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Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?

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TheSnail 13 Jan 12 - 08:37 AM
TheSnail 13 Jan 12 - 08:38 AM
Vic Smith 13 Jan 12 - 08:47 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Jan 12 - 09:50 AM
Little Hawk 13 Jan 12 - 10:52 AM
David C. Carter 13 Jan 12 - 11:39 AM
Little Hawk 13 Jan 12 - 01:25 PM
YorkshireYankee 13 Jan 12 - 02:00 PM
Jim McLean 13 Jan 12 - 02:06 PM
Stringsinger 13 Jan 12 - 03:35 PM
TheSnail 15 Jan 12 - 12:52 PM
The Sandman 15 Jan 12 - 01:32 PM
Stringsinger 15 Jan 12 - 01:37 PM
Bert 15 Jan 12 - 03:07 PM
Jim Carroll 15 Jan 12 - 04:11 PM
TheSnail 15 Jan 12 - 06:01 PM
Little Hawk 15 Jan 12 - 06:06 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 15 Jan 12 - 06:46 PM
Little Hawk 15 Jan 12 - 10:51 PM
Jim Carroll 16 Jan 12 - 03:36 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 16 Jan 12 - 04:20 AM
Little Hawk 16 Jan 12 - 07:17 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 16 Jan 12 - 09:43 AM
Little Hawk 16 Jan 12 - 11:25 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 16 Jan 12 - 01:10 PM
TheSnail 16 Jan 12 - 02:39 PM
Jim Carroll 16 Jan 12 - 02:59 PM
Little Hawk 16 Jan 12 - 03:09 PM
TheSnail 16 Jan 12 - 03:13 PM
GUEST,C. Ham 16 Jan 12 - 04:38 PM
ollaimh 16 Jan 12 - 05:00 PM
The Sandman 16 Jan 12 - 05:11 PM
GUEST,Allan Conn 16 Jan 12 - 06:21 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 16 Jan 12 - 06:47 PM
Jim Carroll 17 Jan 12 - 03:05 PM
Little Hawk 17 Jan 12 - 03:29 PM
Little Hawk 17 Jan 12 - 03:43 PM
Jim Carroll 18 Jan 12 - 03:58 AM
David C. Carter 18 Jan 12 - 04:52 AM
MGM·Lion 18 Jan 12 - 05:05 AM
Jim McLean 18 Jan 12 - 05:08 AM
Jim Carroll 18 Jan 12 - 05:48 AM
Jim McLean 18 Jan 12 - 06:14 AM
Vic Smith 18 Jan 12 - 06:24 AM
Big Al Whittle 18 Jan 12 - 07:23 AM
Jim Carroll 18 Jan 12 - 08:06 AM
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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: TheSnail
Date: 13 Jan 12 - 08:37 AM

Jim Carroll

I have no strong opinions of Campbell one way or the other beyond this influence

Gulp! really?

So you accept that his "near enough for folk" was meant as a joke (possibly too often repeated) and you take exception to something he said 48 years ago. You seem to have different criteria for judging Campbell than you allow others for judging MacColl.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: TheSnail
Date: 13 Jan 12 - 08:38 AM

Joe_F. No problem. You did have me a bit puzzled. The internet can be a barrier to communication (especially on Mudcat).


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Vic Smith
Date: 13 Jan 12 - 08:47 AM

Little Hawk wrote:-
"My theory is that Ewan MacColl disliked Dylan primarily because of MacColl's deep disapproval of Dylan's choices in men's clothing and fashion accessories!


.... and continues with much that is of interest about Dylan's sartorial style and the effect that this may have had on MacColl's opinion of him. Little Hawk covers shirts, jackets, sunglasses, denim, cap, "mod" suits, frilly sleeves, cuff links (from Joan Baez), the 35 foot scarf, and other foppish gear....
However, Little Hawk does not mention anything about the way in which Dylan covered his legs. Hopefully, this is not because he has nothing to say on the subject but because he his saving his important insights on this matter to post in a parallel thread.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Jan 12 - 09:50 AM

My description of MacColl then, and my opinion of him now was of a creative, generous and talented human being with human failings.
I have never denied those failings, but neither have I allowed them to cloud my judgement of his creativity or his generosity - to me and to those to whom he gave an evening a week for six years.
I have no objection to an all round discussion of MacColl, warts and all- I do object to discussions where the warts become the focus of discussion to the exclusion of all else.
Can't help noticing that you put in my "whys" but did not include, or answer the questions I asked - so hear they are again.
Why did John Brune attempt to sabotage the most influential Radio Ballads - 'The Travelling People' by attempting to include recordings of fake traditional singers (as described by Sheila Stewart in a Living Tradition interview?)
Why has it been consistently claimed that MacColl didn't write Shoals of Herring or Freeborn Man, but stole them from traditional singers and copyrighted them?
Why was it suggested that The Radio Ballads were the creations of Charles Parker and Ewan and Peggy merely wrote the songs (while at the same time claiming that until Parker prsented MacColl to the public he was an unknown and insignificant singer)?
Why is it virtually impossible to get a discussion going on MacColl's work and ideas without getting totally sidetracked by personal attacks, as has happened on this forum over and over again?
If MacColl had behaved like this towards any other fellow artist, you might have a point - he didn't - yet you appear to find such behaviour acceptable, or certainly not worthy of comment, let alone criticism.
If he 'badmouthed' Dylan, he didn't do it when I was there, and he certainly didn't do it in public (or if he did, nobody has been able to point out where or when). If he did it within the confines of the Critics Group, I haven't come across it on the recordings, but - what if he did?
There are a number of threads going at present, all containing extreme exampes of MacColl being "badmouthed" publicly - "Do you have any comment on that?"
"Aren't we allowed to know about the whole man?"
Woudn't chance be a fine thing!!
Yes, of course we are, and we would be able to if we didn't have to scramble over this mountain of garbage each time his name is mentioned.
"Are you saying Hamish MacColl was lying about his father?"
Don't you dare distort what I said - I did not claim Hamish was lying; I do not doubt for one minute that MacColl said what he was reported to have said - nothing more than that.
Nor did I say I accepted Campbell's "joke" - I said I am prepared to accept it - I might have added "if somebody provides the argument to convince me" - but had I done so, that would have deprived you of an opportunity to score points. I qualified what I said by pointing out the effect I believe Campbell's (and others) "joke" (or otherwise) has had on the revival in geneal - as I said - go and open up the "do standards matter" and similar threads.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 13 Jan 12 - 10:52 AM

"Little Hawk does not mention anything about the way in which Dylan covered his legs"

Interesting point, Vic! Yes, Dylan's legs were usually covered when he performed in public. (Various females did get to see his legs uncovered, I would assume, but that's a private matter.) At any rate, I am unsure how MacColl would have reacted to Dylan's usual leg coverings in his folk performances. I would theorize, however, that the baggy jeans Dylan sometimes wore in the early days would have irritated MacColl considerably, and that the fancy suit pants that Dylan was seen in in '65 and '66 would have outraged MacColl's socialist sensibilities.

