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Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)

DigiTrad:
SHOALS OF HERRING


Related threads:
Tune Req: Harmonica notes for 'Shoals of Herring'? (24)
DT Corr: The Shoals of Herring (Ewan MacColl) (25)
Tune Req: Shoals of Herring (18)
Shoals of Herring tune for Concertina? (20)
Lyr Req: follow the shoals o' herring (7)


GUEST,ta2 11 Dec 02 - 02:15 PM
curmudgeon 11 Dec 02 - 02:21 PM
boglion 11 Dec 02 - 02:59 PM
Keith A of Hertford 11 Dec 02 - 03:04 PM
Rapparee 11 Dec 02 - 03:30 PM
nutty 11 Dec 02 - 04:19 PM
Susanne (skw) 11 Dec 02 - 07:25 PM
banjomad (inactive) 12 Dec 02 - 05:16 AM
Dave Bryant 12 Dec 02 - 05:28 AM
Paddy Plastique 12 Dec 02 - 06:03 AM
Schantieman 12 Dec 02 - 06:17 AM
Teribus 12 Dec 02 - 06:39 AM
Schantieman 12 Dec 02 - 07:16 AM
ard mhacha 12 Dec 02 - 09:34 AM
curmudgeon 12 Dec 02 - 09:56 AM
Keith A of Hertford 12 Dec 02 - 10:17 AM
Dave Bryant 12 Dec 02 - 10:23 AM
curmudgeon 12 Dec 02 - 10:27 AM
curmudgeon 12 Dec 02 - 10:29 AM
dick greenhaus 12 Dec 02 - 11:22 AM
Steve Parkes 12 Dec 02 - 12:29 PM
curmudgeon 12 Dec 02 - 12:50 PM
Steve Parkes 13 Dec 02 - 03:10 AM
GUEST,Adolfo 13 Dec 02 - 07:24 AM
greg stephens 13 Dec 02 - 08:38 AM
GUEST,Ard Mhacha 13 Dec 02 - 01:48 PM
GUEST,Barrie Roberts 12 Aug 04 - 10:32 PM
GUEST,Anne Croucher 12 Aug 04 - 10:59 PM
Steve Parkes 13 Aug 04 - 06:13 AM
Greyeyes 13 Aug 04 - 06:56 AM
IanC 13 Aug 04 - 07:07 AM
Steve Parkes 13 Aug 04 - 08:44 AM
Big Al Whittle 13 Aug 04 - 08:45 AM
Steve Parkes 13 Aug 04 - 09:47 AM
Abby Sale 13 Aug 04 - 10:52 AM
RoyH (Burl) 13 Aug 04 - 01:04 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 13 Aug 04 - 02:14 PM
GUEST,Tam 13 Aug 04 - 05:49 PM
GUEST,Anne Croucher 13 Aug 04 - 06:13 PM
Compton 13 Aug 04 - 09:14 PM
Jim McLean 14 Aug 04 - 05:05 AM
John Routledge 16 Aug 04 - 06:23 PM
Compton 16 Aug 04 - 06:44 PM
Abby Sale 18 Aug 04 - 12:41 PM
John Routledge 18 Aug 04 - 01:27 PM
Compton 18 Aug 04 - 02:34 PM
GUEST,Growlin' Graham Carter 06 Dec 11 - 10:59 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 07 Dec 11 - 10:20 AM
The Sandman 07 Dec 11 - 02:48 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Dec 11 - 03:00 PM
GUEST,Allan Conn 08 Dec 11 - 02:39 AM
Jim Carroll 08 Dec 11 - 06:17 AM
The Sandman 08 Dec 11 - 06:50 AM
The Sandman 08 Dec 11 - 06:54 AM
The Sandman 08 Dec 11 - 06:55 AM
Jim Carroll 08 Dec 11 - 06:56 AM
The Sandman 08 Dec 11 - 07:08 AM
GUEST,Barnacle (at work) 08 Dec 11 - 07:50 AM
Jim Carroll 08 Dec 11 - 09:45 AM
GUEST,Alex Binnie 19 Jan 14 - 02:32 PM
Jack Campin 19 Jan 14 - 02:58 PM
mayomick 19 Jan 14 - 03:18 PM
Jack Campin 19 Jan 14 - 05:13 PM
Georgiansilver 19 Jan 14 - 05:55 PM
GUEST,Guest 20 Jan 14 - 04:54 AM
Jim Carroll 20 Jan 14 - 06:00 AM
GUEST,Ruth Archer 20 Jan 14 - 06:30 AM
MGM·Lion 20 Jan 14 - 07:04 AM
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The Sandman 20 Jan 14 - 09:52 AM
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Les in Chorlton 20 Jan 14 - 11:49 AM
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Les in Chorlton 20 Jan 14 - 01:59 PM
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Jack Campin 21 Jan 14 - 07:47 AM
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MGM·Lion 21 Jan 14 - 08:04 AM
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Jim Carroll 22 Jan 14 - 04:16 AM
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Jim Carroll 22 Jan 14 - 07:09 AM
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Vic Smith 22 Jan 14 - 08:54 AM
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Lighter 22 Jan 14 - 09:45 AM
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Subject: shoals of herring
From: GUEST,ta2
Date: 11 Dec 02 - 02:15 PM

