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Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?

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Big Al Whittle 22 May 21 - 06:18 PM
GUEST,# 22 May 21 - 01:21 PM
GUEST 22 May 21 - 11:47 AM
GUEST,Ray 22 May 21 - 07:32 AM
Dave the Gnome 22 May 21 - 02:39 AM
The Sandman 18 May 21 - 03:36 PM
GUEST,Iains 18 May 21 - 12:29 PM
The Sandman 18 May 21 - 12:17 PM
Allan Conn 18 May 21 - 11:53 AM
GUEST,paperback 18 May 21 - 10:33 AM
The Sandman 18 May 21 - 09:44 AM
Jeri 18 May 21 - 08:46 AM
Steve Shaw 18 May 21 - 07:28 AM
Dave Hanson 18 May 21 - 06:37 AM
GUEST 18 May 21 - 04:59 AM
The Sandman 18 May 21 - 03:05 AM
Stilly River Sage 17 May 21 - 10:41 PM
GUEST,Iains 17 May 21 - 05:24 PM
The Sandman 17 May 21 - 05:21 PM
Joe Offer 17 May 21 - 02:28 PM
GUEST,Cj 17 May 21 - 02:19 PM
Dave Hanson 17 May 21 - 01:51 PM
GUEST 17 May 21 - 01:16 PM
Jim Carroll 24 Apr 17 - 12:30 PM
robomatic 24 Apr 17 - 11:25 AM
Will Fly 24 Apr 17 - 09:56 AM
meself 24 Apr 17 - 09:42 AM
Big Al Whittle 24 Apr 17 - 06:27 AM
Jim Carroll 24 Apr 17 - 06:08 AM
Iains 24 Apr 17 - 05:13 AM
Jim Carroll 24 Apr 17 - 03:52 AM
GUEST,Some bloke 24 Apr 17 - 03:49 AM
Steve Shaw 23 Apr 17 - 08:01 AM
Jim Carroll 23 Apr 17 - 06:54 AM
Jon Freeman 23 Apr 17 - 06:10 AM
Jim Carroll 23 Apr 17 - 06:08 AM
Steve Shaw 23 Apr 17 - 05:10 AM
Jim Carroll 23 Apr 17 - 02:58 AM
Jim Carroll 23 Apr 17 - 02:30 AM
michaelr 22 Apr 17 - 10:11 PM
Jackaroodave 22 Apr 17 - 09:53 PM
toadfrog 22 Apr 17 - 08:24 PM
Steve Shaw 22 Apr 17 - 07:55 PM
Steve Shaw 22 Apr 17 - 07:52 PM
GUEST,pauperback ^ 22 Apr 17 - 09:06 AM
Jim Carroll 22 Apr 17 - 06:02 AM
Big Al Whittle 22 Apr 17 - 04:59 AM
Jim Carroll 22 Apr 17 - 04:19 AM
GUEST,Jar Jar Banks 22 Apr 17 - 01:35 AM
Jackaroodave 21 Apr 17 - 08:38 PM
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Subject: Dylan v. MacColl thread closure
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 22 May 21 - 06:18 PM

I thought it was a nice thread - with lots of old friends - some of whom are no longer with us. Very passionate. Too long to read it all but I had a nice couple of hours last week running through parts of the thread.

I'm sorry you closed it.
    I see no reason to argue against the thread closure. The thread had run its course, and was getting circular. It's available for reading indefinitely, but not for posting. If somebody actually comes up with something substantive about MacColl's opinion of Dylan, then start another thread.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: GUEST,#
Date: 22 May 21 - 01:21 PM

"Maybe it's not my place to suggest it, but I sincerely believe there are better ways to see MacColl clearly than by refraction through the prism of his dislike for Dylan."

