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2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act

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Jackaroodave 22 Feb 18 - 08:04 AM
Jim Carroll 22 Feb 18 - 08:42 AM
Vic Smith 22 Feb 18 - 08:54 AM
Jackaroodave 22 Feb 18 - 08:59 AM
Jim Carroll 22 Feb 18 - 09:29 AM
The Sandman 22 Feb 18 - 11:53 AM
Jim Carroll 22 Feb 18 - 12:26 PM
The Sandman 22 Feb 18 - 01:59 PM
Jim Carroll 22 Feb 18 - 02:46 PM
Vic Smith 22 Feb 18 - 03:03 PM
Jim Carroll 23 Feb 18 - 03:24 AM
TheSnail 23 Feb 18 - 07:03 AM
Jim Carroll 23 Feb 18 - 09:12 AM
Big Al Whittle 23 Feb 18 - 07:22 PM
Jim Carroll 23 Feb 18 - 07:26 PM
Big Al Whittle 24 Feb 18 - 01:26 AM
The Sandman 24 Feb 18 - 03:41 AM
Big Al Whittle 24 Feb 18 - 05:43 AM
The Sandman 26 Feb 18 - 02:28 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 20 Nov 19 - 10:59 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 20 Nov 19 - 11:01 AM
Jim Carroll 20 Nov 19 - 01:34 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 20 Nov 19 - 06:55 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 20 Nov 19 - 06:56 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 20 Nov 19 - 07:03 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 20 Nov 19 - 07:05 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 21 Nov 19 - 06:53 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 21 Nov 19 - 07:11 AM
Iains 21 Nov 19 - 02:25 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 21 Nov 19 - 03:29 PM
Iains 21 Nov 19 - 03:41 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 21 Nov 19 - 05:06 PM
Iains 22 Nov 19 - 05:50 AM
The Sandman 22 Nov 19 - 03:21 PM
Iains 23 Nov 19 - 03:28 AM
The Sandman 23 Nov 19 - 05:28 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 23 Nov 19 - 05:52 AM
Iains 23 Nov 19 - 06:40 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 23 Nov 19 - 07:27 AM
Dave Sutherland 23 Nov 19 - 07:46 AM
Iains 24 Nov 19 - 04:20 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 25 Nov 19 - 12:03 PM
The Sandman 26 Nov 19 - 03:14 AM
Iains 26 Nov 19 - 04:58 AM
The Sandman 26 Nov 19 - 05:09 AM
The Sandman 26 Nov 19 - 05:10 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 26 Nov 19 - 06:16 AM
Iains 26 Nov 19 - 07:31 AM
GUEST 26 Nov 19 - 09:50 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 26 Nov 19 - 11:59 AM
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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jackaroodave
Date: 22 Feb 18 - 08:04 AM

Jim Carroll: 'The "kicking" of anybody's corpse, long dead or otherwise, is a somewhat depraved act.'

More so than the kicking a live body, who might actually feel it? Legally the reverse is true, in the USA, anyway: You can't libel a dead person.

I don't think you really believe that what you said is ALWAYS true, Jim. "Richard Nixon was an evil, bigoted criminal. He should be dug up so we can kick him properly and bury him again, with a stake through his heart." There, I said it, and I don't feel the least depraved. Not that there's any comparison with MacColl, just a rebuttal of "anybody's" in your quoted premise. (The shadow of Godwin falls over this thread, like all threads.)

While we properly feel our affections should triumph over death, so can our bitterness when we've been wounded or embroiled in a feud. It's not depravity, it's humanity.


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Feb 18 - 08:42 AM

"You can't libel a dead person."
Di I mention "legal"?
By not responding to a single thing I have written, you make my point, as did Paperback - the work of MacColl remains as much a 'no go area' as it ever was
Much easier to give the dead people a kicking than to challenge their ideas, or even give credit for them having any
Ah well!!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Vic Smith
Date: 22 Feb 18 - 08:54 AM

I once received a letter from Peter Kennedy about an article that I had written in Folk News edited by Karl Dallas threatening to take me to court for what I had written unless I wrote another for that publication withdrawing my claims. The claims were that Kennedy has released a number of casstte recordings of traditional singers on his Folktrax label. My claims were that Kennedy had made these releases without reference to or contract or arrangement with these singers. The singers that I knew about in Scotland and Sussex were people that I knew well and had volunteered the information to me off their own bat, not on any prompting or questioning from me. I was pretty sure of my facts, so I wrote back telling to go ahead and sue and that my barrister brother had volunteered to represent me free of charge [confession time - neither of my brothers are trained in the law!] I never heard from him again on the matter.
In the next issue of Folk News there was a retraction from Dallas saying that 'some of the facts' in my article had not been properly checked. I was furious. I phoned Dallas and asked him what facts he meant. He replied that the paper was losing money hand over fist and that it was nearly bankrupting him and he could not face the cost of a court case that he might not win. Folk News only lasted a couple more issues. Dallas immediately started a newspaper devoted to punk which was the rising musical fashion of the time. It was truly appalling and only last two issues.
IN RETROSPECT I feel that everything that I know or have heard about Peter Kennedy makes me thing that he was an out and out rogue but I am hugely grateful for the wonderful recordings that he made of so many aspects of traditional songs, music and culture of the UK. He is by far the most important collector since the 2nd World War. His Folk Songs of Britain & Ireland stands as an amazing testimony of his achievements. It is just sad that the importance of his legacy has been marred by some of his actions.


