The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #142469 Message #3291682
Posted By: Jim Carroll
17-Jan-12 - 03:05 PM
Thread Name: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
Yes I did read your post – it came across as a mealy-mouthed excuse for behaviour that, for whatever reason you choose to present, was artistically and ethically inexcusable – the deliberate interfering with a performer's work as an act of spiteful revenge-taking.
It was also socially extremely reactionary and lacking in any trace of humanity. 'The Travelling People' played a major part in getting the 1969 Caravan and Camping Act onto the statute books, making it obligatory for all local councils to provide half-decent stopping places for Travellers, with running water and sanitation. Apart from anything else, it was the first articulate access Travellers ever got to the media to put their own case - all this was put at risk. Whatever excuse was given for the squalid stunt, it was not acceptable on any level – you suggest it might have been.
Yes – Brune did blow the whistle on himself, when it was too late to correct the problems his behaviour had caused. It did not wreck the programme, as it could easily have done, but it was the cause of Sheila Stewart being withdrawn.
I am aware of Brune's work with Travellers – it seems, on this occasion, his blind hatred of McColl took precedence –nothing new there!
Personally, I didn't find the suggestion that Brune should have sung songs from his own native tradition at all offensive.
Among my first records when I became interested in folk songs were Topic e.p.s of Paul Robeson and others singing in Chinese, Yiddish, Polish and Russian, you name it, he did it (Robeson even threw in an Irish rebel song – Kevin Barry), and other such oddities. I used to have an LP of Robin Hall and Jimmy McGregor (A-roving) singing in Greek, Bantu, German, Spanish....
Prior to this, MacColl, Lloyd and others were singing in pseudo-Americanese, as were loads of others "Cowboys galloping across the plains of Walthamstow" as somebody described it at the time.
MacColl and Seeger became leading supporter of Lomax's suggestion that we should explore our own traditions in languages and accents we were familiar with, often deliberately distorted to their "making it a rule". As Peggy pointed out in her letter to The Living Tradition, it was a practice adhered to by them at The Singers Club; the residents did it and the guests were booked on the basis that this is what they did. That they might have advocated it as practice elsewhere is fair enough. Looking at the treasure trove of British and Irish songs that the revival managed to turn up, I'm pleased that their arguments prevailed.
A great deal of effort has been expended here trying to prove that McColl didn't like Dylan (very few actual examples of exactly what his criticisms were) - as I asked earlier – so what if he didn't like his singing, lots of others felt the same way? There is no evidence whatever of what he said, when and to whom, or that he or anybody ever made a fetish, or even a regular practice of it.
Frankie said what she said without providing examples; I'm not doubting her word, but I never heard Dylan's name mentioned by Ewan or anybody in the Group – he'd long departed the folk scene for fresh pasures by then and no longer featured in folk things, certainly anything we were involved in.
Why did MacColl dislike Dylan – perhaps he though he was a rotten singer who wrote indifferent songs. If he did compare him to McGonagall? – I don't know, but others didn't find the comparison particularly odious; Nigel Denver wrote:
"In Don't Think Twice, It's All Right, sometimes it's comical how you get your lines to rhyme, it reminds me of McGonagall the 'poet' at times:"