tradition.


13 Feb 18 - 10:46 AM (#3905425)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"you attacked him personally."
Because it's a long standing practice of his Bryan
Dick reached his height when he threatened physical violence if ever I came into his home territory
Enough is enough with some behaviour, as far as I am concerned
Hoot deanded an answer he had already been given about half a dozen times and when I stopped responding he kept it up - stalking, as far as I'm concerned
In both cases, the "tone" had been long set
"That came from Peggy Seeger and a couple of days ago you seemed to wear it with pride."
And I still do - the whole quote, that is - you choose to concentrate on the "intransigent" bit
"is possible that they have inherited some of Ewan's intransigence and argumentative temperament (that's the way things go?) but there is no doubt that their work in the folksong world has been invaluable and dedicated. Most of the collectors who've done that have had a kind of tunnel vision, without which their work would not have been as productive. They stuck their necks out and their heads are getting chopped off. They are in good company."

I ask again - how many here have moved one iota from their original position on this or the Roud book thread
I have no problem with those who stick to their guns except when they use other people doing the same as a weapon
Somewhat two-faced in my book
Jim Carroll


13 Feb 18 - 11:21 AM (#3905440)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Vic Smith

In both cases, the "tone" had been long set
But people, not just me, are saying that a rude tone is objectionable and we all need to move on. The fact that is 'long set' doesn't justify it; they are looking for a new approach where posters can concentrate on expressing their opinions without having their opinions scorned or put down. Why not start afresh now? Let's write what we believe and let a variety of opinions stand without recourse to negativity.


13 Feb 18 - 11:29 AM (#3905441)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

I'll leave most of that.

Your style of argument is never going to move anyone one iota from their original position because you don't present an argument. You state THE TRUTH and respond extemely aggressively to anyone who disagrees with you.


13 Feb 18 - 11:29 AM (#3905442)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"But people, not just me, are saying that a rude tone is objectionable and we all need to move on. "
Yes we do Vic - so stop ignoring your favourites
Personally, I no longer care too much what you think of me - I jut wanted to prick your 'neutral' bubble
If you want to comment - make it a general one
"Why not start afresh now?"
Absolutely
Some of you might start by responding to what I have put up about Ewan rather than digging up more urban myths
Maybe it might be worth discussing one of the comments MacColl made in a six-month series of interviews we did with him in 1978/79
"I used to think that Traditional song would never die as a performed art; now I am not too sure
It seems that the folk clubs have fallen into the hands of people who neither understand nor like folk song"
Jim Carroll


13 Feb 18 - 12:15 PM (#3905453)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

Some of you might start by responding to what I have put up about Ewan rather than digging up more urban myths

I understood this thread was about 'Class Act: The Political and Cultural Life of Ewan MacColl' by Ben Harker not about your remniscences. Lot's of people have said things about MacColl. What makes your opinions more important?

"I used to think that Traditional song would never die as a performed art; now I am not too sure
It seems that the folk clubs have fallen into the hands of people who neither understand nor like folk song"
MacColl

And you still don't understand why some people got pissed off with him?

(Actually, I quoted more context than your quote in red.)


13 Feb 18 - 12:27 PM (#3905459)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Iains

""I used to think that Traditional song would never die as a performed art; now I am not too sure
It seems that the folk clubs have fallen into the hands of people who neither understand nor like folk song"

I find it hard to believe anyone could actually make such statements and believe them. You would need some ego and level of conceit to pontificate in such a way.
It rather puts me in mind of the BBC radio broadcasts of earlier days where the announcer would be compelled to be in evening dress to talk into a microphone. Totally divorced from the real world.


13 Feb 18 - 12:55 PM (#3905469)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"Lot's of people have said things about MacColl. What makes your opinions more important?"
Who said it was and what's that got to do with urban myths?
"And you still don't understand why some people got pissed off with him?"
When we have to put our archive in Limerick to attempt to get Walter's recordings out to the public and when we have to take a gamble on whether we will come home from a folk song having heard a folk song - it makes sense to me
Just read the viciousness when 'What is folk song' comes up on this forum, or count the number of complaints about feeling not welcome when you sing an unaccompanied songs
How about the description of "elitism" when you suggest a basic standard, or the defence of crib-sheets?
Go count the number who walked away from the scene when standards took a nose-dive and the choice was taken away
Your somewhat self-satisfied - "if you want to hear a good, well-sung folk song come to our club" summed the complacency for me Bryan.

You aren't really suggesting that all's well on the folk scene after all that has disappeared are you, Bryan?
"(Actually, I quoted more context than your quote in red.)"
Then why have you and others concentrated on the out-of-context "intransigence" as if I was the only one to display such a characteristic

Incidentally, this was part of a letter Peggy sent to The Living Tradition after she had moved to Nort Carolina after Ewan's death
"Ewan MacColl was one step nearer to being a folksinger than I; having been brought up in a Scots community in Salford. He is a man who is a perfect example of the old saying "stick your neck out and someone will chop your head off". I didn't know, until after he died, just how many enemies and ex-post-facto critics we had made. WE. Please remember that he and I were in this together and you can now aim your missiles at someone who is still here and who is quite articulate on the matter. Pity more folks didn't have the courage and the knowledge to talk with him while he was alive. He was actually an interesting, approachable person and was happy to talk to anyone who approached with a less-than-hostile attitude. I learned so much from those years.... and, of course. I am biased! I am also fed up with people who criticise him with only hearsay and second (third, fourth, umpteenth) knowledge on which to base their opinions."
Sums all this up for me perfectly
Jim Carroll


13 Feb 18 - 01:18 PM (#3905474)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

"Dick reached his height when he threatened physical violence if ever I came into his home territory" please find this quote , i do remeber something on these lines which was meant as a joke, however there no emoticons on this forum to make it clear


13 Feb 18 - 01:33 PM (#3905477)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"please find this quote ,"
We've been through this several times Dick - noot by me
Jim Carroll


13 Feb 18 - 02:27 PM (#3905492)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

well come on lets have the quote, so you claim i threatened you phsically once i say it wasmeant as a joke , you however have consistently insulted people on this forum over and over, it is a shame because you have a lot to offer ,you have been helpful to people on this forum passing on info on all kinds of folk related topics, but your hasty temper diminishes your helpfulness


13 Feb 18 - 02:34 PM (#3905493)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"you however have consistently insulted people on this forum"
I give as good as I get Dick - though some people choose to ignore that fact
I've never threatened anybody
Go away - finished with dialogues with you
Jim Carroll


14 Feb 18 - 08:47 AM (#3905640)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

".... What makes your opinions more important?"
Who said it was

You did.

and what's that got to do with urban myths?
Haven't a clue.

From what I have heard, Topic rejected you recordings of Walter Pardon because they weren't of sufficient quality to do him justice and they had other sources.
You can hear unaccompanied traditional songs at many clubs in the UK if you'd care to visit, not just ours. We don't impose standards on our floor singers. Some clubs do to the point of not having any at all on guest nights. That doesn't strike me as a folk club, more like a concert but each to their own. I would rather people didn't use crib sheets but I'm going to encourage them not to rather than drive them from my door.

Go count the number who walked away
I can't Jim, they aren't here. You're the only one I know about. I can only count the ones who stayed and stuck with what they believe in. Some of them are on this thread.
You don't feel that calling me self-satisfied and complacement might not be insulting?

You aren't really suggesting that all's well on the folk scene after all that has disappeared are you, Bryan?
That wasn't the question and is far too big a subject to go off into here. The point was that MacColl said "It seems that the folk clubs have fallen into the hands of people who neither understand nor like folk song. Do you honestly not see that the people that was directed at (basically everyone involved in the UK folk scene at the time) might be offended by that? MacColl said it forty years ago and you've been saying it ever since.

Then why have you and others concentrated on the out-of-context "intransigence"
It wasn't out of context, I quoted the entire paragraph including everything Seeger said about you. You were lambasting people for not taking part in reasoned discussion when you totally refuse to do so yourself and even Seeger describes you as intransigent and argumenative and Ewan possibly even more so.

Incidentally, this was part of a letter Peggy sent to The Living Tradition
I know, Jim. I quoted from it and gave a link to it. Here it is again.
https://www.folkmusic.net/htmfiles/edtxt39.htm

She also said "By the way, I'm just finishing up a book of his songs. 200 of them. 'The Essential Ewan MacColl Songbook' (Music Sales, autumn 2000). Those of you who have followed or partaken in this controversy might find my long critique of him as a person and an artist enlightening. It won't be what you expected from the person who was his lover and working partner. Information is on my website: www.pegseeger.com.
I imagine you have that book, why not give it a read?


14 Feb 18 - 12:27 PM (#3905699)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"I imagine you have that book, why not give it a read?"
Read it Bryan - I'm sure you don't mean this bit
Jim Carroll
The tributes feel good -the degree awarded to Ewan after his death by the University at Salford, the tree planted in his honour in Russell Square in London, the plaque placed in Salford near Coburg Street (which has now vanished), the letters I get, the requests for his songs, the enemies who will always be there for both earned and unearned reasons, our mutual friends with whom I am still in touch . . .
Coda
I love Ewan MacColl and I miss him daily, even though it’s twelve years since he died and I now have a new partner. Writing this book has been hard for me. I shared so many of my best days with him. He filled my life and our house with ideas and singing and if there is anything about him that I miss more than anything else it is the sound of that dark chocolate tenor . . . and waiting for him to haul up another creation from that fountain that was capped only by death. The songs in this book- axes and scalpels, war cries against war, silk purses and cleverly wrought sow’s ears—are now as surely his as they are yours. They cannot be taken from him as were his beloved Theatre Workshop and the Radio-Ballads.
Ewan: This book is my last material gift to you, from your companera who wants it to be known that whoever, whatever you really were, you did manage to become the best part of what you wanted to be.
Peggy Seeger North Carolina, 2001

I replied to the rest of your points, but the message did not get sent = it's happening aa lot with this forum
I'll send it again if I decide to be arsed replying to points I've answered a dozen times in the past
It really doesn't seem woth the effort


14 Feb 18 - 12:44 PM (#3905708)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

It's not which bits I mean, it's which bits Peggy Seeger meant when she said "Those of you who have followed or partaken in this controversy might find my long critique of him as a person and an artist enlightening. It won't be what you expected from the person who was his lover and working partner.
Doesn't seem to fit the brief bits you've quoted.

The rest of my points go unchallenged. Good.


14 Feb 18 - 01:05 PM (#3905713)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"Doesn't seem to fit the brief bits you've quoted."
That was Peggy's dedication to Ewan and hius work - perhaps you can enlighten me on the bits I missed
"The rest of my points go unchallenged. Good."
You really are the pits, aren't you
I've explained what happened to my posting - much easier, (if not particularly honest) to pretend I have no answers
For the record - Topic did not "reject" our recordings as such - they decided they didn't want to do what we wished to - give an in-context picture of Walter rather than just a collection of songs
The recordings were, as all our recordings are, "kitchen quality" with ticking clocks - at no time have we ever aimed at putting our recordings out commercially - not what we did.
They did suggest that, as some recordings were made when Walter was getting on in years, perhaps it didn't show him at his best - probably true, but again, not the point of our involvement in the project
It's somewhat snide of you to concentrate on the recording quality - just as you concentrated on Peggy's suggestion of my(and Ewan's "intransigence" while ignoring her qualification of that statement
As I said before, I have no problem with her suggestion in that (ignored) context, particularly when the comparison was with the feller she wrote about in the book extract I have just put up   
Now - how about all those bits I missed Bryan - won't hold my breath though
Jim Carroll


14 Feb 18 - 01:28 PM (#3905720)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

Maaaaaybe it was this bit I missed Bryan

Appendix III The Critics Group And The British Folk Song Revival
In 1968, Ewan wrote:
If any single event can be said to have been instrumental in launching the British folk music revival it was the BBC?s broadcasts in 1952 of the series of radio programmes known as Ballads and Blues. Prior to these programmes, the emphasis had been on North American folk songs. The knowledge that there existed in Britain a huge corpus of exciting traditional songs and ballads was confined to ; mere handful of individuals. By presenting English, Scots and Irish songs in an historical and social context, these programmes transformed the situation overnight and triggered what was to become known as the folk song revival, the most extraordinary bout of public music-making Britain had ever known. It was the nineteenth-century industrial folk songs that made the first impact. These songs evoked an immediate response from working-class audiences throughout Britain, particularly among young people. Soon scores of new, young singers appeared on the scene and the audience began to reflect other class orientations
Since those early days the revival repertoire has been extended to include pastoral songs and ballads, urban broadsides, forebitters (recreational songs of the seamen), shanties (work songs of the seamen), regional songs, contemporary songs in the folk idiom and political and educational songs.
The bedrock on which the revival stands is the folk song club movement. At the present time, the number of these clubs is variously estimated at figures ranging from 800?1000, with a minimum membership of about 750,000. Almost from the very beginning of the revival there has raged a debate on the definition of folk music, a debate which (in its simplest form) has been reduced to a struggle
11, Peggy adds:
In actual fact, Ewan was the instigator, the facilitator and the person who held the group together. He poured all his training from Theatre Workshop into the group and worked like a demon when The Festival was on each year. He had no Joan Littlewood to take his script and bring it alive?he did that himself, training the singers into actors and sitting each night taking notes to bombard us all with at the end of the performance. The members of the group proved themselves worthy of the task and of the scripts. They all had 9-to-5 jobs (which in reality are 7-to-7 jobs), and everyone poured their All into the common cause. Ewan was _ a brilliant if tyrannical teacher and he and I learned and developed along with everyone else. I took over the teaching of accompaniment techniques, sightreading, script typing and duplicating, stage managing and general organisation. We carried many of these techniques into our songwriting and concert work after the group broke up.
By the time it dispersed in 1971, the Group had said hello and goodbye to three or four dozen members. Among them were: Frankie Armstrong, Bob Blair, Brian Byrne, Bobby Campbell, Jim Carroll, Alistair Clare, Aldwyn Cooper, Ted Culver, Jenny and Tony Dunbar, John Faulkner, Richard Hammerschlag,Richard Humm, Allan and Maggie Ives, Luke Kelly, Donneil Kennedy, Enoch Kent, Sandra Kerr, Hamish MacColl, Gordon McCulloch, Pat MacKenzie, Jim and Sally O?Connor, Charles Parker, Brian Pearson, Mike Rosen, Buff Rosenthal, Dave Smith, Suzannah Steel, Dennis Turner, Jack Warshaw . . . and many others.

Jim Carroll


14 Feb 18 - 02:58 PM (#3905741)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Vic Smith

I have only just followed the link that Bryan posted on 11 Feb 18 - 06:05 AM to a letter from Peggy Seeger to Living Tradition. The date is not given but it was when she was living in Asheville, North Carolina. Can anyone let me know the date? Bryan only quoted the last part of the letter but reading all of it, I must say that I was impressed by it for a number of reasons. It is well written and it sticks to the matter in hand; it is open and honest. She does not attempt to cover up things where she considers that she was in the wrong or that she made mistakes. It comes over as a truthful, straightforward and sincere
I can imagine that it was not an easy thing to write, but when someone is prepared to admit faults and regret them, it somehow manages to make the reader regard any claims of achievements as being equally free from bluster or falsehood.


14 Feb 18 - 03:16 PM (#3905746)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"Can anyone let me know the date"
It was written at the end of the nineties, if I remember rightly
It was part of the response to a letter/article I wrote entitled 'Where Have All the Folksongs Gone' so it should be searchable under that title
Jim Carroll


14 Feb 18 - 03:43 PM (#3905750)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

none of the above alters the fact that i was criticising a flawed club policy,not criticising Ewan as a performer, what does Jim do ..he replies with piffle about me threatening him, tell you what Jim take me to court about this threatening behaviour,you will be a laughing stock, further more if i was to threaten anyone, which i have no intention of doing it of whatever size it would certainly not be a small ginger haired pipsqueak or an old man


14 Feb 18 - 03:44 PM (#3905751)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Cj

It’s a good letter, EM comes out of it well, as does JC. Certainly paints a more welcoming version of events than JC’s more spiked defence. I may just buy that book of hers. And dare I say, the MacColl biography (not) being discussed here...


14 Feb 18 - 03:57 PM (#3905755)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Vic Smith

The post at 14 Feb 18 - 03:43 PM. Come on, Dick we are trying to move away from insults - all of us


14 Feb 18 - 04:38 PM (#3905759)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

I've explained what happened to my posting
You also said I'll send it again if I decide to be arsed
You still haven't.

You're right, it wasn't just the recording quality. Your failure to cooperate was also part of it.
http://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/pardon2.htm

I haven't got the book. I'm relying on what you can tell me and what the quote you put up from Peggy Seeger says. What you have quoted from the book is very interesting but doesn't seem to constitute the "long critique of him as a person and an artist" that she says will not be "what you expected". I am relying on your honesty to tell us what the book says.


14 Feb 18 - 05:04 PM (#3905768)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

The MacColl bio is very interesting, it covers his years in the thirties his work in theatre and his thoughts on performing and songwriting, it is excellent


14 Feb 18 - 07:33 PM (#3905793)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"Your failure to cooperate was also part of it."
How ****** dare you - fail to co-operate with what exactly?
We withdrew from the project, which hadn't even reached the "notes" stage because Topic had rejected what we wished to do - it was no longer our project
We still have Mike's letter requesting permission to use some of our material, which we readily gave
Mike's finished album bore no resemblance whatever to what we wanted to do and at not time did he ask for our co-operation other than our permission to use some of our recordings
We said from the beginning that we did not want "another Walter Pardon album" simply because we felt that Bill Leader's and Mike's were as good as it gets.
What are you people on Bryan?
You and your mates weigh in on the reputation of s singer who has been dead 29 years
Dig up thirty odd year old slanderous stories to malign his character, despite a plea from his widow in the article you linked to that it was time this sort of ghoulish behaviour stopped
You then take the words of his widow (out of context) to malign my character by accusing me of "intransigence", yet no one of you bunch has moved a single inch from your original position on two long threads despite being unable to respond to agruments
Kicking a fellow folk enthusiast who has been dead for thirty years is sick enough - now you appear to have gone viral and have dragged in our efforts to produce a picture of the most important traditional singer for the folksong public.
What kind of sick behaviour is this
I hope you people never have the ****** nerve to denigrate MacColl again, after this display
"I haven't got the book. I'm relying on what you can tell me and what the quote you put up from Peggy Seeger says"
So you chose to use a book you haven't read to attack me and MacColl - get's better and better with every posting !!
No wonder the revival is in the mess it it if this is anything to go by.
I trust Vic is not going to ignore this one - Dick's behaviour fades into insignificance after this display of viciousness
Jim Carroll


14 Feb 18 - 07:43 PM (#3905796)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"not be a small ginger haired pipsqueak or an old man"
Missed this - gem - gets even better
I have had dark hair al my life - now have a fine hair of grey
You really can get nothing right "except ageist abuse)
Jay-******-sus
Jim Carroll


15 Feb 18 - 12:54 AM (#3905815)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

what makes you think i was a dressing you , i never mentioned anyone by name, I HAVE NEVER BEEN VIOLENT TOWARDS ANYONE, OLD WOMEN, OLD MEN, GINGER HAIRED PIPSQUEAKS, DARK HAIRED LIVERPUDLIANS, YOUNG WOMEN YOUNG MEN BLACK PEOPLE ESKIMOS or anybody at all, both you and vic are barking up the wrong tree. i have never met you,so why would i be adressing you i have no idea or interest in your appearance


15 Feb 18 - 03:33 AM (#3905824)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

This vicious, grave dancing discussion seems to have gone as far as any discussion on MacColl is ever likely to go on this forum
Like all our other field-recordings and research, our own collection will soon end up in an Irish educational institute to be used by students in their Worlk-music department - hopefully more of it will go on-line - this time with the interviews.
Walter Pardon's and Ewan's and the Revival section will be accompanied by the note - "this is what the future of folk song could and should have been about - it stands more than a chance of surviving in Ireland than it does back home"
The Critics Group ended (amicably) at the beginning of 1971 when a number of members led by Ewan, went off to form a theatrical Group - it lasted a year and broke up far more acrimoniously than any disputes that ever took place in The Critics Group - we weren't part of that break-up, so we never quite understood what happened.
Over a decade later, Karl Dallas arranged a symposium to celebrate Ewan's life and work - a number of Folk and Theatre figures from Ewan's past turned up to pay tribute - Alan Lomax, Hamish Henderson. Theatre Workshop's Howard Goorney, Leslie Shepherd, some of the old mass-trespassers.... and an array of singers and musicians - a truely memorable, shit-free week-end for Pat and I.
A few weeks before the event I was asked by Ewan and Peg, to speak on The Critics Group - in the circumstances surrounding the break-up I was, to say the least, petrified and only agreed to do so if I could interview previous members of the Critics Group and get their impressions of the experience - I did the best I could to a somewhat divided audience
Like all the talks Pat and I have given, it was fairly carefully scripted.
If anybody would like a copy of my summing up of the Critics Group, as limited as it is, they are welcome to a copy
It seems the only way to discuss MacColl and his work afer three decades since his death, is off-line - that says something about someone or something!
Jim Carroll


15 Feb 18 - 05:37 AM (#3905837)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

How ****** dare you - fail to co-operate with what exactly?

It seems that Topic felt that these later recordings failed to show Walter at his best and so Jim and Pat withdrew from the project, leaving Topic with a single CD that was without notes or documentation.
Michael Yates
Almost two years ago, after parting with Topic, Jim and Pat asked me if I would be interested in releasing the 'second' CD - and I readily agreed. We exchanged a letter or two, but they then got involved in a protracted move to Ireland which seemed to take up most of the summer. I phoned them several times afterwards, but it seemed clear that they had lost motivation for the project.
Rod Stradling

I haven't got time for this fight. You'd better take it up with Yates and Stradling.

Dig up thirty odd year old slanderous stories to malign his character
Could you produce ONE example of where I have ever done that?

I hope you people never have the ****** nerve to denigrate MacColl again, after this display
Could you produce an example of where I have done that either in this thread or at any other time?

YOU quoted MacColl as saying
"I used to think that Traditional song would never die as a performed art; now I am not too sure
It seems that the folk clubs have fallen into the hands of people who neither understand nor like folk song"

I asked you whether you couldn't see that some people might be pissed off at him for that. You haven't replied.

YOU quoted Seeger as saying
Those of you who have followed or partaken in this controversy might find my long critique of him as a person and an artist enlightening. It won't be what you expected from the person who was his lover and working partner.
I haven't got access to that book so I asked you about it. You have been evasive to the point of not acknowledging that the critique exists.

You have described this as a display of viciousness.


15 Feb 18 - 06:10 AM (#3905848)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Vic Smith

I trust Vic is not going to ignore this one - Dick's behaviour fades into insignificance after this display of viciousness
It is the job of the moderators to police Mudcat and I am not one of them. I am not prepared to take the on-going role of unofficial referee. I have made an effort to bring the qualities that I mention in a post 12 Feb 18 - 03:37 PM but this behaviour has become ingrained in some Mudcat threads which is a pity because it lowers the enjoyment and spoils the discussion. In fairness to Bryan, I can read anger, outrage and frustration in his recent posts, but nowhere does it tip over into insult though my view would be that he is getting into a situation that has no easy resolution.

If anybody would like a copy of my summing up of the Critics Group, as limited as it is, they are welcome to a copy
I think that I would find these useful to read though I would suggest that sending them by PM or email might be better than posting them here.


15 Feb 18 - 07:13 AM (#3905857)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

You don't happen to have Peggy's book do you Vic?


15 Feb 18 - 07:20 AM (#3905859)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Vic Smith

No, Bryan. It's on the list of the books that I want to buy but it hasn't come to the top yet.


15 Feb 18 - 07:53 AM (#3905866)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"It is the job of the moderators to police Mudcat and I am not one of them"
Hasn't stopped you in your one-sided moderation of me Vic
Never mind - call it an experiment on my part - turned out as I knew it would
Bryan - I gave my position on the Walter album - it was exactly as I said
If I was the slightest bit interested in what you thought I would produce it - I am not
It was a piece of venomous spite to put it uop here anyway - it was meant to malign our work with Walter which confirms there id no place for him in today's revival
"I asked you whether you couldn't see that some people might be pissed off at him for that. You haven't replied."
Of course I can in a revival that considers itself above criticism - plenty of evidence of that here, if further were needed
"I haven't got access to that book so I asked you about it."
I found using a book you hadn't read unworthy of response - however, I have you the many comments Peggy made on Ewan' influence and abilities - including her describing him as a "tyrant" (which I as a member who received the sharp end of Ewan's tongue on occasion, which she never did) somewhat of an overstatement - she's still as prone to such as she ever was.
The book contains no condemnation of Ewan - some political criticism, but that's it - I had those with him.
Using the widow of a long-dead man to continue to dig him up and kick him is as vicious as it gets, especially when you haven't ever read what she has to say and prefer one-liners to make your accusations
Peggy said what she said about Ewan as an artist in the sections i put up - in full - not "extracts" as you snidely suggest
You really do confirm everything I've heard about you
Both Peggy's autobiography and Jean Freedman's study of her are a must for understanding the work of Ewan and Peggy, though Jean's is far more analytical and objective -
Jim Carroll


15 Feb 18 - 08:08 AM (#3905867)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

" I would produce it "
Should be "I would produce the correspondence on it"
Jim Carroll


15 Feb 18 - 08:51 AM (#3905875)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

Jim your regular and consistent insulting of people on this forum diminshes the good side of your character your willingness to help others. I read Peggys biography,and much asrespect her as a songwriter musican and singer, I did not find it as intersting, Ewan imo had a more varied career having been involved in hunger marches,and protests against enclosure of land to prevent rambling, theatre, writing plays as well as performing, which imo made a more interesting read


15 Feb 18 - 09:09 AM (#3905876)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"Jim your regular and consistent insulting of people on this forum diminshes the good side of your character your willingness to help others"
Don't be yso-self-righteous Dick - not with your serial behaviour af abusing and insulting people with no provocation at all - members and non-members alike.
It wouldn't take too much of an effort to provide a string of examples
Leave it to Vic - he does it far better than you
Jim Carroll


15 Feb 18 - 09:34 AM (#3905882)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

"I read Peggys biography,and much asrespect her as a songwriter musican and singer, I did not find it as intersting, Ewan imo had a more varied career having been involved in hunger marches,and protests against enclosure of land to prevent rambling, theatre, writing plays as well as performing, which imo made a more interesting read"Jim do you agree or not what is your opinion of theTWO biographies


15 Feb 18 - 09:52 AM (#3905889)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Vic Smith

Hasn't stopped you in your one-sided moderation of me Vic
I know I shouldn't but let me try one more time.
I think that we need to have a look at what is meant by 'insults'. Let's make it simple by restricting ourselves to these most recent exchanges between Bryan and Jim. Now we know their attitudes are miles apart an that there is not much likelihood of them agreeing on this subject, and others for that matter
I have pointed out the Bryan has been pretty heated in his comments, but to my mind he stays the right side of the line.
Now let's look at the post at 14 Feb 18 - 07:33 PM. If two sentences were removed, I would say that the post was acceptable. However, look at these two questions:-
What are you people on Bryan?
What kind of sick behaviour is this?

It is these unnecessary interjections that spoil things. The first suggests that he (and unspecified others) are drug takers. The second implies that some unpleasant mental attitudes or conditions are involved. These false derogatory jibes do not put you in a good light and detract from the power of the case that you are making.
It is this constrant drip of defamatory comments that throw a smokescreen over understanding the points that you are trying to put over.
You say that you object to my "one-sided moderation" of your comments. I would really like you to see that this is because you are by far the main perpetrator. Time and again these rude barbs appear in your posts.
In recent posts you have mentioned being asked to give presentations at Irish universities and of writing a critique of The Critics Group (a difficult task for anyone I would think). How did you express yourself in those situations? If differently, then why?
Earlier in the thread you were advised by someone to check what you have written before clicking "Submit message" and it was very good advice.


15 Feb 18 - 11:16 AM (#3905908)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"but to my mind he stays the right side of the line."
Thought you d=said there were no sides
Personally, i find attacking dead men and using their widows words (out of context) to attack both her dead husband and a supported/friend/beneficiary of his generosity... way beyond any acceptable behaviour
And still you select a couple of my responses to outrageous behavior without reference to what they were a response to - I think we get the message loud and clear - some insults are more acceptable than others, as Orwell nearly said.
I post far more than most on these subjects and thae fact that what I have to say tends to be somewhat out-of- step puts my in the firing line for far more personal abuse from people like Dick, Bryan and Steve Gardham than I dish out - I don't react to personal abuse too well - macColl doesn't have to bother about it - he's dead
You pick two examples and totally ignore th fact that Bryan has dragged in our work on a proposed CD on Walter which he has searched out as a stone to throw, which he obviously knows sfa about and which has nothing whatever to do with the subject under discussion
If you find that unworthy of comment or response, we were brought up in different stables
Similarlty, you chose to ignore Steve's attacks on both mine and Ewan's character based on a book he has not read and has top go cap in hand to get those have to tell us what is in it.
And you consider yourself fair,
Yeah, sure you are!!!!
All this corpse-kicking has gone of far too long Vic - it has prevented discussion on (in my opinion, of course) an important body of work, and it continues to besmirch the memory of(also in my opinion, of course) one of the founders of a revival that brought us altogether in the first place and has provided us all with a great deal of pleasure and food for thought.
At present, I am digitising articles from some of the early folk-song magazines so the originals can be donated to an archive.
MacColl came in for some stick back in the sixties, but nothing compared to this - his death seems to have opened the floodgates on a deluge of sewage.
One of the problems I am having is stopping myself from re-reading the masses of intelligent and inspiring arguments and opinions - a breath of fresh air and a welcome freak from all this stench
Jim Carroll


15 Feb 18 - 11:24 AM (#3905910)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

Me? Heated? Surely not? I thought I was being remarkably calm under the circumstances. I think three was plenty more to take objection to in that post than those lines. I'm not too keen on "this display of viciousness".
Anyway, since Jim has now started taking issue with what Peggy Seeger says, there isn't much point in carrying on.


15 Feb 18 - 11:47 AM (#3905917)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"Anyway, since Jim has now started taking issue with what Peggy Seeger says, there isn't much point in carrying on."
WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Can you manage to get this any lower Bryan - you are doing your best?


15 Feb 18 - 12:03 PM (#3905919)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Peter K (Fionn)

What tedious self-indulgence since this thread came back. Sheer ennui.    Wby is reverance for Peggy Seeger's musicianship sacrosanct? (Ok, she could strum an autoharp.) For all the good they did, she and McColl made an arrogant pair. McColl indeed was a pain in the arse, in whicb respect Jim McC is proving a worthy disciple.


15 Feb 18 - 02:44 PM (#3905960)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

I've heard this before but it is rather interesting
How Folk Songs Should be Sung


15 Feb 18 - 03:04 PM (#3905971)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"I've heard this before but it is rather interesting"
It's a gross distortion of how the group worked
Jim Carroll


15 Feb 18 - 03:27 PM (#3905984)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

I was going to avoid engaging with you at all, Jim, but...
You are now saying that Sandra Kerr, Frankie Armstrong, Brian Pearson, Richard Snell, Phil Colclough were all lying?


15 Feb 18 - 04:23 PM (#3905990)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

Jim, please answer my question what did you think of the 2 biographies


15 Feb 18 - 05:25 PM (#3906008)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Brian Peters

Wby is reverance for Peggy Seeger's musicianship sacrosanct? (Ok, she could strum an autoharp.)

Unpleasantly patronising. Peggy is is an excellent banjo frailer and concertina player and, at a time when instrumental virtuosity was less common in the folk music world than it is now, was indeed an instrumentalist others looked up to. Oh, and she's a great singer and a pleasant and generous person. More generous than that comment, certainly.


15 Feb 18 - 06:15 PM (#3906013)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Big Al Whittle

Why don't the two of you make out a list each. A list of the issues you disagree with each other about.

Then we can bear that in mind, when you both express an opinion.

I'm sure you are both represent different strands of opinion in the world of traditional folk music.

Its sort of nearly interesting that you disagree with each other.   On the other hand, neither of you agree with me about anything much, but it doesn't make everything valueless that I have to say. And to me you are both GOM of folk music - I cannot conceive of either you holding an insincere or uninformed thought about folk music.

If you can get to the point where you say this my opinion , and I come at the subject from this direction. I think a harmonious and respectful dialogue could be achieved.


15 Feb 18 - 06:23 PM (#3906015)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Cj

Dick, I'm a fan of your music but that ridiculous post about the ginger man is a disgrace and you should apologise for it.

Regardless of who came up with the idea and how lax the rules were for EM and PS, I applaud the "sing in your own accent" ideal. An impression of an Appalachian, Irish, Devon or Jamaican accent is one step away from BnW Minstrels not to be taken particularly seriously.


15 Feb 18 - 08:23 PM (#3906031)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Big Al Whittle

some of us - don't give a shit about being 'taken seriously'.

but we do take our music seriously. we entertain. and in this way we wring a living as performing artists from the dull earth.

being told to sing in our natural accents is frankly as f---ing stupid as telling Dustin Hoffman playing Tootsie to play the part using his natural accent.The people who wrote the songs we sing have and usually had lives quite as removed from most folksingers lives, as Dorothy was from Dustin.

There are far too many folksingers concerned with being taken seriously rather than applying themselves to doing a decent well presented professional performance.


