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What did you do in the war, Ewan?

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Subject: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 05:15 AM

Filtering though the gossiping Folk Grapevine we often hear of the celebrated gap in Ewan McColl's biography covering the period 1939-45. Rumours, it would seem, abound. One of the best would have him going in bearded disguise, wearing calipers, so as to avoid both conscription and facing the indignities suffered by more genuine COs.

Just rumours though, as I say...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 05:22 AM

Oh dear - another session of corpse kicking I fear.
Read the book if you genuinely don't know.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 05:25 AM

The story of Ewan's desertion, living in hiding, imprisonment on remand after the war, subsequent avoidance of trial on psychiatric grounds, can be pieced together from Ben Harker's biog 'Class Act' and Peter Cox's 'Set Into Song ... the Radio Ballads'. Both well-worth-reading books indeed. I of course cannot vouch for their absolute accuracy & truth with regard to this particular part of EMacC's life; but they both have the ring of carefully researched books of the sort not about to make rash allegations without proper checking.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 06:12 AM

Perhaps "The digging up of Ewan's Corpse" could become a traditional, or would it be a revivalist, event?

I guess it would break up into rival factions for and against.

He did some strange things in his life like creating a whole genre of recorded words and song The Radio Ballads and with Peggy wrote lots of great songs.

Like most of us he did some strange things of which various people disapprove.

Much evidence can be considered in the 2 books mentioned above but I guess most of the people who post on here won't bother reading them.

Best wishes

L in C


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 06:18 AM

Perhps we should start a thread on why Dylan refused to perticipate in the Civil Rights marches until embarrased into doing so by Theodor Bikel offering him the fare?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 06:24 AM

Perhaps we could twin "The Digging up of Ewan" with "The Burying of Bob"?

L in C


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 06:25 AM

No corpse kicking around here, Jim - I'm genuinely interested in MacColl: the man, the myth, the legend as it were. I find the Humanity of Celebrity endlessly fascinating and certainly worthy of celebration - the more idiosyncratic the better.

Is it true that having heard Ewan's Freeborn Man of the Travelling People a bunch of travellers camped up on Ewan's land only to have him phone the police and order a summary eviction? A cautionary tale for all songwriters there!

A tale is told of a drunk Elvis fan getting wind that the writer of one of his favourite Elvis songs was singing downstairs in the pub he was drinking in, so down he went and started heckling MacColl to sing Love Me Tender, which he did, in the style of Elvis. Then he went on to sing First Time much to the drunk's delight.

As I say - the man, the myth, the legend.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 06:30 AM

Their's a man down the chip shop says he's Elvis .............

Absolutely true!

Good point about the growing myths and stories Sean. A powerful, creative and fascinating man. I have the same interest as you and intend to read the books.

Cheers

Les


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 06:32 AM

As I said, read the book (and the relevant threads).
"Is it true that having heard Ewan's Freeborn Man of the Travelling "People a bunch of travellers camped up on Ewan's land"
Now there is a new one - somewhat spoiled by the fact that Ewan had no land to camp on - but why waste a good opportunity with facts? It is a pretty fair indication of the level we can expect from this thread though - bon voyage!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 06:47 AM

Their was a myth about his ownership of a rather smart pair of corduroy trousers - a clear case of class treachery - but as I promoted that story I guess it's time to come clean ..................

maybe later

L in C


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 07:28 AM

EWANS LAND ? what fecking land ? he was a pauper most of his life until Roberta Flack had a major hit with ' First Time Ever I Saw Your Face ' jeezus the mind boggles.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 07:55 AM

ha ha,what nonsense ,
just try camping in Beckenham.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 08:13 AM

I'm just reporting on stories told: Folklore, as it says. Like the folk club organiser weary with MacColl's prima-donna attitude who scrawled ARSEHOLE on the back of the chair set aside for the star turn, knowing our hero's affectation of turning the chair around to sit with the back facing the audience.

My favourite of all is the legendary first meeting of Alan Lomax with A L Lloyd and Ewan MacColl at some point in the 1950s in a WMC in Tow Law where Bert and Jimmy were giving the miners a concert of their own folk music. Does anyone know for sure if this actually happened? I've spoken to various ex-miners of Tow Law over the years who have no memory of it (nor of course know of any folk songs but that's a separate issue). There are however still folkies in Tyneside who sing Blackleg Miner with great sincerity of heart; again one is reminded of 1984:

It was only an 'opeless fancy,
It passed like an Ipril dye,
But a look an' a word an' the dreams they stirred
They 'ave stolen my 'eart awye!'


A suitable epitaph for the Folk Revival perhaps?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 08:37 AM

Argh Sean, you have mentioned the blessed and wildly creative Bert and so another collection of people can leap in / up / down with bad tales of treachery and deception. Bert may have owned corduroy trousers, I saw Ewan's but I have no knowledge of Bert's.

So to speak

L in C


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Santa
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 08:43 AM

I heard Tony Capstick tell the McColl & the gypsies story at a concert on Jersey, 1975 or 76. I don't know how old it was before then.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 08:45 AM

The story is ballocks, the second one that is. MacColl and Lloyd met in London, via their mutual acquainatnce with Lomax. I can't remember the details, but if you consult Ben Harker's Class Act, it is doubtless in there.

Regarding the first story, I dare say there are people in this world who are childish enough to vandalise a perfectly good chair in the way you describe, just as there are people who are childish enough to propagate unsubstantiated legends. But why would a folk club organiser book anyone he thought was an arsehole.

Are you the last man in Europe or something?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Sailor Ron
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 08:46 AM

I am looking at "Journeyman" as I key this in...end of chapter18 "...by 1939 we werebeginning to discuss the possibility of abandoning our amateur status and setting up a full time proffesional theatre company".
Beginning of chapter 19 "The war didn't put an end to our plans....."
So what did he do between 1939-45? As he didn't tell us, is it surprising that all sorts of tales grew to fill the void?
Now don't get me wrong Ewan McColl was, and still is one of my 'heroes'...... warts an all.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 08:54 AM

If you read Class Act by Ben Harker, it's all in there. The years 1939-45 are covered concisely.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 09:08 AM

I heard Tony Capstick tell the McColl & the gypsies story at a concert on Jersey, 1975 or 76. I don't know how old it was before then.

Cheers, Santa - this is a thread on folklore, so its nice to have some sort of provenance to work with. As I say - the man, the myth, the legend.

childish enough to propagate unsubstantiated legends.

See above.

But why would a folk club organiser book anyone he thought was an arsehole.

To please the punters obviously; but then again, some of my favourite singers have turned out to be less than appealing face-to-face, and I believe (or so I'm told) MacColl wasn't exactly easy-going in his demands. One of my favourite ever ballad singers, I last saw him at The Bridge in Newcastle and was bored to death by his execrable self-penned polemics about South Africa.

warts an all.

Absolutely.

The years 1939-45 are covered concisely.

Perhaps someone might be good enough to provide a précis for those of us who don't have Mr Harker's book to hand...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 09:17 AM

And let me reiterate that Harker's version is well filled out by Peter Cox in "Set Into Song ... the Radio Ballads". One needs both books, I think, to work out the full sequence of events. I have already to a considerable extent, for benefit of last poster, provided a precis in my previous post, second one on this thread. Look back at it.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 09:18 AM

I went to The Working Class History Museum in Salford along with a lot of other people for the launch of Ben Harker's book. I asked, rather nervously, how Ewan felt about going missing in the war years and how it affected him. Ben said Ewan felt bad about and the guilt followed him for the rest of his life.

L in C


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Seamus Mòr
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 09:21 AM

Why not buy the book like the rest of us?

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Class-Act-Cultural-Political-MacColl/dp/0745321658

Pretty well set out in Chapter 4, right down to his Army number - Private 3779986, when he was formally conscripted on 24 July 1940.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: curmudgeon
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 09:25 AM

Make sure to buy it through Mudcat!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 09:29 AM

If you watch the film by Tim May, ' The Ballad Of Ewan MacColl ' you will hear it from Alan Lomax himself of how HE introduced Ewan to Bert.

Where the feck do all these stupid stories come from, Ewan MacColl a landowner FFS ? he's now known as ' Spinning MacColl '


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 09:56 AM

I think I'll have add this book to my reading list! Quite a backlog there already - I'm currently on with Ginger Geezer - The Life & Times of Vivian Stanshall; next up is Folk by Bob 'Only in it for the Money' Pegg; after that Stations of the Sun by Ronald Hutton. Add to which The Collected Poems of George Mackay Brown and whatever new Phil Rickman novel that might emerge in the meantime...

Where the feck do all these stupid stories come from

Folklorists have been trying to answer that one for generations...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jamming With Ollie Beak (inactive)
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 10:09 AM

Ahhh...more hagiography on St. Ewan


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 11:25 AM

Suffering Jesus - can't the poor sod be left to rest in peace ?

Ewan McColl, I mean, not the other character referred to first in this post.

Hope you're well, Jim C - this could be another marathon . . .


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 11:33 AM

"Like the folk club organiser weary with MacColl's prima-donna attitude"
I have booked Ewan MacColl into folk clubs on three occasions and each time I found him one of the easiest people with whom to work. Punctual, prepared, professional and interested in how the club was progressing.
By the way I own one of the books and I have read the other.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 11:35 AM

"Hope you're well, Jim C - this could be another marathon . . ."
Doubt it Bryn - rather a quick visit to Wonderland
I'm fine thanks, apart from the usual pains in the arse!
Necrophobia rule OK
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 12:09 PM

It might be worth putting all this in context:
While all the stars of the revival who spent more energy knocking MacColl than they apparently did trying to become better singers, he and Peggy were devoting a night a week for about ten years assisting less experienced singers.
As I learned from personal experience, they threw open their home to new singers so they could access their extensive collection of books and recordings. Unlike a number of singers I have approached for material and information, they never refused assistance when approached.
While club organisers where whingeing about performers singing political songs - and still are if recent threads are anything to go by - MacColl and Seeger were writing and performing songs about the peace movement, apartheid in South Africa, the fascist takeover of Greece and Turkey, racism, the genocide in Viet Nam, Trades Union rights, the miner's strike, Thatcher's carve-up of Britain........ and the beat goes on. They also gave their services free-of-charge to these activities.
They assisted the setting up of new clubs - including three I was involved in, performing without charge to get them going.
Now perhaps we can hear from some of the grave-dancers what they personally have done and are doing at present to assist folk music to survive and continue to be enjoyed.
Maybe our O.P. would like to start?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 12:19 PM

my brother who also lived in Beckenham,was allowed to go in and look through Ewan and Peggys books to review material,they were allowed in to the house ,in their absence.
Ewan and Peggy left a key to let themselves in,they were very trusting and most helpful, having books prepared and laid out etc.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 12:30 PM

All very laudable, Jim - but the point of this thread isn't to knock EM, much less dance on his grave, rather to look into the folklore surrounding him. He is celebrity figure about whom stories are told, and in the name of Folklore I thought it was worth a thread.

The OP is a simple improvising musician, storyteller & ballad singer who just gets on with the business of improvising music, telling stories & singing ballads. He has no agenda other than to celebrate the diverse wonders of his personal cultural heritage in the sure hope others are doing so too. He also couldn't give a stuff about assisting Folk Music to survive because he is of the knowledge that wherever there are Folk there will be Folk Music.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 01:25 PM

Sorry SOP - don't believe a word of it.
You opened this thread by with a question about MacColl's war record, something you could have easily found out by thumbing through the mudcat archive - even if you couldn't bother your arse digging up 'Class Act' or 'Set Into Song', as you obviously have no intention of doing (as I sair earlier, why spoil a good bit of maliciousness with facts).
You went on to relate a story about MacColl turning Travellers off his non-existant land and then questioned the logic of his singing miners songs to miners.
And then there's those boring anti-apartheid songs..... what an arrogant bastard eh - interfering in the internal affairs of White South Africa.
"This thread isn't to knock MacColl" - in my hole it isn't! Give us credit for a little perception - we've been here millions of times.
"a simple improvising musician, storyteller & ballad singer who just gets on with the business of improvising music,"
I'll take that as "just getting on with my career" as an answer to my previous question.
It's recommendation enough for me that 20 years after his death there are still no-mark arseholes taking a pop at MacColl - he must have done something right to merit such attention
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Winger
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 04:53 PM

You're absolutely right, Jim … here we go again.

Why is it that when someone asks a question about Ewan MacColl (aka Jimmy Miller) it draws a highly irrational response from those who have apparently declared him off-limits. Not everyone knows everything about him, Jim. That's why we have forums such as Mudcat – those who don't have your encyclopedic knowledge of all things MacColl can ask questions and hopefully get answers (just like the 'Catter who asked about the Singers'Club).

"Read the book …" What book? Hope you didn't mean MacColl's autobiography. For some reason he developed amnesia about 1939-45 – no wonder people ask questions about what he did during the war!

And how did you manage to work Dylan into this discussion? "If you dare to ask about Ewan MacColl and the war, I'll mention Dylan and the Civil Rights movement." Wonderful bit of intellect, Jim.

For God's sake get over it.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 07:57 PM

What book? Hope you didn't mean MacColl's autobiography."
Two books and numerous threads on mudcat on this tired old subject.
'Class Act' by Ben Harker and 'Set into Song' by Peter Cox (both mentioned above).
Dylan - he was the one who changed his name from Robert Zimmermann just as MacColl was once Jimmy Miller, though it's ok for one to do it but not the other according to the Dylan crowd.
I knew MacColl for twenty years; I had some idea of the work he did on singing. Many of the problems that are raised on this forum; relaxation, voice production, tone, breath control, were covered by The Critics Group and could, I believe be of help to singers here. People like Frankie Armstrong and Sandra Kerr, both respected workers on singing techniques, cut their teeth in MacColl's group.
Yet whenever MacColl's name comes up we still have to plouter through this shit.
I constantly hear what a bastard MacColl was; what evidence are we given for this? He evicted travellers off land he didn't own. Great stuff!!!
We are told that somebody wrote 'arsehole' on the back of his chair at a club where he was booked - but it was ok because he was only there "to please the punters" - wonderful way to treat a visiting guest and it doesn't show much respect for the audience who apparently wanted him there - does it?
If any of us connected with The Singers Club had pulled such a stunt with a visiting singer we'd have been out on our arses. Whether we liked their singing or not we had far too much respect for fellow performers than to treat them in the infantile way SO'P apparently finds so amusing.
SO'P, I'll give you a MacColl story to add to your repertoire.
The Radio Ballad, The Travelling People probably did more for Travellers in Britain than any other single event. It made many of us aware of the situation they faced and almost certainly had a considerable influence on the passing of the 1969 Camping and Caravan Act which went some way to getting them recognised as human beings.
When it was near completion and ready to go on air it was decided to include some songs made by the Travellers themselves so an appeal was put out, and was answered by a feller named John Brune, who, no doubt you would have admired immensely.
Brune turned up with recordings of a couple of women Travellers singing such songs; the Radio Ballad team were delighted and gave one of them to Sheila Stewart to learn.
When the programme was all but completed Brune announced that the songs were fakes and he was the singer - because of where the song had been placed in the programme, as an example of Travellers own composition, it was withdrawn and Sheila, one of the finest singers on the scene, was deprived of the chance of appearing in the programme to represent her people. Had the song been included it would have undermined the authenticity of the programme and the Travellers would have lost the chance to be heard.
Don't take my word for it; read Bob Pegg's interview with Sheila Stewart on 'The Living Tradition' archive.
You've got to larf - haven't you?
I think it's time somebody "got over it" - don't you?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 12:37 AM

'I constantly hear what a bastard MacColl was; what evidence are we given for this? ' Jim asks above.

What follows is a true story, from my own experience as witness and bystander, to demonstrate that, for all his undoubted brilliance and virtues, Ewan could on occasion take his self-arrogated stewardship of the English Tradition to the point of arrogance, contentiousness and extreme unreasonableness, This happened in 1958, while Sandy Paton, who appears marginally in the tale, was over here. I shared a flat in Hampstead with John Brunner, a sf writer, later famous as author of Hugo-winning novels like Stand On Zanzibar, and already well-known in sf magazines. He it was who first introduced me to the folk scene in 1956. He contributed a regular column on the London Folk Scene, & on British folk matters generally, to a NY monthly folk newsletter, highly regarded at the time tho I fear the name escapes me after all these years. He wrote in one column, in a purely theoretical piece on traditional-v-revival techniques, that he wondered if folkies generally preferred to hear a talented revivalist or "an unaccompanied ancient Dorset farm labourer with a voice like a rusty hinge". Note that this labourer was purely fictitious, putative, archetypical: no particular singer was named.

A few days later, Sandy Paton, who hadn't read this article but knew both John & me, told me that Ewan was denouncing John in folk clubs for having insulted the great Harry Cox of Norfolk [not Dorset, note — they are not even near-together counties], by having written something about "scratchy-voiced old Harry Cox". And sure enough, next time I visited Ballads&Blues, Ewan announced he was about to sing one of Harry Cox's songs, adding "I am on a Cox-jag at the moment because he has been publicly insulted in an American journal by their London correspondent, one Brunner, who says he has a voice like a rusty hinge." I went home and told John, who had stayed at home that night to get on with a story. Our next-street neighbour Eric Winter, a much-respected member of the Scene, founder-editor of Sing Magazine and a prominent critic, read what John had written, compared it with what Ewan had asserted, and asked astutely "So who does think Harry Cox has a voice like a rusty hinge, then?"

So, in my presence, John confronted Ewan in the bar of the Princess Louise at the first opportunity, pointing out that he hadn't meant Harry Cox, but had simply referred theoretically to a purely fictitious source-singer. Ewan's response, in absolutely "My·mind's·made·up·don't·confuse·me·with·facts" tones, was to say "You rushed into print on a subject you knew nothing about and it was the duty of someone who knew better to set you right"; whereupon he turned on his heel and walked away, refusing to discuss the matter any further,

I repeat: I was there; I was involved; I saw and heard this last confrontation. I repeat that I had, and have, the utmost respect for Ewan's achievements in & contributions to British Folk, as anyone who recalls my review of Journeyman for The Times will know. But this does not blind me to the fact that, as this incident illustrates, he could be unspeakably arrogant as to his self-appointed not·to·be·gainsaid status as the Guardian-Of-The-Tradition, thoroughly unreasonable, grossly contentious ... and I think this might provide an answer to Jim's question.

Michael Grosvenor Myer


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 01:59 AM

Moreover, getting back to the original topic of this thread: as one just too young to have served in the War [I was 13 when WWii ended], but old enough to have been liable for National Service [two full years of intolerable tedium and humiliation until, if lucky enough, promoted or even, like me, fortunate enough to be commissioned; followed by 3 or 4 compulsory annual 15-day camps; followed by compulsory membership of the Z-Reserve, liable to be called back at any time the government decided, until the age of 51] — try as I might I cannot but regard EwanMacColl/JimmyMiller's war record as other than contemptible and disgraceful, however much respect I might have for so many other aspects of his undeniable talents and achievements. Someone mentions above that Ben Harker, author of the 'Class Act' biography, stated orally that Ewan always looked back on his war record with shame; but I can find no indication of this in Harker's book; nor in Peter Cox's 'Set Into Song; nor, above all. in Ewan's own 'Journeyman' which I had to read with particular care as I was reviewing it - which, notoriously, as has been already mentioned how-many-times on this thread, segues effortlessly from 1939 to 1945. There seems to be a pervasive attitude of 'oh-not-again', and of 'forget-and-forgive' permeating this thread. But surely there are some things which don't deserve to be forgotten or forgiven. I enter this post in [I hope] no vindictive spirit, but in that of a seeker for just assessments, who, however, like most of us, unwillingly, did not attempt to evade the duties required of me by the Law.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 03:56 AM

Thanks for that, MtheGM.

Methinks at times the myth Jimmy Miller created in Ewan MacColl grazes as an all-too Holy Cow on the grave of Traditional Folk Song, much less its so-called revival. The legend endures along with his effected mannerisms - it was, after all, Ewan who copped the hand-over-the-ear pose from Arabic muezzin along with that faux-melismatic style which has become de-riguer ever since, despite his dictatorial insistence that we somehow sing our own. If this was truly the case few in the revival, Ewan included, would have dared sing a note!

