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Lyr Req: Hard Case (Ewan MacColl)

Wolfgang 23 Aug 01 - 06:01 AM
GUEST,Roger the skiffler 23 Aug 01 - 06:23 AM
GUEST,lonesome ed 23 Aug 01 - 06:55 AM
GUEST,Scabby Doug (pah.. cookies - who needs 'em?) 23 Aug 01 - 12:14 PM
Susanne (skw) 23 Aug 01 - 04:20 PM
GUEST,bigJ 23 Aug 01 - 04:22 PM
GUEST,bigJ 23 Aug 01 - 04:54 PM
Anglo 23 Aug 01 - 05:44 PM
GUEST,Pete M at work 23 Aug 01 - 11:30 PM
Wolfgang 24 Aug 01 - 03:48 AM
GUEST,Roger the skiffler 28 Aug 01 - 03:44 AM
GeorgeH 28 Aug 01 - 06:41 AM
curmudgeon 03 Oct 07 - 05:06 PM
Susanne (skw) 09 Oct 07 - 08:45 PM
ossonflags 10 Oct 07 - 12:18 PM
McGrath of Harlow 10 Oct 07 - 07:22 PM
McGrath of Harlow 11 Oct 07 - 07:46 PM
GUEST,Oldnickilby 12 Oct 07 - 08:56 AM
GUEST,jim mcateer 04 Sep 10 - 05:55 AM
Jim Carroll 04 Sep 10 - 06:09 AM
GUEST 25 Apr 13 - 05:51 PM
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Subject: Hard cases galore
From: Wolfgang
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 06:01 AM

In the middle of an old thread about hard guitar cases Roger the skiffler has hidden the following music request. I want to give it more prominence for purely egotistical reasons:

but a line from a song came into my head: "Hard case, hard case Hard cases galore But the hardest cases in the world Are the "screws" upon Dartmoor". Where does that come from ?Liverpool Spinners?Critics?Ewan MacColl?

I have the same song in my head and would like to see more of it here: Lyrics, who played it, etc.

I only can contribute the line:

I've done my time in Liverpool...

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Hard cases galore
From: GUEST,Roger the skiffler
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 06:23 AM

Thanks, Wofgang, I'd forgotten that I'd done that (and should have known better than to hide it!). I'm just about to go off till Tuesday morning so I'll look forward to a flood of replies (but if you haven't found it....
RtS


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Hard cases galore
From: GUEST,lonesome ed
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 06:55 AM

MacColl sings this on an album called "Bad Lads and Hard Cases," issued in the US by Riverside in the fifties, probably from a Topic original.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Hard cases galore
From: GUEST,Scabby Doug (pah.. cookies - who needs 'em?)
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 12:14 PM

This also appeared on the compilation album set Electric Muse: The Story of Folk into Rock 1975 4LP set Island/Transatlantic (Folk 1001), Alan Lomax & The Ramblers: Hard Case

Not sure if it's been reissued or not...

Cheers

SD


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Hard cases galore
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 04:20 PM

And some notes from the last mentioned album:
[1975:] [A group round Ewan MacColl, Alan Lomax, A. L. Lloyd:] one side of their only single for Decca. [...] The story goes that MacColl was inspired by the popularity of Negro chaingang songs among British skifflers to produce something with more of a British accent. Terms like 'screw' for warder and 'snout' for tobacco were unknown then. (Karl Dallas, notes 'The Electric Muse')
Unfortunately, I find the lyrics almost impossible to make out as it's a fairly fast song.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Hard cases galore
From: GUEST,bigJ
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 04:22 PM

Certainly it's MacColl and I think it appeared in a song book called 'Skiffle Session' which had a photo of the Ramblers on the fron. All I have to do now is find it, of course.


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Subject: Lyr Add: HARD CASE (Ewan MacColl)
From: GUEST,bigJ
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 04:54 PM

Aha! Second pile on the right.
The book is called 'The Skiffle Album - featuring skiffle and folk songs popularised by ALAN LOMAX and the RAMBLERS' Published at two shillings and six pence by Feldman and Co. Shaftesbury Avenue, London in 1957.(I don't remember being that young).
The introduction says. "Alan Lomax stole the show at so many parties with his Texas jailhouse songs that Ewan MacColl - not finding any British folksongs to combat them - made up this one. The language is absolutely authentic, for Ewan has spent time interviewing old-time lags who have been down to Dartmoor for vacations of various lengths."

HARD CASE

I've done my time in Liverpool, I know the Scrubs as well (Wormwood Scrubs),
But they'll never get me to the Moor, I'd rather top meself! (commit suicide).

Chorus
Hard case, hard case, hard cases galore,
But the hardest cases in the world are the screws (warders/ gaolers) around the moor.

They've got big fleas in Strangeways, They're big in Peterhead,
But the Dartmoor fleas can kick a man and knock him out of bed.

The work is hard the snout (tobacco) is scarce, the privileges are few,
And the screws are always thinking up new strokes to work on you.

I've been a porridge eater now for twenty years or more,
But I never ate Grade A cement till I was on the moor.

So if you're keen on finding out what the devil has in store,
You've only got to do a stretch at the college on the Moor.