Posted by Jackaroodave, 21 Apr 17 - 08:38 PM


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: GUEST
Date: 22 May 21 - 11:47 AM

Dylan entered the 60s just out of his teens. MacColl was a generation older(+25 years) MacColl went through the depression and WW2 and by the 69s the world had changed dramatically. From the mid to late 50s teens had money and could set their own styles and music and had a freedom MacColl could have only dreamed of. Dylan took to it like a duck to water and from the time he moved to Greenwich Village in early 61 he was on a magic carpet ride of fame and fortune that MacColl could only dream of. By contrast Ewan MacColl had had a hard life learning his acting craft in a series of small venues in a time when money was scarce for everyone. I can well appreciate that MacColl could have felt that Dylan had an easy ride. It is a matter of record what he thought of Dylan but then he had a very specific vision of what folk should and should not be. His own songs reflected workers(downtrodden or otherwise, whereas Dylan tapped into the antiwar sentiment. Both were craftsmen of their trade but went in different directions.
Had Ewam Macoll hit the 60s as a 20 year old I wonder how close he would have been to Dylan? Would he have fixated on the working man or perhaps Vietnam and the bomb? I suspect he was irritated by a young whippersnapper coming along and performing profound lyrics that matched in quality his own body of work. But that is purely my opinion. I think that was I MacColl i would have a degree of resentment at how the world fell at Dylan's feet despite him committing the cardinal sin of going electric. The young upstart held nothing sacred-but is that not the prerogative of the young?


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 22 May 21 - 07:32 AM

From a interview a friend of mine did with him in connection with his MA thesis, it transpired that he didn’t like the British folk rock movement either.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 22 May 21 - 02:39 AM

What do you completely disagree with, Dick? Iains's statement "On the world stage Dylan was undoubtedly the greater and more widely known entertainer." is irrefutable.

I like a lot of both Dylan and MacColl stuff. Not all, but enough. I know neither personally so cannot attest to their characters. Did MacColl dislike Dylan's music or character? Was there any rivalry involved? Either way, it doesn't really matter. Some people like Marmite, some don't. So what?


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 May 21 - 03:36 PM

i completely disagree
MacColl was a very polished and sophisticated perfomer who was very consistent.whose entertainment was carefully planned and of a consitent high standard
Dylan is a performer who is much more mercurial and variable , perhaps a more natural entertainer, who can vary from, hardly bothering to being enthralling, and i say that as someone who is not a particular fan of his recordings, i like some and dislike others.
but to quote martin carthy, his live perfomance on that occasion was spell binding.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: GUEST,Iains
Date: 18 May 21 - 12:29 PM

What it boils down to is that you cannot be objective with subjective data. It only results in arguments over opinions - no winners - no losera. To take it any further the subject matter would need definition. Are you looking for flaws or success, are you comparing popularity,artistry or what?
On the world stage Dylan was undoubtedly the greater and more widely known entertainer. If they were not there to entertain, what on earth were they doing on a stage?


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 May 21 - 12:17 PM

dylan borrowed from the tradtion tunes as did Ewan, .did he understand the tradition, what do you mean, he amplified so what?
"and in the process sapped the dogmatic like a true artist should" what do you mean?
PEGGY sEEGER MIGHT KNOW WHY eWAN DID NOT LIKE dYLAN AS A PERFOMER, But is it important


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Allan Conn
Date: 18 May 21 - 11:53 AM

Why does it even really matter? Everyone will have a singer/artist that for some reason they don't take to. Or don't take to their music. Plenty folk do like Dylan.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: GUEST,paperback
Date: 18 May 21 - 10:33 AM

Sure Dylan understood the tradition and after he got the girls he pluged in and changed it just enought to make it his own and in the process sapped the dogmatic like a true artist should. You can't argue with success unless you're T H I C K


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 May 21 - 09:44 AM

really the best person to ask would be jim carroll he knew Ewan well and would be able to answer, try contacting him.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Jeri
Date: 18 May 21 - 08:46 AM

"Maybe it should have been addressed to the BBC, but no intention of provoking any squabbles!"
It is, or should be, obvious the provocation would be because of what you're talking about, not to whom you're talking. Personally, I've given my opinion previously, and hope there's something new and interesting to move on to instead of rehashing this.

