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Ewan MacColl - Trespassing Influence

ChrisJBrady 25 Apr 12 - 03:52 AM
ChrisJBrady 25 Apr 12 - 03:55 AM
Owen Woodson 25 Apr 12 - 05:37 AM
GUEST,Derek Schofield 25 Apr 12 - 07:21 AM
mikesamwild 25 Apr 12 - 07:25 AM
mikesamwild 25 Apr 12 - 07:30 AM
Jim Carroll 25 Apr 12 - 07:36 AM
Jim Carroll 25 Apr 12 - 08:54 AM
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Subject: Ewan MacColl - Trespassing Influence
From: ChrisJBrady
Date: 25 Apr 12 - 03:52 AM

How trespassing 'crystallised' Ewan MacColl's songwriting
By Chris Long
BBC News

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-17783987

About 400 ramblers took part in the trespass on Kinder Scout

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-derbyshire-17304410

[Reference the song: Manchester Ramber]

On 24 April 1932, hundreds of ramblers walked on to private land in the Peak District to claim a "right to roam".

The mass trespass saw working class walkers from Greater Manchester and Yorkshire scale Kinder Scout in Derbyshire and battle with game keepers and police.

Among them was a young unemployed communist from Salford called Jimmy Miller who, driven by his experiences that day, would go on to become a world-famous political singer. Ewan MacColl was known by his birth name, Jimmy Miller, in 1932

He would later change his name to Ewan MacColl, the writer of classics like Dirty Old Town and The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, which won him a Grammy in 1972.

At the beginning of the 1930s though, he was an "angry young man" who was out of work, a member of the Young Communist League and ready to ramble his way to a revolution, according to his biographer Ben Harker.

He said MacColl was "an enthusiastic rambler and a communist" who found himself taking a central role in the run-up to the trespass.

"The communist movement was in control of the British Worker's Sports Federation in the early 1930s and brought a more militant edge to it - it was that the drove the campaign for the Mass Trespass forward," he said.

"MacColl did a lot of pre-publicity for it. He talked about [in later life] duplicating leaflets and giving them out.

"He was himself going rambling every weekend - and during the week as well, as he was unemployed - and he'd try to get people to go along."

Dr Harker said MacColl "felt very powerfully that access to the countryside was a birthright which had been denied to working class people by industrialisation and capitalism".

"He felt that this was robbery and that [in taking part in the trespass] they were simply retrieving a right that was historically theirs," he said.

'Revolutionary fervour'

The University of Salford lecturer said rambling was seen as a militant activity by MacColl.

"He really thought he was going to see a revolution in his lifetime and certainly, MacColl saw the Peak District as an extensive gymnasium in which he was getting into peak physical condition ready for the class struggle," he said.

"It seems extraordinarily romantic now, but he really did see it that way. He was a young guy full of revolutionary fervour."

On the day of the illegal ramble, MacColl was one among the crowd, with the formidable Benny Rothman leading the charge up the hill and being arrested, along with four others, for incitement and riotous assembly.

Ewan MacColl

Born Jimmy Miller on 25 January 1915. Died 22 October 1989

Married to theatre director Joan Littlewood, musician Peggy Seeger and actor Jean Newlove

Father to musicians Kirsty, Neill and Calum MacColl and grandfather to Bombay Bicycle Club's Jamie MacColl

Wrote many songs, poems and plays and won a Grammy in 1972 for The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face after it was recorded by Roberta Flack
Dr Harker said the day - coupled with MacColl's experience at the Battle of Bexley Square, which saw police clash with jobless workers in Salford six months earlier - had a profound effect upon him.

"They were two formative moments for a young militant," he said.

"To experience the violence at Bexley Square and the unbelievably harsh sentences following the trespass, these were unbelievably profound lessons for him which added steel to his political convictions.

"They didn't convert him to anything but they ingrained in a decisive way what was already there."

They also brought him to the attention of MI5, who monitored his theatre and musical work, BBC performances and general political activity for the next two decades.

Most importantly for music fans though, Dr Harker said the trespass led to him writing his "first important song", The Manchester Rambler.

"There is another song he wrote called Mass Trespass 1932, which he never recorded," he said.

"It's a very raw-throated rallying cry - a very powerful yawp of outrage and anger.

"But Rambler is the song where it all comes together. He'd written these rather earnest agitprop pieces prior to that, but in Rambler, he manages to pull together a political perspective with a more lyrical style.

"It crystallises his songwriting and that's the first time it happens."


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - Trespassing Influence
From: ChrisJBrady
Date: 25 Apr 12 - 03:55 AM

"There is another song he wrote called Mass Trespass 1932, which he never recorded," he said.

Does anyone have the words and suitable tune?


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - Trespassing Influence
From: Owen Woodson
Date: 25 Apr 12 - 05:37 AM

I have read in one of Roy Palmer's books (sorry, can't remember which one), that MacColl used a melody from Haydn's 93rd Symphony for the Tune of The Manchester Rambler.

I have listened carefully to the 93rd, in fact to all of Haydn's later symphonies and can't hear any Mancunian Ramblers in any of them.

Does anybody know where MacColl actually got the tune.

BTW. To avoid setting too many unneccesary hares. We know nowadays that MacColl was fond of taking existing melodies and amending them phrase by phrase until they sounded nothing like the original. I don't think that applies in this case, partly because the MR goes so far back, and partly because the inference seemed to be that MacColl used the tune unadapted.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - Trespassing Influence
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield
Date: 25 Apr 12 - 07:21 AM

Mass Trespass 1932 is in The Essential Ewan MacColl Songbook, pages 278-9. Sung to the tune The Road to the Isles.
Derek


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - Trespassing Influence
From: mikesamwild
Date: 25 Apr 12 - 07:25 AM

It sounds like a lot of old Scottish waltzes. He must have heard them in the Salford community and elsewhere/

He refers back to the mountains in his requiuem song very poignantly.

The Clarion was a socialist journal and people discussd it avidly on rambles and cycle rides etc . The Clarion Club was named after the journal and is still going strong., Mike Harding was on TV last night leading it at a memorial event with a choir and a massed audience as part of a big celebration week.

The Communist party was very astute in using rambling, drama, folk song etc to engage young people. As an ex YCL member from the 50s I found no problem with that and welcomed Topic Records , WMA etc.

I wish we had more such radical organisations still


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - Trespassing Influence
From: mikesamwild
Date: 25 Apr 12 - 07:30 AM

On another rrecent thread on aMcColl is a note that says it came from Haydn's 94th Symphony.

Now I think about it It also has echoes of a John Peel song we learned at school, The Horn of the Hunter is Silent.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - Trespassing Influence
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Apr 12 - 07:36 AM

You can often trace Ewan's sources by humming them and messing them about - have just done so and realised that 'Rambler' and 'Browned Off' are from the same source, whatever that was.
Peggy gave us a tape showing some of his sources: 'Sweet William' aka 'Famous Flower of Servingmen' (from Greig Duncan) being one of his favourites. He used this for Shoals of Herring, Doorboy (Big Hewer), Thirty Foot Trailer, Net Hauling Song and Freeborn Man.
Life is a Battle, (Fight Game) came from Gil Morice.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - Trespassing Influence
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Apr 12 - 08:54 AM

'Browned Off'
Whoops sorry - I meant to write 'Any Complaints' of course.
Jim Carroll


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