I was on the verge of ordering at least one of the books mentioned on this thread but noticed that volume two of Daevid Allen's autobiography Gong Dreaming is now available I went for that instead. Sing your own, right enough.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim McLean
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 04:52 AM

MtheGM wrote 'I enter this post in [I hope] no vindictive spirit, but in that of a seeker for just assessments, who, however, like most of us, unwillingly, did not attempt to evade the duties required of me by the Law.'

This sounds to me rather like a Nurnberg Trial defence.

I knew McColl and argued with him on purely political grounds but did not discuss the policies of his club. I didn't like the bunch of Ganymedes it flung up, however, but great men always have copycats. His actions or reactions to serving in World War ll were personal but I would have thought it was difficult for a Communist to reconcile the vagaries or vacillations of the British government over the period of the war. One minute Uncle Joe was a Great Friend and Russia was 'the land where the sun didn't set' and the next, when it suited HMG's policy, to reveal that Stalin was a mass murderer.

I refused to comply with 'the duties required of me by the Law' during the Suez debacle of 1957 and ended up in Barlinnie gaol for six months as a conscientious objector. Times were different during Ewan's time but do not seem to be a-changing.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 06:19 AM

Sorry, Jim: don't quite follow. The Nurnberg defence was "just obeying orders", with implication of parenthetical 'tho I knew it was wrong'. I am no committed pacifist, and didn't think it was in any way *wrong* to do National Service: just disagreeable; but like all my generation I did it because the law required it and I am a law-abiding citizen. However Ewan might have been confused over the vagaries of attitudes to USSR, he didn't attempt to declare himself any sort of conscientious objector: he simply decided he was above the law and scarpered and hid and then was lucky to get away with it on psychiatric grounds. I admire your principled stand and am sorry you had a bad time; but, as I don't happen to share your principles, I can't see where that makes me in any way culpable for having just got on with it, as we all did at the time, tiresome as we may have found it, rather than run away from it as Ewan appears to have done — AND YOU DIDN'T, but preferred to state your position and take any consequences which ensued; which, I reiterate, I find admirable even tho you were acting on convictions which I don't happen to share.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim McLean
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 06:26 AM

Thanks, MtheGM


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 10:59 AM

Mike ,
Being of the left I am well acquainted with the confusion faced by MacColl's generation regarding WW2.
You will be aware, I am sure, of the hasty change of policy when the Soviet Union was invaded – one minute an Imperialist war – the next a fight against fascism. The Communist Party general secretary, Harry Pollit resigned over the issue.
Added to this was the ambivalent attitude of the Government of the day – "I have in my hand….."
It is worth remembering that Britain refused to intervene when Franco's fascists overthrew the elected government there. Some schools of thought claim that, had they done so Hitler may have thought twice about going to war altogether.
It is also worth recalling the actions of some of our 'betters' regarding Hitler's rise to power: The WINDSORS, LORD Rothermere (of Daily Mail fame), SIR Oswald Mosley… et al. We know that the early reports of the extermination camps were described by a number of MPs as "Lies invented by whingeing Yids".
On a more personal level, my father returned from Spain on the eve of 'The War Against Fascism', having been wounded and held prisoner there. He received no hero's welcome; rather he was met with excommunication from his church for fighting on the wrong side, was awarded a police record as "a premature anti-fascist" and became unemployed because of having being 'blacklisted' from his job. Unable to find work he became one of McAlpine's Fusiliers, the result being that I don't think my sister and I met him more than a dozen times before my tenth birthday,
I'm not claiming that the above was in any way the reason for Ewan's wartime non-activity. I discussed the war with him a couple of times, but only in general terms; I share Jim McLean's view that his actions were personal and none of my business. I do know that he shared my views on the ambiguities of the war, but I have no idea whether this in any way influenced his decision not to remain in the army.
There is another aspect to his actions. I know from discussions with his contemporaries in Manchester that he was put under pressure to leave the army in order to continue his theatre work "Because it was a more effective way to fight fascism".   This was a fairly common argument used by the left: I know a number of my father's friends were dissuaded from going to Spain because they could "do a more valuable job at home".
Sorry – reams to be written on this but packing calls!
SO'P
it was, after all, Ewan who copped the hand-over-the-ear pose from Arabic muezzin…….
You appear to be unaware that the act of cupping the hand over the ear to control pitch is a world-wide practice – there are even woodcuts of English broadside sellers using it!   
"despite his dictatorial insistence that we somehow sing our own."
I suppose if you repeat an inaccuracy often enough it MIGHT eventually be accepted – as you have, I am sure, read numerous times, Singers Club policy not MacColl's dictatorial insistence – read Peggy's letter on the Living Tradition website.
"I was on the verge of ordering at least one of the books mentioned on this thread"
Save your money; your mind is obviously locked and bolted.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 12:23 PM

Many thanks, Jim. I really do take your points on board by determined empathy with your pov, which I respect, tho, as I said also to Jim McLean a couple of posts back, not one I share. Hope we may return to this point when you get back. Would also value your comments on my other post above, about Ewan's [I think] unreasonably picking a quarrel with my friend John Brunner over something John never wrote, which I posted in good faith in response to your having explicitly asked for evidence that Ewan could be something of a 'bastard' [your word]. Have a good week!!!!

{THREAD DRIFT coming up: My friend John Brunner [now alas dead some 15 years], mentioned as sci·fi writer, was also a poet and an early CND member; and was author of words of CND's acknowledged anthem, The H-Bomb's Thunder ["Men & Women Stand Together", to tune of Miners' Life Guard]. I was there when he wrote the first draft. He could not sing a note, so asked me to sing it back to him to hear how it sounded. So I can claim to be the first-ever singer of that song which went on for years being sung by all those thousands [nay, probably millions!]on the CND marches - and probably still goes on indeed...}


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 01:21 PM

Mike,
I agree entirely that Ewan could be bloody unreasonable at times.
I observed it on several occasions, though I have to say I never experienced it personally. Occasionally his pig-headed single-mindedness got the better of him; he certainly didn't like being wrong, but I discovered if you stuck to your guns and put your arguments well he quite often took your points on board (though he was reluctant to admit that you were right!)
To a great extent his guardedness stemmed directly from the hammering he took from the revival. It seemed he drew into himself much more following the disasterous John Snow meeting in the mid - sixties when he and Bert tried and failed to pull the revival together and get some consensus between the performers and clubs.
The same happened following the demise of the acting group (which developed from The Critics Group)
Each Time he bounced back.
None of this altered in any way his (IMO) genius.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 01:44 PM

'None of this altered in any way his (IMO) genius'

Indeed not, Jim: as, you will note, I have been at pains to say regarding my own "IMO" throughout all my animadversions against some of his attitudes and actions. Re your remark about how one could eventually get him to climb down, at least implicitly & up to a point, by sticking to one's guns: note again, in that lamentable John Brunner incident which I have described in such detail, how he refused to hear John out, but walked off with the conversation unfinished; which I always think an unforgivably rude thing to do — I have btw noticed it as a characteristic habit of Oxford men of my generation (I, needless to add, was at Cambridge!).


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 02:31 PM

"despite his dictatorial insistence that we somehow sing our own."
I suppose if you repeat an inaccuracy often enough it MIGHT eventually be accepted – as you have, I am sure, read numerous times, Singers Club policy not MacColl's dictatorial insistence – read Peggy's letter on the Living Tradition website'

you wrote to SO'B, Jim. Not perhaps for me to intervene in your correspondence with him, or to purport to know better than Peggy — tho it seems to be generally agreed here that she got the dates wrong in that letter of hers. But I repeat what I wrote on the inlay to my record Butter&Cheese&All [Brewhouse 8904] in the note to Red·Apple·Juice: that Isla Cameron often insisted on singing it, in an American accent, at the end of her set, explicitly to wind Ewan up, winking roguishly at him each time as if to say "Here's what I think of your old 'got to sing in own tradition' rule!" I remember his once shaking his head sorrowfully at her at the end of one such rendition & saying "A flogging for you, Madam: 50 lashes at the gangway!" I don't care what anybody sez — it WAS, SO, Ewan's rule: I remember his frequently articulating it at B&B sessions at the Louise, which I attended regularly — I can even be clearly descried, sitting literally at Ewan's and Bert's feet, in one of the pix in Journeyman..


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 03:06 PM

Sorry Mike,
I can't speak for Ballads and Blues - I know it was never a 'rule' at The Singers, even before my time there.
When I first heard of it I asked around anybody I could find who were involved and they confirmed Peggy's account.
Originally the idea came from Lomax anyway when he heard MacColl and Lloyd doing American material and chastised them for it.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 06:39 PM

Probably last word from me for now:
There is another aspect to this discussion.
I became involved in the revival at the beginning of the sixties through the Spinners Club in my home town of Liverpool
While this was the first place I saw Ewan and Peggy, you probably couldn't get further from Singers Club policy than what was happening there - MacColl had no sway in the policy whatever.
Where did "dictatorial insistence" enter into the equasion?
Is it being suggested that there were hundreds of clubs hanging on MacColl's every word and awaiting orders on what should or should not be club policy? How many clubs did MacColl actually control?
If my memory serves me right, while he and Peggy could fill any club they performed in (you had to book in advance to get in to see them), that was the only contact they had with the clubs they visited - or did I miss something and were all the clubs secretly being manipulated from 35 Stanley Avenue?
I have no doubt that MacColl was quite capable of arguing for policy he believed to be important; I've seen him do it often enough. Wasn't that his, and everybody's right - or is it being suggested that his views should be suppressed?
The people running the clubs I visited in Liverpool, Manchester and London appeared to be a pretty independent bunch: Terry Whelan, Mike Harding, Harry Boardman, Bobby Campbell, Gordon McCulloch, Frank Duffy, Christie Moore, Mick Groves.... can't think of one of them who would have sprung to attention when MacColl came into the room (but maybe I missed the on/off switch).
Even if it was a 'rule' at the Ballads and Blues, surely that was their perogative.
I visited clubs that banned musical instruments, ones that would not allow contemporary songs. Members of the Critics Group often complained about clubs where they were asked not to sing political songs (see fairly recent thread on this subject).
So what's it to be; was MacColl secretly using a Taser to impose his views on the revival or was he merely expressing an opinion?
Will look forward to seeing how (if) this is answered.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Nick E
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 06:40 PM

WOW! You wont need to remind me not to impune The MacColl!
It is rare to see a Mudcat thread this testy and long.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 30 Aug 09 - 11:39 PM

Jim Carroll - I'm interested in "the hammering he took from the revival" and "the disasterous John Snow meeting in the mid - sixties." I don't think these are discussed in Journeyman. Are they discussed in the other two books that have been cited in this thread? or somewhere else?

Nick E - this is nothing. If it's testy and long you want, try http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=112434


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: M.Ted
Date: 31 Aug 09 - 02:02 AM

Are John Brunner and John Brune one in the same? They seem to have some traits in common--


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 31 Aug 09 - 05:05 AM

Absolutely not. The name of John Brune rings a slight bell, but don't think he is someone I ever met. John Brunner, on other hand, one of my closest friends for nearly 40 years.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Terry McDonald
Date: 31 Aug 09 - 05:36 AM

John Brune is credited as having done the layout for the first edition of 'Marrowbones.'


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Hotenanny
Date: 31 Aug 09 - 07:07 AM

Jim

I believe I can answer for the Ballads & Blues having attended regularly over 6-7 years. There was never a rule about material to be performed. The variety of performers and music and song was what made it so interesting for me.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 31 Aug 09 - 10:25 AM

no they are not the same,this has been dealt with before.
john brune was a collector he also published a BOOK called The Roving Songster.
John Brunner was amongst other things a SciFi writer,he was also involved in running a folk club at South Petherton.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: M.Ted
Date: 31 Aug 09 - 11:35 AM

With due respect, this has all been dealt with before.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 31 Aug 09 - 12:44 PM

sorry M.TED,did not intend to not show you due respect,please accept my apologies.
I will try to be more respectful next time.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jamming With Ollie Beak (inactive)
Date: 31 Aug 09 - 12:51 PM

"John Brunner was amongst other things a SciFi writer,he was also involved in running a folk club at South Petherton"
- Good Soldier Schweik
this is the one REALLY interesting thing about this whole thread, having read most of Brunner's work.
Thanks Good Soldier Schweik!

Charlotte Olivia Robertson (Ms)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Paul Burke
Date: 31 Aug 09 - 02:35 PM

The word in Salford back in the day was that Ewan McColl personally arranged the defective repair to the steam brake on 48188 just so he'd have something to write about. The land he owned was of course Kinder Scout, the Duke was merely his agent on the spot. In fact, Ewan McColl was not Ewan McColl at all, but another folksinger of the same name. His mannerism of putting his hand over his ear was to be better able to hear the orders relayed from the Kremlin on a tiny implanted radio. The beard he got secondhand from Cuba.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield
Date: 02 Sep 09 - 05:20 AM

Yes, I'm interested in the "John Snow" meeting .... do tell please?
Derek


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Winger
Date: 02 Sep 09 - 12:14 PM

I'd be interested in learning about that too, Derek but I'm afraid we might be told to "Read the book if you genuinely don't know."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 02 Sep 09 - 12:50 PM

Some small info on the debate at The John Snow here: The John Snow debate (2nd para) in the guest posting from Jim Caroll. Perhaps when he returns he can give you more information.

There is also a cassette recording listed in Ewan and Peggy's material at Ruskin. Perhaps a transcript exists.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield
Date: 02 Sep 09 - 01:04 PM

Thanks Mick. I remember Jim and Pat telling me of this debate some years ago, and the outcome. I think they might have made the tape recording.
Derek


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 13 Dec 09 - 12:40 PM

r


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 13 Dec 09 - 01:12 PM

To explain, I have refreshed this thread purely in relation to the 'great but crabby artists' ongoing thread, both of which adjectives it seems to me apply here. My particular purpose, as I have said on that thread also, was to draw attention to my post above of 30 Aug 09 12.37AM, & subsequent exchanges, especially with Jim Carroll, about the particular "crabby" incident described there.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Dec 09 - 01:20 PM

Sorry Mike - won't be able to join in the fun for too long - off to Clonakilty on Tuesday and Im sure the 'grave-dancing will stretch far beyond that.
Elucidate please
Happy to fill in the details on the John Snow fiasco if you want, but maybe you were around, or the attempted sabotage of the S=Travellers Radio Ballad
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 13 Dec 09 - 01:40 PM

Jim - It is the incident with John Brunner's supposed rudeness to Harry Cox, which never occurred but Ewan made a big production # of, which it seems to me qualifies him for the 'great but crabby' label. You will find it all above on posts of 30 Aug, when you had actually requested some justification for someone's having described EMacC as 'a bastard' & at your request I furnished an example.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 13 Dec 09 - 01:59 PM

I was off the scene from my marriage & leaving London for CAMBRIDGE WHEN MY WIFE WON HER MATURE STATE SCHOLARSHIP ABOUT 1960 [sorry, not shouting, bad typing], till I got jobs reviewing theatre & folk for Times, Gdn, Folk Review &c towards end of 60s; so the John Snow stuff &c passed me by.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Suibhne (Astray)
Date: 13 Dec 09 - 01:59 PM

Hardly grave-dancing, old man - I was bitching about Ewan MacColl's so-called politics on the letters page of Folk Roots when he was still alive. Alas I no longer have a copy of the appropriate number but this was back around 1987 or so - I signed myself Ralph Harris (as a private joke between myself and a certain Dancing Jim Wetherspoon) and the FR letter's editor gave it the heading Ewan Whose Army? which I thought was rather neat. I referenced the present thread on Lucy Wright's recent Miners' Strike thread which meantioned Ewan MacColl's Daddy, What Did You Do in the Strike?, the somewhat divisively propagandist title of which I parodied here.

I still stand by what I wrote 20+ years back in the letters page of Folk Roots, the gist of which was for the well-healed middle-class folk fraternity to resist the urge to romantise the real-life struggles of the working classes for the furtherance of their soppy art and stick to what they actually know about. Reducing the complexities of working-class culture to convenient socialist polemic by way of protest song is paternalist political nannying of the worst order.

So there.

Sweeney O'Pibroch, WCAP&FOXC&CLTTF (Working-Class Anarchist, Pissed & Full of Xmas Cheer & Contentedly Listening to The Fall)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 13 Dec 09 - 02:04 PM

... and let me please say again that I have NOT refreshed this thread for any 'grave-dancing' purposes, but purely in relation to the 'great crabby artists' thread, for which I would way EMacC qualifies in ♠♠♠!!!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Acorn4
Date: 13 Dec 09 - 02:26 PM

I had a Ewan McColl moment when I was involved with CND in the 70s.

We'de arranged a fundraiser at which he and Peggy were the guests which was on at Leicester University. The CND people were great folk, but when it came to organisational skills the words "piss up" and "brewery" spring to mind.

I agreed to act as compere, assuming that all the arrangements had been made. I introduced them and they walked on stage and Ewan then said that he wanted the curtains drawn behind them. It was a Sunday and I had no idea how the curtains worked. I had to walk off the stage and go in search of a caretaker, leaving the couple on the stage and the audience waiting. After about 10 minutes I found a "Jobsworth" caretaker who let me have one of those pole things with a hook on the end, and I had to walk across the stage with the apparatus across my shoulder and finally managed to work out how to draw the curtains.

I learned at that point that EM was perhaps not renowned for his sense of humour although only having this brief encounter I'm aware that I may be doing him an injustice.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Dec 09 - 03:38 PM

Mike,
As I said, I'm not going to be able to hang around on this thread, but here goes.
My problem with the 'crabby' bit was that in the twenty-odd years I knew Ewan I never experienced it myself and never really witnessed it. While I know that there were 'moments' in the Critics Group, again, I wasn't there and I have never come across them on the 200-odd tapes of recoded meetings I have on the shelves behind me. Maybe he'd mellowed by the time I first got to know him in 1967/8.
Contentious - hmmmm. He had strong opinions and wasn't backward in expressing them, which, for me, was a welcome relief to the sycophantic syrup that were a condition of membership of the mainstream revival in those days, and now, on occasion.
Personally I always found him good company, extremely generous with his time, knowledge, and his and Peggy's hospitality in throwing their home open to enable access to their large library and sound archive - I never came across that anywhere else in the revival, but there you go - maybe I'm too easily pleased.
He was hyper-sensitive about some things - attacks on traditional singers being one of these at one stage, and he lacked the people skills not to realise that when somebody came to him at the Singers Club and asked him what he thought of their singing, what they were really asking him was "Didn't you think my song was the greatest thing since sliced bread?", and sending them away with the anseer they didn't really want to hear.
He also fell down by refusing to be a name-dropper and folk 'Luvvie' and, after the 'Travelling People' and 'John Snow' incidents he cut himself off from a large part of the revival and concentrated all his work on The Critics Group. When I gave a talk on The Group at his symposium, this was my main criticism of the work the group did, the point I made being that his approach had made enemies out of potential friends. Conversations I had later gave me the impression that he'd taken my point - he certainly wasn't 'crabby' about it.
In the end, I really don't care one way or the other what people think about Ewan - my memories are my memories and nothing is going to change that.
I don't have any great objection to threads like this; I'm grateful for the chance to share my experiences and to argue the toss when I know something to be blatently unfair and inaccurate. The problem I do have is when they get in the way of discussing the work we did with him in the Critics Group which, I believe was unique and could make a difference to what goes on in the clubs today.
It can get a little tiresome when some talentless arsehole insists on digging up the corpse to give it yet another kicking 20-odd years after the funeral, but you can see these coming a mile away. they are usually peppered with phrases like "MacColl's so-called politics" and "middle-class folk fraternity" and "....romantise the real-life struggles of the working classes for the furtherance of their soppy art" - hark; is that the first cuckoo of December I hear???
I'm more than happy to discuss any aspect of Ewan and his work, but it would be nice to get over the shit heap and start tackling the real mountain.
I hope to start a discussion on teaching singing once the 'pah humbug' season is over, maybe then we'll get rid of army records and name changes and 'finger-in-ear' and being born in Salford, and all the other crap that gets in the way of what really matters, the singing and enjoyment of songs and making an effort to make it possible for the next generation to get the same pleasure we did - you never know, "Stranger things have happened at sea" (as my mother used to say).
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Winger
Date: 13 Dec 09 - 04:21 PM

Enough of the corpse kicking stuff Jim. There's no one more guilty of it than you.