This excellent song sounds traditional but i think it was written for a bbc radio programme in the 60's.....i used to play it but i've forgotten................who can give me lyrics and chords....................thank you and merry xmas,.....hannakha.........and Eid to you all !


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Subject: RE: shoals of herring
From: curmudgeon
Date: 11 Dec 02 - 02:21 PM

Its in the DT. Written by Ewan MacColl for the radio program, Singing the Fishing; musical biography of Sam Larner -- Tom


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Subject: RE: shoals of herring
From: boglion
Date: 11 Dec 02 - 02:59 PM

Ewan MacColl certainly wrote it but only in snatches for different radio shows. I saw Louis Killen many years ago and he claimed to have put it together as a song. He even laughed about Ewan being asked to sing it and not being able to.

The version on the Database is different from the Dubliners (Luke Kelly) version I am familiar with. I'm sure there was a verse which mentions "scraps of Navigation". Also the final verse is missing. It's sung to the same slower air as the first verse and goes something like: "Night and Day the seas we're faring
                Come winter winds or winter gales
                Sweating or cold - gowing up, growing old or dying
                As we hunt the Bonny Shoals of Herring"

Terry


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Subject: RE: shoals of herring
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 11 Dec 02 - 03:04 PM

I think,
...growing old and tired.


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Subject: RE: shoals of herring
From: Rapparee
Date: 11 Dec 02 - 03:30 PM

In the stormy seas and the living gale
Sure I earned the gear that I was wearin'
That's your education
Scraps of navigation
As you hunted for the shoals of herring.

At least as I remember it.


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Subject: RE: shoals of herring
From: nutty
Date: 11 Dec 02 - 04:19 PM

The version that is in the DT is the version printed in THE ESSENTIAL EWAN McCOLL SONGBOOK .......
Peggy Seeger notes that the song is also now known as 'The Shores of Erin'


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Subject: RE: shoals of herring
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 11 Dec 02 - 07:25 PM

Terry, it doesn't sound very likely to me that MacColl wrote the song 'in snatches for different radio shows', as he only made the one on the topic of fishing. MacColl's memories of how this song came into being are clearly somewhat different from Killen's:

[1990:] When I finished writing [this], we sang it to Sam Larner on our next trip up. He was delighted that I knew it for, as he declared, 'I known that song all my life'. [...] A song about fishermen must please fishermen, a song about miners must be convincing to miners, or there is something wrong with it. (MacColl, Journeyman 323)
For The Shoals of Herring I tried out and rejected more than a score of tune models and, in the course of a fortnight, sang hundreds of first-line variants before I found one that pleased me. After that, it was a matter of seeing whether the rest of the tune soared naturally out of that first line or whether it had to be coaxed into the open. (MacColl, Journeyman 365)

Maybe Lou was having people on?


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Subject: RE: shoals of herring
From: banjomad (inactive)
Date: 12 Dec 02 - 05:16 AM

Ewan wrote 'Shoals Of Herring ' for the radio ballad 'Singing the Fishing'
Charles Parker and Ewan had analysed Sam Larners speech patterns and this was used by Ewan to write the song, Sam Larner thought he had known it all his life because he was listening to his own speech patterns and rythms.
It is still a great song.
Dave


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Subject: RE: shoals of herring
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 12 Dec 02 - 05:28 AM

It is definitely all in "Singing the Fishing" - and I don't think any of it was sung or published earlier. As in many of the radio ballad songs, this one is split up by bit's of dialogue. There are several variations to some of the lyrics, but I think these come from other singers. The main one is:

Now you're up on deck, you're a fisherman
And you're learning all about seafaring
For your education scraps of navigation

instead of MacColl's original:

Now you're up on deck, you're a fisherman
You can swear and show a manly bearing
Take your turn on watch with the other fellows

The song also has a sort of prologue and epilogue in the radio ballad:

With our nets and gear we're faring
On the wild and wasteful ocean.
It's there on the deep that that we earn our bread
(Or DT version: Its there that we hunt and we earn our bread)
As we hunt the bonny shoals of herring

Night and Day we're daring
Come summer's storm or winter's galing
We're sweating and cold, growing up, growing old, and dying
As we hunt the bonny shoals of herring.