It's also possible that Dylan had a set of Swiss lederhosen which went with the ugly little red hat that I spoke of before...but if so, he never wore them to any folk club...

I hope that helps.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: David C. Carter
Date: 13 Jan 12 - 11:39 AM

Those were authentic,hand knitted I suppose.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 13 Jan 12 - 01:25 PM

The "lederhosen"? No, they'd be made out of leather, decorated with fancy colors.

If Dylan had worn a kilt, MacColl would probably have objected to him posing as something he was not... ;-D


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: YorkshireYankee
Date: 13 Jan 12 - 02:00 PM

Vic Smith wrote:
Little Hawk wrote:-
"My theory is that Ewan MacColl disliked Dylan primarily because of MacColl's deep disapproval of Dylan's choices in men's clothing and fashion accessories!

.... and continues with much that is of interest about Dylan's sartorial style and the effect that this may have had on MacColl's opinion of him. Little Hawk covers shirts, jackets, sunglasses, denim, cap, "mod" suits, frilly sleeves, cuff links (from Joan Baez), the 35 foot scarf, and other foppish gear....


And the penny dropped! The scales have fallen from my eyes! BD is a timelord! (The '35 foot scarf' is the real clincher.)

This explains so many things...


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Jim McLean
Date: 13 Jan 12 - 02:06 PM

Ewan attacked my nationalism because I was wearing a McLean tartan tie. He pointed at it and said I should be writng love songs rather than Scottish National songs . I just replied " my name IS McLean, Mr Mller".


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 13 Jan 12 - 03:35 PM

Lonesome EJ , if you are talking about the Byrds, then I agree that they were a great musical group. They actually made Dylan's songs sound good.

I don't know how Ewan would have thought about Steve Earle. Ewan died before Steve Earle became more notable.

As for Tom Paxton, I never meant to imply that satire was his only forte. "Ramblin' Boy",
"Can't Help But Wonder Where I'm Bound" and others are fine songs serious of course but his output of humorous songs is reminiscent to me of Mr. Lehrer, which is praise indeed.

Actually, I know Tom personally and admire him greatly for his output and as a person.
I like it that he is genuinely socially conscious in his writing as well as knowledgeable
about his craft.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: TheSnail
Date: 15 Jan 12 - 12:52 PM

Jim Carroll

I have no objection to an all round discussion of MacColl, warts and all- I do object to discussions where the warts become the focus of discussion to the exclusion of all else..

I quite agree but I'm puzzled by you repeted denial, despite all the evidence, that MacColl was hostile to Dylan and equally puzzled by why you have felt it necessary to attack Dylan right from you first post to this thread.

Can't help noticing that you put in my "Whys" but did not include, or answer the questions I asked - so hear they are again.

No point in wasting space on something that was already there on the thread. I didn't answer the questions, but I did respond. It starts at "I don't know" in my post. How could I possibly know what went through the mind of John Brune? I'd never heard of him before he cropped up on MacColl threads. Likewise for your other "Whys". Ask the people involved and when you find out, could you let me know? As I tried to indicate, the common factor in all these is MacColl himself so perhaps that is where you need to look for an answer.

If he 'badmouthed' Dylan, he didn't do it when I was there,

No "If" about it Jim, Frankie Armstrong said "He was, at that point, very definitely badmouthing Bob Dylan". Hamish MacColl says "It was Bob Dylan, wanting to speak to my dad. But my dad hated Bob Dylan, he hated the Beatles"

and he certainly didn't do it in public (or if he did, nobody has been able to point out where or when).

Numerous references have been made in this thread to interviews and articles in Melody Maker and Sing Out!. Try Googling on "watery pap of pop music".

If he did it within the confines of the Critics Group, I haven't come across it on the recordings, but - what if he did?
There are a number of threads going at present, all containing extreme examples of MacColl being "badmouthed" publicly - "Do you have any comment on that?"


Ewan MacColl and Bob Dylan were, in their different ways, major figures in what, under a variety of definitions, is called "folk" music or, at least, its revival and popularisation. In the early sixties, their worlds overlapped for a while. How they interacted and what they thought of each other is of interest to those of us who developed their musical tastes in that period. Anybody is entitled to their opinion. I am not criticising MacColl for disliking Dylan. If I knew his reasons, I might even agree with him. What MacColl thought of Dylan is interesting. What folknob thought of MacColl is not.

"Aren't we allowed to know about the whole man?"
Wouldn't chance be a fine thing!!


Indeed it would, but declaring certain areas off limits isn't the way to do it.

"Are you saying Hamish MacColl was lying about his father?"
Don't you dare distort what I said -


I didn't distort anything; I asked a question.

I did not claim Hamish was lying; I do not doubt for one minute that MacColl said what he was reported to have said - nothing more than that.

So why do you declare his evidence as inadmissible?

Nor did I say I accepted Campbell's "joke" - I said I am prepared to accept it - I might have added "if somebody provides the argument to convince me" - but had I done so, that would have deprived you of an opportunity to score points.

Do you want to take part in an adult, intelligent debate or not, Jim?

I qualified what I said by pointing out the effect I believe Campbell's (and others) "joke" (or otherwise) has had on the revival in geneal - as I said - go and open up the "do standards matter" and similar threads.

You have remarkable faith in the power of a rather feeble joke. I've always been inclined to think he was satirising those who already thought that way. Did he play out of tune, by the way?


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Jan 12 - 01:32 PM

Did he play out of tune, by the way?"
not on the occasion, i saw him, however he was very amusing.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 15 Jan 12 - 01:37 PM

I think we can infer that McColl found pop music to be a form of musical imperialism, although he may never have stated this publicly.

Pop music, whether Dylan or the Beatles is a form of musical marketing and their popularity tends to eclipse other forms of music on a mass public level. This is true with pop music in general. To declare any form of pop music as traditional folk music is specious.