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jackaroodave
Date: 22 Feb 18 - 08:59 AM

'Ah well,' indeed.

I'll let you make your own points for yourself, from here on, Jim.

Just one last, though: I have no feelings about MacColl whatever. Except for what I've learned from these threads, I know sweet Foucault about him.


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Feb 18 - 09:29 AM

"I'll let you make your own points for yourself, from here on, Jim."
On the basis of your three posting, none of which have been on Maccoll or his work - you'll be greatly missed!!
"I know sweet Foucault about him."
You aeem pretty adept at stating the obvious
Stick to what you know, I say
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Feb 18 - 11:53 AM

"yet you are happy to kick Kennedys corpse"
I refer only to what Kennedy did and what many people know him to have done. EXACTLY WITHOUT REFERRING TO THE GOOD THINGS THAT HE DID, UNBALANCED COMMENTS AS ALWAYS


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Feb 18 - 12:26 PM

DicK
What exactly do you think this is all about - have you any knowledge whatever of the exploits of Peter Kennedy ?
Think in terms of Britain and Ireland's 'Elgin Marbles' and you may make a start
How would you go about balancing that one
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Feb 18 - 01:59 PM

yesIknow all about Peter Kennedy his good and his bad points it has been discussed here many times, I was ripped off by him too but Iwould reiterate Vics comments


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Feb 18 - 02:46 PM

"Iwould reiterate Vics comments"
It is often forgotten that Kennedy was part of a team, all of whom contributed to the treasure trove that was collected - who made the greatest contribution is a moot point, but I heard another of that team comment, referring to Kennedy "that man's a thief"
Only Kennedy, as far as I am aware, persuaded the singers to sign over the rights of the collected material to him "including whatever was remembered in future" and asked the not to sing to anybody else.
Alan Lomax and Brian George instated that project (also often forgotten) and had Kennedy not led it, somebody else would have done - probably somebody without the clout to protect themselves from the consequences of the things Kennedy got away with
Thanks to that behaviour, a large slice of that collection has remained unissued because of the astronomical prices that were demanded for its use.
I've told the story of how Kennedy ripped off Traveller, John Reilly and Tom Munnelly often enough not to have to repeat it.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Vic Smith
Date: 22 Feb 18 - 03:03 PM

We are getting well away from the thread subject here - and I am certainly as guilty as any. Some of the points in the previous post are accurate, some are less so and others need amplifying - but if we are drifting from EM to PK, perhaps we need another thread. PK is as divisive a character as EM was and some contributors may have much more to say about Peter and not know he is being discussed here.


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Feb 18 - 03:24 AM

I was going to suggest this Vic, but can I suggest that rather thn making it a slugging match over Kennedy (which has had enough of an airing in that particular form) That it might be more fruitful to discuss the BBC project as a whole.
To my recollection, it has not been covered fully on this forum, though it certainly merits it
I'm pretty sure people from your part of the world could add much information to such a discussion as one of the main contributors was a neighbour
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: TheSnail
Date: 23 Feb 18 - 07:03 AM

Wheh I tried to introduce a more recent BBC item that was more relevant to this thread, it wasn't well recieved.


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Feb 18 - 09:12 AM

"Wheh I tried to introduce a more recent BBC item"
?
New thread undarway
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 23 Feb 18 - 07:22 PM

well , as you say Jim - we obviously need to separate the memory of Ewan from the relevance of his ideas.

So you're the expert.

Take initially what you believe to be the most important idea. the most relevant to us.

Start a thread about this idea. And we can debate it.

Bear in mind though. There's been a time elapse. we're not talking about immutable truths. We are discussing the music of a swiftly changing society that transforms itself faster than any of us can really keep track of.

I've been a jobbing musician for nearly fifty years - working for working class audiences all that time. I consider myself a folk singer. I've had to work out my own aesthetic, and its far distant from the one Ewan came up with.
Tonight I sat through a retrospective on TV of the Old Grey Whistle Test programme. All the songs had one thing in common - if you placed them before a working class audience - they wouldn't know the words of one of them.

Martin Carthy once said , just because you're English it doesn't mean you understand English folksong. So what is it, if its nowt to do with working class English people? Is it like the Old Grey Whistle Test music - just something middle class people can get the hang of?


