The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #142469   Message #3291984
Posted By: Jim Carroll
18-Jan-12 - 03:58 AM
Thread Name: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
"why Ewan MacColl was so drawn to the traditions of Highland culture....
"Description of Hogmanay in Salford from MacColl's childhood in Salford.
Jim Carroll

"Then my Auntie Mag would arrive, sometimes accompanied by her husband, Tammy Logan, and my cousins John and Willie. Immediately there was a change of tempo, a new mood. Maggie wasn't one for serious conversaČtion about the merits of this or that union leader or, indeed, of political topics in general. Parties and booze-ups were her natural element and parties, as far as she was concerned, meant plenty of laughter, booze and singing.
'Gie us a sang, Will,' she would say.
'You sing, Maggie,' my father would answer.
'Ay, I will when I've had a few.'
'What'll I sing then?'
'Onything as lang as it's lively.'
'Ay, come on, Will,' his mates would urge.
'Quiet, quiet everyone,' my aunt would say, ignoring the fact that she was the only one making a noise. 'Order please!'
And my father would begin:

If it wasn't quite a mile it was three-quarters of a mile,
When a man's old safety bicycle broke down,
He twisted all his wires and he punctured all his tyres,
And he fell upon the roadside like a clo-o-o-wn.

'For God's sake, man!' Maggie expostulated. 'No' that kind o' a song. Gie us a proper song.'
'He's makin' a fool oot o' ye, Mag,' my mother explained.
'He'd better no',' said Maggie, but the gleam in her eye softened when she heard the opening notes of Robert Tannahill's philosophical drinking song:

This life is a journey we a' hae tae gang,
And care is the burden we carry alang
Though heavy be oor burden and poverty oor lot,
We'll be happy a' thegither ower a wee drappie o't.

Halfway through the verse my mother came and sat next to my father and sang the song right through with him. The chorus sounded beautiful with eveČryone singing at the top of their voices and one or two singing harmonies:

Ower a wee drappie o't, ower a wee drappie o't,
We'll be happy a' thegither ower a wee drappie o't.

'For God's sake,' Maggie said, 'ye'd think this was a wake.' And she'd sing:

Awa' ye wee daft article,
Ye arenae worth a particle,
For common sense it tak's to mak' a man;
Ye're no' the size o' tuppence
And your income's only thruppence,
Ye mebbe think you'll get a wife
But ye'l no' get Mary-Anne.

This would be a signal for anyone who could hold a tune to contribute a song or a snatch of a song to the proceedings. Then suddenly somebody would call for quiet and everyone would sit there listening for the sound of the bells from the Pendleton church ringing the new year in. My mother would grab me and I'd find myself standing holding hands with her and my father and everyone would be singing 'Auld Lang Syne'.
I'd be packed off to bed again after that. If the weather was cold then I'd probably find a coarse linen bag in my bed filled with bran and heated in the oven. Or if there was no bran in the house there would be a loose shelf taken from the oven and wrapped in a blanket. And I would lie there listening to the singing and the excited rise-and-fall of voices and sometimes I would creep out of bed and down the stairs and sit listening on the bottom step while my parents sang duets like 'The Beggar Laddie' and 'Huntingtower' and 'The Spinning Wheel' and my Auntie Mag would sing 'The Cruel Mother' and Jock Sinclair would recite 'Holy Willie's Prayer' and Jock Muirhead would sing 'Jamie Foyers'. Then someone on their way out to the toilet in the backyard would catch sight of me on the stairs and I would be whisked off to bed again and would fall asleep with the songs still ringing in my ears.
Journeyman. pp 20 and 21