Others undoubtedly, aren't done yet.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 18 May 21 - 07:28 AM

Any opinion expressed on this is likely to hinge on whether you like Dylan or not. I dislike Dylan for some of the reasons Dick gives (deliberate and self-serving obscurantism, a whiny voice and, one of my own, his awful harmonica use), but, as for nicking from the "tradition," to me that's an illegitimate criticism. First, it's a free country. Second, you don't have to listen. Third, any tradition worth its salt, with a strong heart and soul, can easily shrug such incursions off. Classical music can easily shrug off the Swingle Singers and the Royal Phil jazzing up a few classics and the Three Tenors murdering Nessun Dorma......


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 18 May 21 - 06:37 AM

Ewan accused Bob Dylan of exploiting a tradition that he knew little about.


Dave H


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: GUEST
Date: 18 May 21 - 04:59 AM

as the guest who 'resurrected' this thread, my point was that the BBc and Radio 4 in particular are repeatedly trailing an obsequious 'tribute which might be valid on Radio 1, and a further demonstration of the mores at the modern BBC?
Maybe it should have been addressed to the BBC, but no intention of provoking any squabbles!


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 May 21 - 03:05 AM

I would rathr rely on people who knew the two of them. i think there is a vast difference in their songs.
MacColl songs are quite clear generally well written and make a pointclearly .
Dylan in my opinion, songwriting is less consistent, ,Dylan specialises in trying to be obscure, "its up to you man to make youir own meaning of the song , man"
Dylan often did not deliver a message WAS INTENT ON COMmERCIAL SUCCESS. AND for the last 50 years not a very good singer,possibly as a result of his accident


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 17 May 21 - 10:41 PM

Good point. And Dylan is in the news these days with his 80th birthday, so no surprise this thread has popped back to the top.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: GUEST,Iains
Date: 17 May 21 - 05:24 PM

MacColl came from the mileu of the depression, the unions and Spanish Civil war. Dylan was from a later generation that initiated the protest against the Vietnam war.
It surely can be no surprise that they did not see eye to eye. In any environment the oldster would regard the youth as callow, opinionated
upstarts.

To my untutored eye the similarities between them are far greater than the differences, it is the different eras that appear to magnify the latter.

MacColl seems a purist - The message was all important. Dylan could deliver a message, be commercial and make money. Both created a legacy, Who wss the greater talent will be argued for decades.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 May 21 - 05:21 PM

I dont know.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 May 21 - 02:28 PM

Careful, folks. If this discussion is just a squabble, I'll close the thread. If you have something substantive to say, say it.
-Joe Offer, Mudcat Music Editor-


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: GUEST,Cj
Date: 17 May 21 - 02:19 PM

Is that your new signature, Dave? It's quite, um, forward.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 17 May 21 - 01:51 PM

Why have you resurected this aftern so many years ?

Wanker


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: GUEST
Date: 17 May 21 - 01:16 PM

the BBC are obsessed by this doggerel writer this week


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Apr 17 - 12:30 PM

"Now, tell me if I'm mistaken, but is Guinness destined for the UK now only brewed in Ireland? "
I'm not sure Will
I haven't had a pint in England for many years, but the last time I did it was awful.
I'm told it isn't as good as here by aficionados, but the same people are just as likely to tell me that Clare Guinness is not as good as Dublin's
Will let you know in a couple of weeks when I visit Liverpool.
"Joyce freak"
Never got on with Joyce- those who tell you he was a good writer are just as likely to tell you the Welsh can sing!
I attended a talk given by one of our senators a few years ago, David Norris - on Finnegan's Wake
I got into a friendly argument with him in the car park when I told him I found the book utterly impenetrable
Mind you, I constantly rowed with my dear late friend, Tom Munnelly over his love of Wagner
Takes all kinds....!
"I like the idea of re-wiring the King's head."
Never thought of that - I can think of several members of the monarchy it might be an improvement on!!
It used to be one of the best music pubs in West London
Every morning, throughout the months I worked there the guvn'or would open the too to me with a milk bottle full of home-made Poitín which he would offer to me as a start to the day.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: robomatic
Date: 24 Apr 17 - 11:25 AM

My introduction to Dylan was when I induced a mate of mine to go Winter camping with me. We'd hike in before a predicted snowstorm, tent up, then trek out amidst the fresh snow. On the way in we encountered a freezing stream that we had to cross. It was iced over, but the ice was not thick enough to support our weight.
My companion insisted on sending a pre-hike postcard to his missus written as though it was his last communication - ever.
And all the way in he kept repeating the lines from ISIS:

"The wind it was howling, the snow was outrageous
We chopped through the night and we chopped through the dawn
When he died I was hoping it was not contagious
But I made up my mind I had to go on."