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Feb 18 - 07:26 PM

"Start a thread about this idea. And we can debate it"
Been there dont that hundreds of times Al
If we can't discuss on MacColl's idea on a thread about MacColl and his ideas, where can we discuss it?
Some people appear to find ideas scary
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 24 Feb 18 - 01:26 AM

I always thought of MacColl as a fascinating artist and charismatic thinker, as well as being a friendly decent guy.

To be honest one of the things I really loved about his work was his context in history. He was a kind of English bohemian intellectual that is no longer really feasible to modern minds,

Really he was the kind of intellectual/artist that Tony Hancock was so brilliant at satirising. That whole sort of ban the bomb/duffle coat 1950's chic.

I loved the independence of thought coupled with the sort of actor /manager swagger. In short he was terrific.

I could no more aspire to that kind of artistic endeavour than I could fly to the moon. I became a young man in the 1960's. So much had changed. we thought folk music was the future rather than part of a tradition. Its a subtle change. I suppose every generation hankers after modernity is what I'm saying. And the 1950's and 1960's saw a big difference in emphasis, even though we all had the interests of folk music at heart.


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Feb 18 - 03:41 AM

Al , I know working class and midle class and upper class people who dont like folk music , i also know members of all 3 classes who do


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 24 Feb 18 - 05:43 AM

Dick - there are no rules. If you're a pro performer, but not a star,   you have to work out your own salvation on the stage. If you can make trad folk work for you, all I can say is well done!

I suppose I do get fed up occasionally with the job of lifting the mood of the room after some particularly earnest and demanding artistry, be it contemporary or trad.
Still, its a skill and you don't learn to do it in five minutes or by practising at home, although obviously that does come into the equation somewhere.

I suppose more than anything you learn it by having the guts to take on audiences where there is the possibility of failure, and slowly you learn what you were doing wrong. You learn to read audiences.

And when you know about folk, then you start to get a handle on folk music.


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Feb 18 - 02:28 AM

Iagree


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 20 Nov 19 - 10:59 AM

I'm just reading this book for the first time, and it is interesting and well-written.


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 20 Nov 19 - 11:01 AM

I learned a lot: for example, I did not know he had a Maoist phase, though that makes sense with hindsight.


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Nov 19 - 01:34 PM

"lifting the mood of the room "
One of the things MacColl urged in the Critics group is that the residents make sure the evenings were varied - speed, tone and mood
If you get four songs at the same speed and vocal weight, one after the other, your audience's "ears go to sleep" - they simply stop listening
He suggested a balance of accompalied and unaccompanied songs helped an evening strike a balance
Charles Parker once tested this by playing recordings of folkies to schoolkids
He got them to describe the plot of a song, then played similar sounding songs and timed how long before they weren't able to follow them
Worth thinking about, in my opinion
Jim


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 20 Nov 19 - 06:55 PM

I've just been back over thus thread, and oh, oh, oh! One fears to discuss the book at all, but I should like to.

Pages of stuff and I can only be certain that two people had read the book in question. Some folk early on commented on its price.

I got it cheap on line.

Some information I had not known before, happy to be corrected if this is wrong:

MacColl's father had been a performer/entertainer, albeit occasional, part-time. So he had to some extent a role model in terms of being a performer. Interesting how often this sort of thing does go in families.

His mother ended up working like a lunatic to keep the family; his father lost himself a lot of jobs through politics: interesting life choices here ..

Kirsty MacColl was his daughter, but hardly knew him at all.

When his son put up football posters and pictures of pop stars in his bedroom, he threw a wobbly and tore them all down.

At one point he threw a wobbly and dumped Peggy Seeger for singing a gospel song.

In the critics group, Peggy Seeger and MacColl himself were not subject to the criticisms; Peggy later said that this had been a mistake.

Late in life he found he had alienated a lot of friends and family and he did not understand why. But by the end of the book you can sort of work it out.

As far as I can tell, this book gives good and bad points.

It was interesting on the US and Russian and Brechtian influences on his dramatic ideas. Interesting how ideas from dance got applied as ways of talking about singing styles: one of the radio programmes goes into this.


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 20 Nov 19 - 06:56 PM

So I agree with the poster above who said buy this book and read it.

And then let's discuss it?


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 20 Nov 19 - 07:03 PM

One or two funny stories like the time he said to people "imagine you have been away at sea and haven't seen a woman for ages" not realising two of them were gay, which apparently shocked him, but after that he stopped telling homophobic jokes (forget the page ref).

So there is some sense of it all being dated, with another example being his thinking Khruschev was too soft which is why he went over to Mao (I'm thinking he would have been supporting the cultural revolution??). All that seems so long ago.


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 20 Nov 19 - 07:05 PM

Obviously an intelligent and talented person, which is brought across.


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 21 Nov 19 - 06:53 AM

Obviously the book contains an account of MacColl's desertion from the army and subsequent arrest and discharge.