16 Feb 18 - 03:19 AM (#3906062)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

I applaud the "sing in your own accent" ideal. An impression of an Appalachian, Irish, Devon or Jamaican accent is one step away from BnW Minstrels not to be taken particularly seriously
that was exactly what the lad [i believe it was long john baldry] was doing when singing Rock ISLAND LINE.singing it with a south east english accent, PEGGY SEEGER burst out laughing.
I found the anecdotes about Brendan Behan in Journey man particularly intersting, it is a very interesting book.
CJ ,i have nothing to apologise for i have no idea what Jim Carroll looks like i have never met him, I did not name him, he apparantly has black hair i have never attacked anyone whether they were eskimos black haired ginge haired,wering amohican or anything else   if i did meet him I would be polite, say good morning and move on , i have more interesting things to be doing


16 Feb 18 - 03:25 AM (#3906064)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

So it is ironic, singing in your own accent was encouraged yet when a so called cockney lad sings rock island line he is publicly laughed at, the whole episode is reminiscent of the mad hatters tea party


16 Feb 18 - 03:25 AM (#3906065)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Cj

See for me Al, I find UK people singing in American accents ridiculous. Sure, they may be professional, but they're not themselves. It's just Stars In Their Eyes.

Knock away the "seriously" word if you like, but I find the "professional" word just as galling. A professional what? A proffesional mid-atlantic dj?

Eaxh to their own though. And the important thing to remember was, this rule was only for their club. There were hundreds of other clubs where you could wear a cowboy hat and sing about life on the trail.


16 Feb 18 - 03:30 AM (#3906066)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

Professional[imo] means trying to to a job to as high standard ,that means practising, turning up to a gig on time and not getting drunk so that one cannot [perform well.
it also has a different meaning which is getting paid for doing a job, but i do not think that is the interpretation that is meant in this thread


16 Feb 18 - 03:32 AM (#3906067)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

but the the rule may have just been for this club, however i was there at the time and the influence spread way beyond that.


16 Feb 18 - 03:38 AM (#3906068)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

Brian Peters, can you clarify who made that post about Peggy , IT CERTAINLY WAS NOT ME


16 Feb 18 - 04:01 AM (#3906071)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"Jim, please answer my question what did you think of the 2 biographies"
Why should I Dick, you haven't answered any of mine?
I think it is a rather meaningless question anyway - like "what do you prefer, a Madras Curry or a sticky-toffee pudding - I like both, they both give me different sensations and satisfy different cravings
Ewan and Peggy came from different backgrounds and both brought different experiences to the music scene - one is no more or less valuable than the other
Peggy introduced me to a totally different aspect of traditional song than Ewan could possibly have done - and vise versa
I became totality hooked on her ballad singing, just as I did with Ewans
I got masses of new information from Ben Harker's book that I didn't know, but I half filled a notebook with critical comments on some of his conclusions.
Harker's problem was that he never knew MacColl so he had to rely on the often contradictory opinions of others, many who also didn't know MacColl
Harker interviewed us and he told us that everybody he had interviewed who had worked with him were incredibly defensive and guarded in what they said even though the acting group had broken up acrimoniously
That was the way it was with MacColl - you took what he had to offer and, if you had any sense, you filtered out that which you were not sure about or didn't agree with - isn't that what you do with every genius (like him or not, that was what Ewan was as far as passing on his analytical approach to performing - I've heard both his enemies and his friends describe him as such).
What made Ewan unique was his desire to share ideas and pass on opinions, information and material.
Of all the things I got from Ewan, it was the desire to pass on anything we have to anybody who would make good use of it that has stuck with me.
Before I moved to London I spent half a dozen week-ends staying with them, copying their recordings - fieldwork, lectures - anything they had was there for the taking
Peggy had a filing cabinet draw of song texts she had assembled from various places, all in multi copies - she told me to help myself as long as I didn't take the last copy of a song so she could make more duplicates for the next person - that's the way they organised their lives
I remember feeling sorry for their youngest son Calum, whose small bedroom had been rigged out with two linked tape recorders so that visitors could use it as a copying studio and a spare bed - every time a visitor turned up he would be turfed out to share a bed with his brother Neil so we could work away for a couple of days
Say what you want about MacColl and Seeger - I never knew another person on the scene who did that (Charlie Parker did to some extent, but he was away from home a lot)
Both Ewan and Peggy have two books on their lives - Ewan has his own 'Journeyman' and Ben Harker's biography
A roughly accurate picture of his life, in my opinion, would be got by reading the two and sorting the wheat from the chaff in both
The same with Peggy - her own book is basically an outpouring of her life, full of personal information without too much analysis - a pleasure to read
Jean Freedman's book is analytical and well researched. with masses of information from others
Jean told us when she interviews us on line that she got the same guarded defensiveness about Ewan from everybody she interviewed
Like Ewan, the two Peggy books work hand-in-hand
Peter Cox's 'Set into Song' is a brilliant analysis of the work that went into the Radio Ballads - a must.
I've yet to read Alan Moore's and Giovanni Vacca's 'The Legacy of Ewan MacColl' - only just got it
It's a waste of time if you read these books uncritically, but it's equally pointless to read them with some of the preconceptions and misinformation that has always surrounded the work of Ewan and Peggy.
They really did have a lot to offer, and they offered it far more readily than anybody I ever met - on the folk scene or anywhare else in my life
They deserve more than the garbage that has been built up around their work - usually by people who offered to share nothing
Jim Carroll
Sorry if this is a mess - a stream of semi-consciousness from somebody who hasn't woken up yet


16 Feb 18 - 04:44 AM (#3906084)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Big Al Whittle

I meant getting paid. If you don't get paid, you can't afford decent instruments, recording oppotunities.

What the professional folkies don't get is that their 'natural' accents are as bloody pathetic to actual dialect speakers, as any cabaret artist being Johnny Cash or Tom Jones. American accents are the lingua franca of working class music - has been since American acts became popular in music halls in the 1880's.

Ian Campbell once told me that his Dad's biggest influence as a singer was Al Jolson.   My Mum sang in an approximation of Americanese. Didn't speak that way - but that's how she sang.

My father in law's Derbyshire was impenetrable to me when I first met my wife. Apparently his Dad spoke in an even more unintelligible stain of Derbyshire.

No name no packdrill, but I've sat through evenings of Derbyshire folksong, that were about as convincing as Laurence Olivier's rasta Othello. To date, to my certain knowledge - no one has ever conquered the Eastwood accent in any DH Lawrence production known to man.And considering the eminence of Lawrence's talent - that's a pretty sloppy response by the educated classes.

I'm not saying attempts by middle class folks to sing folk songs is valueless - but for Christ's sake - get off your high horse about pro- singers who venture outside the Hundred Acre wood of English folk club type audiences.

Why do we have such bile towards other singers and artists. And why for God's sake can't you just do your own thing without criticising and telling us about how bloody superior your vision of English folksong is?


16 Feb 18 - 05:11 AM (#3906092)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

by coincidence i sat in Budds cafe in ballydehob this morning the first song was Rock Island Line sung by jo henry and billy bragg, Ienjoed it despite billy singing in a strange accent, it was imo not as good as leadbelly but better than lonnie donegan, but it was a pleasure to hear an american folk song in a public place rather than what is available in most places which is bland 90s pop often the lyrics are banal and the music seems very samey.
on the subject of singers and singing it really is subjective for exam-ple there are two well known uk revialist singers one has a beautiful voice ut in my opinion lacks interpretation, the other is a good interpreter but i cannot take to his voice, then you have singers like Carthy who have good voices and are good interpreters and good accompanists.
in my opinion Peggy was a good singer a good musician a good accompanist and a good songwriter, and generous with her time as was Ewan


16 Feb 18 - 05:24 AM (#3906096)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

Dick suggests that the "Cockney lad" was Long John Baldry so this is interesting reading - https://www.theguardian.com/news/2005/jul/23/guardianobituaries.artsobituaries
Scroll down for the reference to MacColl but not a Cockney.


16 Feb 18 - 06:25 AM (#3906115)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

Find you diatribe against regional accents interesting Al - are you suggesting we all shoulfd sing in phony accents that are not our own?Folk songs are stories or thoughts set to music - try telling a story or expressing an opinion in a phony accent and see how many people you convince
Some people need to be a fly on the wall after a Yank or Brit singer has left a session after a Yank or Brit has attempted an "Oirish accent"
I'm pretty sure American or Scots audiences are no different
You can SING in any accent you wish - I don't believe you can INTERPRET any song in any accent other than your own - that's the difference
In fact the Linga Franca of song being American is a relatively new thing - up to the beginning of the 20th century, when pop music overwhelmed folk song in people's culture, people tended to sing in their own accents without feeling the need to copy any other accent
Any performer who can't take friendly criticism needs to stay at home and sing in the bath to their rubber duck
What audiences don't say to your face they'll say behind your back - I know which I'd rather have
If you are able to listen to criticism with an open mind and without resentment from people who come to listen to you you might gain something from it
Thinking yourself above criticism is for Prima Dons and Donas - they've always been a pain in the arse, no matter how good they are

Jim Carroll


16 Feb 18 - 07:03 AM (#3906127)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Hootenanny

Thanks to TheSnail for posting that obit. It's been a long time since I read it.

If Peggy was correct in claiming that the song was sung by a "Cockney Lad" then it certainly was NOT Long John Baldry. John's normal speaking voice was far away from that.

There is an error in the obit re The Steampacket but I won't go there or I'll be accused of thread drift and probably a lot more.


16 Feb 18 - 07:52 AM (#3906139)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

On the other hand, Baldry was there at the time and is likely to have sung Rock Island Line. Peggy's perception of British accents might not have been that great.


16 Feb 18 - 08:24 AM (#3906149)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Cj

Hey Al, not sure how much of that was aimed at me, but I'm happy for anyone to sing however they like, I merely prefer when they don't do it in somebody else's voice - be it from the otherside of the world or the other side of England.

Each to their own. Personally, I enjoy the personality of the performer. Everyone has their own personality - why try and copy someone else's?

There's a couple near me who sing Gillian Welch songs, attempting her and David Rawlings accents. They get it as close as they can and yep, it has its place, but for me, well, it's more an homage than anything particularly personal or interesting. I mean, it's nice hearing what someone has done in their kitchen, but not particularly thrilling. Singing it as themselves would just add a layer of intrigue and individualism.

But absolutely, each to their own. 'supposed to be fun, after all.

Not on my high horse - that galloped off decades ago.


16 Feb 18 - 10:09 AM (#3906176)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Big Al Whittle

no i'm not saying i'm against regional accents. but all my family were regional accent speakers, as i suspect yours were jim,   you're a scouser, n'est-ce pas?

and you've got to admit its not just phoney American accents that can be toe curlingly embarrassing. Remember all those Americans with Beatle accents around the time of the fab four? my parents and me had lancashire accents.

I think it was my year doing English for A level that I realised the Lancashire accent was taking me weird places.

The first line of TS Eliot's poetry I ever looked at was

Let us go then you and I
When the moon is spread out against the sky.

I read it out loud, and it was at that point I realised I had never used the word 'I' in my life. My accent went...Ah'm doing this or Ah'm doing that.

if you have to change your accent for poetry, why not song?


16 Feb 18 - 10:11 AM (#3906177)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Big Al Whittle

correction , when the evening is sspread out against the sky -s'been a long time!


16 Feb 18 - 10:25 AM (#3906180)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

that was my whole point earlier PEGGY did not know a cockney accent, i belive the singer had a southern accent. anyway the whole thing was ridiculous as well as impolite, there is peggy singing appalaschian songs with a northern american accent, and she laughs at someone singning rock island line with an english accent as for jims remak about interpretation more bull shit, billy bragg interprets the song rock island lin4e very well admittedly he is singing with jo henry, it is a good version imo better than lonnies


16 Feb 18 - 10:27 AM (#3906181)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

but all my family were regional accent speakers, as i suspect yours were jim"
I still have a strong Scouse accent - I tend to modulate it when I sing without (hopefully) sounding phony because that's what we were taught to do in school - to "speak properly"
MacColl was often slated for his 'phony' Scots accent, but it wasn't
He grew up in a Scots family surrounded by Scots people - he grew up speaking in one accent at home and another in the street, as did many families of exiles
I had meals with Ewan, Peggy and Ewan's mother and sometimes, when Ewan and Betsy were talking, sometimes you might have been siting in on a Bangladeshi conversation.   
Even now, when I'm on the phone talking to my sisters, Pat will know who I'm talking to because my accent changes
This is a thousand miles away from the phony Mid-Atlantic accents that are used by so many singers - neither fish nor fowl
Jim Carroll


16 Feb 18 - 10:28 AM (#3906182)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

by the way it was long john baldry and Baldry's birth was registered in Brixworth Registration District in Northamptonshire, some feckin cockney, for god sake


16 Feb 18 - 10:32 AM (#3906184)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

Baldry's birth was registered in Brixworth Registration District in Northamptonshire in the first quarter of 1941. He was born to William James Baldry (1915-1990), a metropolitan police constable and his wife, Margaret Louisa née Parker (1915-1989). His early life was spent in Edgware, Middlesex where he attended Camrose Primary School until the age of 11, after which he attended Downer Grammar School, now Canons High School. Just before his death, he attended the school's 40th anniversary celebrations."
that still does not make him a cockney, I WAS BORN CLOSER IN BLACKHEATH ,BUT I AM STILL NOT A COCKNEY, It is rsther liker calling a teesider a geordie, feckin ridiculous and incorrect


16 Feb 18 - 11:11 AM (#3906191)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Vic Smith

he grew up speaking in one accent at home and another in the street

Don't tell me about it! I use to joke about being bi-ligual is Scots and English according to which parent I was talking to - but it means that the songs of rural Oxfordshire and rural Aberdeenshire both seems to trip easily of my tongue.


16 Feb 18 - 11:20 AM (#3906195)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"feckin ridiculous and incorrect"
Don't know what this ill-mannered outburst is about Dick - you seem happy to behave in the way you've critcised others for bahaving
The young singer was not Baldry - it was an East London lad local to the club according to Peggy
If you can't tell the difference between a Londoner trying to sound like a black American convict and an American singer singing an American song in their own accent you should not be debating this
It was always an issue of trying to sing in a phony accent that had no part in your lives that was the issue
I think I know a dozen shanties and two songs that probably originated in Liverpool
Jim Carroll


16 Feb 18 - 11:37 AM (#3906196)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

Jim an east londoner is not a cockney unless born within the sound of bow bells. Jim, it,is fec kin ridiculous and incorrect.
no jim, an a north east american singer singing appalachian songs is no more valid accent wise than a londoner singing geordie songs., stop talking balderdash.


16 Feb 18 - 03:35 PM (#3906203)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

joe henry and billy bragg sing rock island line billy sings in an american accent ,it is a good version stop talking crap,it does not prevent a good perfomance, the singers club with their proscriptive rules, they were so earnest, they seem to have forgotten that most people want to hear just a good perfomance billy bragg proves my point go on to you tube and open your ears and listen it is a good version his american accent does not ruin the performance.
long john recorded rock island line and attended the singers club, and yet you seem to think it was not him
"What made Ewan unique was his desire to share ideas and pass on opinions, information and material"of course that was generous of him ,but he was not the only one doing so ,he was not unique, for example davey graham spent a whole 12 hours showin MARTIN CARTHY DADGAD


16 Feb 18 - 03:50 PM (#3906211)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Hootenanny

Dick,

Used to be the Bells of St Mary le Bow Church in the City of London but some East Enders seem to think it was St Mary at Stratford atte Bow in Bow Road in the East End.
Problem for me is do I or do I not qualify?

"it was an East London lad local to the club according to Peggy"

Just to clarify Ballads & Blues meetings were at that time held at The Princess Louise which is in Holborn which is NOT local to the East End.

The obit linked by TheSnail above also says that MacColl Made an exception for John Baldry. Is that right? John was a regular at the Ballads and Blues and was there at it's final evening as was by co-incidence the lady that Ewan would not allow to sing an American song some years earlier when he and Peggy were regulars at the Princess Louise.


16 Feb 18 - 05:09 PM (#3906227)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Cj

"davey graham spent a whole 12 hours showin MARTIN CARTHY DADGAD"

12 hours showing him how to detune 3 strings? Wow. Either a crap teacher or a dense student.


16 Feb 18 - 07:14 PM (#3906243)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

It's a gross distortion of how the group worked
Jim Carroll

You are now saying that Sandra Kerr, Frankie Armstrong, Brian Pearson, Richard Snell, Phil Colclough were all lying?
Me
And, of course, Peggy Seeger was involved in the programme.

Perhaps I'll never know.


17 Feb 18 - 11:04 AM (#3906286)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

You are now saying that Sandra Kerr, Frankie Armstrong, Brian Pearson, Richard Snell, Phil Colclough were all lying?
And, of course, Peggy Seeger was involved in the programme."
Damn - never noticed that Bryan - I could have sworn that Martin Carthy made the programme and drew the conclusions - silly me !!
AS has been proven over and over again by you, among others, taking statements out of context can prove anything
Themisleading title was enough to show the direction the programme took
"Jim an east londoner is not a cockney unless born within the sound of bow bells. "
Who said they were Dick - what on earth are you referring to
If you're going to continue your aggressive bad behaviour I suggest you desist from it yourself
Jim Carroll


17 Feb 18 - 11:42 AM (#3906296)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Hootenanny

Guest Cj above would appear to have little knowledge about guitar playing. Personally I think that it would take more than 12 hours to learn to play in a completely different tuning.

I never have enjoyed the work of either of the musicians involved but there is no denying that they were, or in Martin's case is still excellent musicians. Neither being crap nor dense.

Yet more uncalled for insults.


17 Feb 18 - 11:51 AM (#3906303)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Big Al Whittle

There was a scouse country and western band in the 1970's who were very good called The Hillsiders.

Made a great album....Okie from Muskogee, She's Mine, Yes Virginia, Crying in the Rain,

Almost a blueprint for how to be a 1970's country band.

Just a different tribe.. They were playing the miners welfares, holiday camps. WMC's and Irish centres. Great singers and musicians.

The music had a great resonance for miners. I remember a 12 year old kid singing in class Merle Travis's Dark as a Dungeon, and the whole class joined in.


17 Feb 18 - 11:53 AM (#3906305)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"no jim, an a north east american singer singing appalachian songs is no more valid accent wise than a londoner singing geordie songs."
Neiether Peggy or Tom Paley ever attempted an "Appalachian" accent - not in my hearing anyway
As yo so rudely say "stop talking balderdash." and if you re going to continue being so arrogantly rude, stop whining about others
Get a grip
Jim Carroll


17 Feb 18 - 01:29 PM (#3906320)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

Ah, the "out of context" defense. Totally meaningless and totally unanswerable.

gross distortion of how the group worked

Who are you accusing of gross distortion?

Off for a very pleasant evening at the club. One of tonight's guests knew Walter Pardon.


17 Feb 18 - 01:47 PM (#3906325)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

Ah, the "out of context" defense. Totally meaningless and totally unanswerable."
If I spent the effort you do calling you a liar and saying you have no idea what is happening in you7r club you would have every justification in complaining about my behaviour
You really are a nasty piece of work aren't you Bryan?
You are providing a perfect example of the shit throwers who snapped around MacColl's heels when he was living and are now doing the same now he is dead
Get a life, fori crying out loud
"One of tonight's guests knew Walter Pardon."
Why not ask him why there is no place in the UK for Walter any more?
You ought to be ashamed of yourself Bryan


17 Feb 18 - 01:49 PM (#3906326)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: TheSnail

Who are you accusing of gross distortion?


17 Feb 18 - 01:52 PM (#3906328)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

jim you are missing the point agaim, peggy and tom were singing in an accent that was their own[ but not authentic appalchian] at the singers club, yet peggy laughs at someone else singing in their own accent bcause it was not like leadbellys yet it was their own accent.the singers club is beginning to sound like the mad hatters tea party


17 Feb 18 - 01:58 PM (#3906329)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"peggy and tom were singing in an accent that was their own"
That's what I said Dick
Nobody hads ever suggested that people should sing songs that originated in their own backyard - most of us don't have access to those songs
Why are you belaboring this point
"Who are you accusing of gross distortion?"
Jim Carroll


17 Feb 18 - 02:01 PM (#3906330)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

I am not a shit thrower Ewan was a polished professional performer an excellent songwriter and a good singer, he was generous with his time but not unique in that respect, one example has been given that of davey graham, so he was not the only one who was generous with his time, he along with others imposed a flawed rule[ i have pointed out the flaws[ before.the rule was proscriptive and as i have pointed out reminscent of the mad hatters tea party, that is criticism of the rule, it is not a criticism of Ewan as a performer or song writer, that is carefu;l criticism plus praise for his abilties, it is not shit throwing.


17 Feb 18 - 02:14 PM (#3906332)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

Bryan is a hard working club organiser who along with others also organises workshops. I found him to be an agreeable person and a good performer. Ihavenever met you and as i do not judge people until i have met them in the real world , Iwill not comment o you as a person your behaviour on this thread and others imo diminshes your good actions eg generous help to others on this forum


17 Feb 18 - 02:37 PM (#3906334)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: GUEST,Hootenanny

"Why not ask him why there is no place in the UK for Walter any more?"

Unless I have mis-read things, from re-reading the Musical Traditions articles referred to a few days back it would appear that there is a place, at least two in fact which have collections of recordings of Walter Pardon The NSA and the Vaughan Willliams library at Cecil Sharp House.

There would appear to have been several people who have recorded Walter over the years so perhaps the organisations in the UK have what they consider sufficient material already.

In addition I am sure that the excellent collection put out by Rod Stradling on the Musical Traditions label is still available.


17 Feb 18 - 02:38 PM (#3906335)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

"I found him to be an agreeable person "
I'm sut=re yiou do - I find him gratuitously nasty - a sign of low self-esteem in my experience - not unlike necrophilia and shit- throwing
Jim Carroll


17 Feb 18 - 02:49 PM (#3906338)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

ah but you have not met him, you are judging him on your communications here on the net something that i have not done with you, it is a mistake to judge people when you have not met them, i have also met keith a of hertford, in person he is a -pleasant man with an interest in traditional songs, you have not met him but you insult both bryan and keith though you have never met either of them.


17 Feb 18 - 03:12 PM (#3906342)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Vic Smith

I find him gratuitously nasty - a sign of low self-esteem in my experience - not unlike necrophilia and shit- throwing

Dick knows Bryan slightly but likes what he has seen, I have known him well for over forty years and have worked with him on quite a lot of projects. We have been fellow members of the organising committee of Lewes Folk Festival for around a decade now and I find him very pleasant company and very easy to work with. Apart from the work on this festival, he puts a lot of hours into being involved in sharing the running of the folk club in Lewes, running regular tune sessions and other events in the town. He is also the webmaster for a number of local folk music websites, I would not like to say how many hours he puts into behind-the-scenes organisation each week but I would reckon that the figure must be at the higher end of those spent by committed folk enthusiasts.

Jim has never met him yet feels able to make the sort of appallingly denigrating judgements in a post that has no discursive content but only contains foul insults.
I address a question to Joe Offer and other Mudcat adminstrators and ask them how far this man is allowed to go with such baseless, damagingly dangerous slurs on a public forum?


17 Feb 18 - 03:24 PM (#3906344)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Jim Carroll

Yeah even handed as ever Vic
You seem to overcome yopur inability to intervene quite well when it suits
You should e ashaemed of youreslf as well, but like Bryan, I'm sure you're not
JIm Carroll


17 Feb 18 - 04:23 PM (#3906352)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Big Al Whittle

I get it.

Theres some sort of angst going on.

but what the hell is all this about?

Where does Ewan MacColl and his biography come in?


17 Feb 18 - 05:00 PM (#3906360)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: The Sandman

well i have tried in recent threads to divert the discussion back on topic asking jims opinion of the two biographies but to no avail


17 Feb 18 - 06:12 PM (#3906367)
Subject: RE: New Ewan MacColl Biography
From: Joe Offer

There's a lot of good and interesting information in this thread. Let's keep it that way. Personal invective is of little interest to anyone other than yourself. I don't care if you're trying to preserve your honor or whatever, it isn't of interest to the rest of us. We don't want to hear it. And from this point on, I'm going to delete anything that has animosity or squabbling in it.

It's.just.so.fucking.boring.....

-Joe Offer-


17 Feb 18 - 06:36 PM (#3906370)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: keberoxu

Joe, You RULE.


    Thanks, but please don't respond to my message in the thread. It's better just to get back to the subject of the discussion. If you wish to discuss what I said, please contact me by personal message. Thanks.
    -Joe-


18 Feb 18 - 04:29 AM (#3906408)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll

"well i have tried in recent threads to divert the discussion back on topic asking jims opinion of the two biographies but to no avail"
Did you miss this Dick?
Date: 16 Feb 18 - 04:01 AM
I went to great length to not only give my opinion on the books but to point out there are no comparisons between the two - different talented people from different backgrounds
It really doesn't help the atmosphere here by repeating such requests when you have been given a response

"Where does Ewan MacColl and his biography come in?"
Some of the subjets touched on by Harker's book have been dealt with in depth Al - far too few in my mind, but discussing MacColl rationally is as discussing "what is folksong" - it has become virtually impossible to get beyond name changes and war records - if you don't believe me, go some of the "related threads" listed at the top of this one.
Pat and I gave interviews to Ben Harker willingly and looked forward to its publication with anticipation - it fell far short of our expectations, mainly due to the conclusions he reached
I don't think I'm speaking out of turn when I say Peggy felt the same.
I experienced working with MacColl - a life-changing experience, and Pat and I interviewed him at length - 20 tapes worth over a long period
Our object was not to get a repeat of the already covered biographical details but to explore in detail his approach to his art
I also acquired all the recordings of the Critics Group meetings - masses and masses of detailed work on folk song by a bunch of talented and enthusiastic people who were generous with their time and their abilities and who knew what they were about and were prepared to put themselves out in order to try and improve their own and other's understanding of the Folk-song genre and related subjects
I have spent several years digitising, listing and annotating those meetings - originally I hoped to make them more widely available, but, like Walter's recordings, I have come to the sad conclusion that there is no home for them in Britain, so they will end up with the MacColl family and as part of our own personl collection, wherever it is housed, which is a crying shame.
One of the constant problems I have had in working on the Critics material has been that it is so absorbing and inspiring that the documentary process gets slowed down to a standstill by being forced to listen in detail - not always helpful when indexing
I react, sometimes badly, when I hear accusations of what I know (from personal experience) to be unfair and inaccurate, often unbelievably spiteful and personal statements about Ewan, Peggy and the work of the Critics.
As far as I can see, today's revival needs all the inspiration it can get if British folk song is to survive beyond this present, ageing generation.

I agree totally with Joe's response - if there is blame to be meted out it is to be accepted by all responsible
Jim Carroll


18 Feb 18 - 04:38 AM (#3906409)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Iains

I have found the conversation about singing in different accents fascinating. Having spent most of my working life surrounded by many different nationalities, but mainly dominated by Americans for a considerable period, I have ended up with a polyglot type of accent that veers off subconsciously to mimic in part the person/s I am speaking too. My default accent is a kind of mid atlantic with a touch of Aussie. So does singing with a different accent a case of mimicry, affectation, or what? Some accents are extremely difficult to understand, the Geordie accent and some scottish accents in particular. At the end of the day does it really matter?
What is a person looking for from a folksong. Clarity of expression,
interpretation (whatever that may mean), delivery in the accent of the songs origin(if known) or what?
The over analysis of the who, what, why, when, where probably only applies to some, others just want to listen to the songs and music.
All types comprise the audience. I think sometimes this is forgotten.
Does an enthusiastic audience who happen to be drinking in a pub during a mixed session rank as second class folkies because they do not go to folk clubs. Do you even need to go to a folk club to appreciate folk? You tube offers a very comfortable alternative.


18 Feb 18 - 05:18 AM (#3906415)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman

....'What is a person looking for from a folksong. Clarity of expression,
interpretation (whatever that may mean), delivery in the accent of the songs origin(if known) or what" absoluteley correct, when i play folk music in pubs no one gives a flying fart if i sing irish songs in my accent american songs in an american or english accent.
"As far as I can see, today's revival needs all the inspiration it can get if British folk song is to survive beyond this present, ageing generation."
fair cmment, but it will survive, there are many young singers and instrumentalists in the uk and in ireland, the uk scene will probably change, the venues will probably change it may be that the songs get given a different treatment, i do not see much wrong with thin liziie treatment of whiskey in the jar. neither do ihear much wrong with MacColls version of dirty old town or joseph taylors version of brigg fair they are imo all valid


18 Feb 18 - 05:31 AM (#3906417)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll

"Does an enthusiastic audience who happen to be drinking in a pub "
You are right of course Iains, but as with any art form, it is not just the audience or even the performer who has the say on what is important and what is not.
Some (most) of us came and still come from both sides - performer/listener and researcher
Your argument, if taken to its logical conclusion, would exclude ann researchers and documentors
Forums like this need to cater for both
Jim Carroll


18 Feb 18 - 06:52 AM (#3906426)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Iains

Jim I have no argument that those that collect, analyse, interview, dissect etc etc.have a valid place. They all make a contribution for archiving material among a myriad of other functions.
However for folk to survive it is the audience that is crucial. Their level on interest in the medium will cover all levels from intricate dissection to just enjoying the song/music and ambience generated.
Certainly some include the multiple role of performer/listener/researcher/etc. but I think many more wander along for purely for the entertainment. Surely a broad church needs to be encouraged although obviously some venues will have a more focused/specialised approach (As is their perfect right) After all we still tolerate Morris Dancers!


18 Feb 18 - 07:33 AM (#3906433)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll

"However for folk to survive it is the audience that is crucial."
Of course it has, but to put one above the other just doesn't work, especially when you are talking about the survival of a genre that is rapidly disappearing from the public memory.
I doubt if anybody ever did just "wander in" to the music - song as apparently alien as for song needs to be promoted
The interest of our generation came mainly through a process - a rejection of what the machine had to offer, Jazz, Blues, Country and Western, American folk then finally tour home grown product - each shift was a conscious one
That just doesn't happen now, an extremely aggressive and all-pervading music industry gets to decide what is readily available - anything has either to be sought for or stumbled across
When our County Library put our Clare Collection on line it was a lifelong ambition realised, but the most important outcome was when the Council appointed two singers in residence to take the songs around local schools - last year the kids produced a CD of their singing.
All this took research and hard work - from the collecting, indexing, assembling and finally annotating the material.
I must have have given talks to around a dozen schools - it was common in London to here Joe Heaney's and Ewan's singing being described as sounding like 'Paki music"
It has to be far more abut winning hearts and minds than about just bunging it up for passers by to find.
Then there are the further implications, social national and historical aspects of the songs being made and passed on in the first place - all in need of reasearch
One of the hardest jobs in promoting our music lies in raising funds in order to do so - a group of us from different sections of the arts fought for years to try and get funding - it ended in dismal failure because neither the authorities not the established arts were interested - most were actively hostile to folk music.
When we moved to Ireland (in the middle of the 'Celtic Tiger' period, asking for funding was pushing on an open door, but even then you had to prove your interest went beyond having a good night out - you had to show you knew what you are talking about
You'll never get that in a thousand years if you can't even agree on what you mean about "folk"
Jim Carroll
Incidentally - U-tube audiences fill me with horror
Folk music and song is a manifestation of social interaction and the clubs were a suitable compromise on that
Once you remove that social aspect, you drain it of its life-blood


18 Feb 18 - 07:49 AM (#3906441)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Vic Smith

One of the hardest jobs in promoting our music lies in raising funds in order to do so - a group of us from different sections of the arts fought for years to try and get funding - it ended in dismal failure because neither the authorities not the established arts were interested - most were actively hostile to folk music.

I will be able to react more fully when I hear the results of the current application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a 6 figure funding of what we see as the vital work that Sussex Traditions are planning over the next three years. The application is very thorough and ambitious but there are very hopeful signs. More news as it emerges....


18 Feb 18 - 08:09 AM (#3906452)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll

Good luck with that Vic; It's sorely needed
I am reminded of the closure of the Leeds University Folklore Department when the head of department described the participants (Tony Green et al) as "tree-huggers"
Jim Carroll


18 Feb 18 - 10:27 AM (#3906483)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Iains

Strange that The British Council encourages UK music of all genres overseas while the indigenous vine withers. Totally irrational, but that is government I suppose.


http://music.britishcouncil.org/resources/uk-music-funding-and-support

A close relative of mine toddled around the Middle East and S. America for several years on paid musical "jolly" excursions.


19 Feb 18 - 11:51 AM (#3906700)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman

yes the problem with you tube audiences is people become iso;lated it is not proper socialising, or socialising as we knew it, that is partly what folk clubs are about socialisng. however you tube is an excellent way to learn instrument and vocal techniques, will fly guitar is a case in point


20 Feb 18 - 03:56 AM (#3906830)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman

yes Ians a contrast to Ireland where the Government pours lrge quantities of money in to CCE.
Jim reckons CCE no longer has much influence on tradtional music, clearly not the opinion of the irish government.


21 Feb 18 - 03:27 AM (#3906851)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll

"clearly not the opinion of the irish government."
The Irish Government, like most politicians, has no knowledge of traditional music whatever and no particular interest.
The fact that the the director of CCE, Labhras O Murchu (fondly referred to as Lab-Rat) is a politician, a member of the Irish senate, says all that needs to be said about the political support CCE gets
Jim Carroll


21 Feb 18 - 03:47 AM (#3906853)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman

It does not alter the fact that CCE is supported financially by te irish government, similiar bodies in the uk like efdss do not get the same funding.


