The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #142785 Message #3293807
Posted By: GUEST,Shimrod
21-Jan-12 - 05:14 AM
Thread Name: BS: Who the hell is MacColl?
Subject: RE: BS: Who the hell is MacColl?
It's interesting, isn't it, that some people, who have been conditioned by commercial pop music, can't see beyond the 'singer-songwriter' label. There's no doubt that MacColl was a great songwriter ('First time ever ...' was probably the closest he got to writing a pop song and, well, look what happened to that!). To me, though, his greatest achievement was his interpretations of traditional songs and ballads. I doubt that any of that output would have been of interest to American commercial radio stations or their audiences. But popularity isn't the only criterion for judging quality. Having said that Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger concert and club appearances in the UK, at least, were usually packed.
Some of MacColl's vast output of performances of traditional material are available as commercial recordings (see, for example, 'Ballads', Topic TSCD576D, 2009) but others are no longer available. I would particularly welcome a re-issue of MacColl and Peggy Seeger's brilliant ballad projects, 'The Long Harvest' and 'Blood and Roses' - but I doubt whether this will happen in my life-time.
I am very aware that in our celebrity saturated culture the act of writing stuff like this takes me very close to hagiography. Nevertheless, so much facile, mean-spirited rubbish has been written about MacColl that I feel moved to set the record straight. I believe that the proper perspective on his life and achievements is that he was a self-made man, from humble circumstances, who had an artistic vision which he pursued all of his life, and that he succeeded brilliantly. He also had a positive effect on my life - an effect that some remote 'pop celebrity' could never have had.