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Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?

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melodeonboy 05 Jan 12 - 05:35 PM
Little Hawk 05 Jan 12 - 04:50 PM
Big Al Whittle 05 Jan 12 - 04:10 PM
Jim McLean 05 Jan 12 - 03:51 PM
GUEST,SirCoughsalot 05 Jan 12 - 03:51 PM
Richard Bridge 05 Jan 12 - 03:36 PM
Lonesome EJ 05 Jan 12 - 03:34 PM
Little Hawk 05 Jan 12 - 03:22 PM
Dave Sutherland 05 Jan 12 - 03:17 PM
Jim Carroll 05 Jan 12 - 02:53 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 05 Jan 12 - 01:45 PM
Little Hawk 05 Jan 12 - 01:40 PM
GUEST,999 05 Jan 12 - 01:23 PM
Pete Jennings 05 Jan 12 - 01:19 PM
Amos 05 Jan 12 - 12:55 PM
Acorn4 05 Jan 12 - 12:19 PM
Little Hawk 05 Jan 12 - 12:07 PM
Big Al Whittle 05 Jan 12 - 10:33 AM
Acorn4 05 Jan 12 - 10:07 AM
Baz Bowdidge 05 Jan 12 - 08:58 AM
Jim Carroll 05 Jan 12 - 08:13 AM
Jim Carroll 05 Jan 12 - 08:12 AM
Brian May 05 Jan 12 - 08:08 AM
greg stephens 05 Jan 12 - 05:15 AM
GUEST,matt milton 05 Jan 12 - 04:53 AM
Acorn4 05 Jan 12 - 03:31 AM
Richard Bridge 05 Jan 12 - 02:33 AM
Little Hawk 05 Jan 12 - 12:27 AM
Richard Bridge 04 Jan 12 - 06:54 PM
Brian May 04 Jan 12 - 05:32 PM
MGM·Lion 04 Jan 12 - 05:16 PM
dick greenhaus 04 Jan 12 - 04:38 PM
Lonesome EJ 04 Jan 12 - 04:36 PM
Dave Sutherland 04 Jan 12 - 04:00 PM
The Sandman 04 Jan 12 - 03:49 PM
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The Sandman 04 Jan 12 - 01:59 PM
Acorn4 04 Jan 12 - 01:57 PM
Lonesome EJ 04 Jan 12 - 01:22 PM
GUEST,grumpy 04 Jan 12 - 01:18 PM
greg stephens 04 Jan 12 - 01:05 PM
ollaimh 04 Jan 12 - 12:57 PM
Jim Carroll 04 Jan 12 - 12:54 PM
MGM·Lion 04 Jan 12 - 12:47 PM
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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: melodeonboy
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 05:35 PM

Reworking traditional songs is, as has been stated, part of the folk tradition. I think most people accept that. But was there not an issue regarding Dylan's claiming authorship for stuff that he took from others?

A question to ponder: Was part of the apparent animosity between the two due to MacColl seeing his music as a vocation (or even mission) whereas Dylan saw his as a career?


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 04:50 PM

Richard - ""oh it's not fair your mum and dad they fuck you up and the world will be better when I rule it".

What????? I have no idea how you get that from Dylan's songs, Richard. I see nothing anywhere in his work that suggests he had the slightest notion of ruling the word. He seems to have always seen himself as an independent individual seeking his own path...not a leader of others. He did protest various common forms of hypocrisy and conformity that we see all around us in society. Did you ever read the lyrics in the song "It's Allright, Ma...I'm Only Bleeding"? That song protests just about everything, and it's a brilliant piece of work. In fact, I'd say it stands alone. Nothing else really comes close to that one.

"part of the patrimony of those he found boring" It wasn't exactly that I found those guys in the Toronto UK-folk clubs boring so much as just plain arrogant, superior, and snide toward anyone not already in their clique. But that's a problem in a great many cliques, isn't it? It's a problem on this forum, for instance...at times.

Dylan was also inclined to be quite arrogant at times...and I gather that MacColl could be that way too. No wonder they rubbed each other the wrong way. ;-D

In any case, they both had a great deal to offer to the listener, in my opinion.