Remember the Common British Tars (Trafalgar) thread earlier this year? It began as a request for the words of a particular song, into which you suddenly interjected:

"There is a contemporary account of Nelson's funeral which describes how the coffin was booed and spat at by sailors lining the funeral rout who had fought in the Battle of Trafalgar. They were protesting on behalf of those who died without acknowledgment."

No one was discussing the merit of Nelson's character at that point (pro or con) but you couldn't resist an unsubstantiated punt at the 200-yeard-old corpse of 'is Lordship.

"What's good for the goose is good for the gander" (as my mother used to say).


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 13 Dec 09 - 04:38 PM

Talentless arsehole just about sums up Ewan MacColl; a pedlar of spurious, the bogus and the faux - so, as a figurehead of the so-called revival, he'll do just nicely. The real mountain? The man was barely a molehill. Still, nice to know that you're keeping the faith so devoutly, old man!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 13 Dec 09 - 05:03 PM

"Talentless arsehole just about sums up Ewan MacColl;"

It most certainly does not!! You have absolutely no basis for such a slur, SO'P. If you didn't like his singing or his songs you're entitled to that opinion - but, by no stretch of the imagination, could he be described as talentless. To employ such a description sounds to me like extreme and irrational prejudice. Just to provide some perspective, I didn't particularly enjoy the work of your hero, Peter Bellamy and found some of it a bit irritating - but that's my personal preference and I would never dishonour his memory by describing him as "talentless" ... or an "arsehole" for that matter!

For the record I found Ewan's work, particularly his interpretation of traditional songs and ballads, inspirational, and, more's the pity, since he died there's been no-one to replace him.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 13 Dec 09 - 05:16 PM

"Talentless arsehole just about sums up Ewan MacColl"

Blimey SO'P..

Well for my sins. I confess I don't really have any interest in *any* singers, either so-called source or revival, beyond the songs themselves. Ffs, these were just men & women like you & me. No sacred stuff here: just dessicated memories, which song scavengers harvest.

So from now on, I see myself as a 'Scavenger Singer'.
And as Crow has been my adopted online totem, I'm going to undergo absorbtion of her in best DMC fashion & fully embody my alter-ego.. Or something.

Ouch, that pinched! Caw Caw...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Bill D
Date: 13 Dec 09 - 05:30 PM

from an American who only met Ewan once...(and Peggy several times).. and found them helpful & delightful in that brief encounter: I will say that, the insights of those who knew the people & saw & heard them in many contexts help us understand complex personalities better.
Obviously, Ewan was quite a complex individual and could, like many of us, show different aspects of himself at different times.

Having read Mudcat since its beginnings, I am in awe of the information available in its many thousands of threads, and I always hope that more folks who have relevant knowledge of history (both 'folk' and otherwise) will share it, with as little contentiousness as possible.. *smile*

(and I MUST add my good fortune to possess an LP signed BY Ewan MacColl saying "Thanks to Bill for guidance!")
..
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.





(even if it WAS only leading him & Peggy thru the streets to a venue... ☺)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Bill D
Date: 13 Dec 09 - 05:34 PM

"...with as little contentiousness as possible"

I see I am already too late.... *sigh*,,,Suibhne O'Piobaireachd exemplifies an attitude I hate to see, even though I have come to expect it when certain topics arise.

...... ah well...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Rowan
Date: 13 Dec 09 - 06:00 PM

Perhaps the pastime of cutting down tall poppies, regarded as a quintessentially Oz habit, was one we inherited from the same Blighty ancestors whose descendants produced our current posters to this thread (none of whom I've yet met but whose postings I respect).

My own experiences of Ewan, Peggy and Peter Bellamy (in both England and Oz for the first two and Oz-only for the last-mentioned) were all positive, although I have plenty of more intimate evidence about other friends that has required me to accept the notion most of us are not unflawed. "Recognise the flaws and properly celebrate the achievements" seems to have a lot going for it.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 13 Dec 09 - 06:00 PM

The talentless arsehole bit was lifted from JC's previous post (a phrase he used against me) & slotted in place with respect of my general tenor regarding the matter of the Cult of the Divine MacColl that still holds such evident sway. I used to have great respect for EM as a singer of trad. ballads - but I tried to listen to some the other week & turned off after two minutes. Great thing is though, there are no absolutes, only opinions.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 13 Dec 09 - 06:10 PM

yes,John Brunner was involved and used to attend South Petherton folk club,I am not sure if he helped to run South Petherton folk Festival,
after I guested at the Folk Club I stayed at the house of Mr Dev Deverill,who was part of a good harmony group.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 13 Dec 09 - 06:12 PM

"Cult of the Divine MacColl that still holds such evident sway."

Eh, well I'm a perverse lass always - and only actually heard some stuff of McColls recordings on YouTube a couple days ago (yes, I was *that* enthusiastic about revival singers!) but I thought it was jolly good...

So, there you go, some chap singing, and I thought "Hmm, that's quite good, that."

Fucking right exciting this folk shite, innit?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Joe_F
Date: 13 Dec 09 - 06:18 PM

Eaten up by vulgar curiosity, I actually bought _Class Act_ and read the apposite chapters. For the benefit of those who can't be bothered, here are some dates:

23 Aug 39: Hitler-Stalin pact
01 Sep


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Joe_F
Date: 13 Dec 09 - 06:35 PM

Sorry -- hit the wrong key (don't even know which one).

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

He deserted, then, while the war was still an imperialist war according to the USSR, and then found himself in a permanently embarrassing situation when it suddenly became a war against fascism. Such things happen. My main wonderment is why the authorities treated him so gently. I could make up an amusing story, but so could you.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Dec 09 - 07:34 PM

Guest Winger:
"Enough of the corpse kicking stuff Jim. There's no one more guilty of it than you."
You really can't tell the difference between passing on a piece of factual information on a historical figure who died a couple of centuries ago and somebody who breaks out in a cold sweat when the name of as singer who died 20 years ago is mentioned - oh dear!
You want to hear what I have to say about Napoleon - and as for that bastard Oliver Cromwell.........!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 13 Dec 09 - 07:41 PM

It's worth bearing in mind that if it hadn't been for MacColl (and Lloyd and Lomax) there wouldn't have been a post-war revival in the UK.

Listening to the newly re-issued Riverside recordings of MacColl singing ballads (Topic TSCD576D, 2009) I am struck by how accomplished his interpretation of them was even as early as 1956. When you consider that he had spent the previous decades fully engaged in his theatre work, that only a handful of traditional singers were still singing ballads at that point and many of his contemporaries, like Hugh McDiarmid, were openly contemptuous of his interest in folk song these performances are a remarkable achievement. I don't subscribe to a "Cult of the Divine MacColl" (that's just silly sarcasm) but I do consider him to have been the greatest singer I ever heard and he did give me an insight into the nature of Folk Song and what makes it special. He also introduced me to the British ballad repertoire and hearing him sing many of those ballads, on various stages and on record, has left me with some wonderful memories. I wouldn't have missed those performances for the world.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Acorn4
Date: 13 Dec 09 - 07:46 PM

We can enjoy Beethoven without necessarily knowing anything about his life.

Can't we similarly enjoy EM? The man and his music are surely different issues?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Winger
Date: 13 Dec 09 - 07:57 PM

Eh, factual information, Jim? Exactly where can we find those facts?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 13 Dec 09 - 10:25 PM

I've also been reading Ben Harker's biog Class Act and find it full of interesting details and overbearing opinion. But maybe that because I disagree with his opinions.

Here in the States we generally judge MacColl from his recordings and the occasional concert, when he and Peggy were permitted to enter this country. I certainly had a great appreciate for the work that he and A. L. Lloyd did. And I found him amazingly responsive to several inquiries I directed to him with regard to songs composed in the Unity Theatre days.

It's hard for me to believe that the critics in this thread of MacColl are motivated by anything more than envy or frustration, or hatred for anyone who was a long term Communist. There are some here in the States who have similar feelings about Pete Seeger and I disagree with them as well.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 Dec 09 - 04:16 AM

It's worth bearing in mind that if it hadn't been for MacColl (and Lloyd and Lomax) there wouldn't have been a post-war revival in the UK.

We can but dream, Shimrod! We can but dream...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Dec 09 - 04:24 AM

Winger:
"Exactly where can we find those facts?"
They came from a collection of contemporary newspaper articles and essays called (I think) 'Spokesmen For Liberty', edited by Jack Lindsay
some time in he 1950s. This was from a contemporary newspaper article giving an account of Nelson's funeral. Why; are you disputing their accuracy?
If you are objecting to my putting them up on the grounds of their accuracy - sorry, not my problem - I supplied what I had; that's what the aricle said. Surely your not suggesting I shouldn't have put them up - are you?
To compare my doing so with some poor soul giving vent to a bad bout of inferiority complex with a display of necrobhobia, as inevitably happen at the mention of MacColl's name, well.......!!!

Shimrod:
Bronson appeared to agree with your opinion of the Riverside series.
This is the beginning of an article he wrote in 1957, published in The Ballad and the Song - a collection of his essays.

"Moses Asch, with Folkways, is a pioneer, and firms like Stinson, and Elektra, and Riverside have been putting intelligent and yeomanry effort into the guidance of public taste; while their best singers, such as Ewan MacColl, Jeannie Robertson, Margaret Barry, A. L. Lloyd, the late Leadbelly, Pete and Peggy Seeger, Jean Ritchie, stand in need neither of defense nor special pleading. With this leadership, we may anticipate the gradual abating of the medley type of record and the increase of homogeneous collections.
Thanks to the encouragement of many small successes, Kenneth Goldstein and Riverside have recently issued the boldest single venture yet in their eight double-sided LP set of Child ballads, sung unaccompanied by Ewan MacColl and A. L. Lloyd. It is not, I think, an exaggeration to declare that this is the most important event in the field since the publication of Sharp and Karpeles' Southern Appalachian collection. It may be short of ideal that eighty-odd ballads are sung by only two persons, but in spite of their professional status, both of these men, in their very different styles, carry conviction. Lloyd, although he has learned most of his songs from print, sounds more folklike; but MacColl is rooted in a strong family tradition, and wins our fullest assent.
The length of many of these versions as sung by MacColl and Lloyd is a new experience, and as such it prompts reconsideration of ballad-form by bringing into sharp focus questions hitherto unasked or but dimly perceived. For one thing, it shows that the ideal musical structure is inevitably a non-recurrent phrasal pattern for the quatrain......"

Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 14 Dec 09 - 06:27 AM

"We can but dream, Shimrod! We can but dream..."

What do you mean by that, SO'P? Who else was responsible for the Post-war revival?
I note that even Peter Bellamy stated that MacColl, Lloyd, Harry Cox and Sam Larner were his main influences (notes to 'Wake the Vaulted Echoes', Free Reed, 1999.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 Dec 09 - 07:35 AM

Who else was responsible for the Post-war revival?

Forgive me, Shimrod, but I'm in a dark place with respect of the baby-boomer folk revival which to me has the same relationship to the glories of Traditional English Speaking Folk Song as model railways do to real ones - which is to say great fun, but utterly useless as a transport system. After all, 4 fiddly millimetres is no substitute for a good solid 12 inches, is it?

MacColl, Lloyd, Harry Cox and Sam Larner were his main influences

PB was a big Rolling Stones fan too - I've seen him encore with You Can't Always Get What You Wan't whilst sporting a picture of Brian Jones on his vest - but I can't hack them myself. I adore Cox and Larner though, who represent something very different indeed - something the folk revival missed by several hundred merry country miles, I fear.

No Cox & Larner on YouTube (though I do have a video awaiting transfer) but here's something just as beautiful I hope we can both agree upon:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xVT-vdJL4g


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Noreen
Date: 14 Dec 09 - 08:36 AM

*yawn*


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 14 Dec 09 - 09:18 AM

How much could he do with a finger in his ear?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Vin2
Date: 14 Dec 09 - 10:34 AM

This thread could go into the record books. Wonder which one holds the record at the mo.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Dec 09 - 11:21 AM

"We can but dream, Shimrod! We can but dream... "
A few other dreamers:

"Although his speech always retained its native Lancashire intonation, he became an acknowledged master of sung ballad-Scots; some of the recordings in our archive are without doubt among the very finest examples of Lowland Scots ballad artistry ever put on tape…….
By that time Ewan's own career had diverged from Joan's; with Peggy Seeger, who'd come into his life thanks to Alan Lomax, he devoted himself more and more to the folk-song revival, becoming its most redoubtable militant champion. He teamed up the late A. L. Lloyd to produce a series of valuable folksong L.P.s, and with his mettlesome Critics group; a sort of New Model Army of traditional songsters; he may be said to have left a lasting imprint on the singing styles and folk-cultural predilections of a whole generation of revival singers."
Hamish Henderson 1991

"MacColl demonstrated years ago that it is possible to create vital, contemporary songs within the traditional frameworks. Unfortunately, most of the contemporary songwriters who find favour among the folk club audiences, show little interest in, or concern for, traditional song forms. The idiom in which they most commonly compose is that of the pop songs, no matter how un-pop their lyrics. This is a pity because, with contemporary ''folk songs'' continually growing in popularity, the eventual result will be that the folk song revival, and the clubs, will lose all contact with folk songs."
Ian Campbell,
Folk Scene, 1965.

"MacColl's singing is altogether one of the most moving experiences available on folksong recordings today, when so much of what is presented as 'revival' folksinging is so embarrassingly false. His particular excellence is not so much in the ruddy-bloody, burly and masculine rant, and the barrel-chested sexual brag expected of men's songs in general, and of bawdy song in particular, and in which MacColl can easily take cards-&-spades when he feels like it, but in the poignant and emotional erotic songs in the character of the woman so frequent in the poetry of Burns, and so central and significant in The Merry Muses of Caledonia, where every such feminine-identification song is, precisely for the reason of that identification, to be suspected of being Burns' own, or importantly, revised by his hand."
Gershon Legman,
The Horn Book

"Apart from myself, MacColl is the only man of genius writing for the theatre in England today."
George Bernard Shaw.

And just a reminder of what it is really about, instead of all this in-fighting shit and begrudgement:

"But the songs are still here, the beautiful, gentle, harsh, ironic, good-natured, lusty, bawdy, exquisite, passionately beautiful songs of the people. Let us hope that they continue to survive, that the kind of women and men who gave birth to them will survive, that the world which gave birth to us all will survive. I'll drink to that! January 1989"
Ewan MacColl. Journeyman. 1989.

"Well, there they are, the songs of our people. Some of them have been centuries in the making, some of them undoubtedly were born on the broadside presses. Some have the marvellous perfection of stones shaped by the sea's movement. Others are as brash as a cup-final crowd. They were made by professional bards and by unknown poets at the plough-stilts and the handloom. They are tender, harsh,, passionate, ironical, simple, profound.... as varied, indeed, as the landscape of this island."
The Song Carriers 1965

Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 14 Dec 09 - 11:32 AM

Great selections, Jim. MacColl's greatest musical sins seem to be that he was never a pop star, and that trad songs are even more genrally disdained now than they were fifty years ago. (I've never met a single non-folkie who's ever heard of him.)

You might enjoy the clips on the spin-off thread,"Review: Dark-Eyed Sailor." SO'P is also invited.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 14 Dec 09 - 11:38 AM

"Forgive me, Shimrod, but I'm in a dark place with respect of the baby-boomer folk revival ... "

Sorry to hear about your problems, SO'P ... but what have they got to do with the rest of us?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 Dec 09 - 12:02 PM

I don't see it as a problem to be honest, Shimrod; I've always felt the same way, with but few exceptions. The common ground I have with the revival is (hopefully) a love Traditional Song and the singers who sang them.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Winger
Date: 14 Dec 09 - 12:23 PM

"If you are objecting to my putting them up on the grounds of their accuracy - sorry, not my problem - I supplied what I had; that's what the article said. Surely your not suggesting I shouldn't have put them up - are you?"

Seems that you are now disassociating yourself from these "facts", Jim. If you're going to post such claims you can at least quote from reliable sources. As yet, I have not found any accounts which corraborate your claims,


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: matt milton
Date: 14 Dec 09 - 12:30 PM

I just read the Harker book having previously known absolutely nothing about MacColl other than his music. I'd been listening to his albums on and off over the last year - there's a lot of them available to hear on Spotify and a lot to download on emusic.

He led a fascinating life. But what was most interesting for me was how much my mental image of his personality, as revealed in his music, corresponded with descriptions of what he was like as a person.

In case you hadn't guessed from that, I'm not really a fan of his singing style - it's too affected for me, and there' something a little pompous and doctrinaire about it. I thought so the first time I ever heard it, long before I knew anything at all about him.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: matt milton
Date: 14 Dec 09 - 12:38 PM

At the same time, I like his taste in songs, and the musical arrangements of some of the Seeger/MacColl albums are extraordinary. The London Broadsides albums in particular, I would say. Just listen to 'King Lear And His Daughters'. Absolutely beautiful tune. I think he always sounded best singing in an English accent (for me, his Scots accent is too 'Dawnuld where's ye troosers')

There's also something quite charming about his early albums. He sounds unusually relaxed on Two Way Trip, an early duo album with Seeger. The atmosphere is quite loved-up actually.

And on his 50s album with Isla Cameron, the lo-fi recording quality and perhaps Cameron's own delivery conspire to soften things.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 Dec 09 - 12:45 PM

He wrote & sang a song about the building of Blyth Power Station, there's a clip of it here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5xwK6dNhtw

And therein lies my problem; phoney folk songs put into the voices of the working classes.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: matt milton
Date: 14 Dec 09 - 12:57 PM

Don't overlook the fact that his parents were low-income working class (even if he himself didn't do very much work himself before his political activism, theatre and music).

I'm not a fan of his own songs either. My favourite MacColl recordings are:

Still I Love Him (1958) with Isla Cameron

Broadside Ballads, vols 1 and 2 (1962)

Two Way Trip (1961) with Peggy Seeger

and of course the Radio Ballads.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Dec 09 - 01:12 PM

"Seems that you are now disassociating yourself from these "facts","
I've given you my source as I remember it - what's this about, what point are you trying to make?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 14 Dec 09 - 01:48 PM

===Don't overlook the fact that his parents were low-income working class===

In turn, Matt, don't you overlook the fact that they were both also Scots; so denouncing his Scots accent as a bit 'Dawnald whaur's yr troosers' is nonsense — he was brought up, tho in Salford where he acquired the local accent from his peers, in a house where the Scots accent was the norm. Anyhow, Andy Stewart, the best-known singer of DWYT, was a born&bred Scot also, so there was nothing phoney about his accent either — even if there might have been about the song.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 14 Dec 09 - 01:53 PM

"And therein lies my problem; phoney folk songs put into the voices of the working classes."

Seems to me that one of his principal talents as a songwriter (apart from all those superb tunes) lay in being able to utilize the spoken words of working people and turning them into songs that were far truer to those people than most other 'contemporary' songs from the folk revival.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Winger
Date: 14 Dec 09 - 02:30 PM

Jim, it was you who threw this "fact" into a discussion regarding a request for the lyrics of a song. I'm asking where I can find verification of this "fact".

There's no shortage of contemporary accounts of Nelson's funeral but none that I can find mentions anyone spitting on his coffin. I've even corresponded with some people who have considerable knowledge of this period in history and they have never heard of this claim.

I feel that on a forum such as Mudcat spurious historical claims need to be challenged lest they be cited in future as "facts".


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Dec 09 - 02:56 PM

These threads are usually started to show what an unpleasant bastard MacColl was - perhaps we can look at a selection from this thread - all by the OP.
I could be wrong (been known to happen), but this lot, without even bothering to visit any of the related threads, reads to me as being small minded, mean spirited, vitriolic, axe grinding and, particularly as it is aimed at somebody who has now been dead for over twenty years, disturbingly obsessional, .
If MacColl had made anything resembling one of these statements about another singer, perhaps there might be some grounds for the mythology that emerges whenever his name is mentioned; but as he didn't go in for that type of vitriol against his fellow performers..... who does it suggest is the unpleasant bastard I wonder?

