I inherited my love of MacColl from an old friend who sings mant, many of his songs. I have seen a PBS documentary on his life and death which just enhabced my enormous respect for him as a person.
The story re First Time Ever I Saw Your Face goes something like - MacColl was scoffing at the quality of pop songs of the time. A friend put him to the challenge and he wrote the song in the next thirty minutes.
I have posted the music/lyrics for a number of his Radio Ballads here and will do some more when I get time.
Re Wolfgang's question - I don't know the answer but we have had a long discussion on this subject a couple of years ago.