******

The process of "raiding folk songs" for a tune, a structure or a theme is as old as the music itself. It's been going on for hundreds, even thousands of years. Woody Guthrie was constantly stealing tunes from other songs. No one seems to mind. The American national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner, for instance, was written by Francis Scott Keys to the tune of a popular British pub song of the time! Another major American anthem was written to the tune of "God Save the King". When you look through the history of folksongs, you find the same tunes recycled again and again with similar or totally different lyrics. So what? What was Dylan doing that thousands of others had not done before him...except this one thing: he succeeded professionally in a very big way while doing it.

That's why people object to him having done it...because he succeeded. If he'd remained relatively unknown and not made a lot of money, they wouldn't give a hoot about it. He'd just be another minor player in a very old tradition of reworking traditional songs.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 04:10 PM

"English language folk song was born in the UK"

wot every form of it....? a difficult one to prove. Look at all the jewish, African, Asian input - everywhere that was red on the map - there were people speaking English and applying their own rhythms and nuances and some of them would have been songwriters and poets - not working from a base of English culture, other than the language.

Well okay Richard, as long as its you're last territorial claim. we'll appease you on this occasion. You're a nice person. But i don't think you could take that one to court.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Jim McLean
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 03:51 PM

I knew both MacColl and Dylan personally. When I let Dylan into the King and Queen club that night way back in 1962 he sang three songs which he didn't write in a pseudo Woody Guthrie style, complete with mouth organ and guitar. Nobody paid much attention except Martin Carthy who recognised Dylan from a a picture in Sing magazine. During the interval, at Dylan's request, we had a chat about folk music. He asked me if MacColl lived in a slum (I'm paraphrasing) and was surprised when I said he had a nice house in Beckinham .. I suspect Dylan was flying kites but he was obviously making a sly dig at MacColl.
So it would appear that Dylan had a preconceived perspective of MacColl before he sang in front of him and judging by what Bob sang that first night, MacColl would have been wrong in describing Dylan as McGonnalesque as there was nothing original about his first performance.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: GUEST,SirCoughsalot
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 03:51 PM

Just think of how many genuine folk songs use the same melodies. It's just part of the folk process. As a friend of mine once said, "Folk music is all about recycling."


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 03:36 PM

I don't see anything much in the Dylan I have from time to time been forced to listen to that recalls Guthrie's inspired political song. I do hear quite a bit of "oh it's not fair your mum and dad they fuck you up and the world will be better when I rule it".

Neither of course are folk song.

The sense of entitlement that LH abhors may well have been born out of the fact that English language folk song was born in the UK - and was part of the patrimony of those he found boring.

That's not to say that there can't be good contemporary songs. There are many. But I'd have thought it appropriate at least if going to a folk club to sing a folk song or two to establish one's bona fides, before doing something else - no matter how brilliant.

Going and raiding folk songs (EG Nottamun Town) to write an "original song" "Masters of War" using its tune surely deserved disapprobation.

Did not the Beatles go to Liverpool folk clubs and say "Here's a Leadbelly Song" before launching into an acoustic "Twist and Shout" (or whatever). If not maybe it's a myth they propagated themselves.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 03:34 PM

Both Amos and Little Hawk seem to be on target for the crux of the artistic disagreement that gave rise to this thread. No need to denigrate MacColl or Dylan for any issues they had 45 years ago. Their work shares a place in the archives for those of us who love folk music, and the highest tribute we can pay the both of them is to play Dirty Old Town and Blowin in the Wind in the same session.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 03:22 PM

I have no idea if Ewan MacColl himself showed a general contempt toward singer-songwriters outside his immediate style of music, Jim. I wasn't speaking of him. I never met him. I was theorizing that he might have held such an attitude, but I can't say for sure, not having known the man.

I was speaking of a few little groups of UK-origin folkies who ran a handful of clubs in Toronto, Canada when I was a youngster, and describing the shitty attitude they had toward anyone who wasn't in their tight little in-group. They were approximately one generation older than me, so I'd say they were in MacColl's age group. Whether he shared their general snottiness, I can't say.