It contains also interesting material on the following topics:

MacColl and his groups' ideas on the functions of folk clubs

MacColl and his goups' ideas on traditional singers

MacColl's autobiography, written in later years

The Critics Circle and the Singers Club

MacColl was hostile to 'pop' music despite others in his close circle and especially Karl Dallas putting it to him that this did have positive aspects. Peggy Seeger is quoted as saying she felt that NacColl might have benefited from engaging with it.

He was also, it appears, particularly vituperative on the subject of Bob Dylan.


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 21 Nov 19 - 07:11 AM

The ending of 'Class Act', hinting at Seeger and MacColl growing apart in several senses, and stating he did not like it when Seeger did things without him, is sort of filled out by the account given by Seeger (Joe Offer kindly drew out attention to it) here:

https://www.bigissue.com/latest/peggy-seeger-recounts-when-she-realised-men-had-destroyed-the-earth/

Not only that but in regards to at least one project Peggy made a contribution not always acknowledged at the time, something else she now regrets. One felt that with all three of the main women in his life each made a great contribution to the success of his projects and career, often in terms of organisation and so on.


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Iains
Date: 21 Nov 19 - 02:25 PM

I think the bare bones story that he deserted during WW2 is hiding some details. He was on an MI5 watchlist, His CO knew he had communist leanings, that he was highly intelligent, that there was nothing to suggest he was a subversive (Bur they may well have been terrified that he could be - Russia and the Reich had a non aggression pact at this time- up until Hitler sent some 3 million Nazi soldiers pouring into the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941.)
    I am surprised MacColl did not become a conscientious objector rather than a regular squaddie. I can well understand the authorities being very happy to let him go. I make no comment on the rights and wrongs of his actions. Without possession of the facts the motivations are pure conjecture. The authorities probably felt that someone of his intelligence and "theatrical background" with leanings towards Communism could become a right little tinker and a king of disruption if he put his mind to it. That was not a risk they were prepared to tolerate. I have no real evidence for this but the kneejerk reaction of some,calling him a deserter and traitor seems extreme. Postwar he was never charged. This would suggest there were more factors at play that have been examined.
    WW1 finished barely 2 decades before and memories of mutiny were fresh in many minds, further accentuated by the out of control Black and Tans and British troops sacking Cork in 1920. MacColl was a potential firebrand best kept away from uniforms I would surmise.


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 21 Nov 19 - 03:29 PM

"Iains"

The section in the book is interesting. I'd rather discuss this than get involved in conjecture if I can. Pages 60 to 83 cover it.

However:

1 I think that describing him as a 'deserter' is factually accurate.

2 There definitely were intelligent communists who did join up and serve. Being an intelligent communist or CP member (or a dim-witted one, presumably) was no bar. How far MI5 kept tabs on the whole party I do not know. I think some of them may have joined after Hitler invaded Russia, prior to that some of them were defending the Nazi/Soviet pact.

3 I do not know enough about what you have to be able to claim to be a 'conscientious objector'. I met one who was a socialist, and he was put somewhere on stretcher duty, which was by no means an easy thing to do. I do not know why MacColl did not take this route: I do not think he could claim, like Friends ("Quakers") could to object to war, per se, if that would be what was required. So, to sum up, I don't know why MacColl chose to behave as he did, or whether in fact he had any real choice here.

To hint at some of what the book says (I think it is well worth reading, and I learned a lot from it):

Harker cites Joan Littlewood as one source of information; she referred to letters sent home by MacColl, which sounded depressed almost from the outset. He also had access to MacColl's army records, and, I think, the MI5 material too.

Harker suggests that MacColl found the culture shock when moving from his own circle into 'the foul mouthed brutishness of army life'. The early morning drill sessions were, Harker says, 'torture' to him. So there were a range of factors involved in his desertion, in addition to his own political beliefs. I was not left with the idea that they regarded him as a dangerous subversive capable of motivating the troops to rebel: far from it. Nor was I left with the idea that he was capable of motivating the troops to rebel, to be honest.

There seems to have been a period of sick leave (his health was never especially good) after which he was declared a deserter. It took him about 5 months to get to this point.

I can't quite think where, but I think I have read this assertion that he was 'never charged' before. I think this may be a little misleading, if what it says in the book is correct. He was due to be court-martialled, which suggests that he had in some sense been 'charged'. I got the sense that he was charged or whatever the military terminology is, but that it never went to 'trial'. Checking with the book, it says he was arrested in 1946 and charged. He spent some time in prison. He got compassionate leave to attend his father's funeral. On his return he was told he faced time in the glasshouse followed by a tour of active duty. Joan Littlewood organised a campaign to support him using psychiatric evidence.

He was eventually discharged as permanently unfit, though Hacker sas the precise reasons are not clear from the records.