21 Feb 18 - 04:00 AM (#3906857)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll

"It does not alter the fact that CCE is supported financially by te irish government,"
Nor does it validate the crass, self destructive behaviour of CCE
Any charlatan can squeeze money out of ignorant politicians if they have enough influential friends
Jim Carroll


21 Feb 18 - 05:19 AM (#3906870)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman

I agree.
Class act is appropriate, how many other performers OR Songwriters would be discussed 30 years after their death,


21 Feb 18 - 05:20 AM (#3906871)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman

However no one is managing to do it for the EFDSS.


21 Feb 18 - 05:25 AM (#3906873)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman

Furthermore i have only ever managed to get 100 euros from a TD, prior to an election it is not as easy as u think, I speak from experience HAVING RUN A FESTIVAL FOR 7 YEARS, WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE IN THAT FIELD OR ARE YOU JUST GIVING AN OPINION NOT BASED ON EXPERIENCE


21 Feb 18 - 06:18 AM (#3906884)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll

"However no one is managing to do it for the EFDSS."
EFDSS has recieved money and Royal patronage on the basis of the personal friendship between its former Director, Douglas Kennedy - one of the reasons his son got off as lightly as he did
Neither this, nor the money CCE receives is a valid way of fund-raising for a cause
If it is going to mean anything, is has to be raised on the basis of the importance of the music - that way it will be guaranteed to be ongoing and wiull ascertain that it is spent properly (not for buying new orange hair-dye for the director!!)
Jim Carroll


21 Feb 18 - 06:55 AM (#3906899)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman

EFDSS DOES NOT RECIEVE ANYTHING LIKE THE SAME AMOUNT OF MONEY FROM THE UK GOVERNMENT AND WELL YOU KNOW IT.
JIM, ON WHAT BASIS THE MONEY IS GIVEN IS NOT AS IMPORTANT AS
1.HOW IT IS USED AND
2 THE AMOUNT
HOW, AND WHO WOULD DECIDE ON THE IMPORTANCE OF THE MUSIC?
furthermore making snide remarks about peter kennedy gets us nowhere.


21 Feb 18 - 07:02 AM (#3906903)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll

Not the tyime or the place Dick - nice to know that you regard criticism Kennedy's appalling behaviour as "snide" though
I only responded in order to try and revive the thread - been there - done that
Jim Carroll


21 Feb 18 - 04:38 PM (#3907031)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: TheSnail

A belated thanks to Dick and Vic for their kind comments. I've been rather caught up in folk club admin duties the last few days. As for being a "good performer", I aspire to competence.
I am a little worried by the suggestion that, in real life, I am a much nicer person than I would appear from what I say here. I really don't think I compare with Jim in that department. (I'm sure he's perfectly charming in person.) Not too keen on being in the same bracket as Keith of Hertford either.
Anyway, time has moved on and Jim seems to have found new targets for his rage.


21 Feb 18 - 05:13 PM (#3907037)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman

kennedy in my opinion was a Curates egg, so Jim you are always complaining aboutpeople kicking Ewans Corpse yet you are happy to kick Kennedys corpse


21 Feb 18 - 09:54 PM (#3907077)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jackaroodave

"Jim you are always complaining about people kicking Ewans Corpse "

Of all the strange things in this thread, this strikes me as the strangest. Let's just grant for the sake of discussion that every criticism of MacColl in this thread is spiteful and inaccurate. Still, why does the fact that MacColl is dead make it especially heinous?

MacColl was born in 1915. If he was alive, he'd be 102. He's SUPPOSED to be dead: To use a frame of reference I'm familiar with, he's as old as Brownie McGhee. He's 3 years younger than Lightning Hopkins and Woodie Guthrie. He's the same age as Bob Dylan's MOTHER, and Dylan is 77 this May.

Moreover, his corpse is not still warm: He's been dead for nigh unto 30 years. He's been dead longer than Amy Winehouse lived. He is long gone where he need no longer bear

. . . the whips and scorns of time,
Th' oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th' unworthy takes.

He is beyond the reach of his detractors as much as, I don't know, Churchill or George Bernard Shaw, are beyond theirs.

He belongs to the ages. He can take it.


21 Feb 18 - 09:59 PM (#3907078)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,paperback

Because he was Carroll's mate


22 Feb 18 - 06:44 AM (#3907133)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman

I think if Ewan was alive today his songwriting advice would be of paramount advice , I would happily listen to workshops or advice on songwriting by Ewan MacColl, he was IMO the best


22 Feb 18 - 07:22 AM (#3907139)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll

"why does the fact that MacColl is dead make it especially heinous?"
The "kicking" of anybody's corpse, long dead or otherwise, is a somewhat depraved act.
Constantly re-assessing or disputing their contribution to society is another matter altogether
I have been trying a long time now to det a discussion going on MacColl's work and his ideas because I believe them to be relevant to the survival of folk song - I don't care what people think of MacColl as n individual - I have my own memories for that
Each time the sunject comes up it degenerates into a slagging-match on topics that have no relevance whatever to his work and usually not to folk song
If you don't believe that, go open some of the listed threads above.
I used to believe this was a simple act of spite by people Ewan had upset one way or another - now I have come to the com=conclusion that it is a deliberate 'spoiler' technique to make sure his work is never discussed rationally - if this is not deliberate, that has been the effect
MacColl isn't the only subject to have been dealt with in this manner - go look up anything on 'Definition of folk song' - the same happens; slanging matches rather than rational discussion.
"Because he was Carroll's mate"
Thank you for making my point for me P
You really couldn't have timed it better from my point of view
Unless the folk movement grows away from this adolescent nastiness I fear all the work that has been done will be leftt for future generations to sort out - if it survives)
I hate to think how they will regard our behaviour
"yet you are happy to kick Kennedys corpse"
I refer only to what Kennedy did and what many people know him to have done
I say nothing now that I didn't say to his face on the few occasions that I met him - perhaps if others had defied his threats of legal action, it would not be necessary to deal with it now
Jim Carroll


22 Feb 18 - 08:04 AM (#3907146)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jackaroodave

Jim Carroll: 'The "kicking" of anybody's corpse, long dead or otherwise, is a somewhat depraved act.'

More so than the kicking a live body, who might actually feel it? Legally the reverse is true, in the USA, anyway: You can't libel a dead person.

I don't think you really believe that what you said is ALWAYS true, Jim. "Richard Nixon was an evil, bigoted criminal. He should be dug up so we can kick him properly and bury him again, with a stake through his heart." There, I said it, and I don't feel the least depraved. Not that there's any comparison with MacColl, just a rebuttal of "anybody's" in your quoted premise. (The shadow of Godwin falls over this thread, like all threads.)

While we properly feel our affections should triumph over death, so can our bitterness when we've been wounded or embroiled in a feud. It's not depravity, it's humanity.


22 Feb 18 - 08:42 AM (#3907156)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll

"You can't libel a dead person."
Di I mention "legal"?
By not responding to a single thing I have written, you make my point, as did Paperback - the work of MacColl remains as much a 'no go area' as it ever was
Much easier to give the dead people a kicking than to challenge their ideas, or even give credit for them having any
Ah well!!
Jim Carroll


22 Feb 18 - 08:54 AM (#3907157)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Vic Smith

I once received a letter from Peter Kennedy about an article that I had written in Folk News edited by Karl Dallas threatening to take me to court for what I had written unless I wrote another for that publication withdrawing my claims. The claims were that Kennedy has released a number of casstte recordings of traditional singers on his Folktrax label. My claims were that Kennedy had made these releases without reference to or contract or arrangement with these singers. The singers that I knew about in Scotland and Sussex were people that I knew well and had volunteered the information to me off their own bat, not on any prompting or questioning from me. I was pretty sure of my facts, so I wrote back telling to go ahead and sue and that my barrister brother had volunteered to represent me free of charge [confession time - neither of my brothers are trained in the law!] I never heard from him again on the matter.
In the next issue of Folk News there was a retraction from Dallas saying that 'some of the facts' in my article had not been properly checked. I was furious. I phoned Dallas and asked him what facts he meant. He replied that the paper was losing money hand over fist and that it was nearly bankrupting him and he could not face the cost of a court case that he might not win. Folk News only lasted a couple more issues. Dallas immediately started a newspaper devoted to punk which was the rising musical fashion of the time. It was truly appalling and only last two issues.
IN RETROSPECT I feel that everything that I know or have heard about Peter Kennedy makes me thing that he was an out and out rogue but I am hugely grateful for the wonderful recordings that he made of so many aspects of traditional songs, music and culture of the UK. He is by far the most important collector since the 2nd World War. His Folk Songs of Britain & Ireland stands as an amazing testimony of his achievements. It is just sad that the importance of his legacy has been marred by some of his actions.


22 Feb 18 - 08:59 AM (#3907158)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jackaroodave

'Ah well,' indeed.

I'll let you make your own points for yourself, from here on, Jim.

Just one last, though: I have no feelings about MacColl whatever. Except for what I've learned from these threads, I know sweet Foucault about him.


22 Feb 18 - 09:29 AM (#3907168)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll

"I'll let you make your own points for yourself, from here on, Jim."
On the basis of your three posting, none of which have been on Maccoll or his work - you'll be greatly missed!!
"I know sweet Foucault about him."
You aeem pretty adept at stating the obvious
Stick to what you know, I say
Jim Carroll


22 Feb 18 - 11:53 AM (#3907189)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman

"yet you are happy to kick Kennedys corpse"
I refer only to what Kennedy did and what many people know him to have done. EXACTLY WITHOUT REFERRING TO THE GOOD THINGS THAT HE DID, UNBALANCED COMMENTS AS ALWAYS


22 Feb 18 - 12:26 PM (#3907190)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll

DicK
What exactly do you think this is all about - have you any knowledge whatever of the exploits of Peter Kennedy ?
Think in terms of Britain and Ireland's 'Elgin Marbles' and you may make a start
How would you go about balancing that one
Jim Carroll


22 Feb 18 - 01:59 PM (#3907209)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman

yesIknow all about Peter Kennedy his good and his bad points it has been discussed here many times, I was ripped off by him too but Iwould reiterate Vics comments


22 Feb 18 - 02:46 PM (#3907222)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll

"Iwould reiterate Vics comments"
It is often forgotten that Kennedy was part of a team, all of whom contributed to the treasure trove that was collected - who made the greatest contribution is a moot point, but I heard another of that team comment, referring to Kennedy "that man's a thief"
Only Kennedy, as far as I am aware, persuaded the singers to sign over the rights of the collected material to him "including whatever was remembered in future" and asked the not to sing to anybody else.
Alan Lomax and Brian George instated that project (also often forgotten) and had Kennedy not led it, somebody else would have done - probably somebody without the clout to protect themselves from the consequences of the things Kennedy got away with
Thanks to that behaviour, a large slice of that collection has remained unissued because of the astronomical prices that were demanded for its use.
I've told the story of how Kennedy ripped off Traveller, John Reilly and Tom Munnelly often enough not to have to repeat it.
Jim Carroll


22 Feb 18 - 03:03 PM (#3907225)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Vic Smith

We are getting well away from the thread subject here - and I am certainly as guilty as any. Some of the points in the previous post are accurate, some are less so and others need amplifying - but if we are drifting from EM to PK, perhaps we need another thread. PK is as divisive a character as EM was and some contributors may have much more to say about Peter and not know he is being discussed here.


23 Feb 18 - 03:24 AM (#3907327)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll

I was going to suggest this Vic, but can I suggest that rather thn making it a slugging match over Kennedy (which has had enough of an airing in that particular form) That it might be more fruitful to discuss the BBC project as a whole.
To my recollection, it has not been covered fully on this forum, though it certainly merits it
I'm pretty sure people from your part of the world could add much information to such a discussion as one of the main contributors was a neighbour
Jim Carroll


23 Feb 18 - 07:03 AM (#3907375)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: TheSnail

Wheh I tried to introduce a more recent BBC item that was more relevant to this thread, it wasn't well recieved.


23 Feb 18 - 09:12 AM (#3907395)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll

"Wheh I tried to introduce a more recent BBC item"
?
New thread undarway
Jim Carroll


23 Feb 18 - 07:22 PM (#3907487)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Big Al Whittle

well , as you say Jim - we obviously need to separate the memory of Ewan from the relevance of his ideas.

So you're the expert.

Take initially what you believe to be the most important idea. the most relevant to us.

Start a thread about this idea. And we can debate it.

Bear in mind though. There's been a time elapse. we're not talking about immutable truths. We are discussing the music of a swiftly changing society that transforms itself faster than any of us can really keep track of.

I've been a jobbing musician for nearly fifty years - working for working class audiences all that time. I consider myself a folk singer. I've had to work out my own aesthetic, and its far distant from the one Ewan came up with.
Tonight I sat through a retrospective on TV of the Old Grey Whistle Test programme. All the songs had one thing in common - if you placed them before a working class audience - they wouldn't know the words of one of them.

Martin Carthy once said , just because you're English it doesn't mean you understand English folksong. So what is it, if its nowt to do with working class English people? Is it like the Old Grey Whistle Test music - just something middle class people can get the hang of?


23 Feb 18 - 07:26 PM (#3907490)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll

"Start a thread about this idea. And we can debate it"
Been there dont that hundreds of times Al
If we can't discuss on MacColl's idea on a thread about MacColl and his ideas, where can we discuss it?
Some people appear to find ideas scary
Jim Carroll


24 Feb 18 - 01:26 AM (#3907525)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Big Al Whittle

I always thought of MacColl as a fascinating artist and charismatic thinker, as well as being a friendly decent guy.

To be honest one of the things I really loved about his work was his context in history. He was a kind of English bohemian intellectual that is no longer really feasible to modern minds,

Really he was the kind of intellectual/artist that Tony Hancock was so brilliant at satirising. That whole sort of ban the bomb/duffle coat 1950's chic.

I loved the independence of thought coupled with the sort of actor /manager swagger. In short he was terrific.

I could no more aspire to that kind of artistic endeavour than I could fly to the moon. I became a young man in the 1960's. So much had changed. we thought folk music was the future rather than part of a tradition. Its a subtle change. I suppose every generation hankers after modernity is what I'm saying. And the 1950's and 1960's saw a big difference in emphasis, even though we all had the interests of folk music at heart.


24 Feb 18 - 03:41 AM (#3907534)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman

Al , I know working class and midle class and upper class people who dont like folk music , i also know members of all 3 classes who do


24 Feb 18 - 05:43 AM (#3907556)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Big Al Whittle

Dick - there are no rules. If you're a pro performer, but not a star,   you have to work out your own salvation on the stage. If you can make trad folk work for you, all I can say is well done!

I suppose I do get fed up occasionally with the job of lifting the mood of the room after some particularly earnest and demanding artistry, be it contemporary or trad.
Still, its a skill and you don't learn to do it in five minutes or by practising at home, although obviously that does come into the equation somewhere.

I suppose more than anything you learn it by having the guts to take on audiences where there is the possibility of failure, and slowly you learn what you were doing wrong. You learn to read audiences.

And when you know about folk, then you start to get a handle on folk music.


26 Feb 18 - 02:28 AM (#3907989)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman

Iagree


20 Nov 19 - 10:59 AM (#4020481)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I'm just reading this book for the first time, and it is interesting and well-written.


20 Nov 19 - 11:01 AM (#4020483)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I learned a lot: for example, I did not know he had a Maoist phase, though that makes sense with hindsight.


20 Nov 19 - 01:34 PM (#4020522)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll

"lifting the mood of the room "
One of the things MacColl urged in the Critics group is that the residents make sure the evenings were varied - speed, tone and mood
If you get four songs at the same speed and vocal weight, one after the other, your audience's "ears go to sleep" - they simply stop listening
He suggested a balance of accompalied and unaccompanied songs helped an evening strike a balance
Charles Parker once tested this by playing recordings of folkies to schoolkids
He got them to describe the plot of a song, then played similar sounding songs and timed how long before they weren't able to follow them
Worth thinking about, in my opinion
Jim


20 Nov 19 - 06:55 PM (#4020596)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I've just been back over thus thread, and oh, oh, oh! One fears to discuss the book at all, but I should like to.

Pages of stuff and I can only be certain that two people had read the book in question. Some folk early on commented on its price.

I got it cheap on line.

Some information I had not known before, happy to be corrected if this is wrong:

MacColl's father had been a performer/entertainer, albeit occasional, part-time. So he had to some extent a role model in terms of being a performer. Interesting how often this sort of thing does go in families.

His mother ended up working like a lunatic to keep the family; his father lost himself a lot of jobs through politics: interesting life choices here ..

Kirsty MacColl was his daughter, but hardly knew him at all.

When his son put up football posters and pictures of pop stars in his bedroom, he threw a wobbly and tore them all down.

At one point he threw a wobbly and dumped Peggy Seeger for singing a gospel song.

In the critics group, Peggy Seeger and MacColl himself were not subject to the criticisms; Peggy later said that this had been a mistake.

Late in life he found he had alienated a lot of friends and family and he did not understand why. But by the end of the book you can sort of work it out.

As far as I can tell, this book gives good and bad points.

It was interesting on the US and Russian and Brechtian influences on his dramatic ideas. Interesting how ideas from dance got applied as ways of talking about singing styles: one of the radio programmes goes into this.


20 Nov 19 - 06:56 PM (#4020597)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

So I agree with the poster above who said buy this book and read it.

And then let's discuss it?


20 Nov 19 - 07:03 PM (#4020601)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

One or two funny stories like the time he said to people "imagine you have been away at sea and haven't seen a woman for ages" not realising two of them were gay, which apparently shocked him, but after that he stopped telling homophobic jokes (forget the page ref).

So there is some sense of it all being dated, with another example being his thinking Khruschev was too soft which is why he went over to Mao (I'm thinking he would have been supporting the cultural revolution??). All that seems so long ago.


20 Nov 19 - 07:05 PM (#4020602)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Obviously an intelligent and talented person, which is brought across.


21 Nov 19 - 06:53 AM (#4020626)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Obviously the book contains an account of MacColl's desertion from the army and subsequent arrest and discharge.

It contains also interesting material on the following topics:

MacColl and his groups' ideas on the functions of folk clubs

MacColl and his goups' ideas on traditional singers

MacColl's autobiography, written in later years

The Critics Circle and the Singers Club

MacColl was hostile to 'pop' music despite others in his close circle and especially Karl Dallas putting it to him that this did have positive aspects. Peggy Seeger is quoted as saying she felt that NacColl might have benefited from engaging with it.

He was also, it appears, particularly vituperative on the subject of Bob Dylan.


21 Nov 19 - 07:11 AM (#4020627)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

The ending of 'Class Act', hinting at Seeger and MacColl growing apart in several senses, and stating he did not like it when Seeger did things without him, is sort of filled out by the account given by Seeger (Joe Offer kindly drew out attention to it) here:

https://www.bigissue.com/latest/peggy-seeger-recounts-when-she-realised-men-had-destroyed-the-earth/

Not only that but in regards to at least one project Peggy made a contribution not always acknowledged at the time, something else she now regrets. One felt that with all three of the main women in his life each made a great contribution to the success of his projects and career, often in terms of organisation and so on.


21 Nov 19 - 02:25 PM (#4020670)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Iains

I think the bare bones story that he deserted during WW2 is hiding some details. He was on an MI5 watchlist, His CO knew he had communist leanings, that he was highly intelligent, that there was nothing to suggest he was a subversive (Bur they may well have been terrified that he could be - Russia and the Reich had a non aggression pact at this time- up until Hitler sent some 3 million Nazi soldiers pouring into the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941.)
    I am surprised MacColl did not become a conscientious objector rather than a regular squaddie. I can well understand the authorities being very happy to let him go. I make no comment on the rights and wrongs of his actions. Without possession of the facts the motivations are pure conjecture. The authorities probably felt that someone of his intelligence and "theatrical background" with leanings towards Communism could become a right little tinker and a king of disruption if he put his mind to it. That was not a risk they were prepared to tolerate. I have no real evidence for this but the kneejerk reaction of some,calling him a deserter and traitor seems extreme. Postwar he was never charged. This would suggest there were more factors at play that have been examined.
    WW1 finished barely 2 decades before and memories of mutiny were fresh in many minds, further accentuated by the out of control Black and Tans and British troops sacking Cork in 1920. MacColl was a potential firebrand best kept away from uniforms I would surmise.


21 Nov 19 - 03:29 PM (#4020683)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

"Iains"

The section in the book is interesting. I'd rather discuss this than get involved in conjecture if I can. Pages 60 to 83 cover it.

However:

1 I think that describing him as a 'deserter' is factually accurate.

2 There definitely were intelligent communists who did join up and serve. Being an intelligent communist or CP member (or a dim-witted one, presumably) was no bar. How far MI5 kept tabs on the whole party I do not know. I think some of them may have joined after Hitler invaded Russia, prior to that some of them were defending the Nazi/Soviet pact.

3 I do not know enough about what you have to be able to claim to be a 'conscientious objector'. I met one who was a socialist, and he was put somewhere on stretcher duty, which was by no means an easy thing to do. I do not know why MacColl did not take this route: I do not think he could claim, like Friends ("Quakers") could to object to war, per se, if that would be what was required. So, to sum up, I don't know why MacColl chose to behave as he did, or whether in fact he had any real choice here.

To hint at some of what the book says (I think it is well worth reading, and I learned a lot from it):

Harker cites Joan Littlewood as one source of information; she referred to letters sent home by MacColl, which sounded depressed almost from the outset. He also had access to MacColl's army records, and, I think, the MI5 material too.

Harker suggests that MacColl found the culture shock when moving from his own circle into 'the foul mouthed brutishness of army life'. The early morning drill sessions were, Harker says, 'torture' to him. So there were a range of factors involved in his desertion, in addition to his own political beliefs. I was not left with the idea that they regarded him as a dangerous subversive capable of motivating the troops to rebel: far from it. Nor was I left with the idea that he was capable of motivating the troops to rebel, to be honest.

There seems to have been a period of sick leave (his health was never especially good) after which he was declared a deserter. It took him about 5 months to get to this point.

I can't quite think where, but I think I have read this assertion that he was 'never charged' before. I think this may be a little misleading, if what it says in the book is correct. He was due to be court-martialled, which suggests that he had in some sense been 'charged'. I got the sense that he was charged or whatever the military terminology is, but that it never went to 'trial'. Checking with the book, it says he was arrested in 1946 and charged. He spent some time in prison. He got compassionate leave to attend his father's funeral. On his return he was told he faced time in the glasshouse followed by a tour of active duty. Joan Littlewood organised a campaign to support him using psychiatric evidence.

He was eventually discharged as permanently unfit, though Hacker sas the precise reasons are not clear from the records.

I won't spoil it entirely for those who have not read the book, but I think I have laid at least one commonly stated incorrect point to rest ie the 'he was never charged' one.

Sorry if this comes across as a bit rushed or unclear.













"postwar he was never ch


21 Nov 19 - 03:41 PM (#4020686)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Iains

@Pseudonymous Thanks for the clarification. He was not a man to be described adequately by simple labels. He was a complex talented individual.


21 Nov 19 - 05:06 PM (#4020702)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@Iains

Yes, he was, complex, talented, and I think, flawed (who isn't)

He comes across as at points being a bit of what you might call today a 'prima donna'; he threw rages - many in the book refer to this, he seems to have had some problems in close relationships, he liked to be in charge,

but

on the other hand, he had good points.

For me, the book, as I have said, seems balanced, not shying away from, flaws and also showing the strengths, which is why I do think it makes good reading.


22 Nov 19 - 05:50 AM (#4020768)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Iains

@Pseudonymous
From his job jumping in his early days to his subsequent career in theatre, to his postwar migration to folk I get the very clear impression that he was a bit of a control freak and had always retained his independance. Just my impression but it would certainly create a problem for him when conscripted(as you point out) He had also been an activist from the age of 17 when I believe he participated in the Kinderscout trespass.
A few sources gathered in no particular order:
From: Joe_F - PM
Date: 13 Dec 09 - 06:35 PM

23 Aug 39: Hitler-Stalin pact
01 Sep 39: Britain enters war
24 Jul 40: E.M. conscripted
18 Dec 40: E.M. declared a deserter
22 Jun 41: Germany invades USSR
08 May 45: War in Europe ends
16 Dec 46: E.M. arrested
ca 11 Feb 47: Court martial canceled on medical grounds
26 Feb 47: Moved to hospital
10 Apr 47: Released,

----------------------------------------------------------------------

An entry in 1940 from the Commander of the 11th Battalion, King's Regiment, encloses a copy of the song Browned Off with which the young Miller had entertained fellow troops, and included the commendations "appeared to be a very good soldier of more than usual intelligence" and he "was NOT a grouser, and always appeared cheerful and willing".

Just two days later, MacColl deserted.


But MacColl's talents also earned him praise from police. In January 1939, Lancashire constabulary noted of his performance at a rally that he "showed exceptional ability as a singer and musical organiser". A note to the Chief Constable of Blackburn a year later, advised "in present conditions, it would probably be advisable to dissuade the town clerk from granting any future application from Theatre Union if it is made".

and
.his commanding officer expressed his concerns to Hyde Borough Police on December 16, 1940.

The report stated: "His influence over his fellow soldiers was that of a man of much greater intelligence than the ordinary soldier.

"In some ways they would follow him, though at no time was he ever discovered suggesting improper action, he may well have done so under cover. "

Two days later MacColl went AWOL.


In January 1941 a colonel wrote: Pte. miller has been absent from this unit without leave since 18th December, and there would appear to be something fishy concerning his absence, as communications have been received from his wife asking for extensions of leave.


https://newhumanist.org.uk/articles/995/sandals-and-spooks

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/4772328.stm

What happened during the war years is a bit of a blank,but it is surprising that MacColl was reinstated with the BBC so quickly, bearing in mind the authorities being so wary of him. That is an avenue that could do with researching.

A lot is made of him leaving school at 14 but The first major raising of school leaving age, a formal change in school leaving age policies occurred in 1939. Parliament debated to raise the age to 15, although this was delayed due to WWII and not formalized until the Education Act of 1944 and implemented until 1947.


https://www.artangel.org.uk/did-you-kiss-the-foot-that-kicked-you/ewan-maccoll-a-man-to-be-watched/

More on his arrest and dismissal on psychiatric grounds from:
Joan Littlewood's Theatre

https://books.google.ie/books?id=u4NsNL9XZ5MC&pg=PA57&lpg=PA57&dq=maccoll+court+martial&source=bl&ots=fi-cS9VB8U&sig=ACfU3U1Hcze

A man of many parts, British folk singer, songwriter, communist, labour activist, actor, poet, playwright and record producer.

Like everyone else he had a few warts and could sometimes be obnoxious, most seem to recall him positively.
I wonder what history will primarily remember him for?


22 Nov 19 - 03:21 PM (#4020844)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman

Alot of judgemental remarks from people who seem to have an anti left agenda,hardly impartial fair criticism


23 Nov 19 - 03:28 AM (#4020888)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Iains

Alot of judgemental remarks from people who seem to have an anti left agenda,hardly impartial fair criticism
Mr Millar was a political activist long before he involved himself in folk music." Millar was part of an agitprop theatre group, the Red Megaphones, who were associated with the Workers’ Theatre movement. Littlewood was drawn to their brand of theatre and political activism which contrasted markedly with her experiences as a student at London’s prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) and then at the Rusholme Repertory (in Manchester).

The term agitprop is a combination of ‘agitation’ and ‘propaganda’ and originates from Soviet Russia.

Agitprop theatre uses:

    political themes and satire
    direct engagement with the audience
    caricatures or ‘types’ rather than developed characters
    characters engaging in a debate to promote a message

It is often performed on the street and written quickly to reflect current affairs. Writing in 1936 Littlewood described how modern theatre should ‘be sufficiently dynamic and forceful to break down all the artificialities which clog the ordinary cardboard stage … [We must] destroy all the paraphernalia which litters and obscures the play. We must strip our stage of all that is superfluous’.[2] It is easy to see why the immediacy of agitprop theatre appealed to her.

The Red Megaphones performed political skits and satirical songs on the streets, in factory forecourts and for the dole queues outside the labour exchange. Pieces reflected daily news and covered local, topical issues. Audience members were encouraged to get involved in the action.

In late 1934 Ewan and Joan formed the company Theatre of Action, in association with the Workers’ Theatre movement. They were influenced by the struggles of inter-war Britain, by the union movements, by the strikes of the 1920s and by the ‘Means Test’ introduced in 1931. They were also affected by the rise of fascism across Europe. The man was a communist - the evidence is overwhelming." From the Guardian: "Left school at 14, political activist at 15, founded theatre troupe at 16, on MI5’s files at 17, godfather of British folk revival at 35" "Millar joined the young communist league shortly after his fourteenth birthday and remained a member until the 60's and publicly supported the party until his death."
https://www.jstor.org/stable/25472794?seq=1
You cannot separate the politics, theatre and folk contributions, they are all interlinked. The facts are a matter of public record and undeniable.


23 Nov 19 - 05:28 AM (#4020894)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman

miller ,not millar if you are going to contribute please spell his birth name correctly


23 Nov 19 - 05:52 AM (#4020901)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Hootenanny

Ians,

in your posting above there is a statement from the Guardian "godfather of British folk revival at 35". I believe Ewan was born 1915 which by   my calculation means that it was 1950 when(surely IF) he was known by this title.

I believe that 1950 is a little too soon before he began his full time acting role as a British folk singer.


23 Nov 19 - 06:40 AM (#4020905)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Iains

@Guest Hootenanny
For convenience I would describe Millar's career in 3 phases, theatrical/activist, radio career (radio ballads 1958 to 1964) Then the formation of the critics group in 1865.1964)
This is a bit of a gross simplification because folk plays an important role all the way through from the Kinderscout trespass of 1932
The Kinder mass trespass was a deliberate act of civil disobedience by men of the Young Communist League of Manchester, and others from Sheffield.The protest was intended to secure free access to England's mountains and moorlands. . A young man called James Henry Miller, better known as Ewan MacColl, was a keen rambler and an enthusiastic member of the Young Communist League. He played a major part in organising the publicity for the trespass, duplicating and handing out leaflets, though this role is disputed. He took part in the trespass, and was shocked by the violent reaction of the gamekeepers who met the ramblers on the hill, and the extremely harsh sentences handed down by the magistrates to the five ramblers who were arrested that day.What MacColl did not know was that the protest was to have a powerful long-term effect, leading to improved access to the countryside in the shape of national parks
The Manchester Rambler was written shortly after this event. He changed his name in 1945, 1949/50 different sources quote different dates. It is unimportant anyway - actors change their names frequently. Who makes a meal of Marion Michael Morrison masquerading as John Wayne?
When, in 1953 Theatre Workshop decided to move to Stratford, London, MacColl, who had opposed that move, left the company and changed the focus of his career from acting and playwriting to singing and ri
composing folk and topical song. His political activism was still strong during the miners strike(ArthurScargill presented him with a Davy Lamp as a thanks). You cannot really untangle his theatrical work from his politics and his song creation. His first record was released in 1950
I am trying to take no sides in this thread (I have a bias. I could not stand his singing or the finger in the ear sitting back to front on a chair. I do not profess to like all his songs, and his politics stank)
BUT: He created some stunning work, recorded some memorable albums, collaborated with the greats(such as Lomax, and revitalised British Folk Music, while composing a host of songs that most would readily label folk. That is quite some legacy that no detractors can deny.

p.s.There is a plaque dedicated to MacColl in Russell Square in London. The inscription includes: "Presented by his communist friends 25.1.1990 ... Folk Laureate – Singer – Dramatist – Marxist ... in recognition of strength and singleness of purpose of this fighter for Peace and Socialism".


23 Nov 19 - 07:27 AM (#4020913)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Hootenanny

Ians,

Thanks for all that most of which I am already aware of. I was just querying the date.

I saw Ewan & Peggy almost every week from around late 1956 / early 1957 until 1961 when they left the Ballads & Blues Club and I took over booking the performers and continued the same policy that the BBA had used since it's beginning when it grew out of the skiffle movement.

It was just prior to Ewan and Peggy leaving that Ewan decided to introduce his policy of British singers for British songs etc. Earlier he had been happy along with Peggy and Shirley Collins to record in Lomax's skiffle group using British and American songs albeit "arranged versions".

I agree with you that he wrote some good songs. I am not "taking sides".


23 Nov 19 - 07:46 AM (#4020918)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Dave Sutherland

I don't know whether I'm included in the two who have read the book but I did buy it not long after it was published and have read it a couple of times but I would have to re-read it again as one or two of the references seem a bit unclear after all this time. After that I would be pleased to take art in the discussion.


24 Nov 19 - 04:20 AM (#4020991)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Iains

@Guest Hootenanny.
The clip I posted on the folk music thread has a conversation where one of the Clancy Bros. makes the point that they started as actors and they had no qualms altering words in order to better communicate with their audience. They were insistent that communication was the key to success.
    This has some remarkable parallels with Ewan Macoll and more especially Joan Littlewood, whom he married in 1936. Littlewood created a radio documentary in 1939The Classic Soil using local voices/accents. This was followed post war in Stratford with a series of plays...http://essentialdrama.com/practitioners/joan-littlewood/
I would argue these influences fed through into the creation of the radio ballads (Groundbreaking radio programs) For Littlewood all this culminated in "Oh What Lovely war" that some argue has classic agiprop influences. It seems to me it is very difficult to separate the two entities from their bodies of work. I would argue they both fed off each other and the influences remained throughout their subsequent careers.
In a nutshell: The living soil predated the radio ballads. The workers Theatre Movement to the Theatre of Action long preceded Oh what a lovelty war.

