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Ewan MacColl BBC news feature

nickp 24 Apr 12 - 05:48 AM
John MacKenzie 24 Apr 12 - 06:09 AM
matt milton 24 Apr 12 - 06:43 AM
Vic Smith 24 Apr 12 - 08:31 AM
John MacKenzie 24 Apr 12 - 08:58 AM
GUEST,henryp 25 Apr 12 - 07:22 AM
Jim Carroll 25 Apr 12 - 07:45 AM
GUEST 25 Apr 12 - 10:42 AM
GUEST,henryp 25 Apr 12 - 11:07 AM
Owen Woodson 25 Apr 12 - 11:55 AM
GUEST,henryp 26 Apr 12 - 08:47 AM
GUEST,henryp 27 Apr 12 - 06:39 AM
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Subject: Ewan MacColl BBC news feature
From: nickp
Date: 24 Apr 12 - 05:48 AM

Here...


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl BBC news feature
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 24 Apr 12 - 06:09 AM

Interesting stuff. They did a short piece on the anniversary in the Today programme on Radio 4. I thought for about 30 seconds, that they were going to do it without playing Manchester Rambler in the background, but thankfully, they slipped it in quite soon. I love it when stereotypes are adhered to in such a fashion. It restores my faith in the lack of adventurous spirit, inherent in the BBC.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl BBC news feature
From: matt milton
Date: 24 Apr 12 - 06:43 AM

would've been a bit counter-intuitive to have played "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" though.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl BBC news feature
From: Vic Smith
Date: 24 Apr 12 - 08:31 AM

I love it when stereotypes are adhered to in such a fashion. It restores my faith in the lack of adventurous spirit, inherent in the BBC.

Perhaps true.... but if there is to be a song clip played to mark a short feature on the 80th anniversary of the Kinder Scout Trespass, can you suggest an alternative?


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl BBC news feature
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 24 Apr 12 - 08:58 AM

My suggestion is that they do not play any music at all. Radio 4 is a speech based station, and it was on that basis that this programme and several others dropped their signature tunes, some years back.
I would suggest they cannot both have their cake AND eat it.
Music and song are much loved additions of many radio producers, often inappropriately, and always too loud.
It is especially annoying when it runs through a play, as it interfers with, and not complements, all non music related subjects.
Another good example is the recent 100 Objects series run on Radio 4, which apart from being a sound programme about visual objects, which is almost as daft as Archie Andrews on radio. It had the most annoying and repetetive piece of bridging music, that it has ever been my misfortune to listen to. In the end I could not listen to it, and turned it off.
The same boring oleaginous presenter is doing another programme at the moment on objects relating to Shakespeare. I havden't bothered to even try to listen, as once agin it sounds like a TV programme on the radio.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl BBC news feature
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 25 Apr 12 - 07:22 AM

Ewan MacColl - as he is better known - would have been 17 at the time. Mike Harding says that he was a Press Officer. Do we know exactly when he wrote The Manchester Rambler?

"I once loved a maid, a spot-welder by trade" always amuses me but it doesn't sound like a 17 year old to me. (MacColl may, of course, have been a more sophisticated 17 year old than me - strangely, a girl neighbour was indeed a blacksmith and welder.) Perhaps verses were accumulated over time.

In 1932 in the days of the Mass Trespass he wrote a song with that title to the traditional Scots tune 'Road to the Isles, and 'Manchester Rambler' to a tune thought to be his own. (Until, that is, someone spotted that it came from Haydn's 94th symphony.) (Set into Song - Peter Cox)

Only 'Dirty Old Town' which had been dashed off about his boyhood Salford to an instictively laconic tune of his own to cover a scene change in 'Landscape with Chimneys' could be regarded as a song in its own right. Ewan says they sang the songs for that and other shows with no accompaniment (or just a harmonica) not out of conviction but because they had no instruments. That had been in 1949. (Set into Song - Peter Cox)


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl BBC news feature
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Apr 12 - 07:45 AM

"Do we know exactly when he wrote The Manchester Rambler?"
The Essential E M Songbook... suggests 1932
He was certainly part of the trespasses.
We were in the Singers Club one night when one of the old leaders, Bunny Rothman came in - greeted each others like long-lost-brothers.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl BBC news feature
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Apr 12 - 10:42 AM

From Benny Rothman's obituary, Telegraph 25/1/2002:-
In the 1920s the YCL and its subsidiary, the British Workers' Sports Federation, began organising weekend camps in the Derbyshire countryside - morally and physically bracing affairs of "spuds, blankets and canvas" - and Rothman became an enthusiastic participant. "We'd have 50 or 60 people a weekend," he recalled, "all ages from 15 to over 50. Our weekend activities were mainly rambling, with sing-songs round the campfire at night." One of Rothman's jobs was segregating the sexes, or "keeping the buggers apart" as he put it.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl BBC news feature
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 25 Apr 12 - 11:07 AM

Thanks Jim. The Manchester Rambler still seems a very substantial and polished piece to be one of his first works. It's obviously superior to Mass Trespass, and Ewan said that the two were written at the same time.