I like the traditional music of the British Isles and Ireland. I like it very much. I happily accompany people who play it. What I didn't like was the holier-than-thou attitude of people in those Toronto clubs I alluded to above who didn't seem to respect anything except the traditional music of the British Isles and Ireland. They were intolerant of any style or tradition but their own. They assumed a superiority over other styles and traditions. That strikes me as a mean and immature attitude based on either arrogance or deep insecurity or a sense of entitlement. One often sees such musical prejudice in adolescents, but people should be able to get over that sort of narrow insularity by the time they reached adulthood, I'd hope.

And why would anything "drive you away from the music?" I can't imagine anything that would dive me away from it.


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

"MacColl has been dead now for 22 years - he was cremated and his ashes scattered over the location of one of his favourite hill-walks
Perhaps you might catch his spirit, put it in a bottle and then subject it to what you have in mind during one of these corpse-kicking exercises"
Jim, please don't include me in this.
Although my posts, in response to the original question, are mainly made up of reports of the disregard in which Ewan held Bob Dylan I can only go back to my original offering and repeat that during MacColl's constant denigration of Dylan's work I was in an awkward position as I would then, and to this day, stand up to my neck in pig shit to listen to either of them (no disrespect to some of the folk clubs in which I have seen Ewan ;-) ).
His ashes, so I read, were scattered on Bleaklow, unfortunately not on Thorpe Cloud that he mentions in "Journeyman", since I was up there on Royal Wedding day last year. Mind I was listening to Bob Dylan on the i-pod at the time.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 02:53 PM

"In that case there was an exemption from the usual serving of contempt."
Do you have any actual examples of MacColl's "contempt" for singer/songwriters? I can offer 20 odd editions of 'The New City Songester' that Peggy amassed newly composed songs for, from Britain, Ireland, The States, Australia, Canada..., from friends and from strangers, (some of whom have posted on Mudcat) - songs which otherwise would never have seen the light of day.
I have to say I owe you my thanks - it's small-minded bile like yours that makes me realise just how lucky I was to have met MacColl and Seeger and been a beneficiary of their open handedness - while it is wee jobbies like your good self who would have driven me away from the music long ago.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 01:45 PM

I'm not sure how anyone could criticise Peggy Seeger's banjo playing! I love that frailed banjo sound and it was Peggy's playing that first drew me to it. As far as I'm concerned she's still the greatest.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 01:40 PM

That was an excellent and insightful post, Amos.

Pete - Aha! You're an exception. So am I. I'm 63, clean-shaven, not fat, and I have both Martin and Taylor guitars at present...mostly play the Martin HD-28.

I grew up on the North American folk tradition as presented by: The Weavers, Burl Ives, Peter Paul & Mary, Kingston Trio, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Gordon Lightfoot, Ian & Sylvia, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, and numerous others. Also listened to Donovan quite a bit. And Al Stewart. They were from the UK. Had one Ewan MacColl record I really liked. But most of the people who influenced me strongly were from either Canada or the USA.

Amos has described perfectly the rural American foundation that Bob Dylan's early period of work was based upon....wanderers, labourers, mountain people, cowboys, and intinerant Black blues musicians...all that rich tapestry of the old frontier and prewar America.

It was a very different zeitgeist from the one MacColl grew up with, and it embodied very different styles of manner and delivery. It's not that surprising that MacColl thought Dylan's rough-hewn Guthrie-inspired mannerisms were a load of rubbish...but the young Bob Dylan was absolutely in love with what Guthrie had done. He evoked that style in every way he could because he loved it and identified with it, and there's nothing wrong with that, is there?

As far as I can see, Dylan always played the type of music he most wanted to play because that fulfilled him at the time. It was a totally personal journey, not an attempt to be a leader of some sort. You cannot do better than play the music you love the most at the time, and that's what he did. That music kept changing because he kept changing. He was not content to remain in one single place for his entire life, but kept moving on to new things. That upset people. Well, I think he made the right decision. He was true to himself.

As for those who wish to remain exactly the same forever and ever...there's a place waiting for them in Madam Tussaud's Wax Museum. ;-D


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 01:23 PM

"and we're sitting around in a circle playing guitar!"

That way one is assured a round of applause. (Drum roll, please.)


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Pete Jennings
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 01:19 PM

I think most of Dylan's work is great and I think most of MacColl's work is great. And I'm nearly 60, clean-shaven, not fat and I've got two Martins AND a Takamine.

