The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #128093   Message #2865912
Posted By: mikesamwild
17-Mar-10 - 07:33 AM
Thread Name: Songs in English about the Spanish Civil War
Subject: RE: Songs in English about the Spanish Civil War

My Dad Sam was a Commander of the British Battalion in the IVth Brigade and was a great singer. Bob Cooney of Aberdeen, , the political commisar, who lived for a long time with the singing Campell family in Birmingham used to stay with us and I have a cyclostyled book of his songs and poems.

I wrote and sang one for the 70th Anniversary Celebations and Spanish citizenship awards for surviving veterans, in Barcelona

I'll post it later.

I took the title from a poem by C Day Lewis and also incorporated some other lnes from veterans we knew.

Subject: RE: Songs in English about the Spanish Civil War
From: GeoffLawes - PM
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 10:25 AM

Hi Mike, thank you for your Mudcat post. Something you can definitely help with if you have the time is to post information about your knowledge of the performance context of Spanish Civil War Songs. I did not know that your father, Sam Wild, was himself a singer, so that is very interesting. Did Sam sing in folk clubs or at Brigade reunions or only at home? He will, I guess, have sung many of the old Brigader songs in Spanish and German and maybe some translations. Did he sing any of the songs that were composed in English like Jarama or Jamie Foyers. Did he express any opinions about any of the later songs written about the SCW?

I look forward to seeing your song posted.

Regards, Geoff

Subject: RE: Songs in English about the Spanish Civil War
From: mikesamwild - PM
Date: 19 Mar 10 - 07:11 AM


As well as songs from Spain my Dad sang a lot of Irish songs, Burns, Blues and comic songs as well as union songs and songs from when he was in the Royal Navy. I learnt Paddy McGinteys Goat, Joe Hill, Cafferty, Frankie and Johnny etc etc .

In Spain, like any soldiers they sang mainly to keep their spirits up. They weren't dour Stalinists. There were working class and OxBridge poets writing about their experience and Jim Jump jrs book has a lot in . The original Jarama song was a 'gripe' an a piss take about being left in the trenches so lon and forgotten. They sang about 'There's a valley in Spain called Jarama, it's a place that we all know so well. It was there that we wasted our manhood and most of our old age as well!' Obviously after they left Spain it made a good celebration and rallying song.

The political stuff was songs like The Internationale and the revised Jarama at meetings and reunions back home. He liked the Spanish Viva la Quinte Brigada song , with Ay Manuela chorus..But even there they sang in English 'When you cross the Rio Ebro, Rumbala etc -'Better get your bleeding skates on'.

I was born in 1939. After Spain I remember reunions and socials where a variety of songs were sung but again in a very mixed way. This was before the 2nd folk revival but at camps, Clarion club and coop meetings and YCL socials, Unity Theatre etc there was a mixed bag of songs.

My Dad came with cooney to a few fok clubs but the atnmosphere wasn't his scene. He preferred a pub sing song night. Bob was more comfortable with the folk clubs because of his Campbells association I think.He taught me a lot of bothy ballads as well as political songs and was always learning and writing.

My old man was happier in the snug of our local Irish pub The Union on Stockport Road in Manchester.His family were from that community.

He was a bit ambivalent about Jimmy Miller , as he always called him!

Subject: RE: Songs in English about the Spanish Civil War
From: GeoffLawes - PM
Date: 19 Mar 10 - 09:55 AM

Thank you Mikesamwild: That was very valuable information about Sam Wild ( whom I have seen called the best commander of the British Battalion in Spain). And thank you for posting your great song. Have you recorded it ? There are quite a few points that I will be picking up later such as the history of Alex McDade's Jarama.