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Will Fly
Date: 24 Apr 17 - 09:56 AM

Now, tell me if I'm mistaken, but is Guinness destined for the UK now only brewed in Ireland? I lived not far from the Park Royal brewery in Hanger Lane, many years ago, and often caught the smell of the malting on the way to work (Piccadilly Line).

I know that Park Royal brewery has been demolished - so, presumably, the Guinness we drink here is the same as that drunk in Ireland. Or are there parallel brewings for the different countries?


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: meself
Date: 24 Apr 17 - 09:42 AM

The barmaid asked, of course, what the gent would HAVE - and he replied, "I'll have ... and I'll have ...." And, yes, I WAS there, as a matter of fact; that was me in the corner, pretending to be lost in contemplation of the head of my Guinness.

By the way, speaking of heads, I like the idea of re-wiring the King's head. Sounds kind of futuristic. And a little more humane than just chopping it off.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 24 Apr 17 - 06:27 AM

I remember the first time I went to Dublin - being a Joyce freak, the first place I made for was Davy Byrne's. I was all wired up expecting Irish Guinness (and if possible a gorgonzola sandwich like Leopold Bloom). And I've got to admit - it was a bit anticlimactic...

As Molly Bloom said....yes! yes! yes! yes! ....no not really.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Apr 17 - 06:08 AM

Thanks for that Ians
Nice to know the message is finally getting through
Even in Ireland, the quality of a pint was variable until the Brewery took the matter in hand, educated many of the publicans and carried out regular maintenance checks.
I worked in London pubs for seven years as a maintenance and repair electrician and became a keen observer of the Capital's drinking habits
I re-wired the Kings Head in Fulham and watched an elderly Irishman cone in for his pint every afternoon - the publican was also an elderly Irishman who invariably served at the bar
One afternoon he came in while the publican was busy down the bar and the customer was greeted by a young barmaid who asked him what he wanted.
He replied, "I'll have a pint of Guinness (pointing to the publican) and I'll have him serving me"
The speed of the pouring and the temperature seem to be the secret – an art form.
Even the Guinness Brewery in Park Royal, North London, could only manage a passable pint –
The best one ever in London was served at ' The Sense of Ireland' a music and culture festival where they imported it direct.
Best pint in Dublin was at The Guinness Hop Store adjacent to the Brewery where we shared a pint with Ireland's President, Mary Robinson at the opening of the Irish Traditional Music Archive (well - she was there anyway)
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Iains
Date: 24 Apr 17 - 05:13 AM

Jim
the mixture of milk and piss that is passed off as Guinness in the U.K

FYI

https://food-hacks.wonderhowto.com/news/why-guinness-tastes-better-ireland-more-surprising-guinness-facts-0160783/


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Apr 17 - 03:52 AM

"T Rex were far more cosmic"
Different, therefore equal, as Peggy Seeger sings
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: GUEST,Some bloke
Date: 24 Apr 17 - 03:49 AM

Still reeling over the revelation about Einstein. What a bastard! I'll never feel the same about stuffing cats in boxes and blaming others for it.

T Rex were far more cosmic than any orchestra, even when playing Holst...


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 23 Apr 17 - 08:01 AM

That was probably after six pints of Boddies, Jim. 😊


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Apr 17 - 06:54 AM

MacColl called it 'The Athens of the North'
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 23 Apr 17 - 06:10 AM

It's a dirty old town...