I was interested in Peggy's comment that the song is also now known as 'The Shores of Erin'. As I've mentioned in another thread I was plagued at one club by an old guy who kept asking me to "Sing that song about sailing round the Irish coast". I repeatedly told him that I knew no such song, but he insisted that he'd heard me sing it. When I did sing "Shoals of Herring" he suddenly said "That's the song - The Shores of Erin". All these years I thought it was due to poor diction on my part !


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Subject: RE: shoals of herring
From: Paddy Plastique
Date: 12 Dec 02 - 06:03 AM

Yer diction... LOL

You must stop droppin' dem aitches


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Subject: RE: shoals of herring
From: Schantieman
Date: 12 Dec 02 - 06:17 AM

I learned the preamble as:

With our nets and gear we're faring
On the wide and wasteful ocean
It's there on the deep that we harvest and we reap our bread
As we hunt the bonny shoals of herring.

(Obviously it needs a rather different tune, esp. in the long third line, and the one I sing has a rather high twiddly bit - v. diff. - in the second line).

Have I got this all arsy-versy or has anyone else heard of it like this?

Steve


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Subject: Lyr Add: SHOALS OF HERRING (Ewan MacColl)
From: Teribus
Date: 12 Dec 02 - 06:39 AM

Version I know and have sung for ages:

SHOALS OF HERRING - Ewan MacColl)

With our nets and gear we're faring
On the wild and wasteful ocean.
It's out there on the deep that that we harvest and reap our bread
As we hunt the bonny shoals of herring

Well it was a fine and a pleasant day
Out of Yarmouth Harbour I was farin'
As a cabin Boy on a sailin' Lugger
We were off to hunt the shoals of herring

Now the work was hard and hours were long
And the treatment surely took some bearin'
There was little kindness and the kicks were many
As we hunted for the shoals of herring

Well we fished the Swarte and the Broken Bank
I was Cook and I'd a quarter sharing
And I used to sleep standin' on me feet
And I'd dream about the shoals of herring

Well we left home grounds in the month of June
And to canny Shields we soon were bearin'
Wi' a hundred cran o' the Silver darlin's
That we'd taken from the shoals of herring

You're a grown man now, boy you're on the blue
And you're learnin' all about seafarin'
Aye your education's scraps o' navigation
As you hunt the bonnie shoals of herring

Now you're up on deck you're a fisherman
You can swear and show a manly bearin'
Take your turn on watch wi' the other fellows
As you hunt the bonnie shoals of herring

Well I earned me keep and I paid me way
And I earned the gear that I was wearin'
Sailed a million miles caught ten million fishes
As I followed after shoals of herring

Through the stormy seas and the livin' gales
Just to earn your daily bread you're farin'
From the Dover Straits to the Faroe Islands
As you hunt the bonnie shoals of herring

Night and Day we're faring
Come winter calm or winter gale
Sweating or cold, growing up, growing old, and dying
As we hunt the bonny shoals of herring.


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Subject: RE: shoals of herring
From: Schantieman
Date: 12 Dec 02 - 07:16 AM

Brill Teribus!

Ta 10^6

Yours aye

Steve


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Subject: RE: shoals of herring
From: ard mhacha
Date: 12 Dec 02 - 09:34 AM

Teribus,that is the version I know it`s a great song, had a listen again to Liam Clancy`s rendition, never been bettered. Ard Mhacha.


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Subject: RE: shoals of herring
From: curmudgeon
Date: 12 Dec 02 - 09:56 AM

As with many of MacColl's songs, it is often difficult to gett all the words from only one recording. I have recordings of him singing it on The New Briton Gazette, Freeborn Man, with Alf Edwards on The Art of the English Concertina, and Singing the Fishing. Bert LLoyd also does a fine rendition on the 4 volume set, The Electric Muse. I don't know where this recording of the song came from, but it is interspersed with commentaries by Larner.

I've heard Lou Killen sing this on several occssions, even sung it with him at a session, and he has never claimed, in any possible way, credit for this song, but always acknowledged MacColl as the composer.

Great work, Teribus. This is the most complete set of the lyrics I've yet seen in print.. However, some corrections and alternatives:

Verse 3 and the treatrment, sure, it took some bearin'
Verse 5 Shields, usually pron. as Sheels
Verse 6, the most elusive of all I have as:

You're net ropeman now, boy, you're on the move,
And you're learnin' all about seafarin'
Scraps of navigation, thats your education
As you're following the shoals of herrin'

I also use the "ten millioion fishes " verse as the end, rather than the "stormy seas."

