The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #142785   Message #3293509
Posted By: Little Hawk
20-Jan-12 - 02:49 PM
Thread Name: BS: Who the hell is MacColl?
Subject: RE: BS: Who the hell is MacColl?
This thread is not an attempt to blacken Ewan MacColl's name, it's simply a bit of light humour which I posted as a spinoff from several other recent threads about Ewan MacColl.

In any case, I am a fan of Ewan MacColl's recordings, I love the songs he did on the records I've heard, so why would I want to blacken his name?

The American folk revival really got started with performers like Jimmy Rodgers, Woody Guthrie, Burl Ives, Cisco Houston, Leadbelly, the Weavers, Odetta, and various others whose music I would hardly characterize as "fluff". I'd say it was built firmly on the cultural working people's heritage of both North America and the UK. When that music began to receive wide popularity with a really large number of people, there was a flurry of mainstream industry interest in it, and I'd say it was that which led to some of the "fluff" you refer to...that is, quasi-folk music that was performed in a preppy, collegiate style on TV and records by little groups of men in striped shirts and ties...and sometimes by waif-life females in bogus "folk" costume.

The Kingston Trio were, I think, part of that fluffy wave (although I think they did do some worthwhile material too), and so were legions of others who copied the Kingston Trio. Peter, Paul, and Mary were an act that seemed a bit contrived to me (invented by Albert Grossman), although again, they did some material with real merit.

By the time Bob Dylan and Joan Baez and others in the early 60s came along, they had successfully wedded the old folk traditions to modern songwriting that spoke to our own times as well as the past. In doing so, I think they enriched the folk tradition and were anything but "fluffy", as you put it.

And I also think MacColl did great stuff. But what I was looking for all my life was what Dylan, Baez, Buffy Sainte-Marie and the others in their peer group did. It's not fluff. Neither is it traditional UK folk music. It just depends on what you want, you see. We all tend to love the music we first encountered in our youth. That's just natural. That's why my Dad, for instance, loved Swing and Big Band music, whereas I have little interest in it. It's mostly built around brass instruments, and it's a sound I'm simply not much attracted to. I prefer piano and guitar-based music....with good lyrics.