That doesn't make it bad, it just makes it different.

Ewan may have declared himself a communist with a small c which is quite different than the Stalin model in the Soviet Union. I have heard him admire Castro in Cuba and from what I know of Cuba, things are not terrible there which makes the US policy toward Cuba somewhat ridiculous.

Having known Peggy for many years and Ewan casually as a result, I can see why in his way of thinking that Dylan would represent in his mind a misrepresentation of what traditional folk music is.

I see Dylan as a pop star and there is nothing wrong with this provided he doesn't become representative of traditional folk music or folk singers.

I see Dylan and the Beatles as a form of music cult and as a result, a non-objective critical appraisal of their output is considered by some to be sacrilegious.

I don't think this is true for traditional folk music because some of it is very good and some not so. Here, it is necessary to define terms. Good in what way? Etc.

To say that Ewan appreciated Dylan in his role as a folk singer doesn't make sense.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Bert
Date: 15 Jan 12 - 03:07 PM

Stringsinger, You are right about Tom Paxton. He is a great entertainer and songwriter, but he will go down in history as one of the kindest men who ever lived.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Jan 12 - 04:11 PM

Bryan
I am finding discussion with you as wholesome as I always did
You continue to object to criticism of Dylan and Campbell, while at the same time, allowing deliberate and vicious attacks on another artist - including the attampted sabotage of a major work, through on the nod - can I assume that you would be happy to see guests at your club treatedin the same manner - where do I get my ticket!!!!
All this seems to be indicative of the values you bring to the music I have devoted much of my life to - if it's all the same with you, I prefer those Maccoll brought.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: TheSnail
Date: 15 Jan 12 - 06:01 PM

I should know better and I really have got more important things to do with my time, but...

Jim Carroll

I am finding discussion with you as wholesome as I always did

Glad to hear it.

You continue to object to criticism of Dylan and Campbell,

Never done anything of the sort. I am sure that they are both worthy of criticism but also worthy of praise, Just like MacColl in fact.

while at the same time, allowing deliberate and vicious attacks on another artist

Sorry Jim but I don't have the power to allow or forbid attacks of any sort on anybody. I can only observe and comment.

- including the attampted sabotage of a major work, through on the nod

Took me a while to work out what you were on about there. I presume you were talking about the John Brune incident with 'The Travelling People'. I know nothing about this incident. I was thirteen at the time. I have never previously heard of John Brune. I have not read Sheila Stewart's Living Tradition interview. I do not "allow" it nor condone it nor condemn it. I know nothing about it and I have no power to change it. What would you have me do?

- can I assume that you would be happy to see guests at your club treatedin the same manner - where do I get my ticket!!!!

You are welcome to our club anytime. Valmai offered to pay for a workshop place for you just a few days ago. I promise you will get a floorspot; we don't demand proof of ability in advance. On the other hand, if you behave as you have as you have on Mudcat (castigating our guests for performing something which doesn't fit your definition of folk music, railing at a nervous and/or elderly floor singer for using a prompt sheet), then you will be asked to leave. I will repay your entry price out of my own pocket so as not to penalise the guest. Fortunately, nothing like that has ever happened; it is a very friendly and sociable environment.

All this seems to be indicative of the values you bring to the music I have devoted much of my life to

There you go. If you can't address the issues I have raised, resort to personal attack. (Am I allowed to object to attacks on me?) I know you have devoted much of your life to the music. I admire you for it. Otherwise I wouldn't have wasted my time debating with you. My values in folk music revolve around two words, "folk" and "music". "Folk" is a sort of folksie word for people. Lets not debate what "music" means. I devote quite a lot of time and effort to the idea of folk and music, folk enjoying music, folk performing music. I am quite happy with my values thank you.

- if it's all the same with you, I prefer those Maccoll brought.

Curious, because, as far as I can make out, MacColl shared my values about helping to bring people and music together. In what way do we differ other than my lack of comparable talent?


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 15 Jan 12 - 06:06 PM

To say that Dylan is "a pop singer" is like trying to fit the Great Lakes inside a small bottle. Dylan is many kinds of singer. He has sung many kinds of songs...folk, blues, traditional, country, rock n' roll, ballads, topical songs, protest songs, humorous songs, cowboy songs, talking blues, just plain rock, what was termed "folk-rock" by some, and other songs that simply don't fit within any of those labels. He has gone way beyond being definable as one specific "kind of" singer, let alone "a pop singer".

This was not the case with MacColl, who chose, I think, to specialize in a particular folk-based style of music....and that's fine. I have no problem with someone doing that.

But Dylan didn't do that. He moved from style to style quite rapidly, usually not for any other reason than that he had a very powerful enthusiasm to do so at the time, and it appeared feasible to do so, given the general situation around him. He has often returned to styles he did in some past phase, indicating his affection for them, while also moving into brand new possibilities all the time, indicating his hunger for a new way of expressing himself. I think he ought to be complimented for that sort of adventurous versatility, not criticized for it.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 15 Jan 12 - 06:46 PM

"Pop music, whether Dylan or the Beatles is a form of musical marketing and their popularity tends to eclipse other forms of music on a mass public level. This is true with pop music in general."

I agree with that, Stringsinger. And the marketing has been very successful! The other night I switched on the TV and caught the beginning of a chat show on which a well known pop singer was a guest. She was greeted with wild adulation (the studio audience actually stood and applauded when she appeared). The thing is I can't think of a single one of her songs (although I admit, I haven't being paying much attention). This person appears to be famous for being famous. Perhaps we've strayed into some nightmarish dystopia in which this person hasn't actually ever sung a note - but really is famous for being famous (noooo!!!!)

Although I CAN remember some of Dylan's songs, I still tend to think of him as something of a slickly marketed package (uuuummm! ... that doesn't sound right - but let it pass ...). These days Dylan has, like the singer mentioned above, been elevated into the position of some sort of deity ... and I can't help thinking: "does he really deserve such an elevated status?"

On the other hand MacColl didn't (as far as I know) rely on marketing and he and Peggy S. were frequently guests in local folk clubs, as well as concert venues, and you didn't have to pay 'an-arm-and-a-leg' to hear them perform. In addition, especially if the venue was a folkclub, you could go up and have a chat (I did this on a couple of occasions and Ewan was always extremely polite and took pains to answer my questions).