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Apr 17 - 06:08 AM

I knew a feller from Salford once
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 23 Apr 17 - 05:10 AM

I'll not drink that thickened concoction of burnt malt, unfermentables and low levels of hops, Jim. Give me a well-brewed pint or six of cask-conditioned bitter any day. Guinness is Dylan, Jail Ale is MacColl. Oi, I may be a sassenach but my mum is a born-and-bred Irish Salfordian!


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Apr 17 - 02:58 AM

Missed a bit
"I didn't say he was a grumpy old sod,"
Didn't think you did Steve, - it was an opportunity to reiterate a point which comes up far too often.
"And that offer of a pint (or ten) is very enticing."
And still stands, though I very much doubt if a Sassenach could survive more than three decently pulled pints, after the mixture of milk and piss that is passed off as Guinness in the U.K. - makes me gag to recall that I once drank the stuff shudderrrrrr!!!
A story
An Irishman walks into an English bar and asks for a pint of Guinness - he takes a mouthful, leans over the bar, pours the pint down the sink and says "piss", and walks out.
The following night he does the same - and the following night.
On the fourth night, before he can order the landlord say, "Piss off".
"O.k.", says your man, "pull me a pint of lager instead".
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Apr 17 - 02:30 AM

"Not a hanging offense."
Of course it isn't Michael, and if Dylan had come under the sustained, lifelong attacks that MacColl has had aimed at him, and still is, it would be equally outrageous.
Arguments like these have the inevitable consequences of forcing people to take sides in a war that really should not be being fought.
Dylan and MacColl were two different people with different objectives, yet one is constantly being set against the other - you may just as well compare the work of the National Concert Orchestra with that of T Rex.
I only get involved in these sometimes extremely nasty and very personal debates because I believe that a mass of very important work on an even more important subject is being wasted,
MacColl's argument from day one was that Folk Song was 'The Voice of the People - he equally argued that the ballads where "the highwater of the tradition and, at because of what they were, they were every bit as important as Shakespeare, or Dickens, as aspects of our culture.
It seems a fair enough argument to at least listen to what he had to say rather than throw stones at it
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: michaelr
Date: 22 Apr 17 - 10:11 PM

Dylan was barely in his twenties at the time. Does anyone really think it's fair to judge him by a mature standard? He heard songs he liked and felt inspired. Not a hanging offense.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Jackaroodave
Date: 22 Apr 17 - 09:53 PM

According to Bob Spitz"s biography of Dylan, here , Seeger never cut a cable. He threatened to cut The Butterfield Blues Band's cable, not Dylan's, and the person who persuaded him not to was . . . .Theo Bikel!

Spitz is obviously relying on a detailed eyewitness report, and equally obviously, everyone involved--Al Grossman and Peter Yarrow, vs George Wein and Pete Seeger, with Bikel tipping the balance--was an interested party. Bikel allegedly said, "Pete, those kids out there, they're us 20 years ago." I would guess that Bikel is the source of the very circumstantial account, because he comes out lookihg the best.

Also, what we can agree is true is that MacColl disliked Dylan because he thought he abused the tradition, not that Dylan in fact did so. I wrote before of Dylan's ruthlessly using his tradition, overlapping with, but different from MacColl's, for his own ends, but I think that is paying it true homage. It's what artists do.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: toadfrog
Date: 22 Apr 17 - 08:24 PM

Meself:
I guess the question whether Dylan understood, or bothered to try to understand, the traditions he used and pretended to be a part of, is a "matter of opinion," as you say.

But the question was, why did Ewan McColl not like Dylan. And McColl definitely felt that Dylan abused folk material which McColl valued. Even I heard him say so several times, and many of those who actually knew McColl heard it many more times than that. And Pete Seeger agreed, at least to the extent he cut Dylan's cable with an axe. So that is a legitimate answer to the question, why McColl did not like Dylan. It was because Dylan abused traditional material. And maybe that is also a sufficient answer.


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 22 Apr 17 - 07:55 PM

And that offer of a pint (or ten) is very enticing. You pay for the first eight, and, don't worry, I'll get the rest...!