"One of the best would have him going in bearded disguise, wearing calipers, so as to avoid both conscription and facing the indignities suffered by more genuine COs."

"Is it true that having heard Ewan's Freeborn Man of the Travelling People a bunch of travellers camped up on Ewan's land only to have him phone the police and order a summary eviction?"

" Like the folk club organiser weary with MacColl's prima-donna attitude who scrawled ARSEHOLE on the back of the chair set aside for the star turn, knowing our hero's affectation of turning the chair around to sit with the back facing the audience."

"where Bert and Jimmy were giving the miners a concert of their own folk music. "

"One of my favourite ever ballad singers, I last saw him at The Bridge in Newcastle and was bored to death by his execrable self-penned polemics about South Africa."

"Methinks at times the myth Jimmy Miller created in Ewan MacColl grazes as an all-too Holy Cow on the grave of Traditional Folk Song, much less its so-called revival. The legend endures along with his effected mannerisms - it was, after all, Ewan who copped the hand-over-the-ear pose from Arabic muezzin along with that faux-melismatic style which has become de-riguer ever since, despite his dictatorial insistence that we somehow sing our own. If this was truly the case few in the revival, Ewan included, would have dared sing a note!"

"I was bitching about Ewan MacColl's so-called politics on the letters page of Folk Roots when he was still alive."

", the gist of which was for the well-healed middle-class folk fraternity to resist the urge to romantise the real-life struggles of the working classes for the furtherance of their soppy art and stick to what they actually know about. Reducing the complexities of working-class culture to convenient socialist polemic by way of protest song is paternalist political nannying of the worst order."

"Talentless arsehole just about sums up Ewan MacColl; a pedlar of spurious, the bogus and the faux - so, as a figurehead of the so-called revival, he'll do just nicely. The real mountain? The man was barely a molehill. Still, nice to know that you're keeping the faith so devoutly, old man!"

"the Cult of the Divine MacColl"

Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 14 Dec 09 - 03:00 PM

Concerning Nelson's funeral: I agree that the reference needs to be nailed down.

However, even if the booing and spitting really happened, the fact remains that Nelson was regarded as a hero by most every English person who had the opportunity to express an opinion in print. (Yeah, I know....) Even Hugill's version of "Boney" extols him, or at least the victory at Trafalgar.

Lloyd wrote a secular "hymn" to the man.

(And now let the brawl begin.)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Dec 09 - 03:01 PM

Winger
Sorry - cross-posted.
"I'm asking where I can find verification of this "fact"."
Are you saying it isn't in 'Spokesmen For Liberty'? Thirty years since I read it so I could be wrong, but I think it was also included in one of Charles Parker's 'Long March of Everyman' programmes or 'The British Seaman'.
I'll look it up when I have time - but it will have to wait until we're back from Kerry at the week-end - sorry.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Dec 09 - 03:24 PM

"In turn, Matt, don't you overlook the fact that they were both also Scots; so denouncing his Scots accent as a bit 'Dawnald whaur's yr troosers' is nonsense — he was brought up, tho in Salford where he acquired the local accent from his peers, in a house where the Scots accent was the norm. Anyhow, Andy Stewart, the best-known singer of DWYT, was a born&bred Scot also, so there was nothing phoney about his accent either — even if there might have been about the song"

Yes, I know that. That's why I've always found it so surprising that his accent sounds so, well, foreign. To my ears, it simply doesn't sound like a native Scots speaker; it sounds like someone doing a foreign accent.

If you listen to Archie Fisher or Hamish Henderson or Alex Campbell then listen to MacColl you really notice it. MacColl "scottisizes" his hard 'Os' into 'As' in a kind of pedantic way - eg wrong as 'wrang', long as 'lang' - but really flatly. Just not the way a native Scots speaker does. Notice how carefully and tactfully the Hamish Henderson quotation above is worded, with its caveat about never quite losing his Lancastrian accent. When you compare him singing in an English accent with him singing in a Scots... the former is effortless, the latter is actually very very laboured and laid on with a trowel.

Fact is, MacColl wasn't a good mimic. When you hear him trying to do a Paul Robeson or trying to do a Woody Guthrie on some American songs, it really shows.

(These were quite early songs to be fair - I imagine he'd have been fairy embarassed by them in later years. He was a young(ish) man then, and more importantly was living in an age when he simply wouldn't have been exposed to the wealth of recordings he'd have had only 10 years later)

Sorry, I don't want to fall squarely on the side of the Ewan MacColl naysayers. I think he was a complicated man, whose music and books have introduced me to some great songs. The music of his that I like, I like very much indeed.

But the question of accents was a big, significant part of who he was, how he saw himself and, now that he's no longer with us and now we've only got his words and music to go on, how I hear him.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 14 Dec 09 - 03:25 PM

at home in my cookieless flat (above is me)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 Dec 09 - 03:29 PM

You forgot my favourite one, old man - from my second post:

A tale is told of a drunk Elvis fan getting wind that the writer of one of his favourite Elvis songs was singing downstairs in the pub he was drinking in, so down he went and started heckling MacColl to sing Love Me Tender, which he did, in the style of Elvis. Then he went on to sing First Time much to the drunk's delight.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 14 Dec 09 - 03:34 PM

yes, well that's a side of the man you don't often get to hear about and which I'm sure there was more of than got reported - good natured, good humoured.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Winger
Date: 14 Dec 09 - 03:49 PM

Lighter,

My beef is not with how we view Nelson 200 years after the event but rather the invention of "facts" to suit an ideology.

If Jim's claims are down to a misunderstanding of the facts rather than a genuine attempt to re-write history it may be that someone misread Dorothy Constance Bayliff Peel's account in The Stream of Time: Social and Domestic Life in England, 1805-1861, when the coffin of Lord Castlereagh was spat upon. This account follows a couple of pages about Nelson. Could it be that in his rush to (in Jim's words) kick Nelson's corpse someone didn't bother to realize read the book thoroughly?

Alas, this effort to prove that a Workers' Republic existed below decks on HMS Victory is merely junk history.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 14 Dec 09 - 03:55 PM

It appears that Nelson's governorship of Naples was an unfortunate period/incident in his life; & that he is still execrated there. My authority is admittedly a work of fiction, Barry Unsworth's 'Losing Nelson' [1999], but Unsworth is one of those writers who do proper scholarly research for historical novels.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Dec 09 - 04:57 PM

Sorry Winger, really no time to go into this but I am not confusing it with Castlereaigh's funeral, nor am I with the report of crowd disturbances as reported in 'The Lady' Magazine, (also reported in on of the Nelson biographies).
You don't say if it appears in Spokesmen For Liberty - I no longer have my copy. Nor do you comment on the relevance to the o.p's necrophobia on this thread.
In the end, you may take or leave MacColl as you wish; I have described him as I knew him, which bore no resemblence to SO'P's biliously spiteful image. I can also judge him by his work, the songs (his own and those he breathed new life into), the collecting work, the research on singing, his spending ten years of his life working with new singers, and his willingness to pass on what he had and knew to anybody who asked.
I've shown you MacColl's, S'Op, now you show us yours.
Beats the shit out of Ralph Harris, Ewan Whose Army and all the other small minded, mean spirited, vitriolic, axe grinding necrophobia hands down as far as I'm concerned.
I know of old that it is a waste of time asking S.O'P to substantiate any of his claims - where there are any claims - he doesn't go there.
So make up your own mind - this is just another shit hill, as usual.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Winger
Date: 14 Dec 09 - 08:50 PM

Jim, I've no idea if your claim appears in "Spokesmen For Liberty". I didn't make the claim and certainly no other historic sources that I can find suggests it ever happened.

I'm neither pro or con Nelson and I believe that history is better served when it is researched dispassionately and not with a view to confirming some ideological slant (much like a good folk song scholar approaches song collecting, Jim.

As to O'P - I think you're fuel to his fire, Jim.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Dec 09 - 03:55 AM

Winger
"I didn't make the claim"
I did - read my posts. Iwas sure it was there that I read it but find tha I no longer have my copy.
No ideological slant whatever - I really don't do that - just a piece of information I've carried for 3 or 4 decades.
We once discussed it with Walter Pardon, who was a Nelson enthusiast and he had never heard of it, but he did say that he believed Nelson was not popular with his men prior to Trafalgar.
As I say, I'll do my best when we come back from Kerry.
Thanks for your SO'P warning - like the barber's cat - all wind and pee.
He has been honest enough to tell us in the past that he doedn't believe in research so.....
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 15 Dec 09 - 05:07 AM

Hi, Jim -

Told you it'd be another marathon, didn't I ?

The thought occurred to me that it is a pity Ewan is no longer here to defend himself. Then, having known him as you did (although not as closely), the further thought occurred that he wouldn't be arsed.

Kind regards, Bryn


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 15 Dec 09 - 05:13 AM

No, Bryn, he probably wouldn't be arsed. But would that be thru insouciance or thru arrogance? I simply ask. [I knew him a bit too; like you, not as well as Jim — but I did know him at least on one occasion to be astonishingly, unjustly arrogant — which was why I refreshed this thread to tie it in with the ongoing 'great but crabby' thread. [My post of 30 Aug 09 1237AM & subsequent exchanges with Jim et al apply.]


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 15 Dec 09 - 05:44 AM

At the end of the movie "A Touch of Evil" the character played by Marlene Dietrich says of the (deceased) character played by Orson Welles . "What does it matter what you say about people after they are dead? He was some kind of a man."

So was Jimmy Ewan MacColl Miller, and perhaps the time has come to let him rest in peace for a while. Yes, he was a human being, and like the rest of us he had his flaws and failings. And because he was a figure of some historical significance, it is right that these flaws and failings are properly documented. But why keep dwelling on them so obsessively?

We are only here on this earth for a very short time, and we have to spend a great deal of that time on the everyday necessities of bodily life. That leaves little enough room in our lives for things of the mind and the spirit. Why waste so many of those precious moments wrangling over MacColl's misdeeds when we could be engaging with his ideas or listening to his music?

You may disagree with some of his political positions. (I do.) You may criticise some of the artistic choices he made. (I do.) But how many of us have produced anything of comparable stature to the Radio Ballads? (I certainly haven't. Have any other posters to this thread done so? I think not.)

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: matt milton
Date: 15 Dec 09 - 05:47 AM

A lot of musicians are very arrogant and, if their biographies (and autobiographies) are to be believed, quite unpleasant people. A lot of people whose art I really like - Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, the Beatles, Sun Ra, the Rolling Stones, William Burroughs - don't come across as very nice - not people you'd want to spend time with.

But why I think Ewan MacColl always generates so much comment is that you can actually hear some of that hectoring quality in some of his singing. (Not all the time.) And also because everything was on display - if he hadn't been so interested in proselytising and theorising, habits he picked up from political activism, nobody would have known about it.

Then again, if he hadn't been so interested in proselytising and theorising, he wouldn't have done half the things he did.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 15 Dec 09 - 06:35 AM

Can I refer everyone back to what I wrote in my second post?

No corpse kicking around here... - I'm genuinely interested in MacColl: the man, the myth, the legend as it were. I find the Humanity of Celebrity endlessly fascinating and certainly worthy of celebration - the more idiosyncratic the better.

And that's the sum of it, pretty much - hence the folklore pre-fix. Fact is, Ewan MacColl inspired legends - but it seems The Elders of the Holy Church of Saint Ewan the Divine see any deviance from Eternal Cringing Deference as a Heresy punishable by death.

Hell, one of my musical heroes is Mark E. Smith who could give MacColl a run for his money with respect of personal mythology and - er - reputation. Must be something in the Salford water supply.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 15 Dec 09 - 07:30 AM

I booked Ewan and Peggy a couple of times and found them thoroughly professional.

Just like Mark E. Smith


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: matt milton
Date: 15 Dec 09 - 07:51 AM

You booked Mark E. Smith several times and found him to be thoroughly professional??


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 15 Dec 09 - 08:22 AM

Thanks for that MES link there, Folkiedave - cheered me up no end.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 15 Dec 09 - 08:50 AM

"Fact is, Ewan MacColl inspired legends - but it seems The Elders of the Holy Church of Saint Ewan the Divine see any deviance from Eternal Cringing Deference as a Heresy punishable by death."

I've told you a million, billion times not to exaggerate, SO'P!!

The fact is any mention of MacColl's name inspires kneejerk outpourings of bile - which divert attention away from his (very considerable) achievements. As he had a great influence on me when I was younger - and as I believe that that influence was completely benign, positive and constructive I will continue to defend his reputation. It's got nothing to do with "Cringing Deference" and everything to do with a sense of justice and fair play.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 15 Dec 09 - 09:30 AM

But this about the stories, Shimrod - the myths, the yarns, the rumours, the legends, the lies, the gossip, the false praise, the worthiness, the miracles, the hearsay, the (gulp!) folklore - all of which serve to enhance his reputation, such as it is amongst the MacColl faithful who are presently heating up pokers with savage intent in the direction of my lower of the common human orifi. I might not have known or admired MacColl, but I know and admire many MacColl fans - they're the ones who can spot that my Child #7 & #32 are sourced from the Riverside recordings, as one charming & fine singer once did in Chorlton two years ago. I do not begrudge these people their cherished memories, but the MacColl Mythos is so much bigger than that, and worthy, I thought, of a thread. Whether the stories are true or not DOES NOT MATTER - the fact is these are stories that have been told, and retold; they are part of an Oral Tradition of Storytelling and are very deserving of our interest and attention. That is why I started this thread - because the image of Ewan MacColl disguising himself as crippled beggarman to dodge conscription was just too perfect a folkloric archetype to ignore. I did not expect the Spanish Inquisition.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Les from Hull
Date: 15 Dec 09 - 10:00 AM

On the subject of Nelson: The very long article in the Naval Chronicle at the time does not mention the coffin spitting incident. As the coffin was escorted (by the River Fencibles and other troops) throughout it doesn't seem at all likely. Nelson was well-loved by most sailors and there are many reports of sailors in tears at the news of his death. I can't see the point of repeating a rumour that you may have read about some time ago, Jim. It doesn't help your case.

Nelson wasn't Governor of Naples. But he was shagging the wife of the British Envoy to the Court of Naples, Emma Hamilton the ex-prostitute wife of Sir William Hamilton. This shameful menage a trois led to Nelson hanging around in port rather than being out looking for the enemy. Most 'polite society' in Naples refused to invite the couple (or triple!) to their parties. Nelson had been created Duke of Bronte by the King of Naples (properly 'the Two Sicilies' ) in 1799.

I am not particularly a Nelson supporter. Like many great military leaders he was a shameful self-publicist, and his was probably his insistence on wearing as many medals and orders as possible on his uniform that marked him out for the bullet that caused his death.


Anyway - back to arguing about MacColl.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 15 Dec 09 - 11:00 AM

Good man SO'P, never miss an opportunity to slag off a dead man who can't answer back.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Billy Verde
Date: 15 Dec 09 - 11:04 AM

"I did not expect the Spanish Inquisition."

No one expects the Spanish Inquisition.

Send in the nuns!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 15 Dec 09 - 12:44 PM

Good man SO'P, never miss an opportunity to slag off a dead man who can't answer back.

You can actually read can't you, Dave?? If so, read my last post.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Winger
Date: 15 Dec 09 - 01:55 PM

Again, Jim, I'm not interested in Nelson's popularity ratings – just the historical inaccuracy of the "spitting on his coffin" claim.

Having discovered four years ago that an ancestor had been at Trafalgar I have been trying to find out how the poor bugger found himself there, in the course of which I have come into contact with a number of people who have been very generous with their knowledge of Nelson, Trafalgar and early 19th Century life in general.

One thing I have learned is the enormity of the crap that has been written giving gloss to the Nelson-Trafalgar period. Less so – but no less harmful – is the baseless crap written by those who wish to portray Jack Tar as the advance guard of a workers' revolution.

Walter Pardon was right – after Nelson's failed attack on Boulogne there was a wave of discontent centred on a belief that Nelson had acted recklessly and squandered many lives. However, always aware of his image, Nelson managed to ride out any lingering doubt about his abilities as a naval commander.

The discontent surrounding his funeral was aimed largely at the organizers and those who hogged the limelight at the expense of the Tars.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 15 Dec 09 - 02:23 PM

Re my reference above to Nelson as Governor of Naples, contradicted by Les from Jull at 10.00AM — he made himself so by right of conquest. As well as on account of his affaire with Lady Hamilton in Naples, he made himself hated by sailing into the city in 1799 and de·facto taking over the government by force of arms. A revolution had just been put down, and amnesty promised by the restored government to the Revolutionaries. But Nelson, fearing these had been acting under French influence, arrested them, declared the amnesty promised by their government null, and conveyed them by the boatload to his own flagship. There they were court-martialled and summarily hanged at the yard-arm, the body of their revered ringleader, one Admiral Caracciolo, being flung immediately overboard. It was this high-handed action of setting at naught an amnesty previously granted by the legitimate government on regaining control, followed by such unjust and irreverent atrocities, which has made Nelson's name hated and despised in Naples, as far as I can gather to this very day. The Hamilton business was merely an aggravation to the already-felt hatred. {Reference: Naples in 1799 by C A D Giglioli}


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 15 Dec 09 - 02:31 PM

No one expects the Spanish Inquisition, bring out.............. the comfy chair.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 04:13 AM

SO'P I read your first post and the thread title, what exactly was the purpose of it ? it seemed to me it was for no other reason than to have a go at Ewan MacColl.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 04:34 AM

Again - read my post of 15 Dec 09 - 09:30 AM.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 05:14 AM

This could have been quite an interesting discussion but it was very quickly ruined by the usual Mudcat vitriol.

Jim Carroll - you may not be aware but you do come across as a particularly nasty piece of work.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 05:14 AM

Just as a matter of interest, Sean - sorry ! Sweeney O Pibroch - did you ever meet Ewan, or Peggy, or ever speak with them ?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 05:20 AM

To me Jim Carroll comes across as someone who doesn't suffer fools gladly - and as our whole culture seems to have slid into an abyss populated almost entirely by fools, that's fine by me!

Although he's probably fighting a losing battle ...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 05:28 AM

GUEST.guest - just out of interest, in what way do you think Jim or his posts in any way objectionable? He write coherently, intelligently and to the purpose, in praise and defence of one who was obviously his dear friend, and who is under attack. In what way, pray, does this make him appear 'a nasty piece of work'? I am genuinely puzzled by such a reaction on your part. FWIW, I have never to my recollection met Jim Carroll, tho we have exchanged many opinions on this forum & once or twice by PM or correspondence — sometimes in agreement, more often, is my impression, not; but I hope with at least reasonable affability and courtesy — something which seems peculiarly lacking in your post. But I do think something needs to be said to protect him from what is imo an unwarranted attack of this sort.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 05:49 AM

did you ever meet Ewan, or Peggy, or ever speak with them

What does this have do with anything, Bryn? This is about collecting folklore, not the people behind it, who, by their courting of celebrity status, become the very cause of legend. For the record, as I've stated elsewhere, I saw them but the once as far as I recall, at The Bridge Hotel in Newcastle at some point in the early/mid 1980s. At the time I was enamoured of EM via the Riverside Ballads and was utterly dismayed that the set consisted of execrable self-penned songs about the then-situation South Africa. To my mind, music is political by default, the South African struggle was well accounted for in the revolutionary music of radical exiles such as Dudu Pukwana, Chris MacGregor, Johnny Mbizo Dyani, Shimmy Radise, Abdullah Ibrahim etc etc without having EM hike his meagre talents to the cause, however so noble his intentions. Though even there I might question it, for there was an exotic trendiness to the struggle against Apartheid to the radical middle-classes, especially the folkies amongst them, many of whom were all-too-keen to rush out and buy Graceland as I recall! I find protest songs are as impotent as they are irrelevant, and seek in music a far deeper human cause than political ideology, which is what I've always found in Traditional Song & Balladry whatever the political opinions of the singer - be it Ewan MacColl or Peter Bellamy.   