I'm going for a lie down. Or a large scotch. Or both.

LOL.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Amos
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 12:55 PM

It is interesting, the sort of snobbism that greets Dylan. It strikes me that my earlier point about the disconnect between the British idiom and the American idiom, born out of very different histories and inevitably different icons resulting therefrom, is very much to the point. Dylan's adopted metier, following Guthrie, is very much a blend of the American threads and styles, the road-walker, day-worker, blues-infected cowboy-dreamer, Kerouacian wanderer, singing the song of Self writ large in big country. If you were not suckled on Carl Sandburg and SHorty Badger and Bessie Smith, you would be hard put to understand the flavors that made Dylan rich. And rich he was, I assert, regardless of the fact (which I think EM was also objecting to) that his was an elective identity, cultivated and pursued as a career, rather than an organic identity born in a wild heather patch or shepherd's watch somewhere.

The British traditional threads that culminated in EM's brilliance respect different virtues--musically different, lyrically rich but in different dimensions of meaning, and informed by a very different set of attitudes, grown in a different country with a different scale to it. What McColl was probably reacting to in his snippy way was this collision of worlds, and I suspect it made him feel uneasy, if not threatened.

A


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Acorn4
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 12:19 PM

These days the fat old men tend to go for Martins, the intense young men for Takamines!!


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 12:07 PM

Arguments always balloon out of all proportion on Mudcat, Big Al. ;-D

Regarding the fat, bearded, ruddy-faced lot and their contempt for singer-songwriters...

Yes! Some of them were singer-songwriters themselves, EM included. In that case there was an exemption from the usual serving of contempt. In other words, if you were a member of the incestuous little in-group to which those fellows belonged then you could be a singer-songwriter and still be respected for it.

If you weren't, then watch out!

In the mid-60s the young Bob Dylan remarked to some reporter who had asked him if he was a folksinger: "When I hear the word 'folksinger' I think of a bunch of fat, old people sitting around in a circle playing guitars".

At the time he said it Dylan was a thin, intense young man with a very sharp tongue and no hesitation to use it. He was well accustomed to being an inconoclast and rattling people's cages. He was arrogant, sharp as a tack, and pretty damn hard on certain people who were around him.

Anyway...I know what he had in mind when he made that statement. Now all of us who were young then are old....most of us are fat...and we're sitting around in a circle playing guitar! ;-D Funny, ain't it?


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 10:33 AM

I dunno if they didn't like each other. or why they they didn't like each other. Perhaps they didn't. perhaps they did. who knows.

What I do know is the fact that it is suspected they didn't like each other, has played merry hell with English folk music; English folk clubs; the English folkmusic movement. The perceived argument has ballooned out of all proportion.

All so unnecessary and divisive.

They were both pretty damn good. Listen to that first album and close your eyes and imagine a twenty year old Bob Dylan standing there in the corner playing for you. The readings of traditional material as good any you will hear anywhere.

I saw Ewan and Peggy lots of times. they were never less than impressive. if you weren't impressed by the creativity of the Radio Ballads and the power of his delivery - you must have been made of stone.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Acorn4
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 10:07 AM

"Can some kind tooth-fairy combine these two bloody threads before we all go barmy?"

LOL - I just thought that it would be a good idea to limit the focus a bit to try to avoid going over old territory, which seems to have worked a bit more than on the other thread, although both have been interesting to someone like me who wasn't involved at the time these things were going on.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Baz Bowdidge
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 08:58 AM

Bob Dylan's songs were and are legendary (2nd most covered artist), Ewan McColl's songs never were.
It is only those in the know and the folk music fraternity who could place McColl.
'The First Time...' is generally known as a song by Roberta Flack or as a girlfriend put it 'I love that love scene song in 'Play Misty For Me''.
Play misty for me - The first time ever I saw your face


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 08:13 AM

Can some kind tooth-fairy combine these two bloody threads before we all go barmy
Jim Carroll


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

"(wicked grin)"
MacColl has been dead now for 22 years - he was cremated and his ashes scattered over the location of one of his favourite hill-walks
Perhaps you might catch his spirit, put it in a bottle and then subject it to what you have in mind during one of these corpse-kicking exercises.
Aotehr wicked grin
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Brian May
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 08:08 AM

Little Hawk,

No real argument with that (and the Leonard Cohen reference - which is why razor blades were invented in my book).