I won't spoil it entirely for those who have not read the book, but I think I have laid at least one commonly stated incorrect point to rest ie the 'he was never charged' one.

Sorry if this comes across as a bit rushed or unclear.













"postwar he was never ch


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Iains
Date: 21 Nov 19 - 03:41 PM

@Pseudonymous Thanks for the clarification. He was not a man to be described adequately by simple labels. He was a complex talented individual.


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 21 Nov 19 - 05:06 PM

@Iains

Yes, he was, complex, talented, and I think, flawed (who isn't)

He comes across as at points being a bit of what you might call today a 'prima donna'; he threw rages - many in the book refer to this, he seems to have had some problems in close relationships, he liked to be in charge,

but

on the other hand, he had good points.

For me, the book, as I have said, seems balanced, not shying away from, flaws and also showing the strengths, which is why I do think it makes good reading.


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Iains
Date: 22 Nov 19 - 05:50 AM

@Pseudonymous
From his job jumping in his early days to his subsequent career in theatre, to his postwar migration to folk I get the very clear impression that he was a bit of a control freak and had always retained his independance. Just my impression but it would certainly create a problem for him when conscripted(as you point out) He had also been an activist from the age of 17 when I believe he participated in the Kinderscout trespass.
A few sources gathered in no particular order:
From: Joe_F - PM
Date: 13 Dec 09 - 06:35 PM

23 Aug 39: Hitler-Stalin pact
01 Sep 39: Britain enters war
24 Jul 40: E.M. conscripted
18 Dec 40: E.M. declared a deserter
22 Jun 41: Germany invades USSR
08 May 45: War in Europe ends
16 Dec 46: E.M. arrested
ca 11 Feb 47: Court martial canceled on medical grounds
26 Feb 47: Moved to hospital
10 Apr 47: Released,

----------------------------------------------------------------------

An entry in 1940 from the Commander of the 11th Battalion, King's Regiment, encloses a copy of the song Browned Off with which the young Miller had entertained fellow troops, and included the commendations "appeared to be a very good soldier of more than usual intelligence" and he "was NOT a grouser, and always appeared cheerful and willing".

Just two days later, MacColl deserted.


But MacColl's talents also earned him praise from police. In January 1939, Lancashire constabulary noted of his performance at a rally that he "showed exceptional ability as a singer and musical organiser". A note to the Chief Constable of Blackburn a year later, advised "in present conditions, it would probably be advisable to dissuade the town clerk from granting any future application from Theatre Union if it is made".

and
.his commanding officer expressed his concerns to Hyde Borough Police on December 16, 1940.

The report stated: "His influence over his fellow soldiers was that of a man of much greater intelligence than the ordinary soldier.

"In some ways they would follow him, though at no time was he ever discovered suggesting improper action, he may well have done so under cover. "

Two days later MacColl went AWOL.


In January 1941 a colonel wrote: Pte. miller has been absent from this unit without leave since 18th December, and there would appear to be something fishy concerning his absence, as communications have been received from his wife asking for extensions of leave.


https://newhumanist.org.uk/articles/995/sandals-and-spooks

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/4772328.stm

What happened during the war years is a bit of a blank,but it is surprising that MacColl was reinstated with the BBC so quickly, bearing in mind the authorities being so wary of him. That is an avenue that could do with researching.

A lot is made of him leaving school at 14 but The first major raising of school leaving age, a formal change in school leaving age policies occurred in 1939. Parliament debated to raise the age to 15, although this was delayed due to WWII and not formalized until the Education Act of 1944 and implemented until 1947.


https://www.artangel.org.uk/did-you-kiss-the-foot-that-kicked-you/ewan-maccoll-a-man-to-be-watched/

More on his arrest and dismissal on psychiatric grounds from:
Joan Littlewood's Theatre

https://books.google.ie/books?id=u4NsNL9XZ5MC&pg=PA57&lpg=PA57&dq=maccoll+court+martial&source=bl&ots=fi-cS9VB8U&sig=ACfU3U1Hcze

A man of many parts, British folk singer, songwriter, communist, labour activist, actor, poet, playwright and record producer.

Like everyone else he had a few warts and could sometimes be obnoxious, most seem to recall him positively.
I wonder what history will primarily remember him for?


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Nov 19 - 03:21 PM

Alot of judgemental remarks from people who seem to have an anti left agenda,hardly impartial fair criticism


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Iains
Date: 23 Nov 19 - 03:28 AM

Alot of judgemental remarks from people who seem to have an anti left agenda,hardly impartial fair criticism
Mr Millar was a political activist long before he involved himself in folk music." Millar was part of an agitprop theatre group, the Red Megaphones, who were associated with the Workers’ Theatre movement. Littlewood was drawn to their brand of theatre and political activism which contrasted markedly with her experiences as a student at London’s prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) and then at the Rusholme Repertory (in Manchester).