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 22 Apr 17 - 07:52 PM

Hey, Jim, I didn't say he was a grumpy old sod, just a what-if-anyway - you knew him and I didn't and I never believe the naysayers, you should know that about me by now! 😉


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: GUEST,pauperback ^
Date: 22 Apr 17 - 09:06 AM

Disingenuous.
Everyone knows,
Deep down inside,
Why they don't like,
A jew with a welch name!


Bob Dillion, who knew! 


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Apr 17 - 06:02 AM

That's the theory Al
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 22 Apr 17 - 04:59 AM

so that bastard Einstein was picking his nose all the time...


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Apr 17 - 04:19 AM

This is the last time I have any intention of responding to this level of discussion - it is, as it always has done acted as a diversion away from the contribution MacColl made to Folk song
It's like dismissing Einstein's theory of relativity because he picked his nose - true or not - trivia.
Let's get the easy, hoary old chestnut out of the way first
"For the record, Ewen MacColl was born James Henry Miller." (Ewan - for the record)
For the record - Bob Dylan was was born Robert Zimmermann - do you people continually bring up that fact as a criticism of his work as an artist and will you be doing so a quarter of a century after his death?
What on earth is the relevance of this piece of trivia?
The reason MacColl changed his name is easy enough to work out, if it interests anybody enough.
He was first and foremost an actor and a playwright - go count the number of actors, singers, writers who changed their names from Archie Leech, or Ethel Gumm, or Doris Kapplehoff, or, more or to the point, from James Leslie Mitchell or Christopher Murray Grieve (the artists who influenced MacColl
Ewan had an added reason of altering his name as he was attempting to steer clear of the authorities (including MI5) in order to set u a working class agit-prop theatre.
"Stalinist"
Ewan had been a Stalinist, as had been a large section of the left and middle-left movement at a time in our history when Stalin was flavour of the month to millions of people and believed him to be the leader of the world's first Workers State.
Around the time of my birth, it might be said that the British statesmen of the day were 'Stalinists' because of the part Russia was playing in the war - I've yet to hear anybody refer to Winnie Churchill as a Stalinist"
Over the period I knew and worked with Ewan. I never got the slightest impression that he still held those views -
On the contrary, Ewan was first and foremost a humanist (with a small "h") who believed 'ordinary people were getting a shitty deal out of life and were nor recognised for either their achievements or their massive potential - a view I have always held as did my family before me.
Ewan's social songs (such as those he wrote for the Radio Ballads) reflect Ewan's humanism and his respect for working people perfectly
His political songs did not advocate the setting up of gulags or holding show trials (that was and still is a feature of contemporary politics such as the House Un-American Activity Courts of Joe McCarthy and later, Guantanamo (though the latter has even done away with the trials).
His political songs were observations on how he saw what was happening in the world at the time, the best of the philosophical ones probably being 'Song of Choice' and 'Seven Days of the Week'.
MacColl's 'feigned' Scottishness'
He was born into a Scots family, fairly recently come out of Scotland.
When I moved to London, I lived with Ewan, Peggy and Ewan's mother, Betsy for a short period.
At mealtimes, to listen to Ewan and Betsy talk was sometimes like sitting at a meal with an Urdu family - in those days I wasn't as familiar with the Scots dialect and vernacular as I am now.
Scots was MacColl family's form of communication.
Ewan adored the ballads and thought them important enough to keep them alive (he breathed fresh life into sometimes multiple versions 175 of the Child ballads in his career as a singer)
In order to make them accessible to as many people as possible, he adopted the old theatre trick of neutralising the accent he was familiar with at home.
It most certainly worked with me - I am still hooked on the ballads after half a century of listening to and singing them, thanks to his influence.         
Ewan's earlier influence of Scots songs came from home too
I know from discussions with some of his early contempories, historian, Eddie Frow being the main one, that both his parents sang at home, particularly his father William, who "had hundreds of bits and pieces of queer old songs and ballads he would bust into whenever he'd had a few drinks".
This is a description of Ewans first being discovered singing for pennies in a cinema queue in the 1930s:
"Ewan MacColl was himself a victim of the Depression. The son of an unemployed Glasgow steelworker, who had moved to Salford in search of work during the twenties, he had suffered every privation and humiliation that poverty could contrive for him from the age of ten. His memories of his early years are still bitter—like his recollection of how to kill aimless time in a world where there was nothing else to do: "You go in the Public Library. And the old men are there standing against the pipes to get warm, all the newspaper parts are occupied, and you pick a book up. I can remember then that you got the smell of the unemployed, a kind of sour or bitter-sweet smell, mixed in with the smell of old books, dust, leather and the rest of it. So now if I pick up, say, a Dostoevsky—immediately with the first page, there's that smell of poverty in 1931."
MacColl had been out busking for pennies by the Manchester theatres and cinemas. The songs he sang were unusual, Scots songs, Gaelic songs he had learnt from his mother, border ballads and folk-songs. One night while queueing up for the three-and-sixpennies, Kenneth Adam had heard him singing outside the Manchester Paramount. He was suitably impressed. Not only did he give MacColl a handout; he also advised him to go and audition for Archie Harding at the BBC studios in Manchester's Piccadilly.
PROSPERO AND ARIEL (The rise and fall of radio, a personal recollection – D G Bridson 1971)"
I really can't be arsed to take this too much further
I don't care who likes or dislikes Ewan's or Dylan's singing - that is a matter of personal taste and has no place here
I personally believe Dylan to have been a user in his scramble to the top - that is the impression I got from reading what Joan Baez had to say about him, but h doesn't interest me enough beyond his effect on our understanding of our own traditional songs
I did not "change my story" about Dylan's Civil Rights attitude - I really don't care enough to make the effort on something so unimportant, though I am amused that people who are quite happy to denigrate one artist long after he is dead, leap on their chairs with their skirts above their knees when their own pop idol is criticised.
MacColl cared enough about traditional songs and about people to take his work as a singer far beyond entertainment and putting bums on seats and that got up the noses of a lot of people who saw it as a career that could be as viable as anything turned out my the music industry, and were prepared to compromise it in order to get there.
He wasn't a "grumpy old sod", Steve, at least not in my experience, but I'd be happy to compare our experiences over a pint - not here.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: GUEST,Jar Jar Banks
Date: 22 Apr 17 - 01:35 AM