He and Peggy also had amazing repertoires and I learned so much from them as well as enjoying their music very much. Whatever else Ewan was, he wasn't any sort of 'slickly marketed package'!


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 15 Jan 12 - 10:51 PM

Dylan wasn't a slickly marketed package in the early days when he first played little coffeehouses in Greenwich Village. He was a very hardworking young man who learned a tremendous amount of traditional blues and folk material from a tremendous variety of sources. He played music constantly, played everywhere he possibly could, often for no pay, and soon was writing songs constantly. It was the songs he wrote which made his early reputation and which made his career. The "slick marketing" came later, under the tutelage of Albert Grossman, but the early groundwork that made it all possible in the first place was done by the young Bob Dylan himself. His talent got him where he is.

Now, regarding these "pop singers" who are marketed so effectively and whose audiences go nuts when they walk out on a stage...yeah...we're all familiar with the phenomenon. It's kind of the opposite situation to a small folk club.

The fact is, though, that most of those people are darned good at what they do. They wouldn't have got as far as they did if they weren't.

"Do they really deserve such an elevated status?"

In one sense...no. They're not gods, after all. In another sense, though, they do usually deserve some respect for how well they've mastered their craft.

Celine Dionne comes to mind. She's definitely a pop singer, and one who's been brilliantly marketed, and her audience goes nuts when she walks out on the stage. Well, I was never the least bit interested in Celine Dionne...but I accidentally saw some video of her in live concerts a couple of weeks ago....and boy, is she good at what she does! She puts on a great show. She has a lot of help to do it. But without her, it wouldn't be happening, and she is one heck of a fine singer and performer who has worked hard to get where she is.

So I have to respect that, even if she is in a general style of mainstream radio music that I normally pay little or no attention to.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Jan 12 - 03:36 AM

"I really have got more important things to do with my time"
Me to Bryan.
I am slightly curious as to what possible reason you might offer for the John Brune incident, which could have ruined a programme which was part of bringing about massive changes for the better to the lives of Travelling people of Britain and which introduced many thousands of us to the realities of their lifestyle; but on second thoughts, remembering what I've got from previous discussions with you - let's not bother eh!
Jim Carrol


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 16 Jan 12 - 04:20 AM

I suppose, LH, that ever since childhood I've tended towards an anti-fashion stance, and I can't help noticing when the 'emperor is naked'. By the time that Bob Dylan impinged on my consciousness he was already a fashionable figure and that demon in my head that is repelled by fashionability rejected him. This is not some sort of boast, by the way, I'm just explaining how my brain is wired; it's possible that I missed out by rejecting Dylan out of hand (?)

On the other hand MacColl's music 'hit me like a train' at a very impressionable age. And I suppose that part of his appeal (to my personal brain wiring) was that I discovered him for myself and no-one told me that I 'ought-to-like-him-because-he-was-famous-and-fashionable'. I realise that this stance was not as entirely rational as I would perhaps like to think - but that's how it was for me.

It also has to be said, by the way, that I don't regret my enthusiasm for MacColl's music (and philosophy) for one second - because I gained so much from it.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 16 Jan 12 - 07:17 AM

Beautiful explanation, Shimrod! I understand you perfectly. You could have been describing my own childhood and subsequent development in your post, except that the timing for me was a little different, that's all.

I also tended towards a strong anti-fashion stance pretty much from the beginning, and I did reject a lot of things "out of hand" simply because they were hugely popular, and I preferred to discover things on my own rather than "go with the crowd".

My parents were living a rather unconventional lifestyle in certain respects. One of those respects was the music they purchased...they bought folk music from about 1955 on...and classical music...and European ethnic music of various sorts. They paid little attention to country music, pop music, rock 'n roll, rock music...that is, what mostly constituted mainstream radio music.

So I ended up listening to and discovering for myself all kinds of folksingers and other stuff that most kids my age weren't listening to...they were listening to Elvis, Buddy Holly, and later the Beatles, Stones, Monkees, etc...that was the popular mainstream in the small town schools I went to. Hardly anyone I knew liked Dylan or listened to the other folksingers such as Baez, Judy Collins, Ian & Sylvia, etc. They listened to the big rock bands...all composed of 3 or 4 slender young men playing LOUD music. (Dylan did that when he was in high school, but he'd moved on to acoustic folk & blues music by the time he began to record anything.)

I was aware of Ewan MacColl through one vinyl record my parents had bought when I was maybe 10 or 12 years old...it's called "Songs of Robert Burns"...I still have it and I love it! But I didn't look further into Ewan's material than that one album.

I was also somewhat aware of Dylan by indirect association...that is, we bought all of Joan Baez' albums, and she sang a large number of his songs. I loved the songs themselves, liked them better than anything else she did, something in both the words and the melodies spoke to me very powerfully. As for Dylan himself, though, I only heard him on very rare occasions, and his odd-sounding vocal put me off. I thought that folksingers had to have "pretty", very pure-sounding voices, and I wasn't going to listen unless they did.

So much for that. ;-D I had literally only ONE friend all through high school who liked Bob Dylan...my friend Larry...and he loved Dylan, but I wasn't ready to listen to someone with a voice like that.

I didn't deliberately listen to Dylan with any real attention until 1969! I was pretty much unaware of his fame. You have to realize how far outside the commercial mainstream I was to not know about it...but I didn't listen to commercial radio (only listened to Canada's CBC which didn't seem to be playing very many Dylan songs), and I hadn't been watching television either. I'd been going to record stores, buying records by folksingers, and listening to them on the stereo. That was it.

Hell, MacColl was more "mainstream" in my private little world than Dylan was! ;-D

Then I moved to Toronto, the big city, started taking guitar lessons from this amazing guy who'd been a draft resistor in the states and a campus demonstration organizer. He'd had to leave the USA with the FBI on his tail, set up in Toronto as a guitar teacher, and I became one of his students. He was a brilliant man, he knew about all kinds of stuff I was hungry to know about, and I profoundly respected his opinion on anything.

I told him about all the folk stuff I'd been listening to and liked. He said, "You should try listening to Bob Dylan." I said, "Oh, yeah, I know about him, but he's got such a weird voice." He said, "You have to develop a taste for his voice...like developing a taste for beer or coffee...but listen to the words and see if you get it."

He suggested that I buy the album "Highway 61 Revisited" and listen to it "at least 3 times" before making any judgement of it.

I respected Matthew more than anyone else on Earth at that point, so I went right out and bought the album. Took it home. Put it on the record player. And was blown away.