I found Peggy Seeger charming and witty, Ewan just glowered - they were trying to unload me of a song I'd had a hand in writing.

As I've said earlier on Mudcat, I still owe her 4d (4 pence in old money as we horse-traded that she'd pay the postage).

Bob Dylan truly did some of his stuff well, often because nobody else covered it . . . ?

I really think tracks such as 'The Times They Are a'Changin'and 'Blowin' in the Wind' are as true now as when they were written.

They deserve to be sung some more. Ewan MacColl however, I'm surprised he could even breath - with his head up there . . .

Have fun all


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: greg stephens
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 05:15 AM

Agree with Acorn4. Little Hawk: you are a bit off target. Ewan MacColl was by no means against song writers, one of the functions of the Critics Group was to criticise the songs the participants wrote. In practice he may have been against most songwriters, because he didn't like their songs. Which is a perfectly reasonable intellectual stance, though it will have limited his social life.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 04:53 AM

"Hells bells if there was ONE thing I could take off the Ewan MacColl LPs I have it would be that fricking out of time out of tune banjo!"

Horses for courses, but it's the other way round for me. Peggy Seeger's arrangements and playing are what redeems the majority of MacColl's back catalogue in my book. The arrangements are unshowy, unpretentious, economic, while often being quite sophisticated. They're a good foil for the stridency (and, let's face it, often pompousness) of MacColl's delivery.

On a technical level, if you're referring to Peggy Seeger's banjo playing, then there's nothing out of time or out of tune about it on any of the MacColl/Seeger albums I've heard. (And I've heard pretty much all of them.)

Just as there was nothing out of time or out of tune about her playing when I saw her play the other week, at an age at which she'd be forgiven for the odd fluffed note or two.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Acorn4
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 03:31 AM

"They treat young people and singer-songwriters like garbage."

But EM was a singer/songwriter.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 02:33 AM

I've seen that fantasy before LH. I don't know what you ate before you dreamed it, but I suspect it included cheese.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 12:27 AM

My condolences, Richard! ;-D I can arrange to send you a care package...

****

Brian May - While I agree that some people sing some of Dylan's songs better than Dylan does (and one could say that of Leonard Cohen and some of his songs too)...I think that Dylan has sung certain of his songs better than anyone else ever did...if you go back to when they were first recorded. The original versions are unbeatable.

For instance:

Blind Willie McTell
Like a Rolling Stone
Visions of Johanna
Ballad of a Thin Man

(just to mention 4 songs where I think Dylan's original version remains THE definitive version)

And the other useful point, which I think you did sort of acknowledge is: If Dylan had not written those songs, nobody would have gotten to cover them. So, thanks to Bob.

Ewan MacColl did some wonderful stuff. I have a record of him doing Robert Burns material. I love it.

But...I think he was a fairly typical tight-assed, snobby, pretentious folk purist of the type I've seen in action ever since I picked up a guitar. They are besotted with their own supposed musical purity and their imagined sublime superiority over EVERY other form of music other than what they call "folk music", which means only their narrow version of it. They sneer down their noses at practically everybody except a tiny little in-group of similar bastards who are playing the same exclusivity game they are. They treat young people and singer-songwriters like garbage, and they perform music as if they were museum curators wheeling out a sacred relic in a glass case.

They are pompous, tiresome, and vain. Most of them are fat, ruddy-faced, caustic men with beards. They infest certain little dimly lit clubs where they make it so unpleasant for anyone not in their in-group to go that they can be assured to have the place pretty much to themselves.

I've seen them ever since I, a person utterly in love with folk music at the tender age of 21, tried to go and play a few folksongs at some "folk" venues where these pretentious gits were ruling the roost. Yes, their contempt for youngsters like me who dared to play an original song....or a Dylan song... or a Neil Young song...or any song not from the UK and not written prior to 1900...was palpable.

A pox on their bloody houses, I say! They are not very likable chaps. May they be dragged from their sodding ivory towers, denied their daily ration of ale for at least a week, thrown into pits full of famished hedeghogs, and then made to walk naked through the streets of Soho to teach them a little humility and common brotherhood.