The term agitprop is a combination of ‘agitation’ and ‘propaganda’ and originates from Soviet Russia.

Agitprop theatre uses:

    political themes and satire
    direct engagement with the audience
    caricatures or ‘types’ rather than developed characters
    characters engaging in a debate to promote a message

It is often performed on the street and written quickly to reflect current affairs. Writing in 1936 Littlewood described how modern theatre should ‘be sufficiently dynamic and forceful to break down all the artificialities which clog the ordinary cardboard stage … [We must] destroy all the paraphernalia which litters and obscures the play. We must strip our stage of all that is superfluous’.[2] It is easy to see why the immediacy of agitprop theatre appealed to her.

The Red Megaphones performed political skits and satirical songs on the streets, in factory forecourts and for the dole queues outside the labour exchange. Pieces reflected daily news and covered local, topical issues. Audience members were encouraged to get involved in the action.

In late 1934 Ewan and Joan formed the company Theatre of Action, in association with the Workers’ Theatre movement. They were influenced by the struggles of inter-war Britain, by the union movements, by the strikes of the 1920s and by the ‘Means Test’ introduced in 1931. They were also affected by the rise of fascism across Europe. The man was a communist - the evidence is overwhelming." From the Guardian: "Left school at 14, political activist at 15, founded theatre troupe at 16, on MI5’s files at 17, godfather of British folk revival at 35" "Millar joined the young communist league shortly after his fourteenth birthday and remained a member until the 60's and publicly supported the party until his death."
https://www.jstor.org/stable/25472794?seq=1
You cannot separate the politics, theatre and folk contributions, they are all interlinked. The facts are a matter of public record and undeniable.


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Nov 19 - 05:28 AM

miller ,not millar if you are going to contribute please spell his birth name correctly


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 23 Nov 19 - 05:52 AM

Ians,

in your posting above there is a statement from the Guardian "godfather of British folk revival at 35". I believe Ewan was born 1915 which by   my calculation means that it was 1950 when(surely IF) he was known by this title.

I believe that 1950 is a little too soon before he began his full time acting role as a British folk singer.


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Iains
Date: 23 Nov 19 - 06:40 AM

@Guest Hootenanny
For convenience I would describe Millar's career in 3 phases, theatrical/activist, radio career (radio ballads 1958 to 1964) Then the formation of the critics group in 1865.1964)
This is a bit of a gross simplification because folk plays an important role all the way through from the Kinderscout trespass of 1932
The Kinder mass trespass was a deliberate act of civil disobedience by men of the Young Communist League of Manchester, and others from Sheffield.The protest was intended to secure free access to England's mountains and moorlands. . A young man called James Henry Miller, better known as Ewan MacColl, was a keen rambler and an enthusiastic member of the Young Communist League. He played a major part in organising the publicity for the trespass, duplicating and handing out leaflets, though this role is disputed. He took part in the trespass, and was shocked by the violent reaction of the gamekeepers who met the ramblers on the hill, and the extremely harsh sentences handed down by the magistrates to the five ramblers who were arrested that day.What MacColl did not know was that the protest was to have a powerful long-term effect, leading to improved access to the countryside in the shape of national parks
The Manchester Rambler was written shortly after this event. He changed his name in 1945, 1949/50 different sources quote different dates. It is unimportant anyway - actors change their names frequently. Who makes a meal of Marion Michael Morrison masquerading as John Wayne?
When, in 1953 Theatre Workshop decided to move to Stratford, London, MacColl, who had opposed that move, left the company and changed the focus of his career from acting and playwriting to singing and ri
composing folk and topical song. His political activism was still strong during the miners strike(ArthurScargill presented him with a Davy Lamp as a thanks). You cannot really untangle his theatrical work from his politics and his song creation. His first record was released in 1950
I am trying to take no sides in this thread (I have a bias. I could not stand his singing or the finger in the ear sitting back to front on a chair. I do not profess to like all his songs, and his politics stank)
BUT: He created some stunning work, recorded some memorable albums, collaborated with the greats(such as Lomax, and revitalised British Folk Music, while composing a host of songs that most would readily label folk. That is quite some legacy that no detractors can deny.

p.s.There is a plaque dedicated to MacColl in Russell Square in London. The inscription includes: "Presented by his communist friends 25.1.1990 ... Folk Laureate – Singer – Dramatist – Marxist ... in recognition of strength and singleness of purpose of this fighter for Peace and Socialism".


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 23 Nov 19 - 07:27 AM

Ians,

Thanks for all that most of which I am already aware of. I was just querying the date.

I saw Ewan & Peggy almost every week from around late 1956 / early 1957 until 1961 when they left the Ballads & Blues Club and I took over booking the performers and continued the same policy that the BBA had used since it's beginning when it grew out of the skiffle movement.