It was a long time before he considered himself a songwriter. Here are some recollections of his writing.

From the Working Class Movement Library site

Jimmy helped organise actions in the mass trespass campaigns. [See Benny Rothman archives] He wrote 'Manchester Rambler' after the 1932 mass trespass that was the watershed of the movement.

"...he had a talent for improvisation. He certainly had a tremendous talent as a youngster for picking out a tune and putting words to it that he could almost compose as he went along. You think of that 'Dirty Old Town' and 'The Manchester Rambler' song...These are the sort of things that he'd almost do in 5 minutes. You know, he wouldn't sit down with his head in his hands and labouriously compose something...it would just come to him spontaneously while he was walking...

"I'm a rambler, I'm a rambler, from Manchester way, I get all my pleasures the hard...", and he'd be off, you know, and we'd be picking it up.

Hello! Jim's off again, what is it? We'd be picking up the words from him, this was the sort of lad he was. Everybody'd be joining in, laughing and joking and off we'd go!

...to the best of my knowledge Jim's words and phrases came out pat from the start. They almost came out in the final form from the first time he enunciated it......I don't know whether he had to think about it for a quarter of an hour before it came out but he could do it almost spontaneously, he could come out with a song, or verses of a song, quite spontaneously." (Eddie Frow)

"I was also busy helping to organize the Ramblers' Rights movement and the mass trespass campaigns. I wrote songs about this too. There was one to the tune of 'The Road to the Isles'. An old friend reminded me of it recently when I was up in Manchester at an Anti-Nazi rally:

We are young hikers who in search of healthy sport,
Leave Manchester each weekend for a hike,
Though the best moorlands and hills are closed to us,
We'll ramble anywhere we like.

For, by Kinder, and by Bleaklow and through the Goyt we'll go.
We'll ramble over mountain, moor and fen,
And we'll fight against the trespass laws for every rambler's rights,
And trespass over Kinder Scout again.

For the mass trespass is the only way there is,
To gain access to mountains once again.

A very awkward piece of writing, just doggerel. Another song I wrote at that time, 'The Manchester Rambler', is still fairly widely sung."

From Set into Song by Peter Cox

After the war he churned them out in the same way for Theatre Workshop...For his adaptation of the Lorca play, in the event never produced, he sat down in the Pavilion Theatre in Felixstowe and spent all day making up Spanish-sounding melodies:

That was the first time that I felt I was a real songwriter. The feeling soon passed and I returned to my role as actor-cum-scriptwriter, as one who could be called upon to cobble a tune together in between rehearsals. It didn't bother me at all that my songs were expendable, ephemeral pieces that could be dropped without trace from a production.

From Peggy Seeger's Introduction to The Essential Ewan MacColl Songbook 2001

He wrote deceptively simple songs as well as wonderfully intricate
pieces. He loved the mathematics of poetry and would often play and
juggle with the tumbling words.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl BBC news feature
From: Owen Woodson
Date: 25 Apr 12 - 11:55 AM

Thanks to various people for checking the source of Manchester Rambler tune for me. Haydn's 94th sounds no less likely than the 93rd, but I'll have a listen tonight and see if I can spot it.

Just on the score of Old Kinder Scout and the moors all about. The Peak District was a favourite playground of mine when I was younger, and I have actually camped on Crowden. This though was not the one MacColl mentions which, if I remember correctly, is quite a way into the mountains, but an idylically situated campsite just off the A628.

I also took part in the 60th anniversary of the mass trespass. For some reason we didn't start at Bowden Bridge, where the original march set off, but from a car park in the middle of Hayfield. Whatever, we were addressed at the start by Benny Rothman, who also led us as far as Bowden Bridge. He would have been about 80 by this time, so that was about as much as he could manage. Even so, it was an extremely touching occasion.

Nowadays, I try not to get too wound up about the way the poor were treated by the ruling class. But the thought of all those acres of open moorland lying empty thanks to some loaded act of parliament, while the people the grouse shooters screwed their money from were confined to the crumbling ruins and the smoke and fumes and sewers of Salford and Sheffield still leaves me choking with rage.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl BBC news feature
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 08:47 AM

Haughty lords who claim title to moorland and hill
You work men like machines in deep mine and dark mill
Renounce all your riches - to us they belong
Your power and position will fall to our song

The wild beasts of the field and the birds of the air
Were set on this earth for all people to share
If we take a hare now, you say we've done wrong
Give back all our commons - pay heed to our song

Henry Peacock


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl BBC news feature
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 06:39 AM

The above verses were written to complement The Voice of the People, a Chartist poem by WHC published in The Northern Star and Leeds General Advertiser on 4 December 1841.

'Tis the voice of the people I hear it on high
It peals o'er the mountains - it soars to the sky
Through wide fields of heather, it wings its swift flight
Like thunders of heaven arrayed in their might

It rushes still on, like the torrent's loud roar
And bears on its surges the wrongs of the poor
Its shock like the earthquake shall fill with dismay
The hearts of the tyrants and sweep them away


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