(wicked grin)


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 04 Jan 12 - 06:54 PM

Hells bells if there was ONE thing I could take off the Ewan MacColl LPs I have it would be that fricking out of time out of tune banjo!

I have no Dylan LPs. Not even for stuff to learn.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Brian May
Date: 04 Jan 12 - 05:32 PM

When I saw the title of the thread, I immediately thought 'jealousy' as has been said above. I still reckon in his pomposity he objected to BD being RICH.

I never met Bob Dylan, but I did meet Ewan MacColl and I thought he was a miserable git quite frankly, his most redeeming quality was Peggy Seeger.

Bob Dylan's most redeeming feature is that everybody could do his songs better than he could - he probably cried all the way to the bank.

At the end of the day, it really doesn't matter does it?


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 04 Jan 12 - 05:16 PM

Dave ~ I am the young man, dark hair, white shirt, whom the perspective makes to seem to have his left ear almost against Bert's right elbow: see where I mean?

~M~


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 04 Jan 12 - 04:38 PM

Perhaps taste.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 04 Jan 12 - 04:36 PM

This is a pretty interesting thread, actually.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 04 Jan 12 - 04:00 PM

From "No Direction Home" Robert Shelton pp296:-"To the purists led by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger success spelled compromise. In September 1965, in a Melody Maker interview, MacColl predicted "We are going to get lots of copies of Dylan – one foot in folk and one in pop….Dylan is to me the perfect symbol of the anti-artist in our society. He is against everything – the last resort of someone who doesn't really want to change the world….I think his poetry is punk. It's derivative and terribly old hat…..Dylan songs accept the world as it is"
As opposed to the seventies counter culture MacColl uses the word punk in it's, even then, old fashioned meaning of immature.
Interesting seeing the picture of Dylan at The Singer's Club as in his book "Class Act" Ben Harker suggests that on the night of his visit MacColl and Seeger were uptight at being upstaged in their own club.
And on the subject of pictures Mike, I got down my copy of "Journeyman" – I presume the top photograph of Ewan and Bert singing together; where are you?


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 Jan 12 - 03:49 PM

JimCarroll, for f### sake read properly, that is not my post but guest 999


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield
Date: 04 Jan 12 - 03:28 PM

Apart from Ewan, Bert and Bob Dylan, i don't know anyone else in the photo, but I know who took it - Brian Shuel - and it's his copyright!

i think Dylan just did a floor spot at the Singers' Club - is that correct Jim?

I think Jim gets it about right with regard to EM and BD (12.54 posting). I would guess that Ewan wanted folk song to be the medium and style with which to lead a political musical attack on capitalism ... and probably hadn't reckoned on that attack (such that it was) coming via pop music, which I believe he hated. Perhaps because pop music was firmly commercial and part of the capitalist system ... and I suppose he was proved correct when Dylan moved away from protest song to a more personal repertoire, and no doubt became a millionaire!

The Newport/Dylan/Seeger story has been through so many tellings, but I don't think Pete ever called out Judas. I tend to believe Joe Boyd's account in his book White Bicycles - Joe was one of the sound men. Pete did not try and cut the cable with an axe - he was trying to get the sound guys to turn down the volume and stop the distorted sound as he was keen for people, himself included, to hear the lyrics! I don't believe he was against electric instrumentation - after all, as I've just read very recently, Howlin' Wolf played an electric guitar on stage at Newport the previous day.

Pause while I google ...

Ah, in 2001, Pete said:
I couldn't understand the words. I wanted to hear the words. It was a great song, "Maggie's Farm," and the sound was distorted. I ran over to the guy at the controls and shouted, "Fix the sound so you can hear the words." He hollered back, "This is the way they want it." I said "Damn it, if I had an axe, I'd cut the cable right now." But I was at fault. I was the MC, and I could have said to the part of the crowd that booed Bob, "you didn't boo Howlin' Wolf yesterday. He was electric!" Though I still prefer to hear Dylan acoustic, some of his electric songs are absolutely great. Electric music is the vernacular of the second half of the twentieth century, to use my father's old term.