As a total aside Joan Littleqwood played a major part in establishing the career of Brendan Behan. The above is a bit of a gross simplification but I find their interaction and influence on one another fascinating, as I cannot see where one finishes and the other starts. I do not think a discussion of Ewan Maccoll can be complete without bringing Joan Littlewood into the conversation.

Do you see a parallel here?
The Theatre Workshop's work reflected the ideas Littlewood was constantly developing. In addition to regular rehearsals for their various productions, the actors trained vigorously. Their days began with movement—a series of rigorous exercises based on Rudolph Laban's concept of the "human effort cube." This was followed by a period of vocal training and then by text and character work incorporating the theories Constantin Stanislavski set out in his book An Actor Prepares but adapted and extended into improvisation and theater games. From a later perspective, it is almost impossible to imagine how revolutionary Littlewood's teaching and directing methods seemed in England in the 1940s. Littlewood preferred to work with actors who were enthusiastic but previously untrained because they were largely unstructured, instinctive and highly individual, and not afraid to risk making fools of themselves. She ran weekend schools and summer workshops—most notably at Ormesby Hall, a grand mansion and garden in Yorkshire—from which she often garnered young recruits, molding them into the ensemble. She worked intensively and in great detail, believing that "the smallest contact between characters in a remote corner of the stage must become objectively true and relevant." One actor recalls, "She'd have all these ideas, more in an hour than I could think of in a lifetime." Said another, "We had intense emotional scenes very often … but I found Littlewood the most stimulating person to work with, the most co-operative person. She drew out whatever talent you had."


25 Nov 19 - 12:03 PM (#4021026)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Hootenanny

Ians,

Once again. All I was questioning was the quote which you posted from the Guardian where he was supposedly the godfather of folk in 1950.

Ewan was certainly important to one section of the folk audience at a later date. But there was a far wider section that was able to appreciate a less rigid description of folk to whom he was irrelevant.


26 Nov 19 - 03:14 AM (#4021111)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman

ian i am not affronted just pointing out his name was miller not millar. I have seen that clip before it tells me nothing new performance has always been about communication.
the guardian quote is hilarious, and just incorrect i think Ewan would have dismissed it as rubbish


26 Nov 19 - 04:58 AM (#4021125)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Iains

A bit of a history lesson. It is claimed MaCcoll instigated the folk revival. I would claim it was the BBC giving airtime to the likes of Dylan and Baez.
I had not heard of the critics    until decades after I last attended the Surbiton Assembly rooms, but the Folk club was providing entertainment, the critics instruction.
I think the dates clearly indicate the interest existed, and was pandered to by the BBC, before the critics were even formed. Julie Felix was In 1964 the first solo folk performer signed to a major British record label, when she gained a recording contract with Decca Records. By 1968 she was reportedly the first folksinger to fill the Royal Albert Hall. Also Robin Hall and Jimmiw Macgregor were stalwarts of the The Hoot'nanny Show in 1963/4



The ballad and blues club 1952
The critics 1965(mid)
Surbiton assembly rooms folk club formed 1961 by Dereck Searjant and Gerry Lochran. Biggest folk club in Britain at it's peak 23000 members

Discography
Bob Dylan 31.03.1965 THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN' No9 in the charts
Joan Baez 18.07.1964 JOAN BAEZ IN CONCERT VOLUME 2 no 8 in album charts
JOAN BAEZ NO. 5 No 3 in Album charts 19.06.1965
JOAN BAEZ No 9 in album charts 27.11.65
FAREWELL ANGELINA No 5 in album charts 27.11.65
The best album credited to Ewan MacColl is Second Shift which is ranked number 50,637 in the overall greatest album chart with a total rank score of 7.
Ewan MacColl is ranked number 21,815 in the overall artist rankings with a total rank score of 7.

That MaCcol exerted an influence and created a legacy is undisputed.However I think the prominence given to the MaCcoll in the folk revival is undeserved. The real ones with the influence were those selling records and getting airtime, because they reached and entertained a much wider audience.


26 Nov 19 - 05:09 AM (#4021127)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman

an over simplification, MacColl had an influence so did bert lloyd so did the singing postman he was signed to EMI who re-released earlier songs and recorded new items. He made numerous live and promotional performances, including on Top of the Pops, but was afflicted by nerves and stage fright.

In 1966, the Singing Postman's best known hit "Hev Yew Gotta Loight, Boy?" won Smethurst the Ivor Novello Award for best novelty song of the year.
In 1959, MacColl began releasing LP albums on Folkways Records, including several collaborative albums with Peggy Seeger. His song "Dirty Old Town", inspired by his home town of Salford in Lancashire, was written to bridge an awkward scene change in his play Landscape with Chimneys (1949). It went on to become a folk-revival staple and was recorded by the Spinners (1964), Donovan (1964), Roger Whittaker (1968), the Dubliners (1968), Rod Stewart (1969), the Clancy Brothers (1970), the Pogues (1985), the Mountain Goats (2002), Simple Minds (2003), Ted Leo and the Pharmacists (2003), Frank Black (2006) and Bettye LaVette (2012).
the dubliners had a hit with seven drunken nights in the mid sixties. all these people had an influence


26 Nov 19 - 05:10 AM (#4021128)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman

you seem to be trying to rewrite history


26 Nov 19 - 06:16 AM (#4021136)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Hootenanny

Ians

The BBC were broadcasting an excellent folk music series on radio on Sunday mornings before the dates which you quote for Dylan and Baez.

It was also the BBC that gave Robin Hall and Jimmie MacGregor exposure to a wide television audience five nights a week on alternate weeks in an early evening news/magazine programme "Tonight" prior to the Hootenanny ITV show.
I speak from personal experience as I handled their bookings during that period in addition to running the Ballads and Blues Club from 1961-1965.

I think also that Hall and MacGregor (OK not a solo act)were signed to Decca before Felix but am not certain without checking.


26 Nov 19 - 07:31 AM (#4021146)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Iains

@Hootenanny,
The point I am trying to make is that is that MaCcoll may have been very busy in the background(I believe his first disc was 1950)but he was only known to a restricted audience. As I said those artists that obtained the airtime popularized the genre and various artists had programs giving them exposure to a wide audience. I just gave a couple of examples to illustrate my point, I made no claim that it was exhaustive. Everyone knew of Julie Felix and Robin Hall and Jimmy Magregor in the mid 60's. They were TV stars. No one is going to persuade me that all the same demograhic had heard of Ewan MaCcoll I would argue that the respective record sales confirm this.Rather like Alex Campbell - a huge body of work but limited sales.Arguably Campbell contributed equally to the revival. By the mid seventies he would have been more widely known, but primarily as a songwriter, not a performer, with many covers of his songs being released.
In 1964, Bob Dylan appeared on the tonight programme and sang With God on Our Side. Dylan was more popular than MaCcoll at this time. To this MaCcoll reputedly said Bob Dylan's songs are“10th-rate drivel,” fit only for “a completely noncritical audience.”
This may have been valid criticism within the Critics group, but an audience exists to be entertained not hectored!
The White Heather Club also gave exposure to folk. The genre was very healthy before the formation of the critics club and the examples given illustrate TV exposure to folk was widespread long before the formation of the critics. That is why I argue MaCcoll did not initiate the folk resurgence. To accuse me of rewriting history is not supported by the facts. MaCcoll may justifiably sit on a pedestal for his contributions to Britsh Folk music but to give him the accolade of being the initiator of the folk revival is simply incorrect.
Seven drunken nights was released by the Dubliners in 1967. I restricted myself to examples predating or coinciding with the formation of the critics.

05.04.1967 SEVEN DRUNKEN NIGHTS THE DUBLINERS
Reached no 7 in the charts. Remained in the charts forn17 weeks


26 Nov 19 - 09:50 AM (#4021175)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST

Ians

Sorry but I think you are confusing me with somebody else.

I do not rate MacColl as being as important as a few folks here do.

The critics group from what I have seen posted here was more about theatre and song writing.

Your posting above tells me nothing that I am not already aware of and I am not disagreeing with most of what you say.


26 Nov 19 - 11:59 AM (#4021195)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Hootenanny

My apologies, the above guest at 09.50 was me.


05 Dec 19 - 07:15 PM (#4022366)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Regarding the name change, Harker takes what seems to me to be a reasonable approach. When he writes of the years when Jimmy Miller was known as Jimmy Miller, he calls him 'Jimmy'. Then, from the time when MacColl changed his name, he refers to him as MacColl.

I have found the book fascinating (and I speak as somebody born in the 1950s who knew very little about MacColl before reading it, though I did know something of Joan Littlewood and her left-wing theatre work!)

For example, MacColl, the book tells me, read and enjoyed the works of Lewis Grassic Gibbon - another pseudonymous writer - whose works I have recently begun to read. The book is full of such details, and seems to me to have been well-researched.

I think that MacColl's first meeting with Alan Lomax might have been a significant point, though he had done singing work before that. See page 95 and the section following it. Lomax seems to have been the first to take MacColl for a recording session (apart from radio work). This took place in 1951.


05 Dec 19 - 07:35 PM (#4022371)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I would like, if I may, to suggest respectfully that at times one encounters something almost akin to hero worship when it comes to MacColl. It is, I would suggest, possible to try to take a more balanced approach without being 'right wing'. I would also suggest that it is possible to point out what appear to be historical facts about his political allegiances ( and to dislike Stalin and his regime) without being 'right wing'.

I will confess to voting Green on occasion, and I may do so again, given the importance of the environment, but for most of my life I have voted for Labour, and just did so again (via my postal vote, as getting to the polling station is cumbersome, especially given the weather).

Thank you for reading this.


07 Dec 19 - 06:34 AM (#4022601)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Regarding the Critics Group, mentioned by Hootenanny and others above, it has indeed been mentioned here, and once again I think that Harker gives a balanced view.

He interviewed some people who went to the group, and also gives some of Peggy Seeger's hindsight thoughts about it. As I think I mentioned, it did involve song-writing and criticism, and the application of a techniques from both acting, and, if I remember aright, dance, but Seeger and MacColl themselves were not, Seeger says, subjected to the criticism. Seeger later said she thought that had been a mistake. For me, this difference between the two main organisers and the rest would suggest that the group was not as 'democratic' as it is sometimes said to be.

The criticism appears to have been in terms of political approval and 'authenticity' as well as in terms of aesthetics, singing style, projecting oneself into the song, and so on. But the account given by Harker is very much of MacColl as a teacher, and one who some of those attending found inspirational, whereas others just walked out. At the end of the session there would often be a fairly long lecture by MacColl:'you'd walk a foot above the pavement for the rest of the week. You would end up buzzing. It was special,' one informant told Harker. Another person described the experience as 'trial by ordeal'.People have differing views: some felt it could destroy people, others feel that some participants benefitted and even built careers as a result. Here I am trying to give a sense of the balance Harker tries to achieve between the different views.

The book has quite a bit to say about MacColl's ideas about what folk song was, and how it should be used by the left, informative here. It gives you an idea of the sort of criticism that might have been applied.

There were two BBC programmes about it in recent years, one presented by John Cooper Clarke and one by Martin Carthy. Both are interesting, and there are some recordings of MacColl delivering criticisms within the circle/group. These may still be available on the BBC sounds app. So there is quite a bit on the topic to add to what has been said on here.

See pages 184-191, pages 194 - 198, 213-219 (dealing with the somewhat acrimonious break-up which took place in 1972).


07 Dec 19 - 06:42 AM (#4022602)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Picking up another point in this discussion: some web sites do refer to MacColl as the 'founder' of the folk revival, and I don't think this is true. First, it downplays the role of Peggy, who I think was vital, and secondly, as Hootenanny suggests, there were other aspects of it. Some aspects of it were less political than others. At least some of the political aspect may have come from the states (via Blues, Lomax etc).

Speaking personally, I remember Hall and MacGregor being on TV (The White Heather Club?) when I was a kid. Until a couple of years ago, more or less all I could have told you about MacColl was that he wrote The Manchester Rambler (which you still hear sung) and Dirty Old Town (which I play, badly of course, and in a rather Poguesish manner). I didn't even know Joan Littlewood had been married to him.

Just giving my views, happy to be corrected if wrong.


07 Dec 19 - 09:32 AM (#4022609)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Hootenanny

Pseud,

Robin Hall & Jimmie MacGregor did appear on White Heather Club. But prior to this they had a much larger exposure from their long run on the BBC Tonight" TV programme.

"At least some of the political aspect may have come from the states (via Blues, Lomax etc)."

Believe it or not the UK did not need Lomax to teach us about politics and your suggestion that the blues had any political influence would suggest that you know even less about that scene.


07 Dec 19 - 10:24 AM (#4022618)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll

Oh dear !!!
Jim Carroll

Prosppero and Ariel – The rise and fall of Radio. Personal recollections(extracts) G D Bridson, Gollantz, (1971)

Ewan MacColl and Joan Littlewood
(1934)
Harding had invited me to try my hand at a programme about May Day. Briefly, the idea was to contrast the old bucolic three- times-round-thc-maypole tradition with the new conception of May Day as the day for social protest. Here at least was a theme which offered me possibilities. I built up a pleasantly varied mosaic in which Robin Hood plays and the May Day games gave way to the May Day rioting against imported Flemish labour under Henry VIII. May Day had soon become a cause of contention between the Puritans and the people: the Strand lost its maypole. Herrick and others restored the May Day jollity. But dancing Jennies gave way to the spinning Jenny: the Industrial Revolution began to pave the way for another. As for the nineteenth century, that gave me the chance really to try for a little fun! Tennyson, in the role of an increasingly hysterical Queen of the May, found himself cross-cut against a rising tide of industrial militancy, peter¬ing out in a final despairing squeak before the advance of or¬ganised labour. From there, of course, was a short step to the Hunger Marches, machine-guns in the Berlin streets, and the Internationale blared out over the loud-hailers in the Red Square. The programme ended on a quiet but equally ominous note in a poem of mine read by Robin Whitworth:

Cause enough, then, for their spending
One day in the old fashion—
All under way and the land mending . . .
Winter over with its winter ration—
Salt meat, dried fruit and the rest:
May gave them milk again and churns to freshen.

Yes . . . And the Spring, then, and the men out.
Spring again—and the men 'out’ still. . .
May Day, then, and a new order of things . . .
May Day, yes . . . And a new order of things .        . .

This was sounding rather a new note in British Broadcasting— or so Archie Harding decided. But the newest note of all came in the reading of a couple of stanzas from my Song for the Three Million, the number of the Unemployed in Britain at the time.
The stanzas were snarled out in seething anger by a vigorously proletarian voice that must have rattled the coffee-cups in sitting- rooms all over the country:

Cut the cost somehow, keep the balance whole;
Men are in the making, marching for the Dole.
Payday and May Day drawing to the poll,—
There’s a time to truckle—and to take toll.
Time to take toll—so watch where you tread:
The lesson in the bleeding is not to be the bled.

Bats are from the baking, cooling on the slab:
The duster at the knuckle, waiting for a dab.
Shout for your chauffeur or call for your cab:
Our kind of scathing is difficult to scab!
And stooping to the tramline, you can hear the tread
Of the done-brown damnfools—the living and the dead.

The voice was a new one on the air, the voice of Ewan MacColl, but there was no mistaking the message of the tramping feet behind it.
Ewan MacColl was himself a victim of the Depression. The son of an unemployed Glasgow steelworker, who had moved to Salford in search of work during the twenties, he had suffered every privation and humiliation that poverty could contrive for him from the age of ten. His memories of his early years are still bitter like his recollection of how to kill aimless time in a world where there was nothing else to do: “You go in the Public Library. And the old men are there standing against the pipes to get warm, all the newspaper parts are occupied, and you pick a book up. I can remember then that you got the smell of the unemployed, a kind of sour or bitter-sweet smell, mixed in with the smell of old books, dust, leather and the rest of it. So now if I pick up, say, a Dostoievsky—immediately with the first page, there’s that smell of poverty in 1931.”

MacColl had been out busking for pennies by the Manchester theatres and cinemas. The songs he sang were unusual, Scots songs, Gaelic songs he had learnt from his mother, border ballads and folk-songs. One night while queueing up for the three-and- sixpennics, Kenneth Adam had heard him singing outside the Manchester Paramount. He was suitably impressed. Not only did he give MacColl a handout; he also advised him to go and audi¬tion for Archie Harding at the BBC studios in Manchester’s Piccadilly. This MacColl duly did. May Day in England was being cast at the time, and though it had no part for a singer, it certainly had for a good, tough, angry Voice of the People. Ewan MacColl became the Voice, a role which he has continued to fill on stage, on the air, and on a couple of hundred L.P. discs ever since.

Shortly after May Day in England went out, a letter appeared in the correspondence column of the Radio Times over the signa¬ture of one George Potter. It gave high praise to the programme and ended: Broadcasting produces, or displays, a creative writer of real force, and the critics continue to retail nothing but the latest band-room and bar-room gossip. It is high time this par¬ticular temple is cleansed. I was surprised, when I met him a year later, to find that George Potter had been a discreet pseudonym for Laurence Gilliam, who had just moved over from the Radio Times to become a London feature producer himself. We were to see a great deal more of each other…..
pp. 35/36

That same summer of 1934, Northern radio made one truly unique recruit. While in London, Harding had acted as an adjudi-cator at R.A.D.A., where he had been asked to award the first gold medal for microphone technique. The girl who won it had a warmly engaging voice, excellent diction, and absolutely no fashionable affectation of accent whatever. She was not remark¬able at R.A.D.A. for that alone: she also happened to be a girl from a working-class home in the East End. As it transpired, she heartily detested R.A.D.A., for which she had won a scholarship, and equally detested the genteel mediocrity of the West End theatre of the time. Harding had been impressed with her, and had asked her to come and see him at Broadcasting House. She pre¬ferred to hock her medal, and go over to Paris for the Stavisky riots. By the time her money had run out, and she was back in London needing work, Harding had been transferred to Man¬chester. As he had promised to find her whatever radio work he could, she decided to follow him North. But where most girls would have borrowed the train fare, Joan Littlewood preferred to cover the hundred and eighty miles on foot. This she did with a small rucksack.
Sleeping under hedges, living on raw potatoes and turnips dug up out of the fields, hitching lifts and all that went to the usual picaresque tradition brought her finally to the Potteries. There she rested up in communal quarters with a group of families fighting a running battle against eviction from their homes. Perhaps it was the loss of the battle which eventually brought her on to Man¬chester. True to his word, Harding at once put her on the air; her story was also taken up by the Manchester papers. Beds were laid on for her in flats around the city, and Joan became a part of the Northern way of life. As she chose to put it herself: “I was a bum, but I was adopted for the first time in my life, as part of the whole humming scene. I was adopted by the autonomous republic.”
I sometimes wonder whether I ever met in anyone quite the same warmth and charm and utter sincerity with which Joan made the North her own. Over the next few years, I was to watch her captivate hundreds of people in every sector of Nor¬thern life. Her sense of fun was highly infectious; but only her power to deflate the pretentious was really dangerous. For her, the people who mattered were those who knew they had some¬thing they must create; the people she despised were those who had never found it necessary. She had no real ambition to act herself: her burning urge was to gather together a body of people equally devoted, who could be taught to act and react instinc¬tively as a group. There was something of Stanislavsky about it, but very much more of Joan Littlewood. In a way, it was almost exasperating that being such a natural actress herself, she pre¬ferred to try and coax good acting out of material far less talented. So far as the stage was concerned, perhaps she felt that appearances were against her: she looked too full of fun, and her gap-toothed grin was too engaging to carry conviction in very much more than comedy. As for her acting for the BBC, this she could never take seriously as more than a comic interlude. The BBC as a whole she found as absurd as it mostly was, and her parody of the BBC manner could embarrass even a BBC announcer. Harding and I and the rest had to endure her mockery, which was salutary for all of us. But despite her derision of the BBC, Joan was to play a very important part in making the sort of radio that I wanted. We worked at it happily together over the next few years.
Among the beliefs that I shared with Orage and Ezra Pound, was a firm assurance of the need for some sort of monetary re¬form. Various economic panaceas have been suggested. Once there was technocracy and today there is fluidity, but in 1934 there was Social Credit. And whatever one thought of that, the world-wide recession of trade at the time was more than enough to prove the need of an urgent shot in the economic arm. By way of publicising the need, I had just written a verse play called Prometheus the Engineer. It was written in the form of classical tragedy, and set in what I described as the Workshop of the World. Its hero, the Engineer, was vainly attempting to hold a balance between the factory floor and management. As was to be ex¬pected, he ended up as a victim of neo-luddite violence: the workers threw him to the machines.
Despite its anti-Marxist economics, Harding liked the play and accptd it; in due course it was cast and billed and went into rehearsal. Once again, Ewan MacColl was given a major part to play; there couldn’t have been a better choice for the militant leader of the workers. Robin Whitworth and I were billed as co-producers, he looking after the technical aspects at the control panel and I the speaking of the verse dialogue and the various choruses.
pp.37-39

Since the death of Frank Nicholls, I had been looking around for someone who could take his place in a new series of Northern actuality shows. My choice fell on Joan Littlewood, whose charm and sincerity would have won the confidence of an anchorite. No persona was needed for her: she was everything in herself and be¬came almost as popular in the North as Harry Hopeful had been before her. After covering the Isle of Man, further country shows took us to Furness Fells and the Cheviots.

But it was in the trio of major industrial features that we did together that Joan achieved her greatest success in actuality radio. By 1938, the worst of the Depression was over, but unemploy¬ment was still at a desperately high level in many of the Northern towns. For our production Cotton People we went to Oldham to find the group of spinners and weavers that we needed. In the Oldham area there were more than three hundred mills: the week in which the programme was broadcast, only four of them were working full time.

Yet it was far from a depressing occasion when fifty Oldham operatives took to the air. Lancashire was my home county: I knew exactly the stuff that went to make up the Lancashire character. Once again, we relied upon careful scripting and home rehearsal to set the people on their mettle. Once again the method paid off handsomely, for the lively humour and sheer vitality of the mill folk whipped up over the air like an autumn gale on Blackpool promenade. This was Lancashire telling the world, and telling it inimitably. It was all I had hoped to do on radio with ordinary people telling about their ordinary lives—but facing up to living with quite extraordinary self-possession.
After Lancashire it was the turn of Yorkshire, but the broad¬cast that hit the air with most impact of all was the one we did with the Durham miners. Ever since the General Strike twelve years before, the plight of the miners had been deplorable. The towns that most of them lived in were little short of a national disgrace: their work was backbreaking and dangerous, the con¬ditions in which they worked were primitive and intolerable. Seams only eighteen inches deep were not uncommon in Durham; the workings were generally damp, and pithead baths were still to come.

A month’s work went to making the programme, during which time Joan and I familiarised ourselves with every aspect of the miner’s life. We went on shift with the men by night and morn¬ing; we helped with the hewing, loading and putting; we got the dirt engrained into our scalps and every pore of our bodies. Joan lived with a miner’s family—the son had been killed in the pit— while I put up in no greater comfort at the local miners’ pub. By the time that Coal came on the air, there wasn’t a miner at the pit who didn’t know us and treat us as one of themselves.

In Durham again, of course, there was a high rate of unemploy¬ment: many men had been out of a job for the main part of their working lives. One of the most moving stories in the broadcast was that of the hewer who had been out of work for so long, that when a job was found for him at last, his body had gone too soft for him to be able to hold it down. The sob in his voice as he told the story was hard to get out of one s mind.

On this occasion, response to the broadcast was more than a matter of critical bouquets: money poured in from all sides, with requests that it should be passed to to the miner in question. He was the lucky one: I wished there had been enough to have helped the ones who had not been mentioned. But one of the letters gave me particular pleasure. Enclosing his own contribu¬tion, the writer told me that the broadcast had given him a new pride in his office. It was signed by the Lord Lieutenant of County Durham.

Broadcasts such as Coal gave millions of listeners a new realisa¬tion of the true dignity and importance of men and women like themselves. Such broadcasts proved that everyone had something to tell his fellow-men, and a point of view that deserved a hearing. They also proved that everyone was capable of putting his point of view across, often far more pungently than those who were paid to do it for him. And that, let me emphasise again, was something new in the land.

Frank Nicholls and Joan Littlewood were soon to be joined by Wilfred Pickles, for whom I created the character of Bitty Welcome shortly after the start of the war. Between them, that remarkable trio probably did more to help the country to find its voice than anybody had done before. Within a matter of ten years they had won an appreciative audience for the man in the street. Since nothing succeeds so well as a good example, hearing one s neigh¬bour sounding off is the shortest way of becoming vocal oneself.

By the time that the war was over, and Have a Go was able at last to bring unscripted spontaneity to the air, people were no longer afraid of standing up to a microphone. The boiled-shirt image of the BBC as us’ had been swept away for good; and the free-for-all which followed had left ‘them’ with important parts to play in radio and television. The age of the Common Man had actually arrived; and that he could often be so superbly un¬common, Frank Nicholls, Joan Littlewood and Wilfred Pickles must all be thanked for helping to prove.

Perhaps it was no coincidence that a vital new theatre move¬ment was born in Manchester at the time when Cotton People and Coal were giving new vitality to radio. For it was there that Joan Littlewood first gathered together the group that was later to form the nucleus of Theatre Workshop. Known at the time as Theatre Union, that body of young enthusiasts had something they wanted to express in movement no less than in voice. Ewan MacColl was one of them, for in those days Joan and he were married: they had first met up in my broadcast Tunnel. Others were recruited by Joan from among the hundreds we got to know in all parts of the North.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
I asked her in a broadcast recently what the North had meant to the movement she had founded there in pre-war days. She admitted it had meant everything—that what she had been able to start in Manchester could not have been started then in London. As the seed was later to bear such splendid fruit, I like to remember where the seed was first nurtured. So does Joan Littlewood.
                      69 -71

One of my first pleasures in my new capacity was to write and produce for the Home Service in 1959 a ballad opera called My People and Your People. This told the story of a group of West Indian immigrants in London, and the love affair between one of them and a young Scots skiffler. The girl was played by Nadia Cattouse and the Scot by Ewan MacColl, the other leading parts being taken by Cy Grant and Edric Connor. The action of the story moved from the warmth and gaiety of the Caribbean to the squalor and wretchedness of life in Rachmann’s London, rising to its inevitable climax in the Notting Hill race riots. I have the deepest affection for my West Indian friends, and perhaps no show that I wrote for radio in the fifties gave me more pleasure to mount or seemed to me more worthwhile. The music, arranged for me by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger, was lively and magnificent, the contrast between its Scots and West Indian rhythms being no less intriguing than the contrast between the two idioms and accents. The authenticity of the latter, I might add, was notably helped by the collaboration of Andrew Salkey, whose ear for the richness of West Indian speech is far more accurate than mine.
pp. 254-255

I was to fly from Iceland to Greenland in search of the story behind the discovery of the settlement of Eirik the Red at Brattahlid, from which Leif Eiriksson had sailed away to discover Vinland the Good. The laying bare of their skeletons after nearly a thousand years, tucked away under the Greenland ice-cap, was one of the most romantic pieces of archaeology that I ever recorded. As with the story of the Dead Sea Scrolls, I was gratified to find the shows so well received by the listeners.
Such excursions into the past were far more to my liking than excursions into the current. But the main emphasis of my work was still upon creative radio—my own or other people’s. In 1959 I had written what proved to be the last of my creative docu-mentaries for the Home Service. This was Hazard at Quebec, in which I was able to reflect the latest historical estimate of Wolfe’s near-disaster on the St. Lawrence. My knowledge of the Cana¬dian scene, a love of Canadian wild-life which I shared with Audubon, the colourful presence of the Algonquins, and the ebb and flow of the action itself gave me a chance to write verse narration once more for Stephen Murray. Ewan MacColl was again on hand to sing the songs that the campaign had given to history, and John Hotchkiss provided a suitably evocative score, which followed the fighting to its triumphant close. All in all, Hazard at Quebec was the sort of show that I had enjoyed writing for something like twenty-five years, and I was glad to find that the romantic formula still worked.
                                                                                                                                     pp. 279-280      

Alan Lomax
(1943)
I got back to the States in time for Independence Day, which the American end of Transatlantic Call was celebrating from Philadelphia, and this I was invited to attend. After his first three shows, Norman Corwin had fallen sick and been forced to retire from the series. His place had been difficult to fill, and with their new insistence on nothing but actuality, CBS were hard put to find any producer with the right experience.

By the time the show reached Philadelphia, they had found him—one of the few people in America who had spent his life recording actuality speakers (or rather singers) all over the States. This was Alan Lomax, whose collection of American folk-songs—recorded along with his father John A. Lomax—had formed the basis of the famous Library of Congress archives in Washington. Their work in the field has been honoured by every folk-singer since, from Ewan MacColl to Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan.

Alan Lomax was a Texan, a large, powerfully built man with a great zest for living and for his work. He was very much a singer in his own right, apart from the folk-songs he had collected, and a compulsive mixer. In the first of his Transatlantic Call produc-tions, American actuality came alive: he spoke the same language and sang the same songs as Americans everywhere. More to the point, he was able to help them speak that language into a micro¬phone, and to get the full flavour of their characters across. The shows that he handled came over with the same American im¬press as the prose of Thomas Wolfe or the poetry of Whitman. He could interpret America because he was so American himself. My meeting with him in Philadelphia was a lively and hila¬rious experience: it was also the start of a long and valued friend¬ship. I never knew any American who more fully embodied the virtues—and the more engaging vices—of all his country¬men.

Alan Lomax soon introduced me to the sort of young Americans I had always wanted to know—the young liberals who stood for Roosevelt, the W. P. A. and the New Deal. Apart from Alan’s own family, there was Nicholas Ray, then working for the Office of War Information with Louis Untermeyer as a documentary radio producer. Nick was keenly interested in my own methods of actuality production, and he soon became one of my favourite drinking cronies until he went out to join John Houseman in Hollywood. There he quickly established himself as one of their most gifted directors with an avid post-war following among the nouvelle vague in France. Burl Ives was another of our circle, then making his name on CBS as the Wayfaring Stranger-—-an enor¬mous twenty-stone bull of a man with a nature as gentle as a girl’s and a tenor voicc as pure and sweet as a choir-boy’s. Otherwise, he was Gargantua—eating his pounds of steer at a meal and drink¬ing his wine by the quart flagon: my only drinking boast was to match him one evening, level-pegging on bourbon. Over the years, both in the States and around the British Isles, I was to work with him on some of my j oiliest shows.

With Alan and Burl, I soon made many friends among the Negro folk-singers then to be found in New York. There was the almost legendary Leadbelly—Hudy Leadbetter—whom Lomax’s father had found singing in a Southern penitentiary after killing a man in a brawl. He was then singing at the Village Vanguard, where he had come to rest after killing another man who had annoyed him. Luckily for me, I never did—and the songs which he recorded for me were a quite inimitable delight. At Downtown Café Society, I also grew friendly with Josh White—already well to the fore in the long struggle for Negro integration. Josh was a fighter for whom I had great respect, a man with a sense of humour who could still be as tough and mean as he sometimes had to be.

The violence of American life was something I gradually came to accept. I had seen men knocked out in bars, and on Christmas Eve was to watch the police club a Negro through the window of Dempsey’s Restaurant, while the loud-speakers filled Times Square with the strains of Holy Night. In Café Society one night I was eating peacefully with a party of friends and talking to Josh over our steaks. Sitting next to me, Alan Lomax suddenly jumped to his feet, seized the man at the next table and knocked him clean across his supper. Waiters rushed over, but saying nothing to Alan, threw the body into the street. I asked, in some astonish¬ment, what the hell was going on? “He annoyed me,” said Alan, sitting down again. Five minutes later, the man came lurching back, protesting that he wanted to apologise. With a vigilant waiter on either side, he approached our party again and held out his hand: Alan rose, prepared to shake it. “I didn’t mean to offend you,” said the man, “I only said that I didn’t want to sit at the next table to a goddam nigger.” Alan hit him again, be¬fore the waiters could drag him away. But this time, like every¬one else, Josh had heard the remark. He froze in his chair, then slowly rose to his feet as his hand reached for his pocket. Three or four girls at nearby tables rushed to pinion his arms to his side. The body was thrown out again without Josh being able to draw his knife—and the bevy of his admirers subsided back to their suppers again. He was obviously a very popular folk- singer . . .