Yeah but what did you do for the civil rights movement ollaimh ?


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Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
From: Jackaroodave
Date: 21 Apr 17 - 08:38 PM

As an ignorant old sod and a newbie here, I was very pleased that this thread from 2012 had been revived. I had heard of MacColl, but I think I thought he and Ed McCurdy were the same person. Not only did I read this thread through, but I looked at a number of other lengthy MacColl threads, and I feel I have a sense of him as an undeniable force and a greater awareness of what I have yet to learn. I'm grateful to both Jim Carroll and those who differed with him for a fascinating portrait of a complex, gifted, and dedicated contributor who wasn't always easy to get along with. (Not unlike the other figure in this thread.)

However, after a few minutes into these threads, the answer to the question it posed was staggeringly obvious: Dylan seemed put on earth expressly to push every one of MacColl"s buttons: one was a Stalinist, the other an individualist anarchist (or capitalist swine if you prefer); one spent an enormous amount of energy raising and enforcing standards, the other in disrupting them. Their attitudes towards tradition were antithetical, to the extent that some of MacColl's followers don't admit any legitimacy in Dylan's use of tradition at all. And of course, in breaking the rules and setting standards at defiance, Dylan was successful beyond ANYONE's dreams during the Great Folk Music Scare. MacColl must have felt at times, "There is no Materialist Dialectic."

So, when we get yet another post informing us that Ewan MacColl was born Jimmy Miller, It seems to me we're well into the rinse-and-repeat cycle. I'd love to see a thread on MacColl's theater work. I wouldn't mind if it replaced this one.

Maybe it's not my place to suggest it, but I sincerely believe there are better ways to see MacColl clearly than by refraction through the prism of his dislike for Dylan.


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