Just like you said about MacColl: Dylan's "music 'hit me like a train' at a very impressionable age. And I suppose that part of his appeal (to my personal brain wiring) was that I discovered him for myself (with Matthew's help) and no-one told me that I 'ought-to-like-him-because-he-was-famous-and-fashionable'"

Matthew told me that I would probably like him because he was brilliant. Matthew was brilliant himself. No question about that. He was a person who thought outside the box. So did Dylan. So did I. I'd been doing so ever since I could remember.

Nothing else I ever encountered in my life struck as powerful and perfect a chord with my own nature as Bob Dylan's words and his way of delivering them when I finally got around to giving him serious consideration. You could call it "love at first listen" or something like that. ;-D

I'd had little or no idea that he was so famous and fashionable. But after I did listen to him with some serious attention, I knew why.

*****

Kinda like that with Celine Dion the other day too... ;-D I knew she was hugely famous all these years, didn't care, paid no attention, saw her picture on magazines and shrugged, had no idea why she would be that popular.

But when I saw the video of her doing her stage performances a couple of weeks ago, I saw right away why she would be that successful. Oh yeah...she's damn good at performing all right. She's a real pro.

The artistic content of what she does (the words of the songs) isn't of any real importance to me...so it's not the same thing as someone like Bob Dylan, it doesn't demand my interest in any way...but I DO understand why she has become very successful in her field of music, and I'd say she deserves that success.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 16 Jan 12 - 09:43 AM

Thanks for the autobiographical account, LH. It's always interesting to find out about how someone else sees the world. I'm also glad that I was able to explain myself and didn't manage to upset a Dylan fan such as yourself.

Who knows, perhaps you (and Matthew) will persuade me to go back and listen to Dylan again.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 16 Jan 12 - 11:25 AM

You never know. ;-) I'd be happy to listen to anything Ewan MacColl ever recorded, and I don't particularly mind that he once wrote a song praising Josef Stalin...I understand the time and the set of circumstances he was coming from when he wrote it. Views of Stalin changed radically among leftists after Kruschev revealed much of the cruelty of Stalin's regime.

*****

What got to me about Bob Dylan was, first of all...

The words! He had a way of using words that said exactly what I was feeling and hit on what I cared about.

The visceral intensity. His way of delivering those words had such a bite to it. It came from very deep, and it held nothing back (in the sense of the emotion).

His universality. Instead of being very specific, as so many songwriters are, he spoke in symbols, archetypes, and mystery. That allows the listener to go to many different places while listening to the words and to fit the song powerfully to his own inner thoughts. Joan Baez has said that he's very good at being "vague" and that at the same time he's very "good with words". The vagueness allows space for things to enter...and that's what makes it so interesting. It's like the silence all around a given sound...without the silence, the sound cannot stand out and be heard. Therefore the silence is vital.

His love of the tradition. Dylan's music is just saturated through and through with a treasure trove of traditional music, rural and urban blues, all that music of the common people over the last few centuries. He went so deeply into all that when he was really young and impressionable that it's become permanently melded into his subconscious or something, and it creeps through all over the place in the new stuff he writes. It's always there, stepping out of the shadows.

The sheer joy and exuberance of some of the music he's written. There's an energy there that just shimmers and leaps, and it lifts me up when I hear it.

And that's only the beginning. I guess it'll be with me till I die.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 16 Jan 12 - 01:10 PM

"He suggested that I buy the album "Highway 61 Revisited" and listen to it "at least 3 times" before making any judgement of it."

I've got a 16 year old who until recently was just into bands like Slipknot etc. He wouldn't contemplate listening to the old stuff I am in to if I suggested it. However recently I've noticed he's taken to playing some of my CDs and even keeping them in his room. Especially Dylan and early Van Morrison. Hardly fashionable for a 16 year old in 2012 :-) He started liking Dylan simply through hearing Ballad Of A Thin Man. He asked what it was so I gave him the album (ie Highway 61 Revisted) to listen to which he played over and over then came back looking for more and I gave him Blonde On Blonde. Since then he's discovered more on Youtube etc. He's not into all Dylan but loves the mid 60s rock albums.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: TheSnail
Date: 16 Jan 12 - 02:39 PM

Oh Jim, you got off to such a good start and spoiled it at the end. You are right of course; as the last few days have shown, getting you to take part in an intelligent discussion can be like pulling teeth. If, Heaven forfend, I was at all cynical, I might think you were changing the subject just to avoid answering the points I have raised about the MacColl/Dylan debate.

I am a little reluctant to pass an opinion on the John Brune incident. I can only speculate. I know very little about it and, judging by past experience, if I get it "wrong" in your estimation you are likely to call me lots of rude names. You have piqued my interest though so I've done a little research.

The living Tradition interview with Sheila Stewart that you mentioned is available here http://www.folkmusic.net/htmfiles/inart599.htm and a very interesting read it is for more than just the Brune incident.

There is a brief death announcement for Brune on Mustrad http://www.mustrad.org.uk/news22.htm which says -

John Brun (Brune) dies:
John Brun died a few days ago in south London. I don't know enough about him to write an obituary, but I don't think his death should go un-noted in MT. He came to England as a teenage refugee from Austria just before the war, and discovered English traditional song for himself when he was was working on the land. He later became acqainted with Minty, Levy and Jasper Smith and recorded an interview with Jasper. He was on close personal terms with Davy Stewart and his family when they were living in south London, and it was he who introduced the Stewarts of Blairgowrie to Ewan MacColl.
He had recently published a volume of his memoirs for private circulation, containing accounts of his political work on behalf of the Traveller community, with various song texts and references to people like Joe Heaney. He deserves an obituary by someone more qualified than me.

Reg Hall - 18.4.01


The subject has already been given a thorough thrashing on Mudcat here - thread.cfm?threadid=103839. In that thread, you say "As far as I'm concerned Brune was a vicious prick who summed up much of the vicious prickism surrounding MacColl.". Brune was still alive and, I would estimate, in his late seventies when you said that. I haven't followed up all the links, but Brune seems to have been involved in setting up the Gypsy Council a few years later.