Perhaps the only song more scarifying than Josh’s own Hard Time Blues was Billie Holliday’s Strange Fruit, then to be heard at tlie Onyx on 52nd Street. But splendid singing and jazz was still to be found all over New York. Down in Greenwich Village, around Times Square or up in Harlem the bars and nightspots were crammed each evening with American servicemen on leave, and the town was there to please them. Ethel Waters, Maxine Sullivan, Hazel Scott, Pearl Bailey and Mary Lou Williams— these were only the best of the women I loved to hear. And the dancing of Katherine Dunham and Pearl Primus was equally good to watch. As for the great jazzmen—that was still an age to remember, with Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, Art Tatum, Eddie Condon, Sidney Catlett and Red Allen, Lionel Hampton and Red Norvo. All were there to enjoy nightly, often enough for the price of a couple of drinks at a crowded bar.
pp. 101-104

When I got back to my desk I had a great deal of work to cope with, much of it being a hangover from my nine months’ stay in the States. I had left another ballad-opera lined up with Alan and Elizabeth Lomax in New York, a production which I had been loth to relinquish. This was The Martins and the Coys, a family-feuding comedy from the Apallachians in which the Nazis became even more acceptable as a target than everybody’s next- door neighbours. Once again, the cast was outstanding—the roster this time including Burl Ives, the fabulous Woody Guthrie, the young Pete Seeger, Will Geer from Tobacco Road and Lily May Pearson of the Coon Creek Girls. Roy Lockwood, BBC’s resident New York producer, made a lively occasion of it all, which luckily survives in one commercial recording.
pp. 114-115
‘In view of his interest in folk-songs—of which he claimed to know three or four hundred—and as he was shortly going over to New York, I gave him the telephone number of my old friend Alan Lomax. (Robert) Graves had a great admiration for Lomax’s work in the field, and the meeting between them should have been something of an occasion. He rang up soon after he arrived, and was asked along for an evening’s session in Alan’s flat in Greenwich Village. He announced his arrival at the bottom of the stairs by bursting into an Irish song himself, though he may have been shorter of breath by the time he had climbed to the top of the four flights. Unluckily, Alan had damaged his hand in a fight the day before, and he had to apologise for not being able to play his guitar. Urged on to sing without it, he felt himself so handicapped that he began to forget the words of the songs, no doubt because he was writing a book about something else at the time. He was even more embarrassed to find that the drink was running out as well, and in desperation suggested that he take Graves on to a party round the corner to which he had been in¬vited. When he had been corrected after introducing Graves as “The English poet—Robert Bridges,” he decided that it simply wasn’t his night. So apparently did Graves, whose dislike of Bridges’ poetry was intense, apart from the fact that he had been dead for thirty years. I never heard whether he looked in on Alan again, the next time he was in New York . . .
pp. 271-272


07 Dec 19 - 12:05 PM (#4022630)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Thank you Hootenanny for answering my question about the White Heather Club.


07 Dec 19 - 12:58 PM (#4022641)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Re my previous comment that Lomax might have had something to do with the political aspects of the 2nd revival, the book we are discussing quotes MacColl himself on the important effect that Lomax had on him.

Regarding the question of whether blues had 'any political influence', the book mentions the Ballad and Blues Clubs. I thought it was accepted that MacColl's contemporary, Lloyd, also saw blues songs as some sort of example of what folk music might be. This is in his book about Folk Song.

My own view, based on my own experiences and those of others, is that blues, both of the sort collected by the older Lomax and as it evolved via jazz, was part of what made many young British aware of the US colour bar, though this still shocked musicians who were fans of the blues when they went over there and encountered it. I would count this as having a political effect. Look at the work of Paul Oliver, for example.


07 Dec 19 - 03:01 PM (#4022661)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Big Al Whittle

Fabulous contribution there from Jim.
That said, I had to shrink it to 80% to read it, which made it very small. couldn't you use shorter lines on mudca?


07 Dec 19 - 04:43 PM (#4022681)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Steve Gardham

Great stuff, Jim! Can we have some more please?


07 Dec 19 - 05:55 PM (#4022696)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Keith Price

Good to see you back Jim.


07 Dec 19 - 08:26 PM (#4022717)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman

I second that


07 Dec 19 - 09:09 PM (#4022722)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Big Al Whittle

Just got the harker, abd Journeyman from Amazon, and Peggy on audiobook.
Soon i will be able to understand why you're all so angry and provide dazzling insights.


08 Dec 19 - 03:05 AM (#4022739)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll

Thanks lads, good to be back, though I'm not sure for how long

I've been having a sort out and filing our overlarge collection of articles in preparation for making them available
I thought a dip into some of them might help sort out some of the misinformation here
This is from a review of two albums, A.L.Lloyd's 'First Person' and MacColl's 'Manchester Angel.
It is, I think, a pretty accurate analysis of how these two pioneers took traditional songs and made the songs relevant to contemporary audiences
It was written by Karl Dallas, no great friend of Ewan, but certainly a great admirer

This type of analysis by people who were around to observe what was happening on the folk scene , seems far fairer and mo efficient than throwing stones at long dead singers

Al,
I never really got on with Ben Harker's book - I once did a three page analysis of the factual errors and misinterpretations
I know that he interviewed several people for the book and totally ignored what he was told - this was certainly the case with the interview we gave
It is certainly useful for some of the background information on MacColl's brush with MI5
I found Journeyman somewhat disappointing and, on occasion, self-indulgent
I found Peter Cox's analysis of The Radio Ballads far more satisfying   
Jim
   
"The trouble with occupying the positions of leadership in the British revival that Lloyd and MacColl have carved for themselves is that each stage of their work tends to be regarded as holy writ. In fact, in the course of getting the revival going, both of them have learned a great deal about their craft and the likelihood is that they will continue to do so. Unfortunately both of them have been badly served by the recorded examples of their work, most of which have fixed the public impression of them at a much earlier stage than today.
This is especially true of MacColl, who has been most assiduous in his study of the living tradition and in attempting to apply those lessons to the problems of the revival singer, which are mostly quite different from the problems of the singer in a traditional environment. Both of them are much less declamatory in their style than once they were. Thus, Lloyd sings St James's Hospital in an almost conversational manner when compared with his earlier recording for Riverside, in which he made more of an attempt to approximate the street singer's style. It is certainly easier to take its jagged melody when played on the family record player in this way, and probably this interpretation is more "correct" in terms of how it is to be heard.".....

"There is a great temptation, whenever a traditional song seems a mite dull in the original, to liven it up. In the bad old days, this was usually done by the addition of an unnecessary guitar beat; these days the singer may be tempted to resort to elaborate ornamentation, bending the tune into a more "interesting" mode, or other flourishes and curlicues. When the singer is as skilled as Lloyd, the result is often a new creation of great artistic merit; but it would be a pity if the result of his artistry were to prevent less skilled performers from grappling with the song in its original form. Lloyd is also a skilled re-maker of old songs which seem to have been lost to tradition."....

"All of MacColl's songs on this record are English in origin, which may surprise those who think of him primarily as a Scottish singer, but those who know he spent the earliest years of his life in the North-West of England. This is what makes his rendering of the Lancashire version of To The Begging I Will Go on this record particularly authentic in sound.
I have dwelt at some length on his tendency to dramatise songs, something he does much less than of old. But there are positive advantages here. His actor's training has given him the ability not only to get inside the song but to get inside the character who might have made it. This gives his readings the same sort of reality that the songs have in the mouths of traditional singers, which very few revivalists achieve. If it be objected that this is artifice, it is artifice of a very high order indeed.
He has also achieved a degree of control over his voice that is rare in the revival. One can argue with what he does vocally, but one thing is certain: what you hear is what he meant to do. His breathing is effortless, although sometimes (on The Bramble Briar, for instance) he drops the last syllable of an extended line rather as if he was running out.
One of his most notable achievements on this record is One Night as I Lay on My Bed, a truly lovely night-visiting song which he sings without apparent art, allowing the lyric to carry its emotion along"....

"All-in-all, these records give us what we have long needed, definitive examples of the way these two leading revivalists are now singing, having applied considerable experience and some knowledge of the sound of tradition to the problems of the revival.
As I have tried to suggest, it would be the reverse of pro¬gress for their solutions to these problems to be swallowed whole by other singers. But careful study of what they are doing, coupled with an attempt to understand why they are doing it, should mean that those who come after will be able to build on their experience and to avoid their earlier mistakes."
KARL DALLAS, Folk Music Ballad And Song No. 4, 1966.


08 Dec 19 - 03:07 AM (#4022740)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll

Sorry - Cox's book was entitled 'Set Into Song'
Jim


08 Dec 19 - 03:44 AM (#4022742)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Big Al Whittle

I can remember Ian Campbell telling me his phone was being tapped.

"Why would anyone pay someone to do that....?"
he wondered aloud.

Never mind about the inaccuracies, Jim. It will be just nice to remember Peggy and Ewan, who were good to me when I was young.

I saw their gig so many times, and they knew so much it never seemed repetitious.

take care Jim.


08 Dec 19 - 03:45 PM (#4022882)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Steve Gardham

More fascinating stuff!
I have 'Till Doomsday' and 'Journeyman' and have read Joan Littlewood's big book, but what is the Ben Harker book called? No relation to Dave Harker I presume.


08 Dec 19 - 03:54 PM (#4022887)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Steve

Err, its mentioned in the thread title: 'Class Act'.

No relation. The book says he is at Salford Uni at the time of writing I think.

Here is a web site about him:

https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/ben.harker.html


08 Dec 19 - 05:13 PM (#4022900)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

And I hope I may mention this, but it does have some quotations (maybe I should say 'purported quotations' from both Pat Mackenzie and Jim Carroll. With apologies if I have misunderstood misinterpreted or misread something, but it seems fair to Harker to point out that he didn't simply interview them and then totally ignore the results.


09 Dec 19 - 03:57 AM (#4022947)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll

"but what is the Ben Harker book called"
'Class Act'

Without the work of Ewan, Bert and other dedicated lovers of folk song, Folk Songs proper would have returned obediently to the Library shelves and archive cupboards when the Music Industry spat it out like chewing gum when they decided there was no more profit to be milked from it
A significan and growing number of devotees took up the baton passed on by Ewan, Bert and their like and ran with it for several decades, producing entertaining, well-attended clubs, excellent literature, thousands of hours of new material and a healthy song-making movement churning out many hundreds of songs
Peggy Seeger launched an irregular new song magazine, 'New City Songster, which ran for twenty issues and made available hundreds of songs from Wisconsin to Woomera, taking in Wolverhampton on the way
All this was part of Ewan's, Bert's, Bill Leader's, Gerry Sharp's, Dave Bland's..... and all those other dedicated people's legacy to future generations
It would be a crying shame to see that legacy wasted (maybe that's a bit to contraverial for this time in the morning)

Ewan wrote very little on his theories, he peferred to put them into practice in hi own singing and in work with others
Some of the best talks I ever heard on the singing of folk songs happened at the end of the CG meetings when Ewan would flop in his chair, say "i'm exhausted", then launch into sometimes hour-long soliloquies on a point that had been raised during the work session
Many of these were recorded and, fife decades later, still have the effect of making the hairs on the back of my neck bristle- as inspiring as they were forty or fifty years ago
I'm organising and indexing all those recordings to be archived properly and pass on to the family
I'm hoping that one of them takes those soliloquies and publishes them - that would be a real monument to Ewan's contribution to traditional song

One of the most detailed published examples of MacColl's work and ideas can be got from the (unfortunately overpriced) 'Legacies of Ewan MacColl' - the last interviews, by Allan F. Moore and Giovanni Vacca
No always the easiest read, but in my opinion, extremely fruitful - and uncluttered by the rumbles of old score-settling

It really is time people started to think about what these people gave us before it's to late to make use of it

"purported quotations"
Are you suggesting Harker faked our quotes or we lied to him ?
Either seems to be par for your course and needs to be nipped in the bud if this discussion is to be allowed to continue in the friendly manner it is at present
We spent around two hours being interviewed by Harker for the book at a weekend in Salford Uni. held in honor of Ewan's contribution to folk song
We also gave an hour's long talk on him and were able to set p a mini-singing workshop for inexperienced singers in order to demonstrate how The Critics Group method worked

If anybody is interested, Dave Arthur quotes some of the things I wrote about my impressions of the Critics Group in his rather pleasing book on Bert Lloyd - he took them from this forum, I'm delighted to say
Jim Carroll


09 Dec 19 - 04:59 AM (#4022959)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Iains

We also gave an hour's long talk on him and were able to set p a mini-singing workshop for inexperienced singers in order to demonstrate how The Critics Group method worked
Do you think this method was exclusively developed by MaCcoll, or derived from prior collaboration with Joan Littlewood?

An insight below:

https://www.bl.uk/20th-century-literature/articles/an-introduction-to-joan-littlewoods-theatre-practice


09 Dec 19 - 05:18 AM (#4022961)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll

Nice article thre Iains - I'm gratefull to get it, it fills in some of the things Ewan said
Ewan made no bones of the fact that much of what he brought to the Critics came from Theatre Workshop
His sencond wide, Jean, took Laben's theory of movement and adapted it for Theatre work (particularly dance)
Ewan brought it to folk song and used it for analysing voice production - Group took what Ewan brought and adapted it individually for their own circumstances
Nelson Illingsworth work was regularly mentioned (apparently his official field of study was Urn Burial)
The most complex work - how a singer relates to the individual songs he/she was based on Stanislavski's so-called 'Method' using 'the application of the idea of "IF"' and emotion memory
This was ground-breaking stuff as far as singing is concerned and, for me anyway, it still keeps my songs as fresh as when I first learned them decades ago
One of these days I really will make a user-pack of the relaxation and singing exercises and the relationship work we did
At least then, if it is rejected it will have been done so on it's own basis and not the urban myths and Chinese Whispers gossip
Jim Carroll


09 Dec 19 - 06:13 AM (#4022969)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Iains

There is a whole body of work on Ewan MacColl, Joan Littlewood and the BBC where it can be argued that their innovative use of sound in the early 30's onward had a direct impact stretching as far as later TV documentaries.
https://www.academia.edu/12512048/Think-tape_The_Aesthetics_of_Montage_in_the_Post-War_Television_Documentary
It would seem to be a neglected part of his contributions.

http://www.cpatrust.org.uk/links/simon-elmes-context/
peripheral but interesting

https://digital.lib.washington.edu/researchworks/bitstream/handle/1773/40029/KARLIDAG_washington_0250E_17360.pdf?sequence=1&isAl

http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/12133/3/Chapter_2_-_Ben_Harker.pdf

There is a lot of material out there in a similar vein.


09 Dec 19 - 08:29 AM (#4022986)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Iains

I think the points you make are made in the biography, in some detail. One example would be the use of 'collage' techniques. This is one of the many reasons that the book is so interesting. I am not sure whether you have read the book or not, I'm guessing not. Is this correct? But useful links. I'd still say that people interested in this aspect would enjoy what Harker has to say about it.

Jim

You refer to my post in which I refer to quotations or purported quotations from you and Pat in the book.

This was a response to your own comment. I referred and now refer again to your post of 8th December, 3.05 am.

You said

"I never really got on with Ben Harker's book - I once did a three page analysis of the factual errors and misinterpretations
I know that he interviewed several people for the book and totally ignored what he was told - this was certainly the case with the interview we gave"

You yourself had said that Harker 'totally ignored what he was told', and that this applied in the case of the interview you and Pat gave.

Now I knew that both you and Pat seemed to have been quoted in the book. I could not see how this counted as totally ignoring what you told him. But plainly you were not happy with what Harker did with the data deriving from his interview with you and Pat.

If the quotations are accurate, then in my opinion, it would not be fair to state that Harker totally ignored what you told him. I felt it was only fair to Harker to point this out. Because even if he only quoted some of what you said then the word 'totally' did not apply.

So the question then arose of why you were dissatisfied with the way what you had told Harker was represented in the book. A possible explanation was that you had been misrepresented, which was why I suggested that the quotations might not have been accurate.

In a friendly spririt, perhaps you could clarify what you meant when you said that Harker 'totally ignored' not just what you and Pat said, but also what unspecified others had said.

Thank you.


09 Dec 19 - 08:41 AM (#4022990)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

For anybody thinking of buying the book, let me describe some of the research Harker undertook. He did indeed interview a number of people. Foremost among these were Peggy Seeger, whom he interviewed a number of times.   

Others include a number of other critics group members, including Michael Rosen and Sandra Kerr. For me, the fact that he spoke to different people and presented differing views is one strong feature of the book; you get a variety of points of view.

Here is a list (probably incomplete) of other people also interviewed by the author, over a period of several years. He plainly put a lot of work into the book.

Karl Dalas, Calum MacColl, Neill MacColl, Hamish MacColl, Clive Barker, Jean Newlove/MacColl, Vic Gammon, Wizz Jones, Rosalie Williams.

He also had access to the Seeger/MacColl archives and to tapes of the Critics Group.

His list of references runs to pages.


09 Dec 19 - 09:08 AM (#4022993)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: FreddyHeadey

I read 'totally ignored'
as
didn't print anything we said.


09 Dec 19 - 09:09 AM (#4022994)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

MaColl, the book tells us, was influenced by a classics professor called George Thomson. I had not heard of this character, but one can see why he and MaColl might have been suited to eachother. Wiki says that Thomson voted against the CP's 'British Road to Socialism' because it left out the dictatorship of the proletariat. MacColl also disliked that policy, it being one of the things that turned him towards Maoism.

Thomson had ideas about poetry and theatre which would have and did interest and influence MacColl.

I had never heard of Thomson, and this is another example of the way that Harker situates MacColl in the left-wing culture of the times and provides a fascinating book.

On a minor point of detail, it is Laban, not Laben. I have heard this explained by former critics group members (possibly Sandra Kerr), and I think it comes in one of the BBC programmes. They used it as a way of analysing melodic variations if I remember aright, and if I don't happy to be corrected.


09 Dec 19 - 09:18 AM (#4022995)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll

Thanks again Iains
I'm grateful for the two articles - being able to download them is a bonus
I hope Harker makes a better job of Theatre that he did of the Bio
Howard Goorney's book on Theatre Workshop is well worth seeking out as is 'Agit-Prop to Theatre Workshop', which includes three of Ewan's plays
It's often forgotten how highly regarded Ewan was for his theatre work
O'Casey wrote 'A fine play-write - a poet, I think -
Shaw wrote, typically; "apart from myself, MacColl is the most important figure in British theatre today"
Hugh MacDairmid, in his introduction to MacColl's play, 'Uranium 235, probably pai MacColl the greatest compliment when he described Scottish poet/play-write as "the Ewan MacColl of the 16th century"
Jim Carroll


09 Dec 19 - 12:16 PM (#4023018)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

"MacColl washed his hands of British Party politics at the end of the war and had no connection with the C.P. whatever, so commenting on The British Road to Socialism, which was not published till the 1960s would have been a private matter and nothing to do with his contribution to singing"

1 The book is about the political and cultural life of Ewan MacColl. It is not a book just about his singing. His life began before and ended after the 1960s. Therefore, his views on The British Road to Socialism come within the author's remit. Moreover, the date for the British Road of Socialism as discussed in the book is the 1957 version, also a date within MacColl's lifetime and therefore within the author's remit.

2 I am assuming that the author of this well-researched book has his facts correct, so I hope he will pardon me for quoting. This is a knowledge thread, and therefore, getting the facts as correct as possible seems appropriate. This is what I am trying to do, and once again I think it shows how well put together the book is. I am sorry if this appears to be at odds with the 'facts' as stated by other posters. I simply aim to put the record straight.

"MacColl had rejoined the Communist Party in 1952 at a time when 'The American Threat to British Culture' had galvanised cultural policy in a fashion that excited him. The early days of the Cold War were like the Class Against Class period of his youth projected on to an international scale: on the one side was the decadent bourgeoisie of America, with its corrosive imperialistic culture; on the other, the progressive cultures of the international proletariat, with the Soviet Union in the vanguard." (p122)

"But the Communist Party's appetite for the cultural Cold War waned in the mid-1950s as Stalin's adversarial attitude to the United States gave way to a policy of peaceful co-existence, codified as the party's official position in the 1957 version of the British Road to Socialism"

The author then mentions Krushchev's denunciation of the Stalinist personality cult and the suppression of the Hungarian uprising.

"MacColl would take a hard line on these convulsions during his turn to Maoism in the 1960s. …   He dutifully appeared at Young Communist League cultural festivals in November 1957 and May 1958, but became increasingly remote from the party. Some time in the near future - and almost certainly in the early 1960s - he would allow his membership to lapse"

Harker says the precise date in unclear, but hopes that when the rest of MacColl's MI5 records is finally released the question may be answered.

I respectfully suggest, therefore, that it is not accurate to say that MacColl had nothing to do with party politics after WWII.

The idea that MacColl's politics were private strikes me as bizarre. But maybe that's just me. I had the idea that they were part and parcel of the man, and something he was fairly open about. But of course, everybody is entitled to their own view on this.


09 Dec 19 - 12:48 PM (#4023029)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Freddy Heady

I read 'totally ignored'
as
didn't print anything we said.

I can see why people might read it this way, hence, as I've tried to explain, I took it up as it seems on the face of it that Harker printed a couple of quotations from each.


09 Dec 19 - 12:55 PM (#4023032)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll

Harker got that wrong along with a load of other things
Ennough of this
You wanrt to discuss MacColl's politics get someone to open one on the below the line section where this sort of thing can be discussed - it has no place here
MacColl's politics were his own business - he had a right to believe what he wished - last time I looked Britain still goes though the motions of being a free and democratic State which seldom allows witch-hunts such as this

MacColl was an important and highly respected creative artist - that is what he is remembered and respected for
If you don't wish to discuss that, make room for those who do please
This has gone far enough

A reminder of what MacColl and Seeger dedicated their lives to
Jim Carroll

Citation for the award of the Gold Badge of the English Folk Dance and Song Society to Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger

Today the English Folk Song and Dance Society honours a Scot and an American, Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger. This should cause no surprise-, the historical links between this Society7, Scotland and the United States of America are strong and go back a long way. The Folk Song Society, the older partner in what became the EFDSS, never envisaged that its work would be restricted to England and some of its members, including Lucy Broadwood and Gavin Grieg made important collections of material in Scotland. When we hearEw'an perform, as only he can, some of the great ballads from the Aberdeenshire collection of Gavin Grieg we can feel some pleasure at the role this Society played in the preservation of this unique and wonderful material.
Similarly the transatlantic links between members of this Society and North America should not be underestimated. The story of how Cecil Sharp and Maud Karpeles journeyed to the Southern Appalachians during the dark years of World War I is well known, as is the rich harvest of material they preserved in English Folk Songs’from the Southern Appalachians. Sharp’s work was an important stimulus in getting Americans to look seriously at their native musical culture and many collectors followed in his footsteps. As a girl Peggy Seeger was brought up in a house filled with the sounds of recordings of traditional musicians then being amassed by collectors for the archive of the Library of Congress.
Peggy’s mother was the brilliant avant garde composer turned folk music transcriber, Ruth Crawford Seeger and her father was the musicologist Charles Seeger, a towering giant in his field, a man of great scholarship and vision who saw that traditional music had an important and valuable role to play in modem society. Brother Pete first became famous with the Weavers in the 1940s, then as a solo performer with ability to move an audience to song. Brother Mike became an expert performer of old timey music as a soloist and with The New Lost City Ramblers’. In such a talented household it is hard to see how a young musician could find her own voice and style. Perhaps that was the impetus behind Peggy's travellings which in the mid 1950s brought this 'scruffy' (the word is Ewan’s description) young woman to England where she met Ewan and formed a partnership that has lasted over thirty years.
Ewan’s background was very different, early life in Salford, in the very streets that Friedrich Engels had described in his classic book of the 1840s The Conditions of the Working Class in England. Transplanted to one of the English heartlands of the Industrial Revolution MacColl’s family may have been, but his parents brought with them some of the treasures of a rich oral culture that stretched back for generations.
That was one part of the MacColl inheritance, the other part was cultural and political a tradition of working class self- education that took its motivation from the injustices and inadequacies of industrial society. This tradition, which stretches back to the radicals of the eighteenth centuiy, the Chartists and the early trade union and labour movements, is as important in the making of Ewan MacColl as that other tradition of songs, ballads and stories he also inherited from his parents.
Although he wrote songs from early on his first area of concern was the theatre. Not the matinee idol theatre of the West End in the ’30s, but an attempt to make a theatre that spoke to the vital social and political concerns of the day. and tried to make people think, understand and act. Ultimately his work found expression in Theatre Workshop which was such an important influence on post-war British theatre.
In the 1950s. having spent years mastering the techniques of acting, production and play-writing, MacColl switched his energies to singing and songwriting. The influence of his family tradition, the inspiration and friendship of such people as Alan Lomax and Bert Lloyd, his collecting, the ideas of such people as the Hungarian composer Bela Bartok, all fused in the profoundly creative and productive partnership with Peggy, who contributed a deep understanding of American traditional music and an outstanding musical ability. Together, the work of these two intensely committed people formed a cornerstone of the post-war folk revival in Britain and beyond.
The rest of the story, 1 am sure, has touched people here in one way or another. The high artistic quality of the enduring musical partnership, the records ranging from ballad collections to modem songs, the
Singers Club and concert performances which always stressed by careful juxtaposition the contemporary relevance of traditional song, the Festival of Fools, the radio broadcasts especially the ground breaking radio ballads made with Charles Parker, the films, the collecting activity which bore fruit in gramophone records, archive recordings and books, but perhaps most of all the songs they composed, at once fresh and modern yet rooted in a tradition that unites the past, present and future.
Strong, positive and energetic people are bound to challenge and upset some others along the way and Ewan and Peggy have not been without both defenders and critics. The important question seems to me to be in the realm of what some historians call the counterfactual: can we imagine what the post-war folk song revival would have been like without Ewan and Peggy? Would it have happened at all? Probably, yes. But would it have been the same without them? Definitely no. It would have been a poorer, less interesting, less challenging movement. It is a notable fact that many who have disagreed with Ewan and Peggy’s approach have not been able to resist singing their songs.
Today we honour two people who have greatly enriched the cultural, social and political life of this country and the world. Ewan and Peggy. I am pleased to ask the Vice President of the Society, Ursula Vaughan Williams to award you each the Gold Badge of the English Folk Dance and Song Society for your outstanding artistic achievement and your past and continuing contribution to the enrichment of the lives of millions of people.
Vic Gammon
English Dance & Song, Vol 49, No 3 Christmas ’87


09 Dec 19 - 12:58 PM (#4023035)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll

"The idea that MacColl's politics were private strikes me as bizarre."
All our political affiliations are private - this is what you are insisting on discussing
Take it below the line
Jim Carroll


10 Dec 19 - 04:56 AM (#4023045)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll

"totally ignored"
Virtually all of how we described MacColl was totally ignored by the author presenting a totally different individual to the one we described (from personal, face to face experience)
We weren't the only ones who felt like this
Peggy was furious about some of the things in the book and still is
Jim Carroll


10 Dec 19 - 06:10 AM (#4023054)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Dave the Gnome

How can a persons political inclinations be disassociated with that person? It would be a pretty poor biography of it didn't mention them and a poor discussion that didn't follow that up. As far as I can see MacColl's politics played a major part in his life and they belong on any thread that discusses him.


10 Dec 19 - 06:30 AM (#4023055)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll

How can a persons political inclinations be disassociated with that person?"
Nobody has suggested they have Dave
What has happened here is that MacColl's political affiliations have been targetted
I am happy to discuss my political inclinations until the cows come home (as if they were not obvious); but who I vote for and whether I belong to any political party is entirely my own business.
These issues are my private property and nobody else's
It is no coincidence that the poster who insistes in poking around in Ewan's private political affairs has also targeted his and Peggy's marital relations - this is real gutter-press stuff
I lived with Ewan and Peggy for a time and spent a great deal of time (that should have been spent looking for a job and a home) talking to Ewan
He made it quite clear then (1969) that he has ceased to become involved in Pary Politics after the War - for a whole bunch of reasons
As far as I am concerned, that is as far as this subject needs to go
These discussions invariably get bogged down in personal incidentals rather than MacColl's artistic contribution
I fully intend to try not to let this happen again
Jim Carroll


10 Dec 19 - 07:03 AM (#4023059)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Dave the Gnome

I really think it is up to the moderation team as to what is and is not acceptable in any thread. Maybe if you contacted them rather than taking it into your own hands these arguments may not occur.


10 Dec 19 - 07:33 AM (#4023071)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll

"I really think it is up to the moderation team as to what is and is not acceptable in any thread. "
It is up to the people taking part in this discussions to decide what it decent and what is not decent to discuss
If you think is is relevant to dig up MacColl's political affiliations I suggest you go and join Pseudo in doing so - bon voyage
Personally, i intend to discuss MacColls work as an artist - Christ knows, the revival needs to discuss such matters if it is going to clean up some of the mess that passes fro folk nowadays

Pseudo made a bit of a hames in trying to explain how MacColl used Laban's theory to help singing
I will dig up explanations of these techniques and put them up for discussion in the hope that there is enough interest in MacColl's artistic work to promote a discussion
If not, this thread will gothe way of all others that have chosen to plouter around in the gossip and innuendo
Jim Carroll


10 Dec 19 - 07:35 AM (#4023073)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Dave the Gnome

Fine.


10 Dec 19 - 08:06 AM (#4023082)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

If I have made a 'hames' then I shall be glad to have it explained to me. However, I based what I said on an example given by Peggy Seeger. She sang something two ways based on ideas from Laban and it was different musically, in terms of melody and dynamics to name just two musical features. But if I was wrong, then please point this out to me politely.

One of the reasons I come here is to learn, and I do learn a lot, though I have to admit that I pretty quickly learned to 'fact check' stuff as nobody is reliable - or polite - one hundred per cent of the time, and, obviously I include myself in that.

Might I be permitted to explain that the reason I found the suggestion that MacColl's politics were 'private' bizarre is that the basic facts of these are in the public domain and have been there for ages. It is on Wikipedia, never mind the book we are discussing. And MacColl himself was one of those who made it public. The book says that at one point even people calling at MacColl's house got asked to join the party, I think the postman might be the example. And he mentioned it in interviews.

This thread is about a biography; I read it and found it fascinating, not least because of the way it situates MacColl's life in its historical and political contexts.

It does also address aspects of MacColl's personal life, and this is perfectly acceptable in a biography. He doesn't always come out of the account smelling of nothing but roses, but that is life. Some of the more poignant details came from members of his family.

Indeed, Harker comments on how personal some of the stuff MacColl wrote in his autobiography was, including comment on the size of his own w***y. So it does seem at odds with MacColl's own practice to rule out the personal aspects.

As for carrying out a 'witchhunt': I have worked alongside members of the Communist Party in the past and I feel that it is unfair to represent what I have said in that light. I cannot see how stating the facts amounts to a 'witchhunt'.

If MacColl were around today, I feel he would have to change. His hostility to feminism would lose him many fans, for example.

I think it would be a pity if this thread was spoiled by the imposition of limits on what can be said, since it is about a book which takes a broad and balanced view.


10 Dec 19 - 08:13 AM (#4023088)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

"totally ignored"

Virtually all of how we described MacColl was totally ignored by the author presenting a totally different individual to the one we described (from personal, face to face experience)

Thanks for the clarification.

However, I think it is fair to say that the author interviewed a lot of people and that not everybody had the same opinion.

Some people had issues with both Peggy Seeger and Ewan MacColl. I think that the author did right to bring this out, and I think he does balance the different views. I think as I said before that this is what makes it a good book. Not only that, he gives plenty of references so that people can follow up what he says and check it through.

I think it is one of the most interesting biographies that I have read.


10 Dec 19 - 08:13 AM (#4023089)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll

MacColl was one of the most influential figures on the folk scene; he helped to set it up with pioneers like Bert Lloyd H
He and Bert introduced ballads into the revival via the Riverside Series (described by Bronson as the most important contribution to folk song since the work of Sharp and his colleagues - MacColl revives 135 of the Child canon
He and Peggy set aside a day a week for ten years to work with less experienced singer, during which time they evolved a system of work dedicated to singing folk songs
Between them, they made around five hundred new songs using folk songs styles, many of which became classics on the folk scene
The work Ewan left behind, in recordings and in research would fill an archive yet remains relatively untouched...
Yet you would rather discuss his political affiliations and somebody else has just re-opened a thread on his war record - name change next stop
That tells me all I need to know about the state of the Folk Scene in Britain today
Jim Carroll


10 Dec 19 - 08:29 AM (#4023090)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,HiLo

If this thread goes " below the line" it will certainly free Jim or McColl from being criticized as Pseud will not, as guest, be able to go there, which is what the "line" is for. Also, Jim, you are very quick to indulge in bringing politics into discussions of other performers.
I do not see how one can discuss McColl and not touch on his politics. To suggest that they are totally separate is absurd and to suggest that being critical of his politics is a matter , the acceptability of which, should be decided by "Mods", is risable.
   This whole McColl thing has been carried out on at least twenty other threads, perhaps we need a moratorium on Mr.McColl discussions, just for the sake of peace.