To me Jim Carroll comes across as someone who doesn't suffer fools gladly - and as our whole culture seems to have slid into an abyss populated almost entirely by fools, that's fine by me!

And so our dear Shimrod wins The Order of the Brown Nose by a several good country miles! Well done there, Shimrod - & at least it saves Jim the trouble of wiping his arse - or is he still in nappies? I lose track at times, I really do!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 06:03 AM

defence of one who was obviously his dear friend, and who is under attack.

No one is under attack here; and Jim is a tad loose with his insults. I'd say Guest's impressions are very reasonable.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 06:10 AM

without having EM hike his meagre talents

I reckon you are letting your prejudices show there a little. As far as I am aware whatever differences they had with him as a person and I acknowledge that one or two who knew him did, few people would regard MacColl's talents as meagre. I am with George Bernard Shaw on this one.

Remember before the Radio Ballads "ordinary" people were hardly ever allowed to appear on radio. Now of course it is commonplace and the BBC are doing four programmes about traditional carols starting next Monday in "radio ballad" style, and nowadays ordinarly people talking on radio is regarded as normal.

the South African struggle was well accounted for in the revolutionary music of radical exiles such as Dudu Pukwana, Chris MacGregor, Johnny Mbizo Dyani, Shimmy Radise, Abdullah Ibrahim etc etc

I know they escaped from S. Africa to play music. I am not sure what is so revolutionary about their particular music. Would you be kind enugh to explain?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 06:19 AM

Ewan MacColl was writing about the situation in South Africa a long, long time before the eighties, Graceland etc. Would you rather that he sang "Six Dukes Went a'Fishing" or "The Bonny Earl o'Moray" - both of those were as fiercly political pieces in their day as anything that MacColl wrote?
Also I too have never met Jim Carroll but from his posts he obviously knows his stuff and he is sad the way that folk music in some quarters is now being presented. Therefore I too reject Guest guest's assumptions.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Millindale
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 06:44 AM

'wearing calipers, so as to avoid both conscription and facing the indignities suffered by more genuine COs'#

Except of course he didn't avoid conscription.

'the South African struggle was well accounted for in the revolutionary music of radical exiles such as Dudu Pukwana, Chris MacGregor, Johnny Mbizo Dyani, Shimmy Radise, Abdullah Ibrahim etc'
What anti-apartheid message was being put across in the jazz played by those mentioned above?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 06:54 AM

Thank you for confirming that which I had already thought, Sean.

You "saw" Ewan, and perhaps Peggy, at a single gig, and from that you have formulated your contempt for them as people.

Which, contrary to that which I perceive to have been your intention, has not so much calumniated them either as people, songwriters, interpreters of songs traditional and other, political activists ; but shown your arguments up for

any paucity they might have borne..

In other words, IMO you have squandered any credibility which you might have had.

T'ra.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 07:04 AM

"And so our dear Shimrod wins The Order of the Brown Nose by a several good country miles! Well done there, Shimrod - & at least it saves Jim the trouble of wiping his arse - or is he still in nappies? I lose track at times, I really do!"

A rather predictable response there, SO'P. It's just that I tend to agree with MOST of what JC says (not everything of course) and thought that the the attack on him by 'GUEST, guest' was unjustified. I hope, 'dear' SO'P, that I would leap to defend you if I thought that an attack on you was unjustified - I shall keenly wait for an opportunity to put that principle to the test (could be a longish wait ... ?).


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 07:48 AM

Here we go again!

reckon you are letting your prejudices show there a little.

I don't deny it. My respect for EM was as a singer of traditional material; I never liked his own stuff over much.

and nowadays ordinarly people talking on radio is regarded as normal.

Albeit edited by the powers that be; much as Ewan edited them to suit his own purposes & agendas. Next you'll be telling us that Reality TV is the true Voice of the People. Hell, maybe it is at that.

I am not sure what is so revolutionary about their particular music. Would you be kind enugh to explain? & What anti-apartheid message was being put across in the jazz played by those mentioned above?

Their music soaks in he radicalism of their culture and struggle; it embodies that struggle in every phrase and nuance and addresses itself directly to that fight. The music is the message; just as the music of the free-jazz musicians in America - Coltrane, Sun Ra, Albert Ayler, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Don Cherry etc. - whose radicalism was embodied in their art.

*

You "saw" Ewan, and perhaps Peggy, at a single gig, and from that you have formulated your contempt for them as people.

Pushing your perceptive powers to the limit I see there, Bryn. This isn't about EM as a person, it is about EM as a figure of the mythology that has grown about him - hence the Folklore prefix. I do not doubt that you had a deep and loving personal friendship with EM - but it does not matter one jot to his reputation in the realm of celebrity and legend. My personal feelings about his music are incidental, but you're way off if think I harbour personal contempt for the man.

My intention here was to gather up some folklore, instead I find myself tried and tested by what amounts to a religious inquisition, the members of which feel compelled to deride me with such personal put-downs as: In other words, IMO you have squandered any credibility which you might have had.

Get over yourself, Bryn - stick to the facts without resorting to such puerile attacks.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 08:00 AM

I have no axe to grind as far as Ewan is concerned. I like some of his stuff and don't like others. I never met the man and will not get involved in either defending him or perpetuating rumours so I have nothing to add to the main discussion. What I will a comment on is the drift that has occured.

It is very, very easy indeed to mask nefarious intentions with transparent excuses.

'I was not spreading rumours. Just asking if it was true.'

'Looking at child pornography? No, I was just reseaching the crime.'

I am not saying this is the case here but surely that conclusion can be drawn by those of a cynical nature. I am quite happy to accept that the opening post was by way of research. The OP has said so on a number of occasions and that will be believed by some and not by others. Human nature I'm afraid.

Now that the research has been done and the curiousity satisfied is there any point continuing the discussion?

Cheers

DeG


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 08:07 AM

Juxtapose "puerile" and "paucity", Sean - I knew Ewan and Peggy whilst you were still in BABYGROS.

When you have something C O N S T R U C T I V E

con-st-ruc-t-ive

to say about this, let me know.

I will lend you a two shilling piece - sorry ! - you are too young to remember the proper money - I will lend you a twenty penny piece (20p),

and then, when you have a constructive comment to make, as to the music you claim to love - and, more importantly, about the people who risked everything to make sure that it passed to the likes of you and me -

Oh, please, do telephone me.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 08:30 AM

SO'P you sound like a tabloid newspaper editor, 'never let the truth stand in the way of a good story,' or ' if the lie is more interesting than the truth, print the lie,' or even like a minister being questioned in the commons ' I refer you to the answer I gave earlier '

I take my hat off to you.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 09:29 AM

I knew Ewan and Peggy whilst you were still in BABYGROS.

Even at 48 your goat-like senility makes me feel like a scampering lamb by comparison. Once again, old timer, as it's obviously taking a while to sink in - I DO NOT CARE IF YOU KNEW EWAN MACCOLL IN A PAST FECKING LIFE; THE POINT HERE WAS TO COLLATE THE FOLKLORE & LEGEND SURROUNDING THE LIFE OF A CELEBRITY FIGURE.

I will lend you a two shilling piece - sorry ! - you are too young to remember the proper money - I will lend you a twenty penny piece (20p),

Not so young that I don't remember that two shillings was actually equivalent to Ten New Pennies (10p) - two bob.

and then, when you have a constructive comment to make, as to the music you claim to love - and, more importantly, about the people who risked everything to make sure that it passed to the likes of you and me

I love Traditional Music, Bryn - can't say I've ever been too impressed by much that the so-called The Revival had to offer - EM included. I'd love to know what these people risked by the way.

Oh, please, do telephone me.

This is getting creepy...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 10:19 AM

Well, youngster, you know what the answer is :

arrange these two words into a well-known phrase or saying :

OFF FUCK.

The creepy thing is why you would wish to

"collate the folklore and legend surrounding the life of a celbrity figure".

Or, as usual, are you after another buzz, basking in reflected glory ?

Don't bother responding - just scamper off, like the young lamb you aspire to be.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 10:54 AM

Albeit edited by the powers that be

Clearly you have never heard of phone-ins then. And I have a radio show - anyone who comes on my show comes on unedited by anyone. Only recordings are edited and as anyone will tell you I much prefer to do things live.

Their music soaks in the radicalism of their culture and struggle; it embodies that struggle in every phrase and nuance and addresses itself directly to that fight. The music is the message; just as the music of the free-jazz musicians in America - Coltrane, Sun Ra, Albert Ayler, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Don Cherry etc. - whose radicalism was embodied in their art.

Copyright Pseuds Corner Private Eye


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim McLean
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 10:58 AM

We know what Ewan did in the war,
Absolutely sweet f### all.
For less than a year
He wore the King's gear
But this was not for McColl

We don't know the reason,
We know it's not treason
But why did he join up at all?
Was he made to enlist?
Or was he just pissed?
No will know but McColl.

There are stories galore
Of disguises he wore,
After he went a.w.o.l
In Manchester town
Did he limp up and down
Was that humpy backed begger McColl?

Just after the war
When the danger was o'er
And Ewan could once more stand tall.
They thought he was mad,
Not stupid or bad
No sentence was passed on McColl

We now know the score
Of his time in the war
Let's stop this unseemly brawl.
We know he could write,
Be it wondrous or shite
The last man to care is McColl!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 11:21 AM

That, Jim, pretty much sums it up.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 11:21 AM

Don't bother responding - just scamper off, like the young lamb you aspire to be.

So mote it be.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Winger
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 02:06 PM

"arrange these two words into a well-known phrase or saying :

OFF FUCK."

Tut, tut, m' learned friend, surely you can do better than that.

It never ceases to amaze me that when anyone dares to ask questions about events in MacColl's life there's a rush to stifle discussion by those who will hear no ill spoken of their hero.

I was moved to find out more about him after I had bought his autobiography (Journeyman) some years back. Having been somewhat pleasantly surprised that he would want to chronicle his life at all, I looked forward to learning about the events that shaped the man.

Imagine my surprise when I find that there's a "hole" in the book (i.e., the years covering World War II – arguably the most important event in the 20th Century). Having shelled out hard-earned money to buy the book, I felt that this was a less than honest recounting of the life of a man who had spent much of his later years writing, performing, recording and publishing songs about contemporary conflicts (Cuba, Vietnam, South Africa, etc).

Having raised the question about his WWII years on Mudcat, I discovered a number of people who are prepared to prevent any discussion of this topic with Freemason-like earnestness. Instead they prefer to divert our attention with "read the book(s)" or allegations of "corpse kicking". To them, MacColl's word is final – 1939-45 never existed and even if it did, it was not a "good" war (not like the Spanish Civil War, anyway).

To these people MacColl was the "star" they so despise elsewhere in the folk world. But he was their star and some of them even knew him personally, giving them a veto over all other opinions.

Personally, I find O'P downright irritating, but then a number of his adversaries on this thread are equally so. I have always thought MacColl to be a great songwriter, so I'm not coming at this topic from a point of total negativity. "Journeyman", however, peeked my interest (and left me a little lighter in the wallet) so I'll keep on asking "What Did You Do in the War, Ewan?".


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 02:34 PM

Personally, I find O'P downright irritating, but then a number of his adversaries on this thread are equally so.

It's this sort of gratuitous sniping that irritates, Winger. Otherwise, nice post.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 02:47 PM

" ... so I'll keep on asking "What Did You Do in the War, Ewan?"."

It's all in Ben Harker's biography, 'Class Act: The Cultural and Political Life of Ewan MacColl', Pluto Press, 2007.

So 'GUEST, winger' when you've read this book and obtained the information that you crave, what are you going to do with it?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 02:51 PM

In fact, 'Guest, winger' there's a whole thread about the Harker biography entitled, 'New Ewan MacColl Biography'. This is now up to 252 posts. I'd give you the link but I can't be arsed - why should I do all the work?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Winger
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 03:12 PM

Oh dear, not another conspiracy theorist!

"Do with it?" Do you think that everyone is going to "do" something when knowledge is exchanged? Do you think that I'm going to call the CIA, MI5, the KGB? Come out of your bunker – the war is over – we're not being bugged.

By the way - I've read Harker's book. I was asking the question metaphorically but apparently it went over a couple of (rather thick) heads.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 03:36 PM

It isn't a case of wanting to hide discussion of MacColl and his history.

You say Imagine my surprise when I find that there's a "hole" in the book

I am surprised you say that when there are a number of holes in the book. His wives and children (to me) is a much bigger one. Peggy mentioned it in the foreword in the original. Remarkably few people come along and mention that one.

I suppose if people kept on coming onto saying who wrote "The Fields of Athenry" people get irritated and eventually say "Go away and look it up".

It's a bit like that with what Ewan did in the war. It is well-documented, has been discussed lots of times and people like me (who have done it) get irritated with people who are apparently really keen to know apparently can't be bothered to buy, beg, borrow or steal the book.

And you were asking the question metaphorically? Well you fooled me too.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Winger
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 03:43 PM

"Well you fooled me too"

Easily done I'm afraid.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: M.Ted
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 04:19 PM

Winger's question about JC's claim about Nelson's funeral seems petty, but in point of fact, but that comment has already spurred a discussion on another, non-folk music forum--Discussion of Jim Carroll's Nelson Funeral Allegation on Nelson and His World.

Though he hasn't mentioned it, Winger knows of this discussion, because one of his posts above contains a directed citation, and I suspect that JC knows of the thread as well, since he responded directly to it--bad internet etiquette on Winger's part to cut and paste without referencing the source, and imprudent, because it is very easy for anyone to google it--

My point is simply that Mudcat is the most cited folk music source on the web, and if generally comes up within the first four threads on google, so every petty, ill-thought, and nasty remark made here becomes very public--

I would never tell anyone what to say, of course, but I think that it is important to remember that the comments carry a long way.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Winger
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 04:35 PM

I don't think asking Jim to clarify his claim about an historical event is petty,ill-thought or nasty, especially if it is made on the most cited folk music source on the web. Such claims are likely to be quoted in future as facts.

Is M.Ted suggesting that we shouldn't let the facts get in the way of a good story?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 04:47 PM

Hmmm!! So, your question was 'metaphorical' was it, 'GUEST,winger'? Although you already knew the real answer! Well, perhaps my 'what-are-you-going-to-do-with-the-answer?' question was 'metaphorical' as well - even though I knew the 'real' answer was 'fuck-all' apart from shit stir!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 06:57 PM

from what I understand from my father, who was also a member of the communist party, the official communist party line was that it was a capitalist war, and not one that communists had to bother themselves about, so many communist party members [other than Ewan], went absent, and didnt join up until the Soviet Union entered the war.
I suspect that Ewans memories of the war are not as interesting as other aspects of his life,such as his contribution to the Radio Ballads, which are described in the excellent book by Peter Cox.
Dick Miles.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: M.Ted
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 07:25 PM

On the contrary, Winger, I think that, given the fact that the Nelson Question has taken on a life of it's own, outside of Mudcat, Jim should make every effort to find his source and, to whatever degree is possible, clear this all up.

As far as you are concerned, I only suggest that it is good internet forum etiquette to cite your source when you take something from another page, and, if possible, to post a blue clicky link.

My larger point, which I backed up with the link to the Nelson Forum above, is that the insults, scatological references, and four-letter admonitions resonate by way of Google through all of cyberspace, not necessarily to the credit of the folk music community--


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Dec 09 - 01:16 AM

Hear hear M.Ted - unfortunately the loudest and most vitriolic voices that have pervaded the Mudcat lately don't seem to know what good manners are, let alone good forum etiquette.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 17 Dec 09 - 06:29 AM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYyJ8pRdfYs

Not sure where my head was at the other day, but this is something else. Listening to this, there emerges a depth of sincerity with respect of matters whereby MacColl's evident mastery becomes transcendent, affectations notwithstanding.

Respect.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: mark gregory
Date: 17 Dec 09 - 06:35 AM

the original message now appears as a classic example of dog whistling rather than a genuine enquiry:

Date: 26 Aug 09 - 05:15 AM

Filtering though the gossiping Folk Grapevine we often hear of the celebrated gap in Ewan McColl's biography covering the period 1939-45. Rumours, it would seem, abound. One of the best would have him going in bearded disguise, wearing calipers, so as to avoid both conscription and facing the indignities suffered by more genuine COs.

Just rumours though, as I say...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 17 Dec 09 - 07:30 AM

Not at all, Mark - however so light-hearted my intention the inquiry was genuine enough. EM remains a controversial figure & a large body of Myth has grown up around him. Regardless of my personal feelings about his work (I love his traditional stuff but find his own songs hard to take) he is one of the more fascinating figures thrown up by The Folk Revival, a unique catalyst for all manner of legend and reputation which remains a subject worthy of discussion - which is what we come here for. Looking at the other thread on his war record - Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor? I am hearted by the overall tenor of the responses to the OP's somewhat derisory opening gambit. My own, as I say, I meant as something more playful, in the nature of the Folkloric subject matter. The reality, I would think, would have been no laughing matter at all, but remains nonetheless intriguing in the light of both the facts and folklore of the case which are in every respect exceptional. The more I learn, the more I admire the man - no matter what he did, or didn't do, in the bloody war.

S O'P


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Dec 09 - 07:54 AM

Oh lordy lord!
I only look into Mudcat every month or two, so just reading most of the above now. I am with Jim Maclean this.
One of my few claims to fame is that I was named Ewan before Jimmmy was. That the name is now very popular is surely down to him - one small indication of the nature of his influence. Ewan MacColl did more wonderful things than most of the people I know of, and a few less than wonderful things. Would we could all say as much.
I would say more but I won't be back soon - partly for probably unfounded fear of what is said to / about me and what I've just said that I would feel I have to get into dispute about, and life is too short to flame at people when it's not essential.
I found reading this thread very interesting, for a variety of reasons.
Ewan McVicar


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 17 Dec 09 - 09:36 AM

Thanks for your last post, SO'P. I had not heard that recording before. But perhaps now you begin to understand why some of us fell so thoroughly under Ewan's influence. I had the privilege of hearing him sing ballads just like that, on several occasions, in pub rooms, or occasionally concert stages, in London, Manchester and my home town. And always a spell would be cast across the room and the audience would be so entranced they would almost have to remind themselves to breathe. He really could bring these old songs to life, and make them relevant to a modern audience, with no compromises whatsoever.

He also thought deeply about the material, and how to present it, and was always willing to share his insights with anyone who was willing to listen. For me his interpretation of the ballad repertoire was his graetest achievement and I belive that the work that he and Peggy Seeger did on the ballads was at least as important as the work of Child and Bronson.

You might now like to see if you can find recordings of 'The Swan Swims sae Bonny' ('The Twa Sisiters'), 'Clerk Colvin' and 'Sir Patrick Spens', which are particular favourites of mine.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 17 Dec 09 - 03:47 PM

"Not sure where my head was at the other day, but this is something else. [...] Respect."

Yeah - TtR was the first song I'd heard EM sing - and I was pretty impressed I must say - it never gets boring, which for twenty verses with no instrumentation or much at all in the way of vocal frills, is pretty impressive IMO. I haven't heard his self-penned material, so no idea on that. But his TtR is great. Would like to hear his Sir Patrick Spens too, anyone gonna upload it? Currently I've only heard a couple of renderings of Sir P including this by Buffy St. Marie, which despite it's thoroughly torturous vocal affectations, I find quite peculiarly compelling!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Dec 09 - 04:43 PM

yes,Ewan McColl sings a good version of Thomas The Rhymer ,his diction is much better than Maddie Priors, and there are no irritating instrumental breaks, and general poncing about that characterises Steeleye Spans version.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 17 Dec 09 - 08:33 PM

Dick-

There's really little point in discussing how MacColl/Miller sang, or composed, or even what he thought of the world with SOP et al. They are only interested in provoking response, as classic trolls do. They don't give a shit about what happened 60 years ago, 10 years ago, or even yesterday.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 18 Dec 09 - 01:59 AM

Charley - have you actually bothered to read this read at all? As for what MacColl sang, see my last couple of posts - and elsewhere. Seems most of the time I've got to defend myself from people, like yourself, who seem determined to miss the point entirely. Thus it is you who are classic troll here, not I - especially as Dick's comment is following up on a general discussion of EM's rendering of Thomas the Rhymer which I instigated as a way of somehow turning the thread into something more celebratory, which as my intention all along before being pounced on by The Inquisition and subject to their Ineffable Righteousness.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 18 Dec 09 - 05:17 AM

Yes, SO'P I think that you've (finally!) done us all a favour by giving an example of the quality of MacColl's work rather than the constant rehashing of rumours about him.