So what do I think the reasons for the incident might be? It seems highly unlikely that Brune had any intention to do any harm to the Traveller community. He was an Austrian Jew who had fled the Nazis as a teenager. It seems more than probable that he was sympathetic to oppressed minorities and his work with the Travellers seems to confirm that. The tale as told in the Sheila Stewart article talks of MacColl telling him he should be singing songs from the Austrian Jewish tradition. Other evidence suggests that he may have been a bit of a prankster and, feeling a bit hacked off with MacColl, decided to play a practical joke on him without thinking through the consequences. He was not to know that MacColl would ask Sheila Stewart to sing the songs. He probably hoped that his own recordings would be used. You say that his action "could have ruined a programme which was part of bringing about massive changes for the better to the lives of Travelling people". The reason it didn't is because he blew the whistle on himself. He, perhaps waking up to what he was doing, prevented the fake songs going out.

His behaviour was clearly irresponsible but "vicious prick"? I don't think so.

Now, about what MacColl thought (and said) about Dylan...


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Jan 12 - 02:59 PM

You have the facts of the John Brune affair, ot if you haven't, it's freely available on the Living Tradition website in the Sheila Stewart interview. If you can't pass an opinion on it I really can't be arsed with somebody who obviously is prepared to accept somebody sabotaging the work of others, but also somebody who has no problem doing to to the detriment of a persecuted community.
As both of us said "I really have got more important things to do with my time"
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 16 Jan 12 - 03:09 PM

Dylan's 1965 rendition of "Ballad of a Thin Man" is intense, unique, and unforgettable. That song takes no prisoners, to use an old expression. No one else has (so far as I know) attempted to cover it, because no one else could even come close to Bob's original recorded version of it.

The singer I most admire lately, for both her singing AND her songwriting AND her live performing ability AND her deadpan sense of humour onstage, is Lynn Miles, a veteran Canadian folk musician who has done 8 studio albums since the late 80's. She doesn't sound anything like Bob Dylan, and she's an incredible singer and songwriter, but she lists among her favorite 10 albums of all time, two of Bob Dylan's...

Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited

Bob Dylan - Blood On The Tracks

She also lists these other 8 albums:

The Band - Music from Big Pink

Tracy Chapman - Tracy Chapman

Woody Guthrie - This Land IS Your Land

The Louvin Brothers - When I Stop Dreaming

Joni Mitchell - Blue

Joni Mitchell - Hejira

Jimmie Rodgers - The Very Best of Jimmie Rodgers

Neil Young - Harvest


Lynn Miles knows something good when she hears it.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: TheSnail
Date: 16 Jan 12 - 03:13 PM

Jim, do I take it you didn't actually read my post?


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: GUEST,C. Ham
Date: 16 Jan 12 - 04:38 PM

Reading through this thread, I was reminded of an essay on Mike Regenstreif's Folk Roots/Folk Branches blog from last May. Nothing to do with MacColl, just about Dylan.

Mike Regenstreif: Bob Dylan at 70


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: ollaimh
Date: 16 Jan 12 - 05:00 PM

m the gm doesn't get it that lowlanders are not gaels. lowlanders are part of anglo saxon culture. gaels are not. neither of ewans parants nor any of his ancestors spoke gaelic nor weere part of gaelic culture. back in the sixties and seventies when folk cred was deemed so inportant by anglos many made up these fake claims to highland/gaelic roots. i found it in the uk asnd canada. americans are not so obsessed with faking their roots. they jst like to play good songs.

the whole traditional and purist movement grew first out of european nationalism, where folk music was seen as a strength to the national identity and hence to militarism. then the left got into it and began to see volkisch kulture as part of building working c;ass adgenda. both were using identities to furthere their selfish interests and cared not a whit for the people producing the music.

ewan and every body here is welcome to share gaelic culture. but it is imperialism to claim to lead it. we got lottsa leaders. they are people who work at playing with virtusio ability or learn to sing inn gaelic with beauty. gaelic culture doesn't often set up ideologies and political structures to lead at least in folk music. if you are great you lead.

many mnay mediocre anglo musicians try to over come their tanlent freedom and instrumental challebges by being purists and leading by ideology. it's cultural appropriation. the last stage of imperialism. it ussed to be so easy to ostracize the minority cultures but nowadays you can get music from everywhere and its obvious who is the culture producer and who are the blowhards.

i repeat ewan wasn't a gael, his parents were not gaels. lowlanders are not gaels. if yopu use a fake gaelic name well you asked for it.my last name is french. i'm a quarter acadien. we spoke little french untill i went to school. but with grahdparents who were maclaughlanns, macmurry's and maciain's we di speak gaelic in the house. that's being a highlander!   almost no one ewan every knew was gaelic speaking. stirling is not the jighlands and miller isn,\t a highland name. however mccoll is.

again ewan mccoll is welcome to join and participate in our culture. i have chinese arab and african american friends who have learned gaelic or highland dancing and the music. they are welcome. but they never expect to lead--unless they get so good we go to them to learn. which some i know of have. i don't care what your background if you approach other cultures with respect and diligence. however if you are just claiming some idiotic folk cred and learning little or nothing of gaelic culture then you are part of the imperialist world view.

LOWLANDERS ARE NOT HIGHLANDERS/GAELS


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Jan 12 - 05:11 PM

"i repeat ewan wasn't a gael, his parents were not gaels"
I think you will find that his mother was not a lowlander., his mother was from auchterarder perthshire, that not the lowlands.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 16 Jan 12 - 06:21 PM

"lowlanders are not gaels. lowlanders are part of anglo saxon culture. gaels are not. neither of ewans parants nor any of his ancestors spoke gaelic nor weere part of gaelic culture"

This is complete nonsense though. The so called Highland Line (ie in the cultural sense) was an artificial boundary based on one point of time where Gaelic culture predominated north and west of it and not to the south and east of it. So arguably Auchterarder would be on the Lowland part of the so called peripheries when the term was coined but so what. Most Lowlanders will have some Highland ancestry. Have you seen the number of MacDonalds, Campbells etc in even the Borders phone book! And beside that at one time Gaelic was also spoken reasonably widely throughout most of the Lowlands. How on earth could you possibly know that none of his ancestors spoke Gaelic? It is an absurd statement which is pretty unlikely to be true. People can be proud of all aspects of their Scottish heritage. Why have you such a problem with that?


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 16 Jan 12 - 06:47 PM

I never heard Ewan MacColl attempt to sing any songs in Scots or Irish Gaelic. Neither did I hear him claim to be a "leader of Gaelic culture". It's only you who is obsessed with this, ollaimh.

