The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #142469 Message #3285782
Posted By: Jim Carroll
06-Jan-12 - 06:45 AM
Thread Name: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
"Shoals of Herring?" Credited to MacColl? Hell, no. It was from Sam Larner, a real North-sea fisherman, not a poseur."
Utter bloody nonsense and proved to be so over and over again.
MacColl made "Shoals" from spoken actuality recorded from Sam Larner and another East Anglian fisherman, Ronnie Balls - the recordings of which are probably housed at The British Library and/or with the whole of the MacColl collection at Ruskin College - I have a copy of it.
There is no recording of Sam or anybody singing it, nor any written evidence of it ever having been sung before it appeared in Singing the Fishing
To me it has always sounded more like one of MacColl's typical 'Universal Man' compositions, than it does a traditional song - as do The Big Hewer, Kilroy, Shellback, Seven days of the Week.... et al.
There is a song entitled Shoals of Herring in John Howson's collection Songs Sung in Suffolk - no resemblence whatever - Howson writes "Not the well-known Ewan MacColl song which goes under this name, but an older, local song...."
Would be interested to know if there in any backing to this old chestnut - but have been waiting an awfully long time.
AGREE with what MtheGM said totally.
MacColl was singing songs he heard at home - which is far more than most singers on the scene can claim.
His mother sang - there'e an album of her doing so with Ewan (A Garland For Betsy), and I know from talking to some of Ewan''s contemporaries in Manchester that "his father William had a lot of strange Scots songs and ballads" (Eddie Frow - working-class historian in Salford).
This is an account of MacColl being 'discovered' by a BBC producer in the early thirties.
From 'Prospero and Ariel' D G Bridson (Gollantz 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. Not only did he give MacColl a handout; he also advised him to go and audiČtion 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."
MacColl never pretended to be anything other than what he was - a Salfordian from a Scots family living in a Scots Enclave in Northern England.
Whether his accent was authentic is a matter of opinion - he neutralised it in order to, among other things, make the 137 Child ballads he breathed life into in order to make them as accessible as possible - always worked for me.
I always found his singing far more believable than that of the 'Walthamstow cowboys' who use strange mid-Atlantic accent and end up being neither fish nor fowl.
"I have no idea if Ewan MacColl himself showed a general contempt toward singer-songwriters outside his immediate style of music,"
Apologies if I have misunderstood your point - you came across as claiming that MacColl and The Critics spent their time attacking those who weren't singing to the mythical rule-book.
Not the case; the Critics spent no time whatever discussing what was happening on the singer/songwriter circuit - critically or otherwise. Sadly, the reverse is the case; Ewan, Peggy and the Critics Group were far more sinned againt than sinning in this respect (even twenty odd years after MacColl's demise).
Sorry for the knee-jerk reaction.