All of this weary Mudcat wrangling and the recent re-issues of 'Journeyman' and selections from the Riverside recordings have got me thinking about MacColl, his life and work and attitudes towards him within the British folk revival. His politics and (to a ceratin extent) certain aspects of his personality obviously alienated some people (to such an extent that some of them can't seem to let it go 20 years after his death). But I suspect that it goes deeper than that and could be a generational thing. He was born in 1915, in an old-fashioned industrial slum, and lived in conditions that we can barely imagine now. He rebelled against those circumstances - a rebellion that shaped his personality and his work. There are passages in 'Journeyman' that suggest that he was a 'teenage rebel' in the 1930s at a time when most teenagers were 'just' younger versions of their parents. By the time the pop music driven 'youth rebellion' of the mid to late 1950s arrived MacColl was a mature man in his 40s whose earlier rebellious spirit had evolved into a mature and disciplined artistic vision. I suspect that that artistic vision was bound to collide with the more hedonistic 'rebellion' of the baby boomers. Added to that most post-war youth rebellions have had a strong aspect of inter-generational rivalry (i.e. young people rebelling against the previous generation(s)); and what also strikes me is how fashion-driven they have been. Although the participants have tended to see themselves as 'rebels' they have, in reality, tended to be more conformist than their parents but have conformed to different, often more hedonistic, norms. MacColl, on the other hand, seems to have revered his parents (although I'm sure that they had their differences) and to have inherited their political views and rebellious outlook.
So MacColl was well into the process of developing his vision of folk song, and its place in the modern world, when the pop-driven 'youth revolution' arrived. I suspect that many young people who chanced upon the folk revival were puzzled that its leading figure didn't conform to the usual stereotype of a pop hero. He was not in the least bit hedonistic, was of their parents' generation and was a bit fierce and austere (and, crucially I suspect, didn't play a guitar!). He was also an intellectual interested in ideas and keen on a disciplined approach to the singing of folk songs. Unfortunately, youth culture (which was rapidly becoming mainstream) was leading in a different direction and rapidly 'dumbing down' as it went; it despised (was terrified of!) intellectuals of any sort. MacColl's biggest 'crime' was that he didn't conform to the newly evolved norms of post-war pop culture and thought deeply about his art - but then he was a 'real', and very original, rebel from an earlier generation who refused to compromise or sell-out.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Dec 09 - 06:26 AM

Sorry, but Ewan MacColl is not Spring Heel Jack or Robin Hood. He is not a 'folkloric' character. He was a colourful character, but not *that* colourful. It rings very hollow and unconvincing, all this po-mo, 'playful' stuff: there's a very good reason why Todd Haynes made 'I'm Not There' about Bob Dylan, rather than Ewan MacColl. The fact is, there is a prosaic, banal, boring 'yes' or 'no' to all these questions about EMC, and you'll find it in the 'Class Act' book. It *does* matter whether something said about someone who actually once existed is true or not. It may not matter to you, but it still matters.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Dec 09 - 10:30 AM

I will talk about his singing,it is good,the words are clear and he is in tune, his interpretation would be different from mine, but then interpretation is a very personal thing , but I shall go back and listen to this quite a bit more,its a good version for aspiring singers to listen to,if they wish to learn the song.
There is little one can be critical of in this version, its not very emotional[imo],but to be understated is better than to be overdramatic.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Dec 09 - 01:39 PM

"This is about collecting folklore, not the people behind it,"
Just got back from a trip to West Cork and thought - "Oh dear, what a lot to catch up on". But on closer examination - well..... not really; still the same old unsubstantiated (yawwwwwn) shite - with the notable exception that it has miraculously metamorphosed into a folklore field trip! Nope - it is still what it started out as; a small-minded unimaginative piece of snide at somebody who has been 'Blowin' in the Wind' since his ashes were scattered over Kinder Scout all those years ago.
Will check out if there's anything new to be read or said when I get my breath back.
Guest.guest:
"......but you do come across as a particularly nasty piece of work."
Sorry - you don't come across as anything, especially as you choose not to disclose your identity.
I suppose this means the engagement's off?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 18 Dec 09 - 01:46 PM

Dear Jim - Some of us (like no-nuthin me) just follow these threads as a source of (possibly interesting) information, irrespective of 'who started it' or other stuff. I'm just interested in knowing the facts, without ploughing through books I might otherwise have no time for. I only just heard Ewans Thomas, so this thread has become more interesting. It might be helpful if posters considered that these threads are a kind of educational resource, rather than merely a squabble!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Joe_F
Date: 18 Dec 09 - 09:08 PM

The title of this thread led me to expect that it would appeal to my vulgar curiosity, and I read & contributed to it in that expectation. I have valued Ewan MacColl over the last 45 years, and gotten hold of every recording of his that I could, because he sang, and sang well, more songs that I cherish than any other singer has done. He was (as I put it on another thread) a container & dispenser -- the teapot, not the tea. That naturally makes me sentimental about him, tho, and it would be priggish to deny myself the pleasure of gossiping about his career as a Stalinist dupe (which I was myself 55 years ago) & as a figure in the history of the folk-music industry. I expect, in a few days, to get around to reading the rest of Harker's book, but I also expect that, after that, it will stay undisturbed on my shelf far longer than any of MacColl's records will.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 03:52 AM

Perhaps I should clarify my position regarding MacColl.
I have been an admirer of his singing since some time in the early sixties when I was given one of his albums for my 21st birthday.
I first met him around 1967, when he and Peggy offered me the use of their spare room and recording equipment in order to copy some of their field recordings. They also offered their help and advice in facilitating my setting up a singers' workshop in Manchester.
A year later Ewan invited me to join the Critics Group, which I jumped at, and in 1969 I moved to London; again, they offered me a bed for the weeks it took me to find a home and work.
I was (and remain) extremely impressed by the workshop technique Ewan had devised to help singers improve – 'groundbreaking' is the word that springs to mind.
I remained a member of The Critics Group until it broke up a couple of years later. Pat, who I met in the Group, had been a member for a couple of years before I moved South.
When the group was disbanded in order to form an acting company, we continued our friendship with Ewan and Peggy, remained members of the audience committee of The Singers Club and became residents. Our friendship lasted until Ewan's death in 1989 and Peggy's move to the US shortly after.
In 1978, sometime after the end of the C.G., Pat and I approached Ewan and asked him if he would agree to be interviewed and in the September we made a start, carrying on till the following February.
Our objective was to get as much information as we could about his approach to singing, his collecting work, his teaching methods, (Laben, Stanislavsky, relaxation and voice exercises etc….) which we stuck to over the six months. At one stage wires became a little crossed as Ewan believed us to be recording information for a biography, while we were neither interested nor qualified to tackle such a project. We finished the job and later got permission to make copies of all the recordings that had been made of Critics Group meetings from its beginning (around 250 cassettes worth).
Any knowledge I have of MacColl and his work comes from the above.
At no time have I been interest whatever in defending MacColl from the personal attacks that are par for the course whenever his name is mentioned. Nor have I any interest in covering up his faults; I was close enough over a long period to see many of those first hand, but none of them merit the dishonest shit thrown at him (throughout his singing life and up to twenty years after his death). I will try and set the record straight when something comes up that I know to be untrue and unfair, I feel I owe him that much – but that's as far as it goes.
MacColl's and Peggy's generosity towards other, less experienced singers, the time and effort they put in with us, the use of their home and library, the times they volunteered their services without cost in order to help set up new clubs (4 we've been involved with) – all this while the other 'superstars' of the revival were seeing to their own careers – make Ewan and Peggy a bit special in my book. I know of no other established singers apart from a couple of ex-Critics who involved themselves in such work (if we took anything away from our time in he C.G. it was to pass on what we had and what we'd learned).
As far as I'm concerned MacColl's legacy to folk music, the books, albums, songs, recordings, the 137 Child ballads he breathed new life into…… is more than enough to identify him for what he was and achieved, and that is what will remain when P O'B's (et al) bilious vomit is swilled down the drain hole of history.
Earlier on Winger was astute enough to suggest that I was "fuel for P O'B's flame".
Again, let me make my position clear. I welcome any opportunity to discuss MacColl and his work as he was an important part of my life and also a vital figure in the revival that has given me and many others so much pleasure and interest, in my case approaching half-a-century's worth. I sometimes wish that these discussions did not take place at the 'village idiot' level that this and other such have plummeted to on occasion, but beggars can't be choosers. When I do get pissed off with the childish vitriol being slung about, I can always fall back on the fact that these threads are often started by the type of people who find it acceptable, even amusing, to attempt to publicly humiliate a guest singer (any singer) at a folk club by scrawling "arsehole' on the back of his chair (though let me hasten to add that our o.p. only stood on the sidelines cheering, not being in possession of either the bottle or the imagination to devise such a stunt himself, but was content to leave it to somebody else).
Pretty indicative of the level of some of these debates, I'd say.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 04:30 AM

Guest.guest:
"......but you do come across as a particularly nasty piece of work."
Sorry - you don't come across as anything, especially as you choose not to disclose your identity.
I suppose this means the engagement's off? UNQUOTE

It's not my intention to come across as anything, merely to point out something I see as obvious. Let me say you were doing OK in your last post - reasonable, informative etc - but you just couldn't keep it up could you? So late in the post your internal anger and bitterness took over and you reverted to your former self. It's nastiness like this that has spoiled Mudcat.

So I stand by what I say. If you want to continue coming across as a nasty piece of work, ignore my message by all means. Or you could try to do something about your obvious internal anger.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 04:34 AM

Pretty indicative of the level of some of these debates, I'd say.

Well, indicative of your contributions to them, old man. Pipe & slippers time - what a happy place dotage must be! Anyway, no more from me here - I've clarified my position regarding Ewan MacColl the Myth & Legend and, unlike the senile members of the folk inquisition, I'm quite happy to be able to appreciate his unique legacy without being blinded by the light shining out of his Holy Arsehole.

Here he is singing Lord Randal:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0l-bCT0OedQ

Enjoy!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 06:22 AM

GUESTguest, as I have already remarked above, makes no valid point whatever. He direly mistakes if he finds anything ill-natured in Jim's cogent, intelligent & well-argued posts: where these are contentious it is invariably in reply to provocative obloquy on others' parts. [I should perhaps reiterate that my sole acquaintance with Jim is thru these threads - to the best of my knowledge & recollection we have never actually met.]

You are nothing but a troll, Gg, so take your irritating self off this thread — or at least please have the grace to join properly to entitle yourself, at least to some extent, to have your absurd opinions aired hereabouts.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 09:06 AM

He direly mistakes if he finds anything ill-natured in Jim's cogent, intelligent & well-argued posts: where these are contentious it is invariably in reply to provocative obloquy on others' parts.

I know I bowed out but as it's mostly myself that gets it in the neck from Jim Carroll I feel obliged to point out that nothing I have written here has been intended as provocative obloquy, but only wilfully perceived as such by JC who, on the evidence of these & other posts, is a very nasty piece of work indeed. He has consistently (and deliberately) misunderstood & misrepresented the intention of this thread which, far from defaming the infallible reputation of MacColl, was to explore the Legend, Mythology & Folklore, both positive and negative, that has grown up around the man. Perhaps, albeit unwittingly, in his cloyingly mawkish testimonies to the divine nature of his Guru JC has provided us with an essential balance to the real white-feather merchants & real corpse-kickers out there.

Ultimately though, I'm pissed because when I tried to play some of my favourite EM recordings the other week I couldn't get passed the anger that JC had blackened my heart with and so effectively ruined the pleasure I've always taken from EM's superlative ballad singing. Happily, I'm passed that now, but it took a real effort.

Here's another: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_A6I2pKWa1E

Does it get any better than that? As I say - enjoy!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 09:47 AM

"Talentless arsehole just about sums up Ewan MacColl; a pedlar of spurious, the bogus and the faux - so, as a figurehead of the so-called revival, he'll do just nicely. The real mountain? The man was barely a molehill. Still, nice to know that you're keeping the faith so devoutly, old man!"
I think you're trying to say somebody forged your signature - have I got that right?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 09:54 AM

Sorry Sweeney - I am bound to disagree. It was not you I was accusing of the 'provocative obloquy' — most of your posts have been reasonably if strongly expressed, I should say. But others far less so - including this unprovoked [as I read] it denunciation by GUESTguest. But I can't feel you justified in describing a man, who is quite obviously intent on defending the reputation of a dear friend whom he knew well and from whom he over the years received many kindnesses, as indulging in expressions which were 'cloying' or 'mawkish': they struck me, within the context of this thread, as eminently reasonable.

When I responded [30 Aug 09 12.37AM] to Jim's request for any example anyone could adduce of EMacC's having behaved like 'a bastard' [his word, quoting another poster], with a true story of some unreasonable behaviour on Ewan's part of which I had been a close observer back in the 50s, the response I got from Jim was entirely fair & unobjectionable. I see JC as one fighting his corner, often with vehemence as we all will at times [as you & I well know from past experience] - but I find no justification for any description of him as 'a nasty piece of work'.

Not quite sure why I am becoming involved in this particular bit of contention, in which I am not directly concerned — some sort of love for justice & fair·play I suppose... More fool me, probably ["Peace, Kent - come not between the dragon & his wrath": Shakespeare King Lear Act I, sc i].


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 10:50 AM

"Talentless arsehole just about sums up Ewan MacColl; a pedlar of spurious, the bogus and the faux - so, as a figurehead of the so-called revival, he'll do just nicely. The real mountain? The man was barely a molehill. Still, nice to know that you're keeping the faith so devoutly, old man!"

As I have already explained, my use of Talentless Arsehole was inspired directly by you using that very phrase about me in the previous post. This is what I meant by the hatred that your crabby self-serving bile inspired in me regarding EM's craft; but as I say I'm over that now. However, I do stand by most of the above a pedlar of spurious, the bogus and the faux - so, as a figurehead of the so-called revival, he'll do just nicely. Perhaps he was a wee bit more than a molehill with respect of The Revival, old man - but hardly a mountain in terms of musical greatness. A big fish in a small pond perhaps?

Anyway, I'm determined to exit this thread on a happy note; so a further example of Ewan MacColl at his inspirational best.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYpwMGCd5pw

Again - enjoy!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 11:01 AM

So you admit, SO'P, that he was 'inspirational'. Then why so much negativity about him? He could be a very awkward, contentious man to deal with, as many discovered — see the post of mine of last 30 Aug which I mention above: but how does your "inspirational" fit in with your "molehill"? You just are not being consistent. And don't say you are driven to such negative comments as a counterblast to Jim's [perceived by you] overpraise: I persist in seeing you as more intelligent and sensible than to react in such a fashion.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 12:31 PM

but how does your "inspirational" fit in with your "molehill"? You just are not being consistent.

Inspirational as a singer of traditional ballads, but in other respects I find him a bit of a molehill, albeit one who has made into a mountain by even lesser talents - as I've been consistent in presenting throughout this thread.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 12:33 PM

Please stop digging - this is getting embarrasing.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 12:43 PM

Jim-

Thanks for your additional note describing in more detail your history with Ewan and Peggy.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 01:08 PM

Please stop digging - this is getting embarrasing.

No digging here, old man - just saying what I've been saying all along in this thread - and others, that whilst I've always loved his ballad singing (apart from a brief crisis a couple of weeks back detailed below) I find the rest of his work rather mediocre musically and soiled by political polemic. In my view, he is most certainly not a musical genius - just a canny ballad singer. The occasion I saw him was one of the most bitterly disappointing concerts I've ever seen - there I was expecting Thomas the Rhymer, instead I got preached at for an hour about the correct political response to Apartheid illustrated by some of the worst self-penned songs I've ever heard. Now that was embarrassing.

None of which, of course, has anything to do with the topic of the thread.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 01:13 PM

Dig away
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 01:17 PM

I can't help agreeing with Sweeney on that one - I said in my review of Journeyman for The Times (which some of you I know have read & if anyone else would like a copy just PM me yr steam-mail address & I will gladly send you one), that I wouldn't give a dime-a-dozen for his political songs - though I think his original songs of men-at-work [Schooldays Over, Champn at Keeping 'Em, Shoals, The Fight Game...] are in a class of their own for contemp folksongs, way ahead of practically all others [tho - a slight drift - I think Peter Bellamy's Farewell To The Land the best of the lot of them].


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 02:30 PM

There are exceptions to every rule, MtheGM - I once heard a chap in a singaround at the Fylde give a performance of Shoals that rang true on every level. I am an unrepentant Bellamist, a rule that has no exceptions that I can think of, though he's attracted his fare share of folklore over the years, has he not?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 02:43 PM

A matter of taste really.
Songs like Ballad of Accounting, Brother Did You Weep, Fields of Viet Nam, The Island, Sharpville, Jimmy Wilson....... loads of others are political markers as to what was going on in the latter half of the 20th century - many others, as with many traditional political songs, were for the moment and quite often had no reason to continue once that moment was past.
P O'B'ws point was that songwriters had no business in interfering in with political events which should be left to the people themselves, which is utter nonsense.
Many of us where incensed with what was happening in Apartheid South Africa, Viet Nam, The Miners Strike, Chile, Greece.... and were only too glad to have good well-crafted songs which enabled us to give vent to our anger.
MacColl was persistently the finest polemicist on the scene - there has never been IMO anything as strong as well as so artistically perfect, as near as dammit, as 'White Wind' (not really a single song).
Songs like Freeborn Man, Dirty Old Town, Manchester Rambler, all making political statements, have remained standards on the folk scene decades after they were made. It's always surprised me that Tenant Farmer and Ballad of the Carpenter, two other political pieces, weren't more popular than they were.
Some of MacColl's (and Peggy's) songs were heavy-handed, but they did the job they were intended for and I can't think of one of them being a real flop.
Peggy's 'Song of Choice' remains, for me, one of the finest political songs ever written (alongside Jack Warshaw's Allende's Song).
Can't remember having heard Bellamy's 'Farewell To the Land', but I wouldn't have sought it out as I was never enamoured to either his singing or his politics.
All in the ears of the listener I suppose.
There are a number of excellent chapters in Ian Watson's Song and Democratic Culture In Britain which I would highly recommend to anybody interested in the subject.   

Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 05:20 PM

Ewan must have thought his political songs were good, but often they were written for a specific purpose to highlight a particular injustice, and undoubtedly were not intended, to be anything more than ephemeral.
perhaps its important to analyse why Ewan was a good ballad singer,he understood that he was telling a story, his diction was clear, and he realised that the song was strong enough to stand on its own without accompaniment, ...and without distracting instrumental breaks,and general ponceing about[as is the case with Steeleye Spans version of Thomas the Rhymer].
EWAN had respect for the tradtional songs he sang, and that is evident in his performance of them.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 06:13 PM

Personally I find Stalinism dreary and depressing. Despised all it stands for my entire left-wing life. Would cross the road to avoid pissing on a burning tankie. I always associated EM with the Stalinist wing of the left and kept away from him, apart from his ballad singing. Bet he hated anarchists.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 06:13 PM

Jim,I agree and disagree,I was not a fan of his politics either, but then I dont share the same politics as other esteemed singers[Iam constantly surprised by how many Conservatives there are on the English Folk scene]
but I disagree with you about his singing,he had some qualities, that many other singers dont have,the abilty to enter into the story of a song, in a QUITE different way to MacColl,but able to bring it to life just as well.
Peter Bellamy[imo] was a spontaneous singer,I doubt if he ever sang the sanme song in exactly the same fashion.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 06:17 PM

above should read of [ as other esteemed singers]


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 06:59 PM

Let me clarify what I wrote at 01.17 PM - I did not offer to distribute free copies of Journeyman: I said if anyone would like a copy of THE REVIEW I WROTE OF IT FOR THE TIMES WHEN IT FiRST APPEARED I would gladly send one. I have reread what I wrote & still think I expressed myself OK, but obvsly not clearly enuff as 1 or 2 people appear to have misunderstood.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 08:00 PM

SC
MacColl may have written Stalinist songs in his early days (Ballad of Stalin) but none of his later songs (mid-fifties onward) could be described as such IMO.
There is a tendency to lump everything left wing as Stalinist - I am a left winger, but vehemently anti-Stalinist (though I think I understand to some degree why Stalinism took a hold of the left - due mainly to my family experiences).
The pro-Chinese songs (China Me Old China) etc (in fact that's the only one I can think of) came as near as any to being S...ist, but, I thought, fell short - complicated.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 03:38 AM

"I am a left winger, but vehemently anti-Stalinist"

Me too.