The Ramblers, by the way, were: Alan Lomax; Ewan MacColl; Peggy Seeger; Shirley Collins; Bruce Turner - clarinet; Jim Bray (?) - bass; an unknown guitar player.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Hard cases galore
From: Anglo
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 05:44 PM

I heard this starting:

"I've served my time in Walton, I know the Scrubs as well, …"

(Small difference I know).


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Hard cases galore
From: GUEST,Pete M at work
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 11:30 PM

I remember mentioning this song to a lag who was in the same ward as me when I broke my leg. By then (1978) the 'Moor had been downgraded to medium security, and he did not share the songs opinion of the screws. (He was doing a stretch for GBH.)

Pete M


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Hard cases galore
From: Wolfgang
Date: 24 Aug 01 - 03:48 AM

Thanks so much for all the information, especially for the lyrics.

After some search I found last night an old worn tape with some songs from the Story of Folk into Rock LPs, so that's where I knew it from. I made a half-hearted attempt at transcription and came up with bits like
the work is hard, the snouty scares (well, a snout, i.e. informer, is scary,...).
BigJ, thanks for preventing me making a fool out of myself for posting such lines here.

Wolfgang


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Subject: Lyr Add: HARD CASE (Ewan MacColl)
From: GUEST,Roger the skiffler
Date: 28 Aug 01 - 03:44 AM

Someone beat me to it but here's what I found out,( don't want to waste all that typing!):
I checked through my old Spinners LPs over the weekend and found this, it was by Ewan MacColl.

HARD CASE
(Ewan MacColl)

I've done me time in Liverpool
And in the Scrubs as well
But they'll never get me to the 'Moor
I'd rather top meself

CHORUS:
Hard case, hard case
Hard cases galore
But the hardest cases in a word
Are the screws around the 'Moor

They've got big fleas in Strangeways
They're big in Peterhead
But the Dartmoor fleas'll take a man
And kick him out of bed

(CHORUS)

Well the work is hard, the snout is scarce
The privileges are few
And the screws are always dreaming up
New strokes to work on you

(CHORUS)

I've been a porridge eater now
For forty years or more
But I never ate grade A cement
Till I got to the 'Moor

(CHORUS)

So if you're keen to find out
What the Devil has in store
Just come along and do a stretch
At the College on the 'Moor

(CHORUS)

For Transatlantic readers the Moor is Dartmoor, The Scrubs is Wormwood Scrubs, all UK prisons. MacColl was trying to rival US prison songs. Porridge, the alleged staple diet is slang for a prison sentence. Strokes are tricks or strategems, snout is tobacco, the prison currency, screws are prison officers.
RtS (Tony Davis takes a kazoo break before the last verse on the recording I have, just thought I'd mention it!)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Hard cases galore
From: GeorgeH
Date: 28 Aug 01 - 06:41 AM

I've always heard the last line of the chorus as: "The screws that run the moor".

Sorry, but I'm not likely to check my sources at present . . life is a little complicated!

George


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Hard cases galore
From: curmudgeon
Date: 03 Oct 07 - 05:06 PM

"They say it's cold at the old North Pole
And Greenland's icy shore.
But the coldest place in the whole damned world
Are the cells upon the Moor."

from the LP "Bad Lads and Hard Cases"


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Hard cases galore
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 09 Oct 07 - 08:45 PM

And shouldn't the third line of the chorus be

"But the hardest cases in the world" ???


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Hard cases galore
From: ossonflags
Date: 10 Oct 07 - 12:18 PM

I first heard this sung by Mike Watersom in the Jacoranda club in Hull.......... circa 1961?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Hard cases galore
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Oct 07 - 07:22 PM

MacColl was trying to rival US prison songs.

I'd have thought he was probably thinking as much in terms of a song like Tommy Armstrong's Durham Jail and others in the same vein:

Wy'll aal hev hord o' Durham Gaol,
But it wad ye much surprise,
Te see the prisoners in the yard,
When they're on exercise,
this yard is built aroond wi' waals,
Se noble an'se strang.
Wheiver gans in haas te bide their time,
Be it short or lang

Chorus

O there's ne good luck in Durham Gaol,
There's ne good luck at aal;
what's bread and' skilly for,
Burt just te make ye smaal?...


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Hard cases galore
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Oct 07 - 07:46 PM

And then there's the Treadmill Song:

Step in, young man, I know your face,
It's nothing in your favour.
A little time I'll give to you:
Six months unto hard labour.
With me whip fol the day,
whip fol the day,
whip fol the day fol the diggie o


(More verses here - though not the chorus)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Hard cases galore
From: GUEST,Oldnickilby
Date: 12 Oct 07 - 08:56 AM

The first two verses are:
As I walked up in Newport St
A Gentleman I chanced to meet
I upped with me fists
And I Knocked him down out of his pockets I stole £5


I lay in the Watch House all that night
Till 8 o clock in the morning o
They put me up before Mr Hook
And in his Black Book he did look
It is a great song and rarely sung in its original version


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Hard Case (Ewan MacColl)
From: GUEST,jim mcateer
Date: 04 Sep 10 - 05:55 AM

Bought a double album with hard case on first disc.Great song.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Hard Case (Ewan MacColl)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Sep 10 - 06:09 AM

What's the double album Jim?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Hard Case (Ewan MacColl)
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Apr 13 - 05:51 PM

Anyone tell me what chords they use for Hard Case? I'm not 100% happy with it the way I'm playing it...
Cheers
Dave


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