Derek


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Jan 12 - 02:57 PM

"isn't the picture I posted a few minutes ago a wonderful bit of history of those years?" Greg - Yes, it is, but nothing like the complete picture. I have seen it before, but I have also spoken to some of the people who were there at the time and got very mixed interpretations of how Dylan was received. I know Bert regarded the evening as an "interesting non-event", certainly when we asked him about it.
It would have been taken around the time when Martin Carthy claimed Dylan 'stole' Scarborough Fair from his singing; when Joe Heaney was being boo-ed off stage in Dublin, when we were still surrounded by the blandness of the 'folk boom' - the revival was very much in flux at the time and one of the few influential constants was The Singers Club, which continued to be the case right up to Ewan's death.
"he has done more for music than MacColl ever did"
Wow - never heard that one before Cap'n - you might as well claim the same of Elvis - MacColl and Dylan were out of totally different stables, making such comparisons somewhat silly; the only difference being MacColl persisted at what he was doing while Dylan.... well - work it out for yourself!
Now if the rest of us went around claiming "Perhaps people generally don't know what's good", we'd all end up as fully qualified member of The Folk Police - I really wouldn't go there if I were you.
Putting criticism down to "jealousy" is a sure path to what you graphically describe as "crawling up each other's arses" - wouldn't go there either!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 Jan 12 - 02:04 PM

JIM CARROLL, it was.
Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: GUEST,999 - PM
Date: 03 Jan 12 - 12:47 PM

"Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?"

Perhaps something as simple as jealousy. After everyone has had their shot at Dylan, he has done more for music than MacColl ever did (from a North American perspective).

Dylan's finger picking in his earlier work was as rawly refined as finger picking gets. And his approach to blues was also good. I still see people nailing him for his voice. IMO, MacColl was not much of a vocalist--certainly not as much as HE thought he was. I found him to be quite 'put on' in some of his material, and maybe just a tad precious about his place in the music world and his affect on it.

None of it is news that musicians ride each other's coattails. You need proof, look at the crawling up each other's arses that happens on Facebook. Great songs from MacColl? Indeed. Some of his songs have stayed around for decades, and that speaks to the value of his writing. His Radio Ballads are brilliant works of art and meaning: protest at its best. But please don't try to turn him into a god-like writer or performer. He was a guy making a living, just like Dylan.

Dylan has been Dylan since the early 1960s. Many of his detractors are as good in their best moments as Dylan was in his worst. Perhaps people generally don't know what's good. They do know what they like, however. And looking back, more people liked Dylan than liked MacColl. IMO.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 Jan 12 - 01:59 PM

Jim Carroll I did not say this;"Quite simple really: jealousy and ignorance."
Not in a thousand years Cap'n


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Acorn4
Date: 04 Jan 12 - 01:57 PM

The link works fine from my laptop.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 04 Jan 12 - 01:22 PM

greg, would it be possible for you to identify the listeners in your photo for those of us who were unenlightened and still listening to the Beach Boys at that time?


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: GUEST,grumpy
Date: 04 Jan 12 - 01:18 PM

It might be, Greg, if the link worked.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: greg stephens
Date: 04 Jan 12 - 01:05 PM

Jim Carroll: leaving aside any controversy about MacColl andf his opinions, isn't the picture I posted a few minutes ago a wonderful bit of history of those years? MacColl's expression is enigmatic. Listening intently, as were most people there, I suppose.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: ollaimh
Date: 04 Jan 12 - 12:57 PM

i think it's quite unfair to disparage dylan's guitar and harmonica playing. he is an excelent finger picker and a good electric lead player. his harmoinica style is often unique but among the best.

that being said i don't really like either all that much. if i judge by how often in put on their records its a tie, about once every two years.

i like few mccoll songs and think they will last. such as shoals of herring. i worked on a fish boat when i was young and he gets the feeling, even if he didn't ever do it hinself. however his folk beliefs were oure british empire inspired nonsense. those "revolutioaries" were unconscoius to their place as folk mediators. they got in the way of working class people and ethnic people who had real folk and set them selves up as the "leaders" that was disgusting. back in the seventies i was singing nova scotia and newfoundland folk songs, and some in gaelic and getting told it wasn't acceptable folk music by the mccoll cultists and many others. in scotland they often said it was country music. of course no one cared about or listened to gaels. they were beyond the fringe, inn fact the "n people" back then. now the better educated and less biased ethnomusicologists realize we were keeping the real traditional music alive. the bourgeoius folkies were like most bourgeoise. they appointed themselves the leaders. mccoll faked he was a gael with that fake name. its an insult and it's bigotry of the worst kind.   he did it because no one listened to or talked to gaels back then.