Glad to hear EM moved away from it to. Too many left wingers of that generation held onto it like they were the last band of zealots shoring up a crumbling religion (I remember one telling me that when the tanks rolled in Prague in 68, it was a fine example of "socialist diplomacy". for a moment I thought he was joking...).

I really like his Bothy Ballads album - Lamachree and Megrum is wonderful. I wish he'd stomped on the feckin' ocarina though!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 03:45 AM

"I really like his Bothy Ballads album"
One of my favourites too.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 04:12 AM

complicated.

Do we know what Peter Bellamy's politics were? We all know of his father's allegiances - or are they just rumours too? I guess we'll have to wait for the biography, which in any case would make as fascinating a read as Ewan MacColl's I'm sure, even though his life was tragically cut short at the tender age of 46. In the songs he sang - be they traditional, Kipling or from his own pen - Pete Bellamy bore testimony to a persuasive sort of humanism perhaps best summed up in Kipling's A Pilgrim's Way. I've heard that song described a by some as a Socialist Hymn - probably the same ones who invariably assume The Land is a call to the English peasantry to rise up against their oppressors and take back what is rightfully theirs! It is, of course, no such thing, but, like Gungadin, would acknowledge an essential individual humanity in the midst of what might be otherwise considered a circumstance of functional inevitability - be it the historical continuity of feudalism - or yet of war. In other words, like Kipling, I think Peter Bellamy's politics were painted with a very small brush indeed, using a vast palette of subtle shades - unlike the broad paint-roller strokes of Ewan MacColl for whom the world was red or blue and the individual was of lesser consequence than the cause of righteous ideology. How else might we account for so divisive a work as Daddy, What Did You Do in the Strike? which even at this distance puts shivers down my spine. Complicated? Well, certainly not in Ewan's view of things, who might reduce the struggles & sufferings of human lives to so simplistic, and potentially lethal, a polemical equation.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 04:17 AM

I really like his Bothy Ballads album - Lamachree and Megrum is wonderful. I wish he'd stomped on the feckin' ocarina though!

I don't think I've ever heard this - Lamachree & Megrum being all all-time favourite of mine...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 04:46 AM

Don't worry S... the ocarina is on a different song!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 04:47 AM

Suibhne - PeterBellamy's father's history is not rumour, He told me himself that he was born in 1944 after his father was released from imprisonment under Emergency Regulation 18b at beginning of WWii, along with Oswald & Diana Mosley et al, as he had been one of Mosley's most immediate deputy blackshirts. Pete was not exactly proud of it, but found it interesting, I think. His own politics tended to the right - a sort of humanitarian conservatism; like my own, really, I suppose. I am no leftie; but not really a rightie either. More an empiricist, believing in trying to judge every issue on its own merits. Apolitical as far as possible, I suppose you would call it. Peter was the same; a certain nostalgia, à-la Kipling, for the best of Empire but trying not to forget its abuses either.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 07:16 AM

Just to say that JC's last 3 posts are almost pleasant in nature.

My work is done.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 07:30 AM

Suibhne, Peters father is irrelevant to the discussion, but read a biography of Mosley and you will soon find out
[quote]I think Peter Bellamy's politics were painted with a very small brush indeed, using a vast palette of subtle shades - unlike the broad paint-roller strokes of Ewan MacColl for whom the world was red or blue and the individual was of lesser consequence than the cause of righteous ideology.
this statement is pure unfounded speculation, you knew neither MacColl or Bellamy.
you would do better to leave it to those who knew both people.
Jim Carroll knew Ewan well.MGM knew Peter well.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 08:08 AM

"Just to say that JC's last 3 posts are almost pleasant in nature."
Don't get too smug; you aint seen nothin' yet!

"How else might we account for so divisive a work as Daddy, What Did You Do in the Strike? which even at this distance puts shivers down my spine."
It sent (and still sends) shivers down my spine to think that Augusto Pinochet's friend was allowed to smash the mining industry, throw many thousands on the dole and destroy whole communities; while describing anybody who opposed her as "The Enemy Within" and telling us "there is no such thing as society" - now that's what I call divisive - but that's my (and was MacColl's) take on the miners strike.
People took sides - that's what happens in cases like these:

"They say in Harlan County
There ain't no neutrals there,
You'll either be a union man
Or a scab for J H Blair,
Join the NMU, join the NMU."

It shouldn't really be an issue here (unless we want a replay of those events - in which case, re-open another thread).
In the years I was involved with the Singers Club (despite stories to the contrary) I never witnessed anybody being prevented from singing or interrupted because people objected to the contents of their songs, though I did visit many other clubs where I was asked not to sing political or contemporary or accompanied material. Ewan and Peggy and members of the Critics Group were regularly having similar attempts at restrictions put on their performances. Yet it was the Singers Club that got the reputation for being repressive!
I'm pretty sure any decent club would, quite rightly, draw a line at racist material, but, say a pro-Thatcherite song would more likely have provoked heated debate in the bar, and quite likely opposition in kind from the resident singers; can't see the harm in that.
But in the main, censorship of songs because of their politics (which appears to be rumbling away in the background of this debate) is a no-no as far as I'm concerned.
I never experienced it myself, but some years ago a number of singer friends of my were shouted off the stage because they sang what were regarded as 'sexist' songs - the result - we lost a large slice of our best material. The same happened with some of the whaling songs - pity!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 09:11 AM

this statement is pure unfounded speculation, you knew neither MacColl or Bellamy.
you would do better to leave it to those who knew both people.


Hardly unfounded, GSS. It's pretty evident from their work what their respective approaches & agendas were - assuming PB had a political agenda as such, unlike EM who made his political agenda his life's work and ultimately, I fear, the ruination of his craft. Once again I must state that 1) this isn't about them personally, rather through their art and public reputation - and 2) this is my personal opinion, which I am in any event entitled to.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 10:03 AM

"assuming PB had a political agenda as such, unlike EM who made his political agenda his life's work and ultimately, I fear, the ruination of his craft."
To apply a little balance here, MacColl did what singers have done down the ages and sang songs which reflected his beliefs and opinions (political songs go back at least to the 10th century and are to be found in both Latin and English).
Bellamy ressurrected and sang some of the Kipling songs that helped send a generation of young men to their deaths in the trenches (until his own son was killed and he was converted to the futility of war!)
MacColl's songs largely called for a world of equality and fairness, Kipling's glorified an obscenely brutal Imperialist war - both political agendas - take your pick.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 11:08 AM

"Kipling's glorified an obscenely brutal Imperialist war"
Should read Kipling's glorified an obscenely brutal Imperialist war and the virues of Empire"
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 11:15 AM

Kipling's glorified an obscenely brutal Imperialist war

I'm not so sure he glorified it, Jim. The ford o'Kabul River and Cholera camp being good descriptions of certain horrors. I don't claim to know all his work but even some of the famous - The afore mentioned 'Gungadin' and 'Tommy' give accounts of the issues faced by soldiers rather than glorifying any particular campaign. I am left with an overall impression of someone who saw war through a cynics eye rather than one who revelled in it.

Just my two pen'urth though.

Cheers

Dave


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 12:07 PM

Good point Dave. I would sing Tommy if I could do it justice and Oak, Ash & Thorn any time - we pick, we choose, as we do with MacColl and we embrace some of what either say or stand for but not all.

L in C


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 12:23 PM

I dont think PETER had a political agenda, he certainly never talked about politics on stage, my opinion [and I did know him and saw him perform often],Ithink he enjoyed singing,and enjoyed singing traditional songs,and enjoyed singing in harmony with others[YT].
furthermore , I never heard him push Conservative[Tory] politics.
his back ground may well have influenced his love of Kipling.,but as other have pointed out,his Kipling repertoire,was not just empire beating tub thumping
you [suibhne] described MacColl as considering the individual of lesser consequence than righteous ideology,as you did not know Ewan ,how can you justify such a crap statement.
I did not know him very well,on one occasion I found him very arrogant,on another occasion I found him friendly and good company.
I think you are also over romanticising Peter Bellamy.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 12:26 PM

PETER would love the fact he was getting this attention,and being compared with Ewan.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 12:36 PM

Absolutely right about Pete, Dick. He had no explicit party allegiance, but his opinions were eclectic and empirical; as indeed, to a considerable degree, were Kipling's — hence I feel the appeal. It is only too easy to attack Kipling as an Imperialist jingoist: but that is facile; he was altogether more subtle than that.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 12:50 PM

I'm much relieved to see that the flaming has subsided in recent postings, most of which I agree with: particularly MtheGM's.

I wouldn't mind seeing some more discussion of the folklore about MacColl as folklore, as distinct from discussion of the man himself.

Richard


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 12:59 PM

how can you justify such a crap statement.

Because of what he wrote, GSS - I've already linked to one of his songs - the one I paraphrased for the title of this thread. It's not a matter of knowing him, but looking at his work, and drawing conclusions based on that work.

I think you are also over romanticising Peter Bellamy.

There can be no over-romanticising Bellamy? Bellamy was the very embodiment of romance, heart and soul. I met him on numerous occasions & saw him perform on numerous others. In fact, the first time I met him I hadn't even heard of him. He approached me upstairs in a pub looking for a floor to sleep on after a gig because no one seemed prepared to put him up - all a far cry from the five-star hotel room the same club organisers were complaining about Ewan MacColl insisting upon around the same time! In the event PB found somewhere nearer (I lived an hours bus ride away at the time and a further mile hike through the muck and the mire at the other end!) but when I mentioned the incident to a friend a few days later he set about converting me to the Bellamist cause...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 01:46 PM

Suibhne, Yes, that is why his singing was so good because he let himself go in the song.,he expressed himself through his singing as a blues singer would do.

but, you are in danger of turning him into a cult figure, what is this Bellamist cause nonsense, buy all means expose people to his work, but you are a bitteen OTT.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 03:24 AM

"all a far cry from the five-star hotel room the same club organisers were complaining about Ewan MacColl insisting upon around the same time!"
Is that another bit of MacColl Folklore SOP?
While I would agree that they would expect a bit more than a sleeping bag on a setee, on the three occasions that I was involved in booking them in South Shields they were quite content with The Marsden Inn, a nice pub that did accommodation but hardly 5 star!Also as I recall they did contact us on one occasion to say that they would be staying with friends in the area and such accommodation would not be required.
I do remember a story about a couple involved with another North East club who re-decorated their spare room having agreed to put MacColl and Seeger up only for Ewan and Peggy to contact the organisers nearer the date to say that they had arranged their own accommodation.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 03:37 AM

"I'm much relieved to see that the flaming has subsided in recent postings"

Me too. So much less unpleasant isn't it. Those tempted to be apologists for bad behaviour, please take note.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 03:40 AM

Is that another bit of MacColl Folklore SOP?

I recall that one quite vividly actually, spoken with some vitriol by one of the organisers, who no doubt had his own axe to grind. As I say, it struck me as odd when PB was reduced to begging a bed from strangers who weren't even at his gig!

That bit about the people redecorating their room especially shows the sort of respect they were held in though, doesn't it? A touching detail.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 04:01 AM

5-star Hotel? In the 60's there weren't any in Hull when I booked them. They asked for "accommodation" meaning not someone's house. We put them up in a town centre B and B.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 05:30 AM

most of us have stayed at peoples houses when doing gigs,however in Scotland it seems a little more customary for oragnisers to book guest artitts in to B and B,on every occasion[4 times at least]I played Inverness Folk club,I was booked in to a B and B,I never refused the accomodation.
incidentally, I have recently had a gig cancelled at Mansfield folk club[6 months notice ],not only does this mean I have lost my gig money,but I have also an added expense finding accomodation for the night.
but nobody gives a fiddlers fart,and I can do sweet f a about it.
so it happens to all performers not just Peter Bellamy.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 07:52 AM

Oh dear - just when I thought this thread was beginning to climb the ladder along comes a snake and - bang - down in the gutter again; ah well!
Accommodation:
MacColl and Seeger were fanatics about giving a good performance at a club and in order to do so they persisted with voice and relaxation exercises to keep their voices in form. I know they both did this for a short period each morning as I was woken up by ahhhh and eeee noises on several occasions when I stayed with them. They also recommended it to Critics Group members - whether we took their advive is another matter.
When they were on tour (they seldom did single bookings outside the Home Counties) they asked for accommodation roomy enough to have space to work. MacColl's persistant bad health made some of the longer tours fairly stressful. They also liked to be able to invite people back to ther room after the show occasionally.
5 star Hotel my arse.....
Their booking form (I have one somewhere) explained the situation and asked that accommodation included working space - that's it.
I visited their accommodation when they appeared at the MSG in Manchester, a club sucessful and wealthy enough to have put them up in the Piccadilly Plaza, should they have requested it. They were staying at a somewhat run-of-the-mill guest house next to Salford Cathedral, a few minutes walk from the venue. Any information to the contrary would be gratefully received.
Am also happy to give information on any othey bit of salacious gossip - the songs MacColl stole and claimed as his own, the ripping off of traditional sinegrs, the auditions floor singers had to undergo - even the one about the hedgehog!
Plouter away folks!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 08:39 AM

PS
"Those tempted to be apologists for bad behaviour, please take note."
And those inclined to be pompous, self-important eejits also please take note
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 08:44 AM

I am sure Jim speaks entire truth there. Whereas [slight drift alert but I think it follows logically from preceding]: as to American folksingers sent over by their record companies in 50s & appearing at Ewan & Peggy's Ballads&Blues — I was once one of a group invited back for a drink at his hotel by Ralph Rinzler about 1956; & where should he take us but The Dorchester in Park Lane!!! — I remember Robin Hall waxing highly satirical as we walked folkie·scruffily thru that lobby & getting us looked at somewhat quizzical by many a Dowager & retired Cavalry Colonel!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 10:00 AM

A footnote to my 'accommodation' bit.
Ex-Critics Group member Luke Kelly was once booked at the Grimsby club and was put up by two people who (I think) were friends of E & Ps, Tom and June Fahey. In the morning they were alarmed to hear strangulated groans coming from the bathroom and eventually, receiving no response to their frantic knocking, they forced an entry into the bathroom only to find Luke in the shower doing his voice exercises.
The story can be verified in Des Gerrihey's biography of Luke entitled LUKE.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 10:17 AM

Ralph Rinzler sent over by his record company about 1956 ? Too early.

Ralph was certainly in London in 1959 and appearing at the Ballads & Blues regularly. As far as I am aware he hadn't made any recordings at that time. (The Greenbriar Boys recordings came later) I believe he was doing what many Americans were doing at that time, leaving university and doing the European trip similarly to Peggy Seeger. In fact when Peggy's visitor's visa ran out and she had to leave the country temporarily it was Ralph that took over her guitar and banjo lessons. It is my understanding that Ralph was not a poor man and if was staying at a decent hotel at that time then it certainly wasn't by earning any money on the folk circuit.
I don't believe that Ralph returned to the UK after his brief stay here until he brought Doc Watson over in the sixties.

Undoubtedly some so called folk performers have come over on promotional tours but at that time I can't at present think of any.
Possibly Vanguard chipped in something when Ralph and Doc did their visit but apart from that ?

Ralph was certainly someone to whom lovers of American "folk" music owe a great debt.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 12:34 PM

Hoot - Thank you for this clarification. It must have been early in 1959 [could it possibly have been late -58?], as I was married at end of March 59 & it was certainly before that. I always assumed he must have been subsidised by some commercial outfit, & took it to be his record company, as The Dorchester is not just 'a decent' hotel, but one of London's top-price places, up there with The Savoy & The Ritz. If, as you say, Ralph was paying for it himself he must have been a very wealthy man indeed. I didn't know him that well — well enuff to be one of those invited on the occasion but never close friends — so obviously I didn't have the impertinence to ask him how he could afford such accommodation for what was quite a long stay in London. I remember him as a charming and obliging man — once lent me his guitar to sing when Ewan called me up from the floor & I hadn't brought my own instrument as this was somewhat unexpected: even recall what it was I sang — Queen Eleanor's Confession. So you will observe that my recollection is quite clear even if I hadn't quite got the time in perspective.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 12:34 PM

what is the one about the Hedgehog?
PS
"Those tempted to be apologists for bad behaviour, please take note."
And those inclined to be pompous, self-important eejits also please take note
Jim Carroll.
could you explain, Jim,I havent a clue what you are talking about.the most important thing about this thread,is that wehave had achance to appreciate Ewans singing.
I thought he did a better job of Lord Randall[a boring song] than Gordon Hall, but not as good as the traveller singer,[my apologies I have forgotten her name,a senior moment] that you recorded .


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 01:25 PM

Good Soldier - JC is referring to my gentle attempts to lower the level of vitriol seen in the earlier part of the thread.
    Please note that anonymous posting is no longer allowed at Mudcat. Use a consistent name [in the 'from' box] when you post, or your messages risk being deleted. Guest,guest is not an acceptable user name.
    Thanks.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 01:31 PM

G.g - hardly gentle: you denounced JC with no provocation as being a 'most unpleasant person' when all he had done was speak up in defence of a former dear friend and benefactor. I fear you are being a little disingenuous. But now the thread has balanced itself, for heavens sake let's all kiss & make up - please!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 01:55 PM

"let's all kiss & make up - please!"

Amen :)

Anyway as an aside, it's on recently hearing Ewan's rendering of Thomas that decided me on learning it myself (though Id always been curious, previously I'd only heard Steeleye's "version" which makes no sense whatsoever to me).

I thought I was doing OK tonight - I explained to my partner prior to starting to sing that "it's a story in verse form" - but I think he dozed off half-way through.
No doubt got a few years to go before I am err 'captivating' with those lengthy Ballads!
Mind you, he hates me singing anyway, so I could always blame it on him! :)

Love Thomas to sing though, so engaging!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 02:16 PM

Thomas The Rhymer, is a great song,[imo]in a different league to Lord Randall.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 03:01 PM

"what is the one about the Hedgehog?"
The story is told about John Brune (though it might be apochrophal) travelling to London by train with a cardboard box on his lap into which he continually peered.
An elderly lady in the seat opposite asked him what he was looking at and he said it was his pet hedgehog who was rather ill and he was taking it to a vet in London. He went on to say that the problem was that the house he lived in had no garden and he was unable to get a steady supply of worms and slugs which were the hedgehog's regular diet.
The lady offered to help by sending a supply from her garden and asked for a name and address, to which Brune replied, "Ewan MacColl, 35 Stanley Avenue, Beckenham, Kent."
I thought it was amusing; so did MacColl when he heard it, though he never said whether he got anything through the post.
It was certainly more amusing and imaginative than the scrawling of 'Arsehole' on the back of a guest performers chair, which appears to have taken our OPs fancy.
Brune later went on to greater things when he nearly managed to sabotage one of the most important (artistically and socially), piece of radio broadcasting ever made, The Travelling People'.
"Lord Randall [a boring song]"
No it isn't.
"my apologies I have forgotten her name,"
Mary Delaney - a wonderful Travelling lady who can be heard on the double CD 'From Puck To Appleby, available from the Musical Traditions site and from us in Ireland (thanks for the opportunity of a shameless plug).
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 04:04 PM

'Lord Randall' doesn't bore me either — I find it a fascinating story of love perverted to betrayal: what a wonderful irony in his use of "true love" in this context, when she has just poisoned him.