I also feel that obsessively labelling people as "anglos" or "gaels" (or 'hispanics' or 'canucks' or whatever) and putting them in opposition to each other, because of historical injustices, is a bit creepy, unhealthy and unecessary. I don't know anyone in the UK folk world who is an "imperialist" - and Ewan MacColl certainly wasn't one.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Jan 12 - 03:05 PM

Bryan
Yes I did read your post – it came across as a mealy-mouthed excuse for behaviour that, for whatever reason you choose to present, was artistically and ethically inexcusable – the deliberate interfering with a performer's work as an act of spiteful revenge-taking.
It was also socially extremely reactionary and lacking in any trace of humanity. 'The Travelling People' played a major part in getting the 1969 Caravan and Camping Act onto the statute books, making it obligatory for all local councils to provide half-decent stopping places for Travellers, with running water and sanitation. Apart from anything else, it was the first articulate access Travellers ever got to the media to put their own case - all this was put at risk. Whatever excuse was given for the squalid stunt, it was not acceptable on any level – you suggest it might have been.
Yes – Brune did blow the whistle on himself, when it was too late to correct the problems his behaviour had caused. It did not wreck the programme, as it could easily have done, but it was the cause of Sheila Stewart being withdrawn.
I am aware of Brune's work with Travellers – it seems, on this occasion, his blind hatred of McColl took precedence –nothing new there!
Personally, I didn't find the suggestion that Brune should have sung songs from his own native tradition at all offensive.
Among my first records when I became interested in folk songs were Topic e.p.s of Paul Robeson and others singing in Chinese, Yiddish, Polish and Russian, you name it, he did it (Robeson even threw in an Irish rebel song – Kevin Barry), and other such oddities. I used to have an LP of Robin Hall and Jimmy McGregor (A-roving) singing in Greek, Bantu, German, Spanish....
Prior to this, MacColl, Lloyd and others were singing in pseudo-Americanese, as were loads of others "Cowboys galloping across the plains of Walthamstow" as somebody described it at the time.
MacColl and Seeger became leading supporter of Lomax's suggestion that we should explore our own traditions in languages and accents we were familiar with, often deliberately distorted to their "making it a rule". As Peggy pointed out in her letter to The Living Tradition, it was a practice adhered to by them at The Singers Club; the residents did it and the guests were booked on the basis that this is what they did. That they might have advocated it as practice elsewhere is fair enough. Looking at the treasure trove of British and Irish songs that the revival managed to turn up, I'm pleased that their arguments prevailed.
A great deal of effort has been expended here trying to prove that McColl didn't like Dylan (very few actual examples of exactly what his criticisms were) - as I asked earlier – so what if he didn't like his singing, lots of others felt the same way? There is no evidence whatever of what he said, when and to whom, or that he or anybody ever made a fetish, or even a regular practice of it.
Frankie said what she said without providing examples; I'm not doubting her word, but I never heard Dylan's name mentioned by Ewan or anybody in the Group – he'd long departed the folk scene for fresh pasures by then and no longer featured in folk things, certainly anything we were involved in.
Why did MacColl dislike Dylan – perhaps he though he was a rotten singer who wrote indifferent songs. If he did compare him to McGonagall? – I don't know, but others didn't find the comparison particularly odious; Nigel Denver wrote:
"In Don't Think Twice, It's All Right, sometimes it's comical how you get your lines to rhyme, it reminds me of McGonagall the 'poet' at times:"
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 17 Jan 12 - 03:29 PM

If people have lived more than one life they can have soul connections to a great many cultures they were not born into in this life. If so, they will feel strongly drawn to various cultures they were not born into in this life, they'll feel a kinship with those cultures, and that may lead to them taking great interest in music or something else from a culture not presently their own by birth.

Therefore, all this nagging about which group someone was born into...as if that was the only determinant of what they should think and feel....seems silly to me.

I take it that the possibility of people having lived other lives than this present one has never occurred to most of the people arguing here? Or that you would just dismiss such an idea out of hand? If so, your dismissal of it is a strictly faith-based conclusion that carries no real weight at all since it's not based on anything real, but merely indicates allegiance to a very conventional form of thought which you acquired from others and have never even thought to question.

MacColl may have been drawn to Scots culture out of any number of different motivations...and one of them might be his own subconscious soul memory of having been a Scot, not in this life, but in another. And if so, there's no way on earth that any of you can prove it, disprove it, confirm it or deny it, because you simply don't know.

Admitting you don't know is the first step to becoming a reasonable human being as opposed to being a typical walking example of a conventional faith-based mental rigidity...which is what I find most people, in fact, are. They already have their minds all made up about almost everything. They are not about to admit they don't know.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 17 Jan 12 - 03:43 PM

And I'm not saying that I know either. I don't. I'm just saying that there are a great many possibilities as to why Ewan MacColl was so drawn to the traditions of Highland culture....aside from strictly negative assertions that he was a "cultural imperialist".

We may all have been a great many things in the past that we do not outwardly appear to be now....and I mean "the past" going back for tens or even hundreds of thousands of years.

And I said "may"...because I don't know for sure. Nor do you.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Jan 12 - 03:58 AM

"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 conversa¬tion 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 eve¬ryone 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


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: David C. Carter
Date: 18 Jan 12 - 04:52 AM

On the Original Sountrack of "I'm Not There",Track 5 has
Ballad Of A Thin Man-Stephen Malkmus & The Million Dollar Bashers.

It didn't do anything for me.But I guess anyone would be hard put to match Dylan's own Version.

D


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 18 Jan 12 - 05:05 AM

Thanks to all for defending me against Ollaimh's absurd accusation that I 'didn't get it'. Not that my withers were particularly wrung. Denunciation by Ollaimh, as said by combative UK Labour politician Dennis Healey on being criticized by the mild mannered Tory minister Geoffrey Howe in the UK House of Commons in June 1978, was rather like being savaged by a dead sheep.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Jim McLean
Date: 18 Jan 12 - 05:08 AM

This has been covered in another thread but it's worth saying again in this context. Robert Tannahill did not write a "Wee Drappie O't" as MacColl said. So strongly do people believe in what he said that you will find this misinformation all over the web.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Jan 12 - 05:48 AM

"Robert Tannahill did not write a "Wee Drappie O't" as MacColl said."
I think we managed to trace the probable author of 'Drappie' from a hand written note in our set of 'Vagabond Songs of Scotland' once owned by Will Walker.
MacColl's error has, as you say, been taken up by many, but the fact that his family believed it back in the 1930s is indicative that it has been around for some time
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Jim McLean
Date: 18 Jan 12 - 06:14 AM

Yes, Jim, Ewan's family obviously believed it but by the time he wrote his Journeyman article (1988?) I would have thought his research into folk song would have shown him otherwise. Like you, no doubt, I don't take anyone's word as gospel and I have found some celebrated source singers to be very unreliable   ..... trawling through the tapes in the School of Scottish Studies in Edinburgh is a real eye opener!