10 Dec 19 - 08:48 AM (#4023095)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll

"If I have made a 'hames' then I shall be glad to have it explained to me. However, I based what I said on an example given by Peggy Seeger. "
You said it was Sandra - neither would have made such an error
Using Laban, MacColl divided voice production into its three elements, speed, weight and direction
Different combination of these elements produce different effects which MacColl described by using Laban's term, "efforts"
The most common effort used by singers is;
The Press - slow, heavy and direct.
Change the speed and you get;
The thrust - fast, heavy and direct. - often used in work songs, particularly shanties
Change the direction and you get:
The slash - fast, heavy and indirect, again a feature of work songs

Further useble combinations produce
The glide - slow, direct and light
The float - slow, indirect and light
The wring - slow, indirect and heavy

It is not possible to combine some elements of singing, these are the ones mainly examined
Experimenting with sound production in this way makes the voice more flexible and heelps the singer to understand how the voice is produced - labeling efforts in this way is a shortcut for the group is assisting the singer being worked with - "try lightening you press" or "try pressing a litle harder" for instance - the technique worked perfectly, as the recordings of the meetings show

Similar work was done in experimenting with tones, but nowhere near as detailed as this
None of this has anything to do with melody, Peggy, as someone who could sight-read and play numerous musical instruments, played a major part in that side of things

By the way, there was nothing wrong with Harker discussing macColl's politics in a biography - that's what biographies are for
The problem was that he got so much wrong and appeared to have ignored the people who knew Ewan far better than he did
Your own intervention here has taken that even further and have sunk it to the sensationalist tabloid level
Jim Carroll


10 Dec 19 - 02:36 PM (#4023123)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Joe Offer

Please remember to stay on topic. Off-topic messages will be deleted. This is the only MacColl thread open for discussion at this time. Don't go refreshing other threads. One MacColl thread is enough for now.


10 Dec 19 - 05:38 PM (#4023125)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Dave the Gnome

MaColl's political affiliations need to be discussed alongside his contribution to folk music. As it is now clear that there should be only one thread to discuss him and this is it, we need to make the most of it. We should be able to discuss his music, his contribution, his war record and his name change without fear of treading on anyone's toes. It should also remain above the line not only because he was such a major figure in the folk world but so everyone who wants to contribute, including guests, can do so.

I know nothing about the man apart from his musical legacy and what I read on here. I like a lot of his songs. The performances I have heard have not been my cup of tea but I can certainly appreciate the contribution he made. I am probably pretty typical in that I am interested in him but not obsessed enough to blind me to any flaws.

Oh, and there is a thread for the state of the folk scene today. This is not it.


10 Dec 19 - 07:55 PM (#4023126)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Big Al Whittle

of course you've got democratic right to say what you want Dave.

the thing is, though - he lived in a different time to us - and a different place.

its very easy with the benefit of hindsight and our modern knowledge of how brutal Stalin was, to be dismissive of his communism. And its tempting to be judgemental.

However think of all the poets of the 1930's who were communists in response to the rise of fascism. Many intellectuals like George Bernard Shaw expressed golden opinions of Uncle Joe. Think of the young Cabridge students who were suckered into becoming spies. Intelligent sophisticated men, with much better educations than Ewan.

I don't think I feel comfortable with people who had a much cushier start in life and live in a much cushier point in history bad mouthing him.


11 Dec 19 - 12:08 AM (#4023128)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Joe Offer

I don't want to stir things up, but I do think it is very important to discuss MacColl's political beliefs and how they were expressed in his music. Pete Seeger wouldn't be the beloved Pete Seeger, if he hadn't been a Communist. MacColl had a more edgy public persona than Seeger, but I have talked with a few people who knew him well and had great affection for him. The negative response to MacColl, was at least to an an extent caused by his grouchy demeanor.
I'm not really familiar with MacColl's political songs, other than those in the remarkable radio ballads. Mudcat has threads on lots of MacColl songs and many are political - and many of those political songs are quite profound.
Oh, I suppose there are a few people here who might be scandalized by MacColl's politics, but most of us have increased respect for him because of his politics.
So, certainly MacColl's politics is an appropriate topic of discussion, and should not be banished "below the line."
-Joe-


11 Dec 19 - 11:12 AM (#4023152)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll

There is no problem whatever in discussing MacColl's political beliefs Joe - there never has been - they are obvious from the contents of many of his songs anyway
The problem is that this is not what is happening here -
Discussions like this sometimes feel like a session of the H.U.A.C. where it becomes necessary to repeat over and over again "MacColl was not and never has been a member of The Communist Party"
MacColl departed from Party Politics in the late 1940s - he said so to me and we have him doing so as part of a six month interview Pat and I carried out in the early 1980s - as far as his Political affiliations are concerned, that should be good enough to leave alone - it is something that happened 75 years ago and needs top be laid to rest

MacColl's politics, his war record, his name-change, his so-called arrogance...... has been discussed dozens of times over- it is impossible to open a thread under his name without one or other - usually all these things being brought up and usually used as weapons to attack a thirty year long dead singer who added so much to the lives of so many people

Discussions on these things have invariably led to hostility (some of which has been on display recently) and has closed threads
Because of this, discussion on MacColl has become almost a no go area
I have tried on numerous occasions to discuss the groundbreaking work MacColl, Seeger and the Critics group did on singing - always without success
Each time it has fallen at the pre-war politics - name change - Scots or English..... fence - these have become zn insignificant and totally unnecessary hurdle to discussing Ewan as an artist and an innovator   

It has become fashionable for moderators to decide when subjects have run their course and close threads - surely these hoary old chestnuts have had their day by now and it's time to discuss the artistic work of this man ?
Are we really happy to treat him like THIS ?

This is something Peggy wrote after Ewan's name had been dragged from the dead once more to be administered yet another kicking

"Ewan MacColl was one step nearer to being a folksinger than I, having been brought up in a Scots community in Salford. He is a man who is a perfect example of the old saying “stick your neck out and someone will chop your head off”. I didn’t know, until after he died, just how many enemies and ex-post-facto critics we had made. WE. Please remember that he and I were in this together and you can now aim your missiles at someone who is still here and who is quite articulate on the matter. Pity more folks didn’t have the courage and the knowledge to talk with him while he was alive. He was actually an interesting, approachable person and was happy to talk to anyone who approached with a less-than-hostile attitude. I learned so much from those years. And of course, I am biased! I am also fed up with people who criticise him with only hearsay and second (third, fourth, umpteenth) knowledge on which to base their opinions.
Like Ewan, I’ve always got lots more to say but I don’t care to argue all this out nitty blow by gritty blow. By the way, I’m just finishing up a book of his songs. 200 of them. ‘The Essential Ewan MacColl Songbook’ (Music Sales, autumn 2000). Those of you who have followed or partaken in this controversy might find my long critique of him as a person and an artist enlightening. It won’t be what you expected from the person who was his lover and working partner. Information is on my website: www.pegseeger.com.
Peggy Seeger, North Carolina"
The Living Tradition Vol. 39; July 2000.

Jim Carroll


11 Dec 19 - 11:55 AM (#4023159)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Dave the Gnome

Just talk about the bits you bad interested in bringing up then, Jim, and ignore the rest. Other people want to discuss other aspects. You have no right to tell them they cannot. You have every right to ignore their posts and carry on telling us what a splendid man MacColl was.


11 Dec 19 - 12:10 PM (#4023160)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Dave the Gnome

How did are get corrected to bad?


11 Dec 19 - 12:22 PM (#4023162)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll

"Just talk about the bits you bad interested in bringing up then, Jim, and ignore the rest."
No Dave
I have made my point - including the fact that discussing MacColl's politics etc. has not just diverted from talking about him as a leading figure in folksong, but has closed innumerable threads.
MacColl was an artist not a politician - what's your problem in concentrting on thet for a change ?
I have ignored nothing - I have participated in every single hread on MacColl - usuually in the terms they have been set out - his politics - written reams on it, his war recod - the same, all the stories - done them at length
If we can't discuss someones wotk on singing for a change on a forum heads itself to be abot "Folkson, Folklore tand the Traditional Arts" then the forum is no longre fit for puropse
Whtyt is it necessary to fight for the right to discuss macColl as an artist edvery time his name comes up
Pwerhaps I should take that to the forum on the State of today's folk scene
If MacColl's work had been taken into consideration you youdn't have todays folkies running around like blue-arsed flies saying "nobody knows what folk song is anymore"
Plwase, please, please - MacColl was a singer, not a politician or even a political activist - let us discuss that
Jim Carroll


11 Dec 19 - 12:43 PM (#4023166)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll

I just had a quick sprint down the list that heads this thread
Nowhere is there a serious discussion about Ewan's research on singing - the majority of them get bogged down in personal attacks or more abourt MacColl's personality
Time for a change maybe

What did you do in the war, Ewan? (303) (closed)   Not about singing
Ewan MacColl - any first-hand anecdotes? (239) Bogged down in personal attacks
Ewan MacColl ...Folk Friend Or Foe? (182) as previous Closed
Ewan MacColl on bandcamp (14) Future plans for old recordings
Stage Play: Joan & Jimmy (March 2019) (10) Theatre work
Ewan Maccoll - Atheist or Religious? (23) Religion
Missing MacColl Albums (6) Albums
Stop The Ewan Maccoll Bickering (107) Complaint about same-old, same old
Ewan MacColl's trousers (110) Piss take
Ewan MacColl tribute-Maxine Peake (15) Posthumous tribute – not about his singing   

Jim Carroll


11 Dec 19 - 01:04 PM (#4023169)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Dave the Gnome

I have ignored nothing - I have participated in every single hread on MacColl

Yes, we know that, Jim. That is rather the point. Maybe if you did ignore some of the stuff that winds you up, not as many of those threads would be closed and there would be no need for the moderation team to consider any deletions or suspensions.

Still, this is not sticking to the subject so I shall take my own advice. Consider yourself ignored!

Back to the topic in question. The first song I performed in public, albeit as part of the school class choir, was "Dirty Old Town". The gym teacher played guitar, a couple of us played mouth organs and the rest sang. During rehearsals the teacher played us a MacColl version that had a jazz feel to it. As a callow 15 year old into Hendrix and the Who it nearly put me off folk for life. Luckily I persisted:-)


11 Dec 19 - 01:07 PM (#4023171)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,HiLo

This thread is clearly about the biography "Class Act". It is not about his singing, his religion or his trousers...it is about this
particular biography.
If you wish to discuss his singing , open another thread..(as If another McColl thread were needed) For the most part this discussion has been intelligent and respectful. I have learned much about McColl and would appreciate it Jim, if your unfettered hero worship, would not get in the way of informed discussion.


11 Dec 19 - 01:19 PM (#4023173)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll

"It is not about his singing, his religion or his trousers...it is about this"
If you read the book a major part of it is about him as a singer - how could it have been about anything else -- that's what he was
If his hadn't been the important singer he was his politics would hhave measured insignificantly next to many millions of others
He never spole publicly on plolitcs, he never wrore about it, his songs were about his humanism rather than his political beliefs
We have had many dozens of threads on MacColl's politics - at least half of them have been closed because of the acrimony
If we can't manage to discuss him as an artist at least go open a thread on his politcs on the below the line section - that's where politics is designated to be discussed
Even the threads which started discussing his singing have ended up about everything but that
This is simple sabotaging the memor of a great artist - nothing less
Jim Carroll


11 Dec 19 - 01:23 PM (#4023174)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Joe Offer

OK, Jim. It appears you haven't learned your lesson. We close threads when people start fighting in them and make it impossible for others to carry on a rational discussion - you are the primary offender, but it seems your self-righteousness makes it impossible for you to see your responsibility in this. We close threads because you fill them full of shit and destroy what had been an interesting discussion. We close threads because that preserves what is valuable in a discussion - sorting out what's good and bad is just too complicated and too arbitrary, so it's best to close a thread and let things cool down before allowing it to start again.

I know you want us to censor threads to your specifications and you want us to ban people your consider unworthy, but that's not going to happen.

MacColl threads get closed often, because you, Jim Carroll, tend to go bonkers in them, because you cannot allow disagreement with your opinions. Mr. Carroll, you are not allowed to comment on moderator actions in any way in any thread - as there is a general prohibition against discussion in threads of moderator actions because such discussion is harmful to the good of the forum. If you wish to discuss such things, do so by email to max@mudcat.org or joe@mudcat.org.

I will leave this thread open to the end of the day. If it keeps going off topic, I will close it.

And you, Mr. Carroll, are within an inch of getting yourself suspended until January 1. Talk about Ewan MacColl all you want, but while this thread is open, MacColl discussion is allowed in this thread and this thread alone. If you step off the path, you're gone.


-Joe Offer-


Ewan MacColl Songs (click)

Ewan MacColl & Peggy Seeger Info (click)

No, we don't have a group of threads for Ewan MacColl's singing, but you'll find many comments about his singing in the threads in these two groups. And yeah, I suppose the usual pattern is that when somebody talks about MacColl's singing, someone else will talk about MacColl singing with his finger in his ear, and then Jim Carroll will go ballistic, and then the thread gets closed.

But mark my words: it's not the thread topics that get threads closed. It's people going ballistic that get threads closed. And you do it regularly, Jim Carroll.


11 Dec 19 - 02:00 PM (#4023178)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll

Macol was not about pilitics with a capital P - this is what MacColl's politics was about
If we can't discuss that, we can't discuss the artistry of MacColl

This is from a semibnar Ewah held with a group of teachers in the sixties
Take it or leave it
Jim Carroll

EWAN: If somebody put to me the preposition of doing a radio ballad on bank clerks, right away it seems to me that we're doing a programme about how a bank is run, we have to ask ourselves what is our objective? It would be to ask a very simple question. How is it that after so many thousand years of human evolution and social evolution, we can still find tens of thousands, millions perhaps of human beings who are prepared to spend their lives, not in creating wealth which men can use, coal or even motor cars or cans of peas, or whatever, but who are prepared merely in the transfer of one kind of wealth to another kind. Now as soon as you ask yourself this question you begin to see the possibility of a programme in which it is conceivably you'll get all your bank clerks speaking with the same kind of intonation, all contented perhaps, and all completely oblivious to the fact that they're wasting their lives, for basically it is a waste of human endeavour. How would you do this?   I think you'd have to set it against the remarks of other people. I think the mere inactivity of speech, if their speech did turn out to be remarkably inactive, I think it could be used to highlight the extraordinarily tragic nature of their position inside society. But to highlight it, obviously you'd have to inset it against active speech, and you'd have to get active speech from other people perhaps, out¬side the area of the bank clerks existence, you'd have to get coalminers and so on. How would I bring that in? Well, these days almost everybody banks, for holidays and that kind of thing. I'd get it from the kind of across the counter stuff. I'd say, Johnny Sangster, who is a miner at the Howarth pit, puts 8 quid a week in the bank every, Saturday morning he's at that bank putting his money in for his holidays, and I'd use him as well.   All right Johnny, you go to the bank, what feelings have you about it? You undoubtedly would get something like that.


11 Dec 19 - 02:59 PM (#4023191)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll

I put that up in the hope somebody might like to talk about Ewan's real politics
There is much more of it
I don't take threats of suspension seriously any more - I frankly no longer care one way or another
If people feel Ewan's artistry has no room on this thread I will happily open another (at the risk of it being closed no doubt)
I have no desire to take part in yet another same-old-same old kicking match
Jim Carroll
    Glad you don't mind threats of suspension, because you're suspended until January 1 and this thread will remain open but without your participation. I warned you, and you defied my warning in two posts.
    -Joe Offer-


11 Dec 19 - 03:02 PM (#4023192)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Iains

This is a summary of Ewan MacColl from The Working Class Movement Library that is located in MacColl’s home town of Salford. The Library's holdings include material from all aspects of Ewan's political and cultural life

Ewan MacColl will be known to most people as a songwriter and singer, but he was also of significant influence in the worlds of theatre and radio broadcasting. He was a committed socialist all his life and his political sensibilities underpinned all his creative activities.
https://www.wcml.org.uk/maccoll/

To me it seems a very fair synopsis of his life. It is hardly surprising he was a political animal considering his background:
Ewan MacColl was born James Henry Miller in Salford, Lancashire, on January 25 1915. His father, William Miller, was an iron-moulder, militant trade-unionist and communist who had left his native Stirlingshire in his mid-twenties. His mother, Betsy Hendry, was from Auchterarder, Perthshire. Both parents were active left-wing socialists and from his earliest days, MacColl was familiar with the cut-and-thrust of political discussion and argument. Equally important in the life of the household were the songs and stories his parents brought from Scotland – a huge repertoire with which his father and mother kept themselves and their friends entertained.
I wonder if his creativity was in part motivated by his politics?
If satisfied with the status quo would he have had the drive to produce his body of work?


11 Dec 19 - 03:40 PM (#4023194)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Who knows what drives creativity, though personal convictions do I suppose express themselves in this way, and through art, and so on.

The book says that he wanted to be a novelist at one point, and did write a novel. I think it says he wrote poetry as a child. His father tried to educate him, and bought him Darwin's Origins of Species as he did not want him to be religious, and some novels too.

The book says that his mother had some social aspirations, which may sound odd in view of her politics, but then a friend of mine whose parents were CP members was sent for elocution lessons as her mother did not want he to end up with a Scottish accent. I'm fearful of sounding judgmental here: we all have our contradictions.. So one thing his mother did was buy him a piano, which the book says was part of this project.

His father was a performer and used to give lectures mid performance if I remember correctly. So on one level, mixing politics and performance was simply doing what his father had done?

Also, again if I remember correctly, the book says that as a skilled worker (iron moulding being relatively skilled) his father considered himself somehow above the less-skilled.

So to some extent I think maybe there were aspirational elements within his background?

But the book (and maybe at some level the writer is making a point) seems to emphasise that MacColl lacked practical skills, to the point where it was a family joke that he could not wire a plug. It doesn't seem that he was suited to be a motor mechanic, despite getting taken on for an apprenticeship.

So maybe put all this together, with his interest in books and so on, and his lack of opportunity via the grammar school/education route some people in that era were able to take, some sort of arts-based career would have been attractive, especially to somebody with something to say and creative ability (which I don't think anybody is denying he had). Whether it was acting, play-writing, documentary radio making, and the path he eventually specialised in, songwriting and performance, coupled and infused with the political vision?

Does this make sense?


11 Dec 19 - 03:59 PM (#4023198)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Vic Smith

Right! I feel that I can make this comment now.....

Mention of a very silly thread had me scurrying back look at it. I'm talking about the Ewan MacColl Trousers thread. I didn't look at for quite a while after it was started, but when I did, I joined in with gusto. Unlike all the other heavy combative threads, this was light, funny and scurrilous without being disrespectful. I had a good laugh reading through it again.


11 Dec 19 - 04:00 PM (#4023199)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Iains

Had he the educational opportunities that the following generation had, the grammar schools and expanding tertiary education in the 60's......
Who knows where it may have lead him? He got to where he was with a minimal formal education and was innovative and successful in several different fields.


11 Dec 19 - 04:03 PM (#4023200)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Hootenanny

Dave the Gnome

The recording played to you by your teacher was almost certainly by Alan Lomax and the Ramblers. When Lomax & MacColl joined in the Skiffle Craze. It was a strange mixture and I can quite easily understand how it mignt have put you off folk for life. The two jazz musicians involved were Bruce Turner on clarinet and Jim Bray on bass. The rest of the line up was Lomax, MacColl, Peggy Seeger Shirley Collins and Brian Daly. As I say a strange mixture, one which people might find surprising when they think about Ewan and Peggy's (supposedly suggested by Lomax) feelings about only singing the songs from your own background.
I had no problems with most of them when they did their own thing but mixed up this way it didn't work.
I do however realise that if you are trying to make a living as a musician then you take the work that you can get.


11 Dec 19 - 04:51 PM (#4023217)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Dave the Gnome

Could well have been, Hootenanny. Just had a listen and it doesn't sound the same. But what does 50+ years later! As I was looking it up I found what may have been the strangest version. 1963. Esther and Abi Ofarim. Not had a listen yet. Not quite sure if I am ready for it :-)


11 Dec 19 - 05:04 PM (#4023219)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Dave the Gnome

Just had a listen. Quite pleasant but is it folk? :-D


11 Dec 19 - 05:52 PM (#4023225)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I loved the trousers thread. Some much needed levity, and some sharp wit.


11 Dec 19 - 06:19 PM (#4023229)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Dave the Gnome

A working trouser link

I hope.

Did I tell you how he got his stage name?

Listening to a Scotish miner describing his day. I wus doon the pit aw day. 'ewin ma coal...


11 Dec 19 - 06:51 PM (#4023234)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

A couple of points I had thought about (being serious again) from the early chapter.

In an interview, MacColl's mother said that there would be heated arguments between her and MacColl's father. She felt that while politics were important, bread and butter was important since you cannot 'live on wind'. Harker uses the word 'bitter' to describe these arguments. And sometimes kids from homes where there is a lot of argument do struggle in school. I don't know if it was bad to that extent, but maybe this was another factor making things tough for MacColl? Though plainly he did have good times too.

Also they had lost two children and there were two miscarriages, so MacColl was an only child. Later in the book it says (not sure who supplied this information) that in his mother's eyes MacColl could do now wrong. So an only child, can do no wrong in his mother's eyes, I dunno what the effect of this may have been. There is a risk of a child in this situation ending up 'spoiled' in some sense, maybe? It also says his mother kept him away from rougher kids so all that was a shock when he started school, and one of his nicknames (he seems to have been bullied) was mammy's boy. And then he had diphtheria, which can be fatal (and did kill some of my family at this time, another getting polio) and near death experiences are not easy.

So where was I going with this? Maybe that some of this background, as well as the poverty, may have fed into his creativity, and also into the personality, as on some accounts MacColl did not like being disagreed with and it could provoke him.

None of this detracts from his achievements.

I found the end of the life story sad. He seems to have been lonely.

Finally, Harker discusses the autobiography which as I indicated earlier seems to have been something of a mixed bag, and written in a couple of bouts of work. He lists people missed out, because, in his view, they had upset MacColl, and also suggests that it includes some exaggeration, I think he uses the phrase 'self dramatisation' somewhere. And he does refer in it, according to Harker, to the 'party I served' which he regarded as moribund.

I was wondering whether to ask the library to get me the autobiography, and I would suggest that this biography and the autobiography might ideally be read together, to get a fuller picture.

Has anybody here read the autobiography, and if so, do they think it is an interesting read?

I am sorry if my conduct here has spoiled people's enjoyment of Mudcat, by the way. I really shall try to be better in future, I did want to discuss a book I had read and very much enjoyed. I take my hat off to the author, who seems to me to have put in a lot of work and research. I can see that people who knew the subject of an autobiography, especially of such a colourful and controversial character might be upset at some aspects of it, but then had a lot of time passed it would not have been possible to interview so many people who knew him, and so maybe the result would not have been so good?

Enough.


11 Dec 19 - 09:16 PM (#4023248)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Big Al Whittle

Just received the autobiography. Its a big book with small print. I'll need my reading glasses! I'll be back with an opinion eventually.


12 Dec 19 - 01:25 AM (#4023252)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Al, sorry I just gave away the ending. My kids go bonkers if I do that.


12 Dec 19 - 02:21 AM (#4023258)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

From Peggy Seeger's web site as recommended by a poster above:

"At the time I wrote that interviewers always went to Ewan first."


"aking political points with humour is well instanced in her Give 'Em An Inch, a little something that touches upon the transition from boyhood to adultery represented by an inch of dangly flesh. "I do think in feminist songs that you have to somehow make people laugh at what everybody realises is a humorous situation like this little kid that's born with a little inch of flesh. I got that idea from a cartoon where the mother looks absolutely exhausted and the midwife is holding a baby up and saying, 'Oh, this is why they're so powerful'. There's this little dick sticking out. It was an excellent cartoon. You laughed at it immediately. This is why cartoons put things into a capsule, in one statement, something that you can then open out into a whole situation. Both men and women laugh at that. They can't do anything else. The average man does not think of himself with a willy an inch long. More women, than men would like to believe, laugh at where the penis leads men. Laughter apparently does all kinds of things to the brain and the body that they don't even really know about. Laughing with somebody at the same situation, rather than at somebody, works."

Now what did Ewan write about (among other things in his biography)? I did mention this before, and now maybe the point of this reference may become clearer.

This also had chimes with what we know of Ewan's own family background, with its mention of 'bitter' arguments. History repeats itself they say:

My daughter Kitty told me recently that I'd said at one point that Ewan was my perfect life-partner. I still think he was. She said, 'But you argued all the time!' I don't remember arguing all the time. I don't remember bitter arguments. Were they bitter ones? When she told me about one, then I remembered it. I tend to remember the good things."

And one thing I personally got out of the autobiography is how much the women MacColl hooked up with did for him, in terms of supporting him, doing organisational work he could or would or did not do, in terms of bringing theory to his attention and so on. I don't think he would have been the phenomenon he was without his wives. It seems to me that Peggy may have worked a lot harder than he did, as she seems to have taken on all the domestic stuff that the live-in help did not do. Harker does mention I think that he hit her on one occasion but you don't get this picture of bitter arguments. But Peggy herself has put that into the public domain, so there it is.

It'll be interesting to hear what Al gets out of Peggy's autobiography if he feels like sharing what he reads.


I am sorry if my line of analysis seems controversial, I mention it to express my responses and not to try to wind anybody up. And, yes, to some extent this is how things were at the time.


13 Dec 19 - 02:50 AM (#4023470)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Joe Offer

I scored a used copy of "Journeyman," MacColl's autobiography, for $9.32 at Amazon, supposedly in "like new" condition. Class Act is more expensive, but still under $20. Guess I'd better get that one, too.
-Joe-


13 Dec 19 - 03:24 AM (#4023475)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Redneckred

if Ewan MacColl had done nothing more in his life than write The Ballad of Accounting and Dirty Old Town, I'd still consider him to be a major contributor to the songbook of our lives and times. The details of his personal life, or the rumours about the same, have little explanatory relevance and still less interest.


13 Dec 19 - 04:45 AM (#4023487)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Joe Offer

Hi, Redneckred - I think the MacColl song that moves me most, is Sweet Thames, Flow Softly. It's just a beautiful song.
-Joe-


13 Dec 19 - 11:36 AM (#4023555)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

It is a nice song.

The 'sweet Thames, flow softly' may come via T S Eliot from the Elizabethan poet Spenser. Apologies if somebody has pointed this out before.

CALM was the day, and through the trembling air
Sweet breathing Zephyrus did softly play,
A gentle spirit, that lightly did delay
Hot Titan's beams, which then did glister fair;
When I whose sullen care,
Through discontent of my long fruitless stay
In prince's court, and expectation vain
Of idle hopes, which still do fly away
Like empty shadows, did afflict my brain,
Walked forth to ease my pain
Along the shore of silver streaming Thames,
Whose rutty bank, the which his river hems,
Was painted all with variable flowers,
And all the meads adorned with dainty gems,
Fit to deck maidens' bowers,
And crown their paramours,
Against the bridal day, which is not long:
      Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song.

And Eliot alludes to this in his The Waste Land

The river's tent is broken: the last fingers of leaf
Clutch and sink into the wet bank. The wind
Crosses the brown land, unheard. The nymphs are departed.175
Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song.176
The river bears no empty bottles, sandwich papers,
Silk handkerchiefs, cardboard boxes, cigarette ends
Or other testimony of summer nights. The nymphs are departed.
And their friends, the loitering heirs of city directors;180
Departed, have left no addresses.
By the waters of Leman I sat down and wept...
Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song,
Sweet Thames, run softly, for I speak not loud or long.
But at my back in a cold blast I hear185
The rattle of the bones, and chuckle spread from ear to ear.


13 Dec 19 - 11:52 AM (#4023561)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Dave the Gnome

The Joy of Living always gets me. First heard it at a funeral an it brings a lump to my throat just thinking about it. He was certainly a true craftsman.


13 Dec 19 - 01:16 PM (#4023571)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Ray

I think he claimed that it was written to a Sicilian folk tune.


14 Dec 19 - 07:52 AM (#4023686)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Something potentially controversial but worth discussing if possible nicely: the view that traditional singers should be 'revered' but that one could not learn to be a better folk singer by observing and adopting their techniques as they tended not to be very good singers, a thought also expressed by Peggy Seeger in some other contexts. Age, I think, is sometimes said to have something to do with this.

I don't want to decry the achievements, and my intention is not to enflame opinion, just to express what I noticed, and invite discussion, but there seems a bit of a contradiction in maintaining teaching practices informed by a variety of theoretical frameworks and a claim that the resulting 'techniques' or 'style' are traditional.

It all seems to me mixed up with the largely untraditional context (eg clubs, concerts, radio programmes, gramophone records) within which the output of the classes run by Seeger and MacColl was consumed by the public?


14 Dec 19 - 08:30 AM (#4023692)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman

psued ,what exactly are your motives,please, what is the point of all this is it to demolish the roots of the music?


14 Dec 19 - 08:49 AM (#4023694)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Vic Smith

Pseudonymous:-
It all seems to me mixed up with the largely untraditional context (eg clubs, concerts, radio programmes, gramophone records) within which the output of the classes run by Seeger and MacColl was consumed by the public?

I don't think that there were "classes run by Seeger and MacColl.... consumed by the public."
Seeger and MacColl were very important and they did point out a possible direction for the revival and their influence, their collection, their research and knowledge was vital and influential. According to Vic Gammon's words in a radio interview with me, "MacColl was the finest writer of vernacular song in these islands since Robert Burns." and that will be his greatest legacy.
However theirs were not the only approach, there were several parallel approaches to traditional music and song. The most important other strand was exemplfied by the approach taken by the likes of Reg Hall and Bob Davenport. They eschewed that top-down didactic approach and initially, rather than talk about or dissect what they were doing, they hoped to spread their approach by their practice - though Dr. Reg Hall did go on be come one of the most admired, respected and thorough of folk song academics. This approach is best exemplfied here in the posts by Jim Bainbridge - a good friend of both.
The most controversial aspect of the approach of Seeger/MacColl was undoubtedly the Critics Group. This divided the folk scene at the time and eventually divided the group itself. We know that there are some former members on this forum and elsewhere who swear by the approach decades after it finished. Others felt that it became too narrow and instructive and who wanted to broaden their approach. One former member said to me in interview, "We don't need gurus any more." and in the other interview Vic Gammon said to me, "Sadly the Critics Group took themselves down a blind alley."

If we are to judge success by how people learn about a traditional approach to singing and playing today then we can, for example, see countrywide week-long, weekend or day workshops where the leader is saying, in effect, "Here is what I think and have learned; take it and use it in the way that you think best." Of the more structured approach exemplifed by The Critics Group, I cannot think of any examples.


14 Dec 19 - 03:06 PM (#4023764)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Hello Vic

Hope you are well (just saw a TV ad about making the internet a nicer place).

My knowledge of the Critics Group is based on what I have read on Mudcat, the biography of MacColl, which spends quite a bit of time on it, BBC programmes about MacColl and Seeger and a few other odds and sods. I agree with what you say about it suiting some and not others. It has been said that for some it verged on destructive! But clearly others were inspired on a lifetime basis.

I absolutely take your point about top-down and bottom-up teaching. This contrast came into my mind when reading a transcript of a 'seminar' MacColl gave to teachers which was posted earlier. It seemed very top-down. In fact, more like a lecture than a seminar? And I think Gammon's use of the word 'guru' seems apt.

You comment on my quotation. I wrote

"It all seems to me mixed up with the largely untraditional context (eg clubs, concerts, radio programmes, gramophone records) within which the output of the classes run by Seeger and MacColl was consumed by the public?"

Sorry if this did not read as intended. I have the idea that the Critics Group was sort of invitation-based, and know it wasn't open to the public. The word 'output' here was intended to refer to the work that those who had attended the Group did when they went out into public.

I guess I was musing on how one the one hand there was a respect for 'the tradition', and on the other hand, some practice that was very different from that tradition. Perhaps the use of the term 'revival' sometimes functions to gloss over the differences? Not saying this would be terribly wrong, just noticing.

The biography is long and throws up a lot of thoughts, or it did for me anyway.


14 Dec 19 - 03:55 PM (#4023780)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Sandman

Hello. No, I am not 'trying to demolish the roots of the music'.


14 Dec 19 - 04:12 PM (#4023787)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Hello Sandman again
I found the link to some of your work via Mudcat, and if you don't mind my saying so, I enjoyed it. Sorry for thread drift.


14 Dec 19 - 04:15 PM (#4023788)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Steve Gardham

"We don't need gurus any more." Amen to that. I've been singing traditional songs now for nearly 60 years, longer if we include those passed down in my family, and while I'm pretty certain I will have picked up some style and nuances along the way I'm not conscious of any. I know of no-one personally, other than a passing acquaintance with Sandra Kerr, who was part of any passing on of traditional style in a teaching situation. I've come across workshops on singing in general, to improve vocal strength, endurance and breathing, but haven't felt the need to participate.
I have also listened to many traditional singers and although one could perhaps detect a local style where there was a strong tradition these styles varied enormously from region to region and in some cases from singer to singer.
Singers generally adapt to prevailing circumstances, e.g., chanteymen sang in a high-pitched well-projected style for obvious reasons, likewise it has been found that recordings from WWI and earlier, male singers also sang in a high register to project more (No PA in those days).


14 Dec 19 - 04:22 PM (#4023792)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Steve Gardham

Pseud
Certainly the source singers are 'revered' some for their excellent singing, some for their large repertoires, but mainly because they preserved the songs for us, and surely that is right. Anyone interested in traditional song surely owes them this reverence.


15 Dec 19 - 08:06 AM (#4023844)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Vic Smith

Pseudonymous wrote: -
I think Gammon's use of the word 'guru' seems apt.
.... but it wasn't he who said that to me; I wrote: -
One former member said to me in interview, "We don't need gurus any more." and in the other interview Vic Gammon said to me, "Sadly the Critics Group took themselves down a blind alley."
Sorry if this sounds like nit-picking but it is important to attribute quotations to the correct source. Mis-quoting has been a source of much unneeded conflict on Mudcat.


15 Dec 19 - 08:55 AM (#4023854)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Thanks Vic. I agree, having been the victim of mis-quoting myself, probably at the hands of the same person as Vic has, and certainly at the same hands of other posters who have complained about it. No excuses; sloppy reading on my part. Pleased that somebody is paying attention!