It was just prior to Ewan and Peggy leaving that Ewan decided to introduce his policy of British singers for British songs etc. Earlier he had been happy along with Peggy and Shirley Collins to record in Lomax's skiffle group using British and American songs albeit "arranged versions".

I agree with you that he wrote some good songs. I am not "taking sides".


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 23 Nov 19 - 07:46 AM

I don't know whether I'm included in the two who have read the book but I did buy it not long after it was published and have read it a couple of times but I would have to re-read it again as one or two of the references seem a bit unclear after all this time. After that I would be pleased to take art in the discussion.


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Iains
Date: 24 Nov 19 - 04:20 AM

@Guest Hootenanny.
The clip I posted on the folk music thread has a conversation where one of the Clancy Bros. makes the point that they started as actors and they had no qualms altering words in order to better communicate with their audience. They were insistent that communication was the key to success.
    This has some remarkable parallels with Ewan Macoll and more especially Joan Littlewood, whom he married in 1936. Littlewood created a radio documentary in 1939The Classic Soil using local voices/accents. This was followed post war in Stratford with a series of plays...http://essentialdrama.com/practitioners/joan-littlewood/
I would argue these influences fed through into the creation of the radio ballads (Groundbreaking radio programs) For Littlewood all this culminated in "Oh What Lovely war" that some argue has classic agiprop influences. It seems to me it is very difficult to separate the two entities from their bodies of work. I would argue they both fed off each other and the influences remained throughout their subsequent careers.
In a nutshell: The living soil predated the radio ballads. The workers Theatre Movement to the Theatre of Action long preceded Oh what a lovelty war.

As a total aside Joan Littleqwood played a major part in establishing the career of Brendan Behan. The above is a bit of a gross simplification but I find their interaction and influence on one another fascinating, as I cannot see where one finishes and the other starts. I do not think a discussion of Ewan Maccoll can be complete without bringing Joan Littlewood into the conversation.

Do you see a parallel here?
The Theatre Workshop's work reflected the ideas Littlewood was constantly developing. In addition to regular rehearsals for their various productions, the actors trained vigorously. Their days began with movement—a series of rigorous exercises based on Rudolph Laban's concept of the "human effort cube." This was followed by a period of vocal training and then by text and character work incorporating the theories Constantin Stanislavski set out in his book An Actor Prepares but adapted and extended into improvisation and theater games. From a later perspective, it is almost impossible to imagine how revolutionary Littlewood's teaching and directing methods seemed in England in the 1940s. Littlewood preferred to work with actors who were enthusiastic but previously untrained because they were largely unstructured, instinctive and highly individual, and not afraid to risk making fools of themselves. She ran weekend schools and summer workshops—most notably at Ormesby Hall, a grand mansion and garden in Yorkshire—from which she often garnered young recruits, molding them into the ensemble. She worked intensively and in great detail, believing that "the smallest contact between characters in a remote corner of the stage must become objectively true and relevant." One actor recalls, "She'd have all these ideas, more in an hour than I could think of in a lifetime." Said another, "We had intense emotional scenes very often … but I found Littlewood the most stimulating person to work with, the most co-operative person. She drew out whatever talent you had."


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 25 Nov 19 - 12:03 PM

Ians,

Once again. All I was questioning was the quote which you posted from the Guardian where he was supposedly the godfather of folk in 1950.

Ewan was certainly important to one section of the folk audience at a later date. But there was a far wider section that was able to appreciate a less rigid description of folk to whom he was irrelevant.


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Nov 19 - 03:14 AM

ian i am not affronted just pointing out his name was miller not millar. I have seen that clip before it tells me nothing new performance has always been about communication.
the guardian quote is hilarious, and just incorrect i think Ewan would have dismissed it as rubbish


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Iains
Date: 26 Nov 19 - 04:58 AM

A bit of a history lesson. It is claimed MaCcoll instigated the folk revival. I would claim it was the BBC giving airtime to the likes of Dylan and Baez.
I had not heard of the critics    until decades after I last attended the Surbiton Assembly rooms, but the Folk club was providing entertainment, the critics instruction.
I think the dates clearly indicate the interest existed, and was pandered to by the BBC, before the critics were even formed. Julie Felix was In 1964 the first solo folk performer signed to a major British record label, when she gained a recording contract with Decca Records. By 1968 she was reportedly the first folksinger to fill the Royal Albert Hall. Also Robin Hall and Jimmiw Macgregor were stalwarts of the The Hoot'nanny Show in 1963/4



The ballad and blues club 1952
The critics 1965(mid)
Surbiton assembly rooms folk club formed 1961 by Dereck Searjant and Gerry Lochran. Biggest folk club in Britain at it's peak 23000 members

Discography
Bob Dylan 31.03.1965 THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN' No9 in the charts
Joan Baez 18.07.1964 JOAN BAEZ IN CONCERT VOLUME 2 no 8 in album charts
JOAN BAEZ NO. 5 No 3 in Album charts 19.06.1965
JOAN BAEZ No 9 in album charts 27.11.65
FAREWELL ANGELINA No 5 in album charts 27.11.65
The best album credited to Ewan MacColl is Second Shift which is ranked number 50,637 in the overall greatest album chart with a total rank score of 7.
Ewan MacColl is ranked number 21,815 in the overall artist rankings with a total rank score of 7.