No arguing with de gustibus, however, is there?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Joe_F
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 06:32 PM

MtheGM: I don't know if it applies to Lord Randall, but there appear to be dialects in which "true-love" is almost a word in itself & the "true" adds nothing to the meaning. I have more than once heard "my false true-love". If so, the irony might be greatly muted.

For me, the dramatic moment in the song (missing in many versions) is when Lord Randall switches from "For I'm weary wi hunting" to "For I'm sick at the heart", giving up pretense.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 06:46 PM

stick with Thomas The Rhymer,a much better song,but each to their own.
Lord Randall[imo]is a boring song.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 10:12 PM

JoeF: I always regard 'false true-love' as a deliberate oxymoron: a most effectively concentrated formulation; so that it is saying in effect, in only 2/3 words, "I thought she was my true love but it turns out that alas she is nothing of the sort". True poetry! I agree with you re the effectiveness of the 'weary/sick' shift.

Dick: TtR a wonderful song indeed; but diffuse, whereas Randall is concentrated, all emphasis on the one dramatic incident of the man telling his mother what has happened. Which one finds the more poetic/dramatic is indeed a matter of taste. Someone [Scott? Child? Kitson?]* said perceptively that ballads tend to 'begin in the fifth act', making them intensely dramatic. Randall seems to me a particularly fine example of this phenomomenon.

(*PS have googled - it was Thos Gray, he of Elegy In Country Churchyard, who made this cogent observation.)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 22 Dec 09 - 10:17 AM

MtheGM

It could be early 1959 when Ralph Rinzler first arrived in London. He was at the Ballads and Blues during the summer/autumn. I was attending Peggy's guitar classes during June (still in fact have three roneo copies of the songs she was teaching) very soon after that she had to leave the UK for a spell and Ralph took over her lessons. I later in the year received a letter from Peggy saying that she would shortly be back and continuing lessons. I had to reply saying I wouldn't be able to take up her offer as national service had grabbed me in the last few months of it's existence.
Although you mention that Ralph was staying in an expensive hotel I suspect that it wouldn't have been too long before someone offerd him a bed somewhere less expensive.
He was indeed one of the most pleasant guys on the scene at the time and went on to make a huge contribution intoducing us to the music of Doc Watsson,Clint Howard and Fred Price for starters, re-introducing Clarence Ashley back to the world and helping Bill Monroe at a time when he was strugglng. In addition he did some field recording among the Cajuns and went on at the Smithsonian to produce annual festivals in Washington DC.
Sadly he left us too early.

Hoot.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Dec 09 - 12:53 PM

Many thanks, Hoot. Yes, indeed; he only lived to 60! I certainly retain kindest recollections of him.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 23 Dec 09 - 05:13 AM

Coming from the same generation as Jim Carroll ; having been tutored by Jim (and hence indirectly by Ewan McColl and Peggy Seeger), I had thought politics of any hue inseparable from Folk Song.

I s'pose if I had to quantify my own political allegiance I am probably slightly on the right of what the Labour Party was before it was betrayed and suborned by the likes of Blair.

There was a Folk Concert in 1981 at Withington Town Hall, set up by the Local Public Libraries, and hosted by Mike Canavan.

I was asked to sing, and sang Eric Bogle's "Band Played Waltzing Matilda" - or rather, I tried.

I dedicated the song to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Generalissimo Leopoldo Galtieri, and the dead of both Nations.

I was hissed off stage. I still sang, and the song was received first in dead silence, and then to a slow hand clap.

Good job Ewan had been cremated, or he would doubtless have been spinning in his long bed.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 23 Dec 09 - 05:59 AM

Sad story, Bryn - I wonder if it'd be any different now? (The Falklands War was 1982, though.)

When I was first getting up to sing I worked up four or five songs, one of which was Between the Wars. I never really liked BtW - the tone's a bit grandiose, and the concluding line about moderation seems all wrong - so when the second Iraq War broke out I had slightly mixed feelings: appalling news, but at least it gave me a cast-iron excuse for not singing that song!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Dec 09 - 09:31 AM

Hi Bryn - one of the things Peggy remarked on following the death of Ewan was that he died when Thatcher was at the height of her power.
I've always thought it a great shame that he never lived to witness that wonderful moment as she drove away from Downing Street with tears in her eyes, like a child who has had her favourite toy confiscated.
Ooooh, it makes you glow inside to remember it.
Mind you, we're still living with the damage she inflicted.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 23 Dec 09 - 09:41 AM

One wonders to what extremes of tyranny Thatcher would have descended to, if in a position to do so? I believe she could have been an extremely terrifying dictator given the chance.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 23 Dec 09 - 12:13 PM

I had the worst ever man flu and was lying in bed unable to move. Had you pushed a £50.00 note within five yards of me I couldn't possibly have got hold of it.

Then lying in bed I heard that she had resigned. Cured.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 23 Dec 09 - 12:16 PM

We are always in for the long game, she came she went ...........

L in C


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 23 Dec 09 - 12:31 PM

I believe she could have been an extremely terrifying dictator given the chance.

There is another theory which states that this has already happened. In South Yorkshire I think she's remembered about as fondly as William the Bastard.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 23 Dec 09 - 12:39 PM

Rumour has it she had a complete collection of The Radio Ballads and used then to psych herself up before Prime Ministers Question Time

L in C


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 23 Dec 09 - 12:58 PM

Kipling was her favourite poet...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 23 Dec 09 - 01:07 PM

"There is another theory which states that this has already happened."

Sure, but place her in a military coup situation for example, and the brutality witnessed there would be small fry by comparison (IMO). I think the (whole) British public genuinely only got a small taste of what she would have been capable of if granted free reign.
I believe she could have rivaled any political monster of the 20thC, if the power structures in place at the time, had enabled it.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Dec 09 - 05:15 PM

Not forgetting that her friend and mentor was General Pinochet
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 23 Dec 09 - 10:24 PM

A counterblast to all this o·so·predictable smug self·satisfied leftie bollox:—

To attract all this sort of yah-boo from a bunch of pathetic stuck·in·a·40s·Crippsian·groove lefties she must have done something right [which is both intended and not intended punningly — I think].

Do you genuinely think we were/are better off with Blair & then Brown pissing us all about? Away you!!!!! Our present troubles are down to that pair of wankers & you all know it in your ♥s: anti-Thatcherism is based on a combination of misogyny & doctinaire Marxist pigshit. The country hadn't been as worth living in as under her since the end of WWi, & hasn't been since for all Major's efforts to keep her momentum going after she cocked up on the Council Tax (the only thing she got wrong in 14 years) & had to go. You all know it's true, you are just in denial. If the railways had been privatised according to her wishes, e.g., instead of with this dog's·brekkie of separate organisations to grease the points and clean the shit out of the loos...

OK, so hate me the lot of you — I should cocoa...

luvyaz-all justa same! Mxxxxx


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Effsee
Date: 23 Dec 09 - 10:36 PM

MtheGm, I'm hoping you are quoting someone else's views here with that post!
Excuse me while I laugh until I vomit!!!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Dec 09 - 03:24 AM

Sorry Mike - Effsee just said it for me
The mines, the unions, her parading around in uniform while sending young men to die in the Falklands, destruction of British industry, the careful dividing of Britain into rich and poor, her efforts to prevent on of the great mass-murderers of the 20th century from coming to trial, "There is no such thing as society........." even to the extent of using her office to keep her criminal son out of jail - give us a break! She even came into the public notice by depriving schoolkids of their daily milk!
I have no time for those upstairs nowadays - but she was one monster, and will be remembered as such by history.
If you have a case to make for the lady please don't insult us by hiding it behind "misogyny & doctinaire Marxist pigshit", nor by pointing at other politicians as a justification for her behaviour - you're better than that.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 24 Dec 09 - 03:53 AM

I have no time for those upstairs nowadays

This is an echo of a stray verse I picked up for Turfman from Ardee which I've never been able to account for as it doesn't feature in any of my sources (Barry, McPeake (?), Bellamy et al):

We talked about our country and how we are oppressed;
The man we sent to parliament has got our wrongs addressed;
But I've no time for members now - nor nothing else you see;
Because we're led by bloody humbugs said the Turfman from Ardee


Odd that whenever I sing it, it invariably finds its way in there. Any ideas?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Dec 09 - 03:59 AM

Nice on SO'P never came across it anywhere else (the verse) - where did you get it?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 24 Dec 09 - 04:52 AM

I think that Thatcher did real and lasting damage to our country through her fervent embrace of 'free market' dogma. This semi-religious bullshit has then been equally fervently embraced by her successors. Now our manufacturing industries have all been flushed down the toilet, our high streets are full of estate agents, charity shops and takeaways, and not much else (not to mention jam-packed full of millions of cars because even f*cking budgies have the 'freedom' to own a car and pollute the environment with it nowadays!). And property developers cram every available inch of open space with 'luxury' houses and apartments which ordinary people can't afford to buy. Marvellous!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: theleveller
Date: 24 Dec 09 - 05:11 AM

"a bunch of pathetic stuck¡¤in¡¤a¡¤40s¡¤Crippsian¡¤groove lefties"

"all know it in your ¢¾s: anti-Thatcherism is based on a combination of misogyny & doctinaire Marxist pigshit"


Strange, isn't it, that the only response the righties have to critics of Thatcher and her cohorts is to resort to puerile name calling. Now that really is pathetic. Well, let's face it, no-one could support her policies.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 24 Dec 09 - 05:16 AM

I've no idea, Jim - it's been puzzling me for a while now...

*

I think historians will look back on this as the Thatcher era too - she shafted the miners using the same global-warming myths that are presently being used to deface the countryside with ugly & hopelessy inefficient wind-farms and rail-road in a new wave of nuclear power stations. Thus I will roam as Quixote, add odds with the times for the very best of reasons, forever tilting at wind-farms...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Dec 09 - 05:52 AM

interesting.I am not sure how privatising the railways properly,helps.
MGM could you explain what you mean,how would you have liked to have seen the railways privatised?
I understood that the railways were nationalised after the second world war, because the private companies that were running them were not able to make a profit.
Also in 1955, a major modernisation programme costing £1.2 billion was authorised by the government. This included the withdrawal of steam traction and its replacement by diesel (and some electric) locomotives.,this was paid for by taxpayers.
how are private companies going to raise similiar money for investment,while maintaining a profit.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 24 Dec 09 - 06:21 AM

" ... she shafted the miners using the same global-warming myths"

I don't think that global warming is a myth, SO'P - there's a pretty strong scientific concensus that says it's a reality. It makes good scientific sense as well - if you pump heat into a system it becomes more disordered.

Nevertheless, I agree with you to the extent that windmills are not the answer. I have a strong suspicion that they are a highly visible token gesture (it looks like our leaders are doing something about global warming - while in reality they couldn't give a sh*t). Meanwhile windmill manufacturers and erectors are able to make a tasty profit. The fact that these monstrosities represent a further defacement of our once beautiful land is irrelevant to our leaders who see the environment as merely something to be raped and plundered.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Dec 09 - 06:54 AM

Dig in folks - it's going to be a loooooong Christmas - and some of us won't get home, I suspect
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 24 Dec 09 - 07:44 AM

Last year was the coldest winter in the UK for 30 years, this year it is worse, this doesn't really help the case for the global warming theorists.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 24 Dec 09 - 08:27 AM

Dave - I think one of the theories of the effects of global warming is a reduction or stopping of the Atlantic heat conveyor, bringing colder winters to the UK.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 24 Dec 09 - 08:58 AM

"Last year was the coldest winter in the UK for 30 years, this year it is worse, this doesn't really help the case for the global warming theorists."

You're talking about weather and not climate. Climate is the average weather of a region over a longish period. Remember that you can get bitterly cold winters in Greece - but they've got a warmer climate than we have.

The theory of global warming (a theory backed up by lots and lots of eveidence) suggests that as the climate of a region like the UK becomes warmer (and more disordered) we can expect more and more unusual weather events.

I thought that Johan Hari, a journalist on the 'Independent' newspaper put the global warming sceptics in their place the other day when he put forward the analogy of a family going on a long flight (say across the Atlantic). They are approached first by a group of flight engineers who tell them that they are not happy with aircraft and thinks that there's a good chance that it will crash. The family is next approached by the management of the airline, together with representatives of their marketing and PR departments, who tell them that there's absolutely nothing to worry about and that everything will be fine! Who should the family believe? I tell you now that I would be cancelling my ticket and asking for refund! The 'engineers' (scientists) have told us that the 'aircraft' (the planetary climate) is going to crash and the 'management and their flunkies' (ignorant, greedy bastards) have a vested interest in denying it.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Burton Coggles
Date: 24 Dec 09 - 09:55 AM

" ... she shafted the miners using the same global-warming myths"

I'm not arguing that the miners weren't shafted. But the very real concern at the time was acid rain, not global warming.

Pete.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 24 Dec 09 - 10:39 AM

The last 3 Labour-led Parliaments got a number of things wrong, probably too many to list, and a number right, ditto.

The international banking collapse and climate change overshadow everything else and they are not simply the consequence of government policy.

The biggest failure of judgement was Blair and the War. When those on the liberal-left have finished blaming the current government for almost everything, they will encourage the election of a government that was just as keen on the war, very late on Green issues, no idea about the banking colapse or anything else much.

Now that will be much better wont it?

L in C
PS Ewan went AWOL and spent the war hiding in Urmston, Manchester. Further details in Ben Harker's book.


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Subject: LYr Add: Turfman from Ardee
From: Charley Noble
Date: 24 Dec 09 - 10:44 AM

SOP & Jim-

Peter Bellamy sang a version of this song mentioned above:

The Turfman From Ardee
Contributed with foreword by Vince Hearns"

"When I was a young lad I often heard this song sung on the Walton's Programme on a Saturday on Radio Éireann, I cannot remember who the singer was. Waltons published the lyrics in their series "Sing an Irish Song" No 10 "Merry Moments" and they attribute its composition to a Patrick Akins. I certainly remember when Margaret Barry recorded it in 1965, indeed I have a copy of the recording her lyrics are somewhat different. I give the Walton's version here."

For sake of health I took a walk last week at early dawn,
I met a jolly turf man as I slowly walked along,
The greatest conversation passed between himself and me
And soon I got acquainted with the turfman from Ardee.

We chatted very freely as we jogged along the road,
He said my ass is tired and I'd like to sell his load,
For I got no refreshments since I left home you see,
And I'm wearied out with travelling said the turfman from Ardee.

Your cart is wracked and worn friend, your ass is very old,
It must be twenty summers since that animal was foaled
Yoked to a cart where I was born, September 'forty three
And carried for the midwife says the turfman from Ardee

I often do abuse my ass with this old hazel rod,
But never yet did I permit poor Jack to go unshod
The harness now upon his back was made by John McGee
And he's dead this four and forty years says the turfman from Ardee.

I own my cart now, has been made out of the best of wood,
I do believe it was in use in the time of Noah's flood
Its axle never wanted grease say one year out of three.
It's a real old Carrick axle said the turfman from Ardee.

We talked about our country and how we were oppressed
The men we sent to parliament have got our wrongs addressed
I have no faith in members now or nothing else you see
But led by bloomin' humbugs, said the turfman from Ardee.

Just then a female voice called out, which I knew very well,
Politely asking this old man the load of turf to sell
I shook that stately hand of his and bowed respectfully
In hope to meet some future day, the turfman from Ardee.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 24 Dec 09 - 11:41 AM

The verse is also in the version in O'Lochlainn's More Irish Street Ballads (which has been posted here: the Turfman from Ardee). O'Lochlainn's notes add little info on the song, except for the tune source.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: michaelr
Date: 24 Dec 09 - 12:34 PM

Shouldn't it be "Its axle never wanted grease save one year out of three" ?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Reinhard
Date: 24 Dec 09 - 12:50 PM

Peter Bellamy sings "but one year out of three" on Both Sides Then:

For the sake of health I took a walk one morning in the dawn,
I met a jolly turfman along the road as I went on,
A friendly conversation came between this man and me
And that how I came acquainted with the turfman from Ardee.

We chatted very freely as we jogged along the road,
Says he, "My ass is tired and I'd like to sell my load.
For I had no refreshments since I left my home you see,
And I'm tired out of travelling," says the turfman from Ardee.

Says I, "My friend, your cart is worn, your ass is very old,
It must be twenty summers since the day that he was foaled."
"I remember well when he was born, September '43
And he cantered from the midwife," says the turfman from Ardee

"And many's the time I abused the beast with this rough hazel rod,
Although I own I never did see poor Jack go unshod.
The harness that is on his back, it was made by Sam McGee,
And he's dead this two and twenty years," says the turfman from Ardee.

"I know my friend, my cart is worn, but it's tough old Irish wood,
It must have been in constant use since the time of Noah's flood.
The axle never wanted grease but one year out of three,
It's a real old Carrick axle," says the turfman of Ardee.

Just then I heard a female voice that I knew very well,
Politely asking this poor man his load of turf to sell.
I shook the steady old hand of his and he bowed respectfully,
And I hope I'll meet some future day wth the turfman from Ardee.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Dec 09 - 03:16 PM

Thanks Charlie, Mick and Reinhard.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 13 Jan 16 - 04:38 AM

refresh


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Subject: RE: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 13 Jan 16 - 07:40 AM

Interesting to reread this thread.


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Subject: RE: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Jan 16 - 07:42 AM

"Interesting to reread this thread."
Ony if you want to avoid the real issues of Ewan as an artist
I suppose you had your reasons Mike!!
Seems like letting the dogs loose to me
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 13 Jan 16 - 08:09 AM

Sorry, Jim. See what you mean. I refreshed it to let Dick see a particular post which was relevant to some correspondence going on between us, & it seemed the simplest way to get it across to him. Didn't mean to stir up the whole of the old controversy. Now that it has, I presume, served its purpose, perhaps this ancient thread can be left to drop off the end again.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Musket
Date: 13 Jan 16 - 02:18 PM

You wish.


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Subject: RE: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 13 Jan 16 - 02:35 PM

I think Ewan was a good artist, I booked him at the club I was runnin. A good singer, with good presentation, BOTH OF THEM GAVE AN EXCELLENT EVENING.
He was in my opinion the best and most prolific songwriter from the uk folk revival.


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Subject: RE: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Musket
Date: 14 Jan 16 - 02:55 AM

I doubt anybody can disagree with that Dick. (Although he will remain my example of "never meet your Heroes.")

The thread is exploring his principles he wore on his sleeve with the reality when he had the opportunity to put them to the test.

He was such an enigma and time will morph him into a larger than life character so it is both proper and of interest that this is discussed. He is after all, a historical item with a legacy.


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Subject: RE: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,Dave
Date: 14 Jan 16 - 03:24 AM

Ewan MacColl was one of the most important UK songwriters of the 20th century, in my view up there with McCartney, Bowie, Britten, Lennon. But it is a pity that amongst non-aficionados, he is best known for a piece of schmalz.


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Subject: RE: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Jan 16 - 06:01 AM

Of course he is remembered for that. The old socialist had to set up an offshore fund to keep the taxman away from the royalties.

Tongue in cheek can lead to urban myth. Someone sang Space Oddity at a club the other night and I couldn't resist shouting that Bowie went downhill after The Laughing Gnome. I said it for a laugh of course because Bowie has been the soundtrack to my life, and in parts so has MacColl.

Still, for someone to write a song decrying thousands of miners and conveniently keep quiet about when he was asked to sacrifice his time fighting fascist forces forty odd years earlier? Complicated character.


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Subject: RE: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 14 Jan 16 - 11:52 AM

Although an aged person I had never heard of MacCall, or for that matter any of a number of the so called superstars of English traditional singing, until around 2001.
When the Kist of Riches came online, a few years back, I made a point of listening to MacColl/Millar on that site and I must say, as a native speaker of Scots, I was not impressed by his artificial rendering of that language in the songs sung, it may be he improved with practice over the following years, these recordings being from the very early 50s. and I have never heard any of his more recent attempts.
Having read all the posts in this thread one conclusion I have come to is that he must have been quite an actor, having been able to outwit the Police, civil and military, for a period of some 4/5 years.
The summit of his acting career at the end of that period being the convincing of a medical panel that he was not responsible for his actions.


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