Steve, the point I was making, or trying to make, when I said that MacColl believed that 'source singers' should be revered, was this: seems to be a contradiction between this position and the position outlined by Peggy that teaching within the Critics Group could not be based on the practices of said singers because they weren't very good. I think age was one factor she mentioned.

As it happens, for me, the word 'revere' has religious connotations (as in 'Your Reverence'). I think it too strong. My dictionary gives 'venerate' as a synonym. 'Revere' comes from a root meaning 'to fear', 'to be in awe of', hence I suppose its use in religious contexts. An apt word for a 'cult' perhaps, but for a flesh and blood human being, not in my book.


15 Dec 19 - 09:08 AM (#4023855)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Sorry my second sentence was garbled. I should have said 'certainly at the same hands AS other posters, who have complained about it.'

I know we seem to have had moderator approval to discuss MacColl generally on this thread, but I'm still on the book, because as I said, it throws up all sorts of questions - and contradictions.

While we are on the topic of 'source singers', something else in the book made me think.

Actually, if I am honest, I was a bit surprised to read Steve saying that traditional singers had 'preserved' the songs for us, as I had an idea that one thing we could look to Steve for was the use of documentary evidence to date the songs collected from such singers. And also, I understood that there is no evidence of some Child ballads having actually been sung, only documentary evidence?


15 Dec 19 - 09:12 AM (#4023857)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

There has been some debate about whether the idea that people should only sing songs relevant to their own backgrounds arose democratically or within the Critics Circle or was a dictat from MacColl.

One possible answer comes from the book, via the writing of MacColl on sleeve notes (quoted on page 159).

'I [note the pronoun} have made it a point on insisting on the rule that singers do not sing anything but the songs of their own native tradition.'


15 Dec 19 - 09:28 AM (#4023859)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

The book refers to MacColl's tendency to romanticise, and this would appear to extend to his own father. Whatever you think of the song 'The Iron Moulder', it simply is not true that Maccoll's father, an iron moulder, supported his family, as that song implies. His wife did that.

Ill-health, partly in the form of lifelong asthma, seems to have been one reason that Miller Snr was out of work. From 1925 to 1947, his wife said, he worked three years and two months. 'For most of that period his contribution to the domestic economy was the nine shillings paid through his trade union'.

I'm not decrying the love for his father that seems to shine through the song, however. It's just that I only yesterday found that particular song.


15 Dec 19 - 10:32 AM (#4023868)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

On traditional singers, the book outlines some thoughts MacColl had about this (page 227) as expressed in the introduction to a book about the folklore of the Stewarts of Blairgowrie.

The book (Till Doomsday...) was produced by MacColl and Seeger jointly. The ideas seem to apply to all source or traditional singers.

Harker also says in this context that this book illustrated some of the contradictions in which the Seeger/MacColl vision was always caught. So it isn't just me who has noticed these contradictions.

Seeger and MacColl hoped to bring the riches of folk culture to light through 'politically oriented folk institutions.' But in the book they noted that these institutions had made minor celebrities of 'the folk' whose songs and stories were 'now being used, almost exclusively, to entertain the visiting folklorist, journalist, and television crew'

'Twenty years ago, the Stewarts saw themselves as Travellers', now they were 'observers - sympathetic, but detached observers'. (Quotations from the Till Doomsday in the Afternoon Book.)

Singing for the folk scene, MacColl and Seeger thought, had 'eroded their authenticity, introducing self-consciousness into performance' (Harker page 227). It's the contradictions around this concept of 'authenticity' which caught my attention. In saying this I am not 'having a go' at left wing philosophy, but pointing up the contradictions around the idea of 'authenticity'.

(But of course, the politically biased ideological framework within which source singers were so often presented within the 2nd revival brings with it more questions about the authenticity of the vision offered. I know saying things like this makes you unpopular, and leads to allegations that only somebody 'right wing' would say them, but there you are! )

McC and S referred to 'stereotyped formats of presentation, borrowed from the music hall, the cinema, and television' (quoted on Harker p228)

MacColl and Seeger wanted the folk to be unselfconsciously authentic (their songs and stories should be what Seeger called 'a function of their everyday life')AND knowingly to embody and preserve the pure artistic practices MacColl and Seeger associated with the tradition..' Harker p 228.

IN a 1980 interview, according to Harker, 'MacColl admitted in a 1980 television documentary, 'Our intentions were good - are good. We have tried to liberate whole areas of a submerged but living culture - the survival of which is, we think, vital to social and political progress.' But MacColl now asked himself whether one could expect the resources of that culture to withstand the rapacious culture industry.

NB
Harker says that one traveller pressure group took issue with the book -in a publication called 'Traveller Education'. But the Stewart family themselves admired the book and it was critically well-reviewed. Here I try to reflect what the book says accurately, and to focus on the broader issue, not on folk song and Traveller culture (which is dealt with in other threads).


15 Dec 19 - 11:04 AM (#4023873)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Steve Gardham

If you don't like 'reverence' Sue because of some of its connotations, I'll happily modify that to respect and gratitude. I suppose one bestows the same kind of gratitude on the collectors as well, or at least those that left us what they recorded intact as they found it.

As a researcher I'm overwhelmingly interested in the songs themselves and I'm not at all worried how the later source singers became celebrities and were affected by the folk scene. Some of them I've known and know as friends. Most of them simply had a foot in both (at least 2) camps, their own communities and the wider folk scene. I don't see this as a problem personally. A few like Walter, and Arthur Howard, compartmentalised their repertoires for different audiences, and some more recently as their traditional communities no longer valued their songs.


15 Dec 19 - 11:52 AM (#4023880)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Hello Steve

'Respect' and 'gratitude' are two of the alternatives I had though of, so I am a lot happier with these.

I am aware of your work on the origins songs and it seems very interesting. A lot of what you have said on Mudcat makes sense to me.


15 Dec 19 - 12:06 PM (#4023881)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Regarding collectors, especially those of what they seem to call The 2nd UK Revival, I am discovering that one thing that interests me is the 'discourse' or 'narrative' within which they frame their presentation of what they find. Perhaps because of the distance in time between then and now, the ideological biases and assumptions underpinning this seem evident. It's about what they say and what they leave out. But not everybody shares this interest.


15 Dec 19 - 12:29 PM (#4023890)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Vic Smith

Pseudonomous wrote: -
'Twenty years ago, the Stewarts saw themselves as Travellers', now they were 'observers - sympathetic, but detached observers'. (Quotations from the Till Doomsday in the Afternoon Book.)

After quite a search, I have found this quotation on page 35. I felt that I wanted to be able to comment on it but could not do so without examining the context it was written in so here is the full paragraph that it is taken from: -
It cannot be denied that the Stewarts' contact with the Gorgio world has resulted in their becoming entertainers, personalities and public performers, and has accelerated the process of their alienation from the Traveller community. At the same time, it has alerted them to the danger of their imminent destruction as a cultural and social unit. It is one thing, however, to be aware of a situation and another to actually do something to change the course of events. Twenty years ago, the Stewarts saw themselves as Travellers, as members of a community of outcasts. Time has changed their view of themselves: from being members of a community they have
become observers - sympathetic, but detached observers. The "us" and "them" of early Stewart conversations referred to Travellers on the one hand and Gorgios on the other. That is no longer the case. The "us" and "them" now seem to indicate the distance that lies between the Stewarts and other members of the Travelling community.

We got to know Belle & Alex very well. We corresponded for many years and they came several times to stay with us in Lewes just as we went quite a number of times to their house in Yeaman Street in Rattray. Ewan & Peggy met Belle, Alex and their family in 1961, Tina and I not until 1968. The book was not published until much later in 1986.
I find much to disagree with in that paragraph though I would agree with the first part of the first sentence. They did alter the way that they would present their songs stories and tunes so that it would become a folk club 'act' and it is also true that there was some jealousy and some opposition to their sharing their culture with the collectors - but then with the Scots travellers, family rows were a way of life; they always found something to fall out over and often the row would be forgotten as quickly as it began.
We tried to make arrangements about when we could visit but Belle would not hear of it - 'Jist come...jist turn up; yer aye welcome!' We knew that we would be expected to stay for most of the rest of the day and would be fed. When we visited so we always made sure that we had a food and drink gift to give them.
Every time we were there it was like Open House, various traveller 'freens' would drop in for a chat and a cup of tea and swap the news of mutual friends and family. Once a man turned up and he had come to complain about the sale of a car. He and Alex had a blazing row and were cursing one another roundly. We got up to go but Belle stood in front of us and told us to sit down and be quiet because it would over in a short while. And it was! The visitor turned and from the row to have a few jokey words with Belle and she responded in kind before he left. Immediately our hosts reverted to their normal charming selves.
We organised tours for them in England which was easy to do as we knew the clubs that would be interested. The Singers Club, Guildford, Horsham, Swindon and our club in Lewes - all in the south and perhaps Nottingham on their way south and Newcastle on their way back north. One time we were travelling over from Lewes over to Horsham with them in their car. We saw some vardos aitched on the side of the road and Alex stopped the car. Belle got agitated.
"Now, Alex, We havna' got time for this; we huv tae get tae this folk club."
"Jist bide in the car yous three. Ah'll no be long."
He was gone for about 15 to 20 minutes with Belle fretting all the time. When he came back the rest of the journey was taken us with Belle wanting to know everything that had been said. Alex did not know these people but they had many acquaintances in common and were able to give many updates to one another.
Does this sound like "alienation from the Traveller community"?

Finally it is simply wrong to use the word 'Gorgios' to describe the settled community, though they would have recognised this word as a Romany word used by English travellers. They might have said 'gadgie' for a man though they told me that this was more used by their Aberdeenshire 'freens'. Talking about settled people that they in villages and towns, they would talk about the 'country hantle'.


15 Dec 19 - 01:31 PM (#4023910)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Vic

Interesting contribution, worth a careful read. The fact that you have access to a copy of the Seeger/MacColl 'Till Doomsday' and are willing to share information about it is one of the things that makes Mudcat so amazing!

To give Harker his due, he did find and mention a response to the S/MacC book from a Traveller organisation, albeit an anonymous review.


27 Dec 19 - 10:58 AM (#4025098)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Vic Smith

I don't know who was responsible for the transcriptions of the song words in Till Doomsday in the Afternoon but they clearly were not conversant with the various Scots dialects used in the Stewarts songs or Scottish place names because there are a fair number of errors. For some reason, one of these errors really annoys me. On pages 245 - 247, the notes tunes and words of the song that the book gives the title as Geordie Weir (Roud No. 5205). The book gives the first line of the chorus as:-
S



27 Dec 19 - 11:04 AM (#4025100)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Vic Smith

>>>"Submit message<<< pressed in error:-

So I wish I was back in Smarendale Rye


When what Belle actually sings very clearly is:

So I wish I was back aince mair in Dalry


28 Dec 19 - 05:49 AM (#4025166)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman

'I [note the pronoun} have made it a point on insisting on the rule that singers do not sing anything but the songs of their own native tradition.'
That was how i understood the rule at the time, it also bears out the story of the english singer who sang single girl at the club lisa? and was stopped by MacColl, however Jim Carroll states that this was not the case it was only the residents that had to follow that rule


28 Dec 19 - 06:30 AM (#4025175)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Vic Smith

Dick wrote: -
the story of the english singer who sang single girl at the club lisa?

Lisa Turner.


28 Dec 19 - 08:29 AM (#4025191)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Backwoodsman

At least MacColl wrote intelligible English.


28 Dec 19 - 09:51 AM (#4025205)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman

backwoodsman[ what is your problem], i have never met you, yet you are intent on some kind of vendetta against me.
if you said this to me quote.."At least MacColl wrote intelligible English" to my face.... i would tell you to fuck off, please keep your petty snide remarks off this thread.
QUOTE
“The decision to lay down guidelines for what you could sing on stage was not made by Ewan MacColl - it was made by the residents and members of the B&B Club (later known as the Singers Club). If it became hewn in stone - well, that's the way things go.

This policy was meant for OUR club, not for other clubs. The policy was simple: If you were singing from the stage, you sang in a language that you could speak and understand. It didn't matter what you sang in the shower, at parties, while you were ironing or making love. But on stage in The Ballads and Blues Folk Club, you were a representative of a culture - you were interpreting a song that had been created within certain social and artistic parameters. Incidentally, along with this policy came the request from our newly-formed Audience Committee that we not sing the same traditional song more than once every three months… they were getting tired of hearing the same songs week after week. This forced us residents to learn new songs at an unholy rate. But it brought out lots of new songs and ballads and really got us thinking about how we sang what we were learning.”



https://www.folkmusic.net/htmfiles/edtxt39.htm


28 Dec 19 - 10:39 AM (#4025213)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Dave the Gnome

Dick, you do not have the authority to tell people what they can and cannot post on Mudcat threads. If there is something another poster has done that you don't like I suggest you take it up with the management rather than starting a flame war.

Don't take my word for it though. Read the Mudcat's own advice pages

/mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=19340&messages=139#flamer


28 Dec 19 - 10:59 AM (#4025215)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Backwoodsman

Dick, I made a comment about MacColl’s writing skills, you were not mentioned. If anyone has a problem, it seems you be you having a problem understanding a single, simple sentence.

And I recommend you to refrain from making personal threats against me, either here or face to face. It is completely unacceptable, loutish behaviour. If you really do need to have a dust-up you’ll have to find another victim.


28 Dec 19 - 12:14 PM (#4025247)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman

what a pair of wankers. back to topic.

Ewan MacColl Controversy - by Peggy Seeger
I confess, I confess! I was the one who started the whole 'policy' debate. The Ballads and Blues Club had been going really well since 1953. I arrived in London in 1956. The club met at the Princess Louise in High Holborn at that time and there was an impressive list of residents: Alan Lomax, Ralph Rinzler, Isla Cameron, Fitzroy Coleman, Seamus Ennis, Bert Lloyd, Ewan MacColl, et al. Bert was singing English, Australian, N. American and Scottish songs; Ewan was singing 'Sixteen Tons' and 'Sam Bass' alongside 'Eppie Morrie' and 'The Banks of the Nile'; I regularly sang French, German and Dutch songs alongside 'Barbara Allan' and 'Cumberland Gap'. Fitz and Seamus stuck, respectively, to their Jamaican and Irish material. Alan only sang songs that he and his father had collected in the USA. There were many floor singers who came and went - the Weavers turned up from New York and sang in three or four different languages; a west London couple came regularly and sang in Yiddish, a language which they did not speak; two French students would sing Spanish Civil War songs; and so on. It was a free-for-all and I will admit that it was a lot of fun. More about that at another time.

It was that Cockney lad singing Leadbelly who started the rock rolling downhill. Was it 1960 or so? Yes, it was that poor fellow whose rendition of 'Rock Island Line' reduced me to hysterical laughter one night. I was literally doubled over in my seat, gasping. I had to be taken out of the room. Most unprofessional, but I couldn't help it. I am North American. Woody Guthrie, Jean Ritchie, Big Bill Broonzy, Leadbelly, et al, used to come to our house in Washington. I knew what the song should sound like and the manner of delivery and the insertion of Cockney vowels into a southern USA black prisoners' song just sounded funny.

I was reprimanded by several members of the audience at the end of the evening. When I explained my reasons, one of the French students pointed out that the insertion of my American vowels into French songs was also quite laughable. I then mentioned that Ewan's rendition of 'Sam Bass' verged on parody. My children have since pointed out that my Scots accent (on a number of Seeger-MacColl records) is not exactly impeccable. But I am straying… the Cockney singer then confessed that he loved Leadbelly's songs but was losing his confidence in singing them. He was getting bored. I declared that I preferred singing songs from the Anglo-American traditions and only sang the French/German/Spanish songs for 'variety'. The discussion heated up and was a main topic of conversation for several weeks following. We laid the matter in front of all the residents and interviewed the folks who paid at the door on the subject. The decision to lay down guidelines for what you could sing on stage was not made by Ewan MacColl - it was made by the residents and members of the B&B Club (later known as the Singers Club). If it became hewn in stone - well, that's the way things go.

This policy was meant for OUR club, not for other clubs. The policy was simple: If you were singing from the stage, you sang in a language that you could speak and understand. It didn't matter what you sang in the shower, at parties, while you were ironing or making love. But on stage in The Ballads and Blues Folk Club, you were a representative of a culture - you were interpreting a song that had been created within certain social and artistic parameters. Incidentally, along with this policy came the request from our newly-formed Audience Committee that we not sing the same traditional song more than once every three months… they were getting tired of hearing the same songs week after week. This forced us residents to learn new songs at an unholy rate. But it brought out lots of new songs and ballads and really got us thinking about how we sang what we were learning.

Shortly afterwards, the Critics Group was formed, at the behest of several singers who also found that they were losing their way in singing traditional songs. We began to attract singers who wanted to study folksinging. You know, there is no set discipline for folksinging - it's an 'anything goes' area even though real dyed-in-the-wool field singers are very specific about how they sing and what they sing. The purpose of the Critics Group was to make it possible for the singers who had not been brought up in the 'folk' tradition to sing the songs in a way that would not abrogate the original intention of the makers. It was an attempt to keep the folksongs folksongs, not turn them into classical pieces or pop songs or anything-goes songs. We analysed accompanimental and vocal styles, tried to expand our abilities to sing in different styles so that we could tackle different kinds of songs (within the languages and dialects that we spoke) and still keep the songs true to themselves. Once again, we were not initially telling other singers how to sing - just deciding how WE were going to sing. If we became evangelical and sounded dictatorial, well - that's the way things go. The intentions were honourable.

I must admit that I am still going that way and tend to be rather intolerant of female singers lilting 'Ranzo Ranzo Way Away' as if it were a lullaby or a love song; of a band of instrumentalists producing 'Sir Patrick Spens' (which had been unaccompanied for several centuries) with four fiddles, two double basses, drums, electric guitar and unintelligible lyrics. It was such a good song… but OK. Just don't call it folk song. And while you're at it, listen to some of my own early recordings - say on the Fellside album "Classic Peggy Seeger". Listen to me in my early years singing so fast that even I (who know the words of the songs) cannot understand what I am singing. Or listen to me accompanying Ewan on sloshy guitar or overharmonising with him on 'Lassie Wi' the yellow Coatie'. We all do these things in our youth and before we have understanding (just wish I hadn't recorded them). Ewan did this himself in his early recordings and never pretended that he didn't. What he was really trying to do in his later years (and I will be the first to admit that sometimes we could both be hamfisted about it) was encourage understanding of where these songs came from and how easy it is to ruin them, to turn them into something else. Kind of like what's happening to the earth right now. We're all doing just what we want to a beautiful piece of natural art (aka nature) - and only just now beginning to worry about having to live with the mess. Unfortunately, that's the way things go. And so many of the intentions are not honourable.

I've done my share of 'changing' the folksongs. Had to. I wasn't brought up on the front porch of a cabin in the Appalachians and I don't care to pretend that I was. I had a middle-class classical musical training and that's hard to shake. But I don't pretend to be a folksinger or that the folksongs (as I sing them) are 'ur' versions. I am a singer of folksongs and I hope that my lullabies are lullabies and the words of my ballads are intelligible. Ewan MacColl was one step nearer to being a folksinger than I, having been brought up in a Scots community in Salford. He is a man who is a perfect example of the old saying "stick your neck out and someone will chop your head off". I didn't know, until after he died, just how many enemies and ex-post-facto critics we had made. WE. Please remember that he and I were in this together and you can now aim your missiles at someone who is still here and who is quite articulate on the matter. Pity more folks didn't have the courage and the knowledge to talk with him while he was alive. He was actually an interesting, approachable person and was happy to talk to anyone who approached with a less-than-hostile attitude. I learned so much from those years… and, of course, I am biased! I am also fed up with people who criticise him with only hearsay and second (third, fourth, umpteenth) knowledge on which to base their opinions.

The editor wants to know "Who are Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie?" They were members of the Critics Group for most of the life of that group. They were two of the most loyal, industrious and intelligent members by far. It is possible that they have inherited some of Ewan's intransigence and argumentative temperament (that's the way things go?) but there is no doubt that their work in the folksong world has been invaluable and dedicated. Most of the collectors who've done that have had a kind of tunnel vision, without which their work would not have been as productive. They stuck their necks out and their heads are getting chopped off. They are in good company.

Like Ewan, I've always got lots more to say but I don't care to argue all this out nitty blow by gritty blow. By the way, I'm just finishing up a book of his songs. 200 of them. 'The Essential Ewan MacColl Songbook' (Music Sales, autumn 2000). Those of you who have followed or partaken in this controversy might find my long critique of him as a person and an artist enlightening. It won't be what you expected from the person who was his lover and working partner. Information is on my website: www.pegseeger.com.

Peggy Seeger, Asheville
North Carolina
Living Tradition Homepage


28 Dec 19 - 12:14 PM (#4025248)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST

Posturing with a pugilistic past to follow, probably.


28 Dec 19 - 12:20 PM (#4025252)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Dave the Gnome

Suit yourself, Dick. You damage no one but yourself.


28 Dec 19 - 12:49 PM (#4025256)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Backwoodsman

Another one to ignore, Dave.


29 Dec 19 - 06:06 AM (#4025305)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I think this long and interesting quotation from Peggy Seeger has been posted before. In a sense the discussions it continues illustrate the fact that different people have different memories and views of the Critics Group and its 'policies'. So while some see the group as having been democratic, others see it as being dominated by MacColl. The recordings I have heard tend to confirm this, with one showing MacColl setting homework to be done for the next time. There is also with the information that he often gave long lectures.

We can't seem to get the full 'backstory' about the quotation. Why did 'the editor' ask who Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie were? You cannot find out by looking at the web site in question.

Some view the 'policy' as being a group decision, not something dictated; MacColl himself, as in the quoted comment from the sleeve notes mentioned earlier, seems at the very least to have come to see the 'policy' as something he personally insisted upon.

It interests me that Seeger says that it wasn't until after MacColl died that she realised how many 'ex post facto' critics they had made: the book gives an account of the ending of the Critics Group that suggests that at the time Seeger and MacColl were not aware of the unhappiness that had built up. If I remember aright, this was after a theatrical production: the members agreed to see the project through to its end, and then took away all the equipment, and that this came as a surprise to Seeger and MacColl.

It does seem to me that not all of the criticism was 'ex post facto' as some people tried the Critics Group and did not like it at the time, as opposed to afterwards as implied by the 'ex post facto' label.

On the point of how 'democratic' decisions within the group were, the idea of MacColl as a 'guru' of some sort (as opposed to his being a participant in some democratic enterprise) seems implied by Seeger when she says: 'What he was really trying to do in his later years (and I will be the first to admit that sometimes we could both be hamfisted about it) was encourage understanding of where these songs came from and how easy it is to ruin them, to turn them into something else.'

To go off tangent for a while, Seeger mentions Sir Patrick Spens; a song whose origins have been studied and which remain, as I understand it unclear, so nobody has a full understanding of where it came from, though there are theories about it ...   

Not everybody would agree with Seeger when she says that MacColl was always willing to discuss stuff with people who took different views, if they came with a 'less than hostile' approach. One thing that seems to come out of the biography was that MacColl often did not like it when people disagreed with him. It gives a list of people missed out of his autobiography on the basis (the biographer asserts) that they had upset MacColl.


29 Dec 19 - 06:21 AM (#4025308)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Hootenanny

I have made this point often on Mudcat but there is an error in the above article by Peggy.

The Ballads and Blues Club WAS NOT LATER KNOWN as the Singers Club.

Ewan and Peggy departed from the Ballads and Blues Club in 1961. They opened up a new club which they ran and called it The Singers Club.

The Ballads and Blues Club continued until May 1965.

The decision was NOT made by members of the Ballads and Blues club.
I was there at the time when Ewan refused to allow Lisa Turner to sing an American song. He did NOT ask us.

I should also remind people that Peggy had been teaching many of us how to play the five string banjo and the guitar. Both very common in traditional British folk song of course.


29 Dec 19 - 06:39 AM (#4025312)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Dave the Gnome

five string banjo and the guitar. Both very common in traditional British folk song

Not according to some! ;-)


29 Dec 19 - 07:17 AM (#4025322)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Thanks, Hoot, sorry if I have got things wrong.

To clarify, I was referring to an incident recounted in Harker's book and dated to New Year's Day 1972. It relates to the theatrical ambitions of MacColl and The Festival of Fools.

MacColl had had a health crisis the previous winter, following which Charles Parker recorded a long conversation (page 212 of biography). MacColl, the book says, repeatedly berated himself for his 'self-isolating and dictatorial manner'. He came up with plans to re-cast the critics group. However, Harker comments that though this was intended to be a new start, there was little consultation about the new start, and the style was still top-down with MacColl doing the talking. He also issued a reading list for the new group. Parallel singers workshops were still maintained, but MacColl's main enthusiasm was for the theatre project. 'Many Critics had already fallen by the wayside; many were still licking wounds inflicted during MacColl's rages' says Harker. Harker quotes Seeger as telling him that MacColl had not learned to be challenged. Sandra Kerr said that people were not always treated like 'grown ups'.


At this time an ATV documentary showed Seeger explaining that she stands on the side of Mao Tse Tung and expects a basic elemental jungle struggle for a while. TV reviewer Nancy Banks-Smith, rather unkindly perhaps, described Seeger as 'A musician through and through and madder than a wet hen'.

At the New Year's Day meeting key members of the Critics Group decided to see out the run of the current production. The atmosphere behind the scenes had got so bad that this was the outcome. Then, while MaColl and Seeger were talking to the press after the last show, the group stripped the room of 'all the equipment they'd accumulated over the years'. Sandra Kerr is quoted as saying it all ended horribly, 'literally shaking fists at the stage door'.

This does not look to me like 'ex post fact' disagreements, though there may have been some of those too, of course.


29 Dec 19 - 07:21 AM (#4025323)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I took Hoot's comments about the banjo as sarcasm ??

Harker says some former Critics Group members continued to appear at the Singers' Club, but not while MacColl was around. 'As far as he was concerned they were now persona non gratae'. I have wondered just where Mackenzie and Carroll fitted into all this, but this is probably not a line of enquiry liable to lead to a peaceful discussion. And all credit is due to them for what Seeger describes as their loyalty to MacColl, which I don't think anybody could doubt.


29 Dec 19 - 07:27 AM (#4025324)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I speak as an ex 5 string banjo player. As to why, lack of talent.

The banjo can be amazing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=38&v=6QNQGGhRInY&feature=emb_logo


29 Dec 19 - 08:28 AM (#4025330)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Big Al Whittle

I think its up to the singer how you sing a song.

After all we don't have to haul up anchors when we sing shanties.

I love the gentle way The corries used to sing Lowlands.


29 Dec 19 - 04:00 PM (#4025381)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman

The Critics Group did not break up badly
At the end of 1971 the Group agreed to divide into two parts - one went off to form an acting group and the other continued working on singing
The acting group had no name (Big Red Eye was suggested but never taken up)
After a year the acting group broke up and the equipment disappeared apparently the equipment had been paid for by everyone in the two groups.


29 Dec 19 - 04:02 PM (#4025383)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman

according to a posting from Mike Grosvenor Myer, it was not Lisa Turner but Isla Cameron who was asked to sing songs from her own background -
Mike claimed that he was there on that particular occasion


29 Dec 19 - 04:42 PM (#4025388)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

"The Critics Group did not break up badly"

The dates Sandman gives tally with those in Harker's book. I suppose partly this depends on how you define 'badly' and 'break up'.

To quote a little more from the book, Harker gives Peggy Seeger's account (interview with author) of the encounter after the last show of the 1971/72 run, following on from the New Year's Day meeting. Peggy said she and MacColl asked 'Where is everything gone?' and 'they' replied 'It's in the truck and you'll never find it'. Harker also quotes Mike Rosen (in another interview as saying: 'Ewan said something to the effect of "Fuck the lot of you. I shall carry on on my own. I'll start again. I don't get knocked down." And he walked out'

Harker says that the former Critics branded themselves as 'Combine' and they started various projects. Combine lasted three years according to Harker.

Harker quotes three members of the family as commenting on how profoundly shaken MacColl was by this. So 'badly' seems a fair descriptor?

One good thing about this time was that the song 'The First Time Ever' became a hit in 1972, transforming MacColl's fortunes.

Sorry if people feel I am not giving a fair account of what the book says, but please read it to check! I did find it fascinating and am trying to summarise what it says fairly.


30 Dec 19 - 04:40 AM (#4025408)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Hootenanny

Sandman / Dick:

Re the Lisa Turner incident, she was told in no uncertain terms NOT asked. I WAS THERE.

In Isla Cameron's case she knew of MacColl's attitude and would deliberately sing an American song but this was before he decided to make it a club policy.

Pseud:
No need for an apology from you it was the Peggy Seeger article put up by Sandman Dick which I was trying once again to clarify.

And thanks for explaining things to D the G. But I don't know what he means by ;-) so perhaps it wasn't needed. Call me old school.


30 Dec 19 - 04:45 AM (#4025409)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman

my feeling whilst reading the above post was one of sadness.
ON a positive note Sandra Kerr has had a successful career as have some of the other members of the group, MacColl and Seeger continued to perform and write good songs, and their previous help and influence probably had been a contributory element as regards the success of some of the other members of the group


30 Dec 19 - 04:51 AM (#4025410)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Derrick

From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Dec 19 - 04:02 PM

according to a posting from Mike Grosvenor Myer, it was not Lisa Turner but Isla Cameron who was asked to sing songs from her own background -
Mike claimed that he was there on that particular occasion

Because it was a club policy to encourage singers to perfom material from their own background I think that the above would have occurred more than once and probably happened to several singers.


30 Dec 19 - 05:10 AM (#4025411)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Iains

The Wiki entry on the critics could do with some correction and addition.
One interesting part of the entry is something that I had no previous knowledge of, and reinforces his political activism.
At MacColl's instigation, members(critics group) formed a sub-group for the purpose of creating and transmitting radio programmes to Vietnam, aimed at the thousands of GIs who were already questioning why they were there in the first place.[4] From 1970 to 1972 four programmes, all called "Off Limits" were made. They were produced by Charles Parker, adapting the celebrated Radio Ballad docu-drama form on which he had collaborated with MacColl an Seeger. The programmes were allegedly sent to Vietnam through the North Vietnamese Charge D'Affaires and acknowledged by Ho Chi Minh himself. In 2016 the Australian Broadcasting Company transmitted a documentary by producer Gary Bryson, who had worked with Parker, telling the story of these forgotten programmes and the people who made them.

http://www.talkinghistory.org/
scroll down until:Segment 2 | Earshot: Off Limits (2016)
Download: MP3


30 Dec 19 - 05:14 AM (#4025414)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman

Sandra said in an interview in Living Tradition quote. the Critics group and the Singers Club were not just about studying the tradtion they were also trying to encourage creativity. Ewean encouraged this to get people to write from their own position their own political stance.
       instead of focussing on the break up and the negative aspects, is it not better to focus on the positive achievements of group members and the positve role that MacColl and Seeger had, by encouraging and developing creative writing

    By comparison    Dave Harker has written a book that has had mixed reviews,and is of little consequenceimo he is imo an intellectual pygmy


30 Dec 19 - 05:17 AM (#4025415)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Dave the Gnome

The ;-) is a winking smile, Hootenanny. I hoped it would indicate that my remark was in keeping with your irony but I obviously failed. Sorry :-( (sad face) I did like the mental image of some people going apoplectic on reading how guitar and banjo were traditional English instruments :-D (laughing)


30 Dec 19 - 05:18 AM (#4025417)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman

Derrick , yes you may well be right , i was not there on any occasion, i chose not to go to the club.


30 Dec 19 - 05:27 AM (#4025420)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman

of course there is a possibilty that psuedonymous is Dave Harker. here ius a review of dave harker fakesong which is not complimentary’m not a true believer in ‘folk’; I don’t believe there’s an identifiable thing called ‘traditional song’, and I certainly don’t think there’s anything inherently radical about traditional songs. When I was Culture Editor for Red Pepper, one of my proudest achievements was running an article by Steve Higginson challenging the myth (as he saw it) of radical folk. Higginson pointed out that a lot of radical folk songs had only been discovered because members of the Communist Party had gone looking for them, motivated by opposition to US cultural imperialism more than by commitment to Britain’s heritage. On the other side of the Atlantic, the radical credentials of country music were very thin – much thinner than those of, say, the young Frank Sinatra, whose music was also considerably more popular among actual working people, in Britain as well as the US. Higginson’s conclusion was that we were welcome to write radical songs if we wanted, but we shouldn’t fool ourselves that we were connecting with the history of working class struggle, let alone with the present. I particularly liked that part, as contemporary radical folk songs were a bit of a bugbear of mine. (Still are, in fact; I’ve never believed that cartoonish simplifications help radical causes, or that trying to be Flanders and Swann with street cred has much to do with folk.)

Anyway, I agreed with most of the points Higginson was making – although truth to tell it was a slightly disjointed article, with a bit of lashing out in all directions – and thought that it represented an interesting viewpoint, which ought to be heard. Not everyone agreed. In all the time I was Culture Editor I never got a bigger Letters Page response – all of it negative. The partisans of radical folk were not pleased, and they made their feelings known in numbers. Happy days, eh?

