The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #142469   Message #3291528
Posted By: TheSnail
16-Jan-12 - 02:39 PM
Thread Name: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
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 and a very interesting read it is for more than just the Brune incident.

There is a brief death announcement for Brune on Mustrad 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...