That MaCcol exerted an influence and created a legacy is undisputed.However I think the prominence given to the MaCcoll in the folk revival is undeserved. The real ones with the influence were those selling records and getting airtime, because they reached and entertained a much wider audience.


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Nov 19 - 05:09 AM

an over simplification, MacColl had an influence so did bert lloyd so did the singing postman he was signed to EMI who re-released earlier songs and recorded new items. He made numerous live and promotional performances, including on Top of the Pops, but was afflicted by nerves and stage fright.

In 1966, the Singing Postman's best known hit "Hev Yew Gotta Loight, Boy?" won Smethurst the Ivor Novello Award for best novelty song of the year.
In 1959, MacColl began releasing LP albums on Folkways Records, including several collaborative albums with Peggy Seeger. His song "Dirty Old Town", inspired by his home town of Salford in Lancashire, was written to bridge an awkward scene change in his play Landscape with Chimneys (1949). It went on to become a folk-revival staple and was recorded by the Spinners (1964), Donovan (1964), Roger Whittaker (1968), the Dubliners (1968), Rod Stewart (1969), the Clancy Brothers (1970), the Pogues (1985), the Mountain Goats (2002), Simple Minds (2003), Ted Leo and the Pharmacists (2003), Frank Black (2006) and Bettye LaVette (2012).
the dubliners had a hit with seven drunken nights in the mid sixties. all these people had an influence


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Nov 19 - 05:10 AM

you seem to be trying to rewrite history


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 26 Nov 19 - 06:16 AM

Ians

The BBC were broadcasting an excellent folk music series on radio on Sunday mornings before the dates which you quote for Dylan and Baez.

It was also the BBC that gave Robin Hall and Jimmie MacGregor exposure to a wide television audience five nights a week on alternate weeks in an early evening news/magazine programme "Tonight" prior to the Hootenanny ITV show.
I speak from personal experience as I handled their bookings during that period in addition to running the Ballads and Blues Club from 1961-1965.

I think also that Hall and MacGregor (OK not a solo act)were signed to Decca before Felix but am not certain without checking.


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: Iains
Date: 26 Nov 19 - 07:31 AM

@Hootenanny,
The point I am trying to make is that is that MaCcoll may have been very busy in the background(I believe his first disc was 1950)but he was only known to a restricted audience. As I said those artists that obtained the airtime popularized the genre and various artists had programs giving them exposure to a wide audience. I just gave a couple of examples to illustrate my point, I made no claim that it was exhaustive. Everyone knew of Julie Felix and Robin Hall and Jimmy Magregor in the mid 60's. They were TV stars. No one is going to persuade me that all the same demograhic had heard of Ewan MaCcoll I would argue that the respective record sales confirm this.Rather like Alex Campbell - a huge body of work but limited sales.Arguably Campbell contributed equally to the revival. By the mid seventies he would have been more widely known, but primarily as a songwriter, not a performer, with many covers of his songs being released.
In 1964, Bob Dylan appeared on the tonight programme and sang With God on Our Side. Dylan was more popular than MaCcoll at this time. To this MaCcoll reputedly said Bob Dylan's songs are“10th-rate drivel,” fit only for “a completely noncritical audience.”
This may have been valid criticism within the Critics group, but an audience exists to be entertained not hectored!
The White Heather Club also gave exposure to folk. The genre was very healthy before the formation of the critics club and the examples given illustrate TV exposure to folk was widespread long before the formation of the critics. That is why I argue MaCcoll did not initiate the folk resurgence. To accuse me of rewriting history is not supported by the facts. MaCcoll may justifiably sit on a pedestal for his contributions to Britsh Folk music but to give him the accolade of being the initiator of the folk revival is simply incorrect.
Seven drunken nights was released by the Dubliners in 1967. I restricted myself to examples predating or coinciding with the formation of the critics.

05.04.1967 SEVEN DRUNKEN NIGHTS THE DUBLINERS
Reached no 7 in the charts. Remained in the charts forn17 weeks


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Nov 19 - 09:50 AM

Ians

Sorry but I think you are confusing me with somebody else.

I do not rate MacColl as being as important as a few folks here do.

The critics group from what I have seen posted here was more about theatre and song writing.

Your posting above tells me nothing that I am not already aware of and I am not disagreeing with most of what you say.


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Subject: RE: 2007 Ewan MacColl Bio - Class Act
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 26 Nov 19 - 11:59 AM

My apologies, the above guest at 09.50 was me.


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