i think dylan saw all the fakery and went his own way. to his credit. he faked a name but at least he had a good reason. jews are widely persecuted . mccoll was born with a fine and respectable loewlander name but that wasn't good enough. he had to be "leader" of the gaels.

well our music was doing fine before his kind came and still is without them. and will go on without the bourgeuise folk"leaders".when they are forgotten gaels will be doing thier music and loved for it.

so i say mccoll was a thinnly disguised bigot whose revolutionary ideas were poorly thought out elitist bullshit. the revolutions brought about by those types all ended up discriminating against ethnic minorities because just like in the folk scene they out ideology befor human values and they put theor egos before music


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Jan 12 - 12:54 PM

"Quite simple really: jealousy and ignorance."
Not in a thousand years Cap'n
MacColl and Dylan as performers and in objectives were chalk and cheese - they were coming from different directions and Dylan changed course in mid-stream anyway and totally abandoned the tradition in pursuit of the big bucks - and made no pretence of doing otherwise.
Whether you prefer one or t'other is a matter of taste - personally, as much as I agree with people's comments on some of MacColl's more ephemeral pieces, which were songs for the moment, not intended to outlive the events they covered, I believe songs like Freeborn Man, Shoals of Herring, Dirty Old Town, Joy of Living - and many, many more (even Sweet Thames) will, still be sung long after all here have joined the 'choir invisibule'.
I've never really understood why 'First Time Ever' surfces in these discussions - it certainly was never, or never considered to be - one of Ewan's best songs, by him or anybody else. Both he and Peggy were staggered and, I believe, slightly embarrassed when it 'made it big-time' though it did allow them to set up Blackthorn Records which, IMO gave us four of the best albums of traditional ballads ever.
Personally, I found Dylan's first few efforts mildly interesting, but they soon faded and his later stuff became jaded and poetically pretentious.
As a protest singer, Dylan will always be - for me anyway - the rising star who refused to join Seeger and the others on the Civil Rights Marches because he "couldn't afford the fare", until he was 'made an offer he couldn't refuse' by singer/actor Theodore Bikel - a free bus ticket South.   
"Wasn't it a little bearded Scottish guy that shouted 'Judas!'"
A similar incident was reported following Dylan's appearance at Newport - the offended party was said to have been Pete Seeger.
As a 'folk' performer Dylan was somewhat disregarded by MacColl and Lloyd, and other figures in the revival, their main concern being that he might get in the way of singers exploring their own traditions - Alan Lomax's idea originally - thankfully he didn't.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 04 Jan 12 - 12:47 PM

Dick & Greg ~~ No, you are in the wrong pic altogether. I had left London by the time of Dylan's gigs. I think you are thinking of one that was pub'd in Ewan MacColl's autobiog Journeyman (1990), of a session by Ewan & Bert Lloyd at the Princess Louise c 1956-57; I remarked in my review for The Times that you don't often get a book to notice with your own 40 year old mugshot in it.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: greg stephens
Date: 04 Jan 12 - 12:24 PM

is he in this picture?


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 Jan 12 - 12:18 PM

if my memory serves me right,he is sitting towards the front, cross legged and looks a bit like ringo starr, slightly to left of centre, as one looks.
mind you had better show me the pic again, in case I may have placed him in wrong position


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 04 Jan 12 - 12:17 PM

MacColl certainly used that description of Dylan's poetry in the interview with Karl Dallas; it is repeated in Robert Sheldon's "No Direction Home" and possibly other biogarphies. "Rehashed Ginsberg" was also used as a put down and in no way a defence; I don't recall Ewan saying anything good about Dylan. Dylan, to his credit, never publicaly responded to MacColl's diatrabes about him.
I'm at work at present but I'll check out the actual passages later tonight.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: greg stephens
Date: 04 Jan 12 - 11:59 AM

GSS says MtheGM is in one of the pix. Is that soi. Who is he? Itriguing.


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