So the idea of a book, written from a left-wing perspective, debunking illusions about English folk song wasn’t anathema to me when I picked up Dave Harker’s 1985 book Fakesong: The manufacture of British ‘folksong’, 1700 to the present day. Admittedly, by the time I read it I’d already read a couple of detailed and hostile reviews (by C. J. Bearman and David Gregory), which identified inaccuracies and unexplained omissions in several areas. But I wasn’t inclined to take everything Gregory and Bearman said as gospel; in particular, I thought (and think) that Bearman’s argument that Harker’s views on Cecil Sharp were necessarily untrustworthy, given his “Trotskyite” politics, was ridiculous. (I’m a Marxist myself, as it goes. Carlus amicus sed major amicus Veritas; Rosa is my aunt but Truth is my sister.) All in all, I think I went in with a reasonably open mind.

Reading the book wasn’t a particularly happy experience. Getting through it has taken me about six months; I didn’t find it un-put-down-able, to put it mildly. One chapter (on Francis J. Child) I disliked so much that I put the book down after reading it and left it untouched for several weeks. (My enjoyment of the book picked up after that, happily.) All in all it was a difficult book to get through, and I can’t really say I’m glad to have read it – except in the sense of being glad no longer to be in the position of not having read it yet. (I remember feeling something similar when I finished The Faerie Queene.)

So what was the problem? There were a number of things…

Hostility
The title should perhaps have warned me: it’s no part of Harker’s brief to celebrate folksong as we know it. Rather, Harker’s argument is that folksong is a myth – an ideological fiction – and always has been. This is a story of two and a half centuries of ‘mediators’, all of whom (Harker argues) share similar assumptions about their material and its authors. With rare and partial exceptions, this is the story of people who

    ‘mediated’ working-class culture to an aristocratic or bourgeois audience, often for personal gain of some sort
    believed that ‘folk’ song was the authentic product of pre-industrial vernacular English and Scottish culture; but
    believed that ‘folk’ song had ceased to exist in the wild, or at best had ceased to flourish, when they came along to celebrate and preserve it; and consequently
    believed that a line could (and should) be drawn between good and bad products of contemporary working-class culture, the former being ‘folk’ or its relics; and
    believed that they were capable of drawing that line, without generally being able to describe how they did it

Harker is opposed to working-class culture being mediated by anyone to anyone (point 1), and does not believe in ‘folk’ song as an identifiable thing (point 2 and by extension points 3-5); his presentation of the ‘mediators’ and their world-view effectively sets them up as enemies. The book, as he acknowledges in the Conclusion, is more or less a ground-clearing exercise: a study of concepts that would be better abandoned.

This kind of destructive critique isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but if I was going to do that, I wouldn’t write this book. It’s not organised conceptually but chronologically: as a study of (at a quick count) 36 ‘mediators’, from D’Urfey to Bert Lloyd. Four – Child, Sharp, Alfred Williams and Lloyd – get a chapter to themselves; the rest are dealt with more or less briefly, in chronologically-arranged groupings. The problem with this is twofold. On one hand, the mediators’ approach (or approaches) to folk song never really comes into focus; we are left in little doubt that Thomas Percy got it wrong, Peter Buchan got it wrong and Frank Kidson got it wrong as well, but the chronological sweep of the book never gives Harker much time to stop and discuss who got what wrong in what way. On the other hand, Harker’s more or less biographical approach, combined with his hostility to what the mediators did, tends to result in hostility towards the mediators themselves. A debased version of materialism runs through a lot of the life stories, highlighting a profit turned on a collection or a donation from an aristocratic friend as if these details were damning in and of themselves. (We make our own history but not in circumstances of our own choosing – and that goes for bourgeois mediators in search of a patron as well as working people in search of a job.) The spirit of the narrative is more one of debunking than of critique, and – since it’s the mediators rather than their work which is being discredited – Harker often seems to use any ammunition available: anything that looks like class condescension is highlighted, along with anything that looks like nationalism, anything that looks like sexism, anything that looks like prudery. A fuller sub-title would have been The manufacture of British ‘folksong’, 1700 to the present day, seen through the lives of the ignorant bourgeois reactionaries who manufactured it.

Inconsistency
What stopped me in my tracks when I read the chapter on Child was Harker’s handling of the issue of definition. The early collectors did not theorise what they were collecting; when Child was writing, the definition of terms like ‘folk song’ and ‘ballad’ was still a live issue. Child’s monumental collection The English and Scottish Popular Ballads could be seen as a case study in grounded theorising, developing theoretical constructs from the properties of the material being studied rather than imposing them on it. And if Child himself did not theorise the ‘ballad’ even to this extent, the collection itself gives us all the materials to do so: to go by Child, is a ‘ballad’ metrically regular? does it rhyme? is it narrative in content? is it typically found in multiple variations? And so on. Harker does none of this; instead, he derides Child’s failure to formulate any precise definition of how he was proceeding, and accuses him of taking his theoretical apparatus wholesale from the Danish scholar Grundtvig. Harker’s mockery of Child as a person and his scant attention to the actual content of TESPB represent a huge missed opportunity, suggesting that Harker’s hostility to the ‘mediators’ was strong enough to outweigh any real engagement with their material.

The question of definition recurs much later, when Lloyd is criticised for endorsing the famous (or notorious) ‘1954 Definition’ of folk music:

    Folk music is the product of a musical tradition that has been evolved through the process of oral transmission. The factors that shape the tradition are: (i) continuity which links the present with the past; (ii) variation which springs from the creative impulse of the individual or the group; and (iii) selection by the community, which determines the form or forms in which the music survives.

    The term can be applied to music that has been evolved from rudimentary beginnings by a community uninfluenced by popular and art music and it can likewise be applied to music which has originated with an individual composer and has subsequently been absorbed into the unwritten living tradition of a community.

    The term does not cover composed popular music that has been taken over ready-made by a community and remains unchanged, for it is the re-fashioning and re-creation of the music by the community that gives it its folk-character.

Whatever else can be said of this formulation, it is a definition; it fairly clearly rules some songs in (Let No Man Steal Your Thyme, The London Waterman, Swing Low Sweet Chariot) and others out (Angels, Streets of London, the Grand Conversation on Napoleon). On that basis Harker might have been expected to welcome it. Actually he rejects it, first for being too narrow (“this is not an analysis but a prescription“) and then for being so broad as to be meaningless (“Why do not continuity, variation and selection represent the conditioning factors for all artistic production, amateur or professional?”). The weakness of Harker’s argument here is striking. The first criticism is meaningless – to say that a definition is ‘prescriptive’ is simply to say that not everything in the world is defined by it. The second is irrelevant; the definition refers specifically to a musical tradition evolved through oral transmission, within which those ‘conditioning factors’ operate. The two are inconsistent with each other – a definition that applied to ‘all artistic production’ could hardly be called narrow (or prescriptive). More importantly, they’re also hard to square with Harker’s earlier criticism of Child (and others) for not having a definition. Harker attempts to connects the two – “As with Child, we are told what is not folksong, not what is” – but this is a very strained reading of a formulation which was designed precisely to define folk music in positive, inclusive terms.

What’s at work here, I think, is Harker’s underlying conviction that anyone writing about ‘folksong’ is writing about something which does not exist as a topic in its own right: there are societies, there are class relations and class conflict, there are cultural forms including songs and tunes, but nowhere can anything identifiable as folk song be found. If we start from this assumption, Harker’s approach makes sense: after all, it would be quite reasonable to mock one writer for imagining he could detect the healing effects of crystals without being able to define how they worked, then mock another for imagining that he could define how they worked. Describing the Emperor’s new clothes in detail is just as absurd as saying they’re ineffably gorgeous. The trouble with this underlying conviction is that, although it runs through the entire book – and although Harker periodically scores points in its favour – it’s never argued properly. It’s certainly never confronted with any evidence that might challenge it – such as, perhaps, the existence of a body of songs, collected in multiple forms and from multiple locations, and suggesting the workings of continuity, variation and selection within a process of oral transmission.

Superficiality
This brings me to my other main criticism of the book, which is that it doesn’t tell me very much about folk songs. As it happens, I’m really interested in the question of where traditional songs come from. Were some of them created in oral culture as well as being preserved and modified that way? Or are they all almost all of them ultimately broadside balladsderived from some form of commercial publishing, as Steve Gardham has argued? (Thanks for the clarification, Steve.) In the early 19th century Robert Chambers identified Young Waters and (horrors) Sir Patrick Spens as entirely spurious ‘folksongs’, composed (in about 1725) in what was then believed to be the style of a ‘ballad’: was he right? How many other ‘traditional’ ‘ballads’ could be disqualified – or rather, re-qualified – in the same way? Or take a song like The Grand Conversation on Napoleon – if a folksong originates in a broadside and has never been collected in a form differing from the broadside text, is it still ‘traditional’? How about songs with known authors, like Sally Wheatley or the Trimdon Grange Explosion?

I think this would be an interesting discussion. It’s not one that Harker’s interested in having, though. In the earlier chapters of the book, describing eighteenth- and nineteenth-century collectors, there are several references to collectors drawing on printed sources, as well as passing references to individual songs either being contemporary compositions or having been rewritten by their collectors. The impression is that some (many? most?) purported folk songs were not in fact taken from oral tradition, but an impression is all it is. This approach would in any case hit difficulties in the twentieth century; whatever else we can say of Sharp and those who came after him, nobody has ever suggested that they didn’t collect songs. (Harker does allege rewriting by Sharp in some cases, but several of these have been disputed.)

The underlying problem is, I think, that Harker is committed to erasing the line that song collectors have always drawn between ‘folk’ and ‘not folk’, and hence to denying the relevance of any criteria that make it possible to draw that line. Oral transmission – qualified by continuity, selection and variation – offers a metric by which one group of songs can fairly reliably be distinguished from all others. (Not everything that people call ‘folk’ would fall on the ‘right’ side of the line, admittedly, but that’s an inevitable side-effect of applying a definition to a term that’s used less formally.) Harker cannot reasonably deny that some songs came down to the twentieth century through oral transmission, so he takes a more oblique approach: as well as identifying songs with printed and/or contemporary roots, he suggests that ‘oral transmission’ is indefinable or meaningless (a discovery which would make the entire discipline of folklore studies redundant) or else that it is irrelevant.

At this, final, point the closed loop of Harker’s argument comes into focus. For oral transmission is irrelevant to the study of working-class culture in a given time and setting; it’s only important if you’re studying folklore, including folk song. But Harker starts from the assumption that ‘folk’ song cannot be distinguished from non-folk forms, making it a non-subject. If you don’t share this starting-point, however – if you’re positively interested in studying folklore and folk song – then there are ways and means of defining it, the role of oral transmission among them; from that starting-point, broadening the focus to the whole of contemporary working-class culture would be the distraction.

Dave Harker set out to show that folk song did not exist. In the end, all he demonstrated was that he didn’t want to study it


30 Dec 19 - 05:38 AM (#4025424)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Dave the Gnome

Who's review was that, Dick? I know it says "When I was Culture Editor for Red Pepper" but I don't know what Red Pepper is, let alone who its culture editor was.


30 Dec 19 - 05:46 AM (#4025427)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Derrick

Dave, See link below.
                  

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Pepper_(magazine)


30 Dec 19 - 05:59 AM (#4025429)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I recently saw a TV interview (UK with Naga Munchetty) in which Seeger referred to Big Bill Broonzy as a talented 'jazz' guitar player. Wherever that came from, it made me think twice about how my ideas of genre and those of Seeger might differ.

Broonzy was, for those who do not know, chosen by John Hammond to replace the now legendary Robert Johnson at a famous concert in the Carnegie Hall. He subsequently became part of what is sometimes described as a US 'folk revival', sometimes more narrowly as a 'blues revival', appearing with Pete Seeger among others, and he also performed at many British clubs in the early 1950s.

Not being around in those days, I knew of him initially via the Allman/Clapton version of his 'Key to the Highway'.

I have read articles suggesting that Broonzy was to some extent 'packaged' as a country blues man, even though he had moved on musically in line, perhaps, with the changing tastes of his record buying public, to the extent that the clothes he wore were chosen to fit this image. Nobody denies his musical and songwriting talents, and all credit to Seeger for flagging up his talents on 21st century TV in the UK, but why refer to him as a 'jazz' guitarist?

Sorry I have gone off-topic.


30 Dec 19 - 06:10 AM (#4025431)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

But while off topic, Bert Jansch said Broonzy was an influence, and here is a track which for me suggests how some UK 'folk guitarists' were influenced by Black American musical styles including Broonzy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=37&v=gSHBcOyjsUk&feature=emb_logo

The setting, darkened club, (I think it is in France), the holding of (votive?) candles, seems so retro/dated now!

And another, more 'poppy'...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okkkLyRSy0Y

Still not jazz?


30 Dec 19 - 06:51 AM (#4025433)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Dave the Gnome

Thanks Derrick. I now know Red Pepper but it doesn't mention who the culture editor was.


30 Dec 19 - 07:15 AM (#4025439)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST

Derrick

Re your post at 04.51; It WAS NOT the policy at the Ballads ans Blues.

Probably the main reason why he and Peggy left to form the Singers Club.

The Ballads and Blues continued in a more open minded way. I was the person responsible for booking the singers and pickers from September 1961.

Pseud:
A couple of points re Broonzy (I was fortunate enough to see him on two or three occasions):
He normally appeared in concert venues not clubs although he did appear in Jazz Clubs as a solo act but the jazz musicians appearing on the same evening might join in for one or two numbers. Bill did show up at the Blues and Barrelhouse club run by Cyril Davis at the Roundhouse in Wardour Street, London on a night off.

Peggy was probably confused because he had appeared with saxes and a trumpet in the 1940's

Re Bill being "Packaged" he was doing what any professional musician needs to do to earn a living, adapt. Like many blues singers he also had some 'pop' material in his repertoire
Regarding his clothing, he always wore a suit and tie in concert. Yes, there is one photograph of him in dungares which I believe was a photoshoot to promote his record "Mopper's Blues" from 1951.

The film which you refer to I believe without checking that it was in Belgium.


30 Dec 19 - 08:15 AM (#4025454)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Hello Guest, of course you are right, Belgium. Thanks for your other information too: I have no objection to any musician earning a living, by the way! And Broonzy was good (well I think so) and therefore deserved success. I wish I had been able to see him! I got the information about his 'numerous' performances in British folk and blues clubs from Wikipedia. Of course, wiki isn't always right! Wiki cite a piece linked below which has an image of poster for a Broonzy concert run by London Jazz club:

https://allthirteenkeys.wordpress.com/2014/06/22/on-a-kind-of-vacation-reexamining-african-american-blues-musicians-visits-to-britain-1950-58/

Not sure what he is wearing in this pic, but it isn't a suit or tie!

best wishes


30 Dec 19 - 08:46 AM (#4025461)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Not only am I not Dave Harker, I haven't even read Dave Harker yet, only a couple of reviews, both negative. Another expensive book, even second hand! I'm sure there is an interesting discussion to be had of that book if it is possible to discuss without the usual...

When Ben Harker wrote this book on MacColl he was, aptly enough, at Salford, and his web site at
The University of Manchester is here:

https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/ben.harker.html

Given that Dr Ben Harker's interests include aspects of Marxism and left-wing theatre he seems to have been a good choice for a cultural and political biography of Ewan MacColl.

At the risk of repeating myself, it is an interesting book, which helps the reader to situate MacColl and his life in the twentieth century context(s) he lived through.

A person who finished The Faerie Queen certainly has stamina and determination: I was only set a couple of sections to read when at Uni and found it hard to stay awake! The exam question asked what relevance Spencer's work might have for the modern day. I believe I did rather badly on that paper. Respect, therefore, to Mr Sandman!


30 Dec 19 - 09:02 AM (#4025464)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I cannot work out where Sandman's own words end and his quotation from a blog start. The original seems (emphasise seems) to be here, written by somebody called Phil Edwards?


30 Dec 19 - 09:05 AM (#4025466)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

https://52folksongs.com/2015/08/09/fakesong-dave-harker-1985/

Sorry here is the link to the post I feel Sandman may have been quoting.

I now realise that Sandman probably wasn't claiming to have read the whole of Spencer's Fairie Queen. Woops! Apologies all round! Ha ha the joke's on me (again!)


30 Dec 19 - 09:05 AM (#4025467)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman

BROONZY played a particular finger picking style which involved somme off the beat thumb bass, quite different from missippijohn hurt or mance lipscomb or piedmont style, it gives a bassy swing to the music, however my personal opinion is that blind blake played in a more jazzy chord style ,
however there are overlaps between different genres and to describe broonzy as jazzy is true to a certain extent, primarily because of hiss use of off the beat bass, however he did not improvise in the same way as true jazz guitarists like wes montgomery or django.
,DAVE GNOME i have no idea, you are very clever. i am sure you will find out on your own


30 Dec 19 - 09:40 AM (#4025477)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Derrick

Guest at 07-15, (Hootenanny I'm guessing?)
I am a little confused as to Peggy and Ewan's story with the two clubs
as is Peggy it seems herself in the her article above.
As I understand it the Blues and Ballad Club came first.

Did they found the club?
What was their role,were they committee members?
Was the critics group part of the club or was that formed at the Singers Club.
Was the theatre group also set up as part of the Singers Club?
At which club did the Lisa Turner episode take place?


30 Dec 19 - 11:02 AM (#4025488)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Hootenanny

Yes Derrick,

Apologies to all for accidentally omitting any I.D.

The Ballads and Blues Club came first around the mid fifties. It ran at The Princess Louise Pub in Holborn which previously housed a skiffle club. I first attended in 1956 or 57.

Ewan and Peggy were virtual residents, but there were numerous other singers and pickers British, Irish Scottish, American, Canadian and West Indian for instance.

There was no committee that I was ever aware of and I was there almost every week. Ewan made his move insulting Lisa Turner (who had appeared regularly)in 1961 and went off and formed the Singers Club.

I did the booking at the Ballads and Blues from September 1961 and certainly never had a committee. I booked people that our audience found to be entertaining.

I only attended the Singer's Club on about three occasions. So cannot answer those questions I am afraid


30 Dec 19 - 11:05 AM (#4025489)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I had guessed it was Hootenanny too.

One thing the book made clear to me was that The Critics group did various things; both providing a focus on how to sing folk songs and serving as the basis for organising theatrical enterprises which became almost annual events, the Theatre of Fools. Some members joined for the theatrical bit rather than the singing bit; I think Michael Rosen (another talented person whom I admire) was in this group. This is how come the Critics Group split when the last Theatre of Fools had been done. Is this where some of the confusion comes in (I know I was a bit muddled about this before reading the book; I had not been aware of the theatrical activities of the Critics Group.)

Harker seems to say that MacColl and a man called Nixon were important in setting up the Ballads and Blues. He also says that even in 1958 MacColl was trying to impose a rule about people should restrict themselves to songs from their own national heritage. Initially they used a big venue and then moved to a pub, The Princess Louise in High Holborn. MacColl was writing to Seeger at this time. He and Nixon used to argue about which acts to put on and MacColl would annoy Nixon (the book says) by not calling his acts. MacColl developed a reputation for ruthlessness. Harker quotes from a programme that features the term 'Hootenanny' which I thought when I saw it might be the origin of the user name on this forum. I also noted and thought of some Mudcat discussions when I noted it, that song sheets were handed out. It was so successful that they had an overflow evening; this, the book tells us, was the time when Pat Mackenzie got hooked. MacColl was not so keen on the use of the term 'hootenanny' as Nixon was. He did not like the raucous participatory aspect and wanted to improve standards partly to resist American cultural imperialism (presumably part to toe the party line??). You have to read the book, I cannot type it all out. Eventually MacColl left his wife and set up house with MacColl.They both headlined at the Ballads and Blues club. But relations between MacColl and Nixon went from bad to worse, Nixon lost interest in the Ballad and Blues club, and MacColl seems to have thought that Nixon had sold out and did parodies of him on stage. MacColl then palled up with Bruce Dunnett a Scottish communist and they set up what came to be called 'The Singers Club'. It had a manifesto style statement published in Melody Maker and Sing Magazine in (and I think this date is right) summer of 1961.It was supposed to be a bulwark against commodification and to maintain performance standards.

Hope this is helpful in answering questions that have been posed.


30 Dec 19 - 11:08 AM (#4025490)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Hootenanny

Pseud,

The link you give above re Broonzy's attire doesn't work for me I'm afraid.


30 Dec 19 - 11:08 AM (#4025491)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Sorry for typo: obviously when MacColl left his wife he set up house with Peggy Seeger! The point in the book was that this was a difficult time for MacColl being apart from Peggy whom he was strongly in love with at this point but could not be with when he wanted to.


30 Dec 19 - 11:20 AM (#4025492)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Sorry about the link: it works for me because I am registered with the 'wordpress' site. IT is on a blog by a researcher called Lawrence Davies of King's College London. He is interested in researching the influence of the British jazz and folk ‘revival’ movements on the early reception and performance of the blues in Britain.


I can describe the poster: it is for a concert at Kingsway Hall, London on 22nd September 1951, organised by the London Jazz Club. It says it will be a 'recital' of folk songs, ballads and blues. The programme costs sixpence. Broonzy seems to be wearing a denim shirt, open at the neck, sleeves rolled up, (like a working man I guess is the intended 'image') and holding a guitar, but it only shows him waist up so I cannot tell if it is overalls or not!


30 Dec 19 - 11:25 AM (#4025493)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I note we have not had any arguments recently and I for one have found the comments of others interesting. So thank you to all.


30 Dec 19 - 11:35 AM (#4025495)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman

Should we regard Harker as 1oo per cent truthful or accurate. prsonally iu doubt that it was as early as 1958, that MacColl imposed a rule.
other people who are stil here and were around at the time, have a different version? does it matter now anyway, or are MacColls other achievements more important?[ such as the help he gave to performers such as Kerr andFaulkner] which sandra kerr herself ackinowledges


30 Dec 19 - 12:07 PM (#4025503)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Derrick

Hootenanny,
Thanks for clarifying that,Peggy's article confused me.
The more I read about Ewan and some of his behavior and opinions the more
I understand why he was and still is so controversial.
A man who did so much to promote folk music certainly knew how to rub people up the wrong way,a victim of his own ego.
Having said that he does have some devout followers.
A Marmite character to say the least.


30 Dec 19 - 12:40 PM (#4025506)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Vic Smith

The turn that this thread has taken recently makes a section of an article that I wrote for the current Living Tradition seem relevant here; the one that I wrote on Sandra Kerr. We have seen earlier in the thread that Sandra has expressed mixed feelings about Ewan MacColl over the years but it was clear from my interview with her in June of this year that overall, she gained a great deal from him.
Here is the section of the article that deals with Ewan, Peggy and The Critics Group: -
I started with the obvious question about how she became involved in the first place.

“I was in a skiffle group at school. Then some other friends who were also in a skiffle group took me to The Singers Club when I was about 17 and I was immediately converted. I heard Ewan (MacColl) and Peggy (Seeger) and Bert (Lloyd). I can remember thinking what extraordinary tunes the songs they were singing had; they did things that other tunes I knew didn't do. I know now that this was because they were modal, but I just remember their strangeness. There was no instrumental music, just songs, and one that stuck out in my mind was Van Diemen's Land - Harry Cox's version which Peggy accompanied on the guitar and Ewan sang. I was struck by its beauty.”

I reminded Sandra that it was 30 years this year (2019) since Ewan died, but somehow, he still manages to be a controversial figure. “Always was; always will be,” she said. “I'm not actually sure that he didn't court controversy. However, there is a lot of misconception about where he was coming from, but for all his contentious nature, I would not have missed the chance that I had under his kind of teaching; he was wonderful. I was so lucky because I was only 20 when Ewan and Peggy asked me to go there and live with them in Beckenham. I was a kind of live-in au pair to help with the children, but at the same time I was having one-to-one lessons from both. It was amazing; to this day, I can't believe that this happened. It was wonderful.”

It must have been around these years that Sandra became involved with The Critics Group. I had a feeling that the approach they adopted was very different to the usual folk song and music workshops that are run today; like, for example, those on song accompaniments on concertina which Sandra would be running in my home town, Lewes, exactly a week after our conversation.

“The Critics Group was different in the sense that it was a passion, a renewal, to learn from the tradition, to go as far back as we could go so that we could hear what these great singers were doing, the likes of Joe Heaney and Elizabeth Cronin. We could hear what they were doing and try to emulate that, try to get it back. I think that at that time there wasn’t a lot of discussion about how you should sing those songs, without being dictatorial. People can spend hours talking about a fiddler's technique and style, but I don't think that at that time people were thinking about vocal style in the same way. So that was a revelation, and was totally encouraged by Ewan.”

“We spent a lot of time during that seven or eight years listening to the field recordings that Ewan and Peggy had in their wonderful library. This led to all sorts of exercises. Ewan brought to the group the things they had been taught at the Theatre Workshop by the best movement and vocal teachers, so we were taught all that, as well as relaxation exercises, how to improve diction and projection, using Laban’s Theory of Efforts in singing - he transferred all of this into vocal terms, which was a very useful tool in describing how a singer was using their voice; how the voice was moving through the air. It was fascinating stuff, and I still use it to this day e.g. using Laban’s terminology to describe what a singer is doing: things like ‘this is a gliding effort’ or ‘he’s using a thrusting effort’. It's all very useful.”

I asked if what Sandra had learned then had been useful in the way she has run community choirs and week-long festival events, both of which she has been doing for many years.

“No, I wouldn't say that necessarily; because the Critics Group finished in 1971 and I have done and learned a lot of other things since. But where it has been most useful has been in talking to university students about approaches to singing. Let's say that you are singing a ballad; let's say The Banks Of Green Willow. You have to think about who you identify with here, what sort of mood you want to create with the ballad. You take them back to, let's say, the wonderful singers that Cecil Sharp recorded in the Appalachians. One singer had just sung Henry Martin to him. When she’d finished she said: ‘When I am singing these songs, I feel like I'm the feller it’s all happening to.’ That's wonderful, that total identification.”

The Critics Group and the Singers Club were not just about studying the tradition, they were also trying to encourage creativity. “Absolutely!” said Sandra. “Ewan encouraged this to get people to write from their own position, their political stance. The first song that I ever wrote was when I was living with them, pre-Critics Group, but that was one of the tasks that Ewan gave me. He asked me to find a theme that you would find in a traditional song and then bring it up to date, so I wrote a song called What’ll The Neighbours Say about a young girl getting in the family way and saying, ‘This is my child and I don't want all this...’ and so on. Anyway, 15 years later when Frankie Armstrong, Kathy Henderson and I were putting together a song book, My Song Is My Own (Pluto Press), someone sent us that song from Scotland saying, ‘You ought to put this in your book; it's traditional’.” In some ways Sandra ought to have been delighted. “I was delighted. It was the best accolade! A song that you have written to be regarded as traditional!”


30 Dec 19 - 12:45 PM (#4025507)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I don't suppose Harker got everything right, which is why it is interesting to hear other points of view. I wonder why Sandman finds the 1958 date too early? One key piece of evidence for it would be the words MacColl wrote on sleeve notes to an LP in 1961: 'At the hundreds of concerts and hootenannies where I have sung or acted as chairman I have made a point on insisting on the rule that singers do not sing anything but the songs of their own native traditions'. This must take us back to the days of the Blues and Ballads, though it does not mean that all Blues and Ballads meetings did follow it: it is said to be one of the things that Nixon and MacColl disagreed on, though no specific reference is given for this.

I'm not sure why people regard this as so important: I was aware of some disagreement about whether it was something 'imposed' by MacColl or something democratically agreed upon.

Are MacColl's other achievements more important? Maybe so, but as I have tried to suggest, this book seems to take a balanced, pros and cons approach, and I don't think anybody could finish reading it without seeing that MacColl, though 'marmite' perhaps, had many talents and achieved a great deal.


30 Dec 19 - 12:52 PM (#4025508)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman

Thankyou, Vic.my apologies for not crediting you. idid not see your name mentioned as being the author of the article


30 Dec 19 - 02:08 PM (#4025522)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman

I can only speak for myself , one of the reasons i sought out traditional songs from the British Isles, was the influence of people like MacColl, Tawney,Lloyd, who suggested we took notice of tradtional singers like Cox


30 Dec 19 - 03:28 PM (#4025531)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I enjoyed reading the post by Vic. Sandra and Sandman are among those who had positive experiences, which is always nice to hear about.


But I am afraid the more I hear about the application of Laban, the more it sounds like 'mumbo jumbo' or some sort of metaphor. This may be because of the lack of examples.

Kerr's remark that it is about 'the way the voice moves through the air' adds a new element to it, as Laban was about the way the body moves through space. But I still have a gut feeling that this has to be in some sense about how the melody is interpreted, be it in terms of dynamics or tempo or ornamentation (or lack of it). Quite happy to be shot down in flames or told I am making a 'haymes' of it, but ideally by somebody capable of providing an explanation related to some examples and of recognising ornamentation when it crops up.

It is something that interest me: I have tried using google to get more information but can only find a few papers suggesting that Laban can be a useful way of training conductors to use body language to guide an orchestra. I'm inclining to a 'metaphorical' analysis. Not saying I don't believe it could be useful, just saying the concept cannot really be got across without examples.


30 Dec 19 - 03:37 PM (#4025533)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I know that MacColl did a lot for trade union activity including the miners. Having acknowledged that, I was taken aback to read that he did not do anything about the Grunwick dispute, which was a high profile and important one. Harker thinks that this was because MacColl liked to support stuff he thought was more muscular manual work, with colliers as a prime example. I did think that this was quite a surprising omission on his part. I think Seeger did write something relating to this, for which all credit to her.


30 Dec 19 - 04:26 PM (#4025539)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman

Ewan left a fine collection of self penned songs.


30 Dec 19 - 04:38 PM (#4025540)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman

ha ha no my experience was not positive ,
however my brother had a positive experience he was allowed to use their books to do research , they kindly allowed him to use their house and library, and let him know where the spare key was so he could let himself in, a very helpful attitude


30 Dec 19 - 05:28 PM (#4025548)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Sorry if I misrepresented you, Sandman! Well, I probably won't be here until the New Year, so happy New Year to all and thanks again for an interesting discussion.


31 Dec 19 - 04:00 AM (#4025602)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Iains

@Pseudonymous. A bit of thread drift. "or told I am making a 'haymes' of it,"

This is a particularly Irish Expression like "yoke", Hames can easily be attached to a horse collar upside down, hence the expression. I was wondering if it is in common usage elsewhere. It is a few decades since I last played with such a yoke.


31 Dec 19 - 05:40 AM (#4025612)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman

iains, well spotted, so Pseudonymous is IRISH.


31 Dec 19 - 06:01 AM (#4025615)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jack Campin

I've heard it in Scotland, though not that often.


31 Dec 19 - 09:44 AM (#4025650)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Steve Gardham

Dick
Thanks for the heads-up on the Fakesong review. A lot of sense in there.
Happy New Year
Steve


31 Dec 19 - 10:47 AM (#4025665)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

How things go round in circles! A bit of digging reveals that the Fakesong review was linked in the first post on Mudcat thread ID 157878 to which Steve Gardam posted a number of responses. It was posted by Phil Edwards, who wrote the review in question.

When I put 'making a hames of it' I was quoting another post in this thread on the topic of Laban. The expression may be Irish, but the noun 'hames' as part of the equipment relating to horses goes back in English to at least the 13th century and mirrors a similar word in Old Dutch. I do not know whether a similar word appears in Gaelic. My family believed they had Irish antecedents, but I have researched back to the mid 19th century without discovering anybody not born in England. Had I been Irish I might have pointed out how ironic it was that MacColl drew on the poetry of Edmund Spencer, who played a part in Queen Elizabeth l's campaigns in Ireland. Wikipedia explains his views on Ireland. https://celt.ucc.ie//published/E500000-001/

I'm a nobody who happens to be interested in folk music and the various narratives that grew up around it.


31 Dec 19 - 10:53 AM (#4025667)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Steve Gardham

From one nobody to another, if we knew roughly where you were based we might be inclined to offer you loans of books you haven't got.

As far as my previous history on MC goes, my excuse is I'm 72 and the grey matter is beginning to wear thin.

Happy New Year
Steve


31 Dec 19 - 11:23 AM (#4025674)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Steve Gardham

Reread the whole of that thread. Very interesting. A pity it fizzled out so quickly.


31 Dec 19 - 12:38 PM (#4025693)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Oh on thinning grey matter, tell me about it!


31 Dec 19 - 01:24 PM (#4025701)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Iains

@ Psuedonymous. Thanks for the response. It is an unusual expression with a bit of a mixed etymology. As a kid I used to see brewery drays delivering in south Londom and the local Steptoe was still using a horse and cart in my teens. Apparently road rage killed off Youngs Brewery(Wandsworth S.London) horse deliveries just over 20 years ago. I still have a couple of pairs of hames, the mice destroyed the collars years ago. Having made a hash of hames in the past,it brings back memories
Apologies for disrupting the thread,my curiosity overcame me.


03 Jan 20 - 06:43 AM (#4026089)
Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll

Just want to clear up something from the closed thread

Brian
I didn't suggest that the discussion on The Critics group, just that it was wildly inaccurate and totally unrepresentative of what took place
I hope to deal with this in full later, either in this thread or on a clean slate
Happy New Year
Jim

    I think this thread has run its course. If you'd like to discuss the "Class Act" book further, please start another thread. Thanks.
    -Joe Offer, Mudcat Music Editor-