In fact, "dirty old town", that old classic that everyone assumes is about Dublin, is about Salford.
Ewen MacColl is the Godfather of 20th century folk. He wrote some of the most stirring songs available to humanity, but whats more, he managed to write songs that slipped as effortlessly into the "timeless trad" bracket, as they did into the contemporary pop scene. Then, just when you think that this is too much for one man to achieve in one lifetime, he resurrects historical gems like "the highland muster roll" and "geordie's o'er frae france".
He was a master social scientist, i.e. he had a knowledge of history and culture, combined with deep humanity.
Hence, his work appeals to such a diversity of people. Listen to his lyrics carefully to understand why for yourself.