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Vic Smith
Date: 18 Jan 12 - 06:24 AM

..... trawling through the tapes in the School of Scottish Studies in Edinburgh is a real eye opener!

Like, for example, the famed Scottish traditional singer who sang My Pittenwean Jo for a SoSS collector. When asked where she had learned it from, she asserted "Fae ma granny."

The recently deceased John Watt, who wrote the song, told me that his delight that the song had been passed off as traditional outweighed his annoyance that the song had not been properly accredited.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 18 Jan 12 - 07:23 AM

It amazes me me some of you guys have time to sing and play music when you write so much about these long ago arguments.

it wouldn't do if we all agreed about stuff. then we'd all agree about everything. and that sounds a bit sinister.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Jan 12 - 08:06 AM

Jim
Don't know about you, but even with the advantage of having an accidentally acquired handwritten reference from Walker, I had great difficulty in tracing who I now believe to be the author of the song - god bless the internet - which MacColl did not have access to.
I find it interesting that MacColl's mistake has been taken up by others who have not researched the facts of the matter.
It has always struck me that folk song scholarship has, certainly up to comparatively recently, been a somewhat hit-and-miss affair outside the field of dedicated research - and even there, there are huge gaps in our knowledge due to misconceptions (don't get me started on why nobody ever bothered asking our field singers their opinions on their songs).
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Jim McLean
Date: 18 Jan 12 - 08:13 AM

Yes, Jim, the Internet is a fantastic tool for research although in the case of AWDO the error rang bells with me immediately as I have everything that Tannahill wrote and knew this wasn't one of his. It is not even in his style but we've gone through all of this a while ago.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 18 Jan 12 - 08:14 AM

I must say - I do think you miss out Jim.. Dylan was quite wonderful. Just play that first album and imagine a twenty year old in the corner of your room singing and playing like that.

And Alex Campbell with his cowboy boots and big Gibson guitar. He got forgetful when he was old and sometimes sung the same song twice, but he seemed so exotic to us living on housing estates in the midlands. Tales about meeting Big Bill Broonzy. And he did sing folksongs. He was one of us.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Baz Bowdidge
Date: 18 Jan 12 - 08:31 AM

>it wouldn't do if we all agreed about stuff. then we'd all agree about everything. and that sounds a bit sinister<

Truly agreeable sameness is one aspect of MacColl's beloved 'communism' isn't it?


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: TheSnail
Date: 18 Jan 12 - 09:46 AM

Hello Jim. deluightful to hear from you again. In my post (which you do now appear to have read although there was no evidence of it in your immediate response) you may recall that I said "I am a little reluctant to pass an opinion on the John Brune incident. I can only speculate. I know very little about it and, judging by past experience, if I get it "wrong" in your estimation you are likely to call me lots of rude names." Whatever could have made me think that?

I won't waste much time on this but there are some things I can't resist.

Jim Carroll

Whatever excuse was given for the squalid stunt, it was not acceptable on any level – you suggest it might have been.

No I don't.

Yes – Brune did blow the whistle on himself, when it was too late to correct the problems his behaviour had caused.

Demonstrably false. The problems were corrected and the programme went out.

it was the cause of Sheila Stewart being withdrawn.

In part. As I said,he wasn't to know that MacColl would ask Sheila Stewart to sing the songs which does seem a fairly strange thing to do. Why didn't he get her to sing something from her own family tradition?

Personally, I didn't find the suggestion that Brune should have sung songs from his own native tradition at all offensive.

No but then you aren't John Brune. You haven't had to flee you homeland to escape persecution. Perhaps he resented being told "You are an Austrian Jew. You should be singing your own songs not OURS."

I think I will treasure for a long time the image of Ewan MacColl trying to tell Paul Robeson that he should have sung songs from his own native tradition.

A great deal of effort has been expended here trying to prove that McColl didn't like Dylan

Not me. I'm just trying to find out the facts.

(very few actual examples of exactly what his criticisms were) - as I asked earlier – so what if he didn't like his singing, lots of others felt the same way? There is no evidence whatever of what he said, when and to whom, or that he or anybody ever made a fetish, or even a regular practice of it.

I know. Frustrating isn't it. What's more frustrating for me is that you, as one of the witnesses of the time, seem determined to put up barriers against finding out any more. That can only arouse suspicion that there is something to hide.

What do we have? We know that MacColl wrote a satirical article about Dylan called "Jack Speedwell". It would be nice to get hold of that. If he wasn't interested in Dylan, why did he bother to write it? Did he write similar satires of other performers?

This quote from him in the September 1965 issue of Sing Out!, "Our traditional songs and ballads are the creations of extraordinarily talented artists working inside disciplines formulated over time... 'But what of Bobby Dylan?' scream the outraged teenagers... Only a completely non-critical audience, nourished on the watery pap of pop music, could have fallen for such tenth-rate drivel." crops up all over the place. Sadly I can't find the original article but I'm working on it.

We have Frankie Armstrong's statement on the radio programme of which you say -

Frankie said what she said without providing examples; I'm not doubting her word

Make up your mind Jim. Either accept what she said or don't. Maybe I'll ask her next time I see her. I could ask Sandra Kerr about it all sometime if I get the chance.

Then there's the published testomony of his son Hamish which you seem determined to ignore.

Why did MacColl dislike Dylan – perhaps he though he was a rotten singer who wrote indifferent songs.

If you never heard him mention Dylan, how do you know that's what he thought?

I cut this one out and kept it till last.

I am aware of Brune's work with Travellers – it seems, on this occasion, his blind hatred of McColl took precedence –nothing new there!

I cant help feeling that your loathing of John Brune stems not from any damage he did to the Travellers (actually none at all) but from the fact that he made MacColl look a bit of a fool and that is unforgivable. But "his blind hatred of McColl took precedence –nothing new there!". That raises a question. Why did MacColl arouse such "blind hatred"? Why was he surrounded by "vicious prickism"? Why was he subjected to "vituprative hatred"? I'd really like to know.

I really am spending too much time on this.


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