A final comment; I don;t remember when or where I read it, many years ago, but supposedly a field collector in Ireland had the tune from a travveler whistle player who declared it to be a slow air, "The Shores of Erin." This happened about two months after Singing the Fishing was first aired.

Its still one of the world's finest composed "folk songs" -- Tom


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Subject: RE: shoals of herring
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 12 Dec 02 - 10:17 AM

I must have mis remembered tired for dying.
I have a 1970 LP of EMC and Peggy Seeger. He sings it without verse 6 (I have never heard that one) and without the epilogue. He finishes with the Sailed a million miles   verse sung in slow time.

Asleep, standing on my feet,
Keith.


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Subject: RE: shoals of herring
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 12 Dec 02 - 10:23 AM

I can never get lyrics right when I'm not singing them - and If I broke into song here in the office I don't think I would be very popular. Upon reflection, I agree with Schantieman, the prologue I actually sing is:

It's there on the deep that we harvest and we reap our bread


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Subject: RE: shoals of herring
From: curmudgeon
Date: 12 Dec 02 - 10:27 AM

That is the Freeborn Man album. I think I got that elusive verse 6 from the Lloyd rendition, but as the turntable is piled up with stuff, I can't check right now. But wherever I heard it, I snatched it right up and added it to the song; the poetry and sentiment fits tightly -- Tom


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Subject: RE: shoals of herring
From: curmudgeon
Date: 12 Dec 02 - 10:29 AM

Singing while playing concertina is hard enough, but singing while typing is impossible -- Tom


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Subject: RE: shoals of herring
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 12 Dec 02 - 11:22 AM

If anyone wants to hear this in context, the radio ballad "Singing the Fishing" is available as a CD. CAMSCO, of course, carries it.


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Subject: RE: shoals of herring
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 12 Dec 02 - 12:29 PM

I remember the BBC made a tv version of "Singing the Fishing" in the early/mid 70s. They taleked about the problems of depleting the stocks by over fishing (even then!), and McColl added an extra epilogue verse. I can't remember it all, but it went soemthing like "If we continue to reap what we do not sow/There be no more shoals of herring". Any longer and better memories out there?

Steve


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Subject: RE: shoals of herring
From: curmudgeon
Date: 12 Dec 02 - 12:50 PM

Steve - Do you know if the tv version is available? I would really like to have a look and a listen -- Tom


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Subject: RE: shoals of herring
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 13 Dec 02 - 03:10 AM

I've absolutely no idea, Tom, sorry. You could try the Beeb direct, I supopose.

Steve


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Subject: RE: shoals of herring
From: GUEST,Adolfo
Date: 13 Dec 02 - 07:24 AM

Greetings.
There's a vhs version of the song included in the BBC 'Bringing it all back home' documentary about Irish music influence on the USA. There it's the Clancy Brothers singing.
By the way, one of the brothers mentions the fact that the line 'wide and wasteful ocean' was taken from Shakespeare's Henry V.


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Subject: RE: shoals of herring
From: greg stephens
Date: 13 Dec 02 - 08:38 AM

Henry V indeed, from the "Once more unto the breach dear friends once more" speech. It's amazingly difficult to use the English language without quoting from Shakesepeare or the King James(Authorised) Bible, whether consciously or unconsciously. In a recent TV show they ran down the top 100 best-selling singles since the charts began. I remember noticing that top ten final songs contained lyrics from both those sources.


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Subject: RE: shoals of herring
From: GUEST,Ard Mhacha
Date: 13 Dec 02 - 01:48 PM

I remember Sarah Miles whilst filming in Ireland, describing the song in glowing terms,this was the Liam Clancy version she had been hearing and the beautiful slow lead in verse and the finish of the song in the same manner,her words, "had her spellbound". Ard Mhacha.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: GUEST,Barrie Roberts
Date: 12 Aug 04 - 10:32 PM

Like Steve Parkes, I saw the BBC tv documentary 'Shoals of Herring' in the mid1970s. In fact, I believe we watched it together. It was produced by McColl's pal Philip Donellan who died in Ireland a couple of years ago. After his death the national Film Theatre ran a season of his work, so they might have 'Shoals of Herring'.
There was, indeed, a new closing to the song written for that film, which I believe was:

With our nets and gear we're faring,
To reap a harvest that we do not sow,
But if we don't seed
There will come our hour of need,
When we shall find no more the shoals of herring.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: GUEST,Anne Croucher
Date: 12 Aug 04 - 10:59 PM

I sing 'fishing lugger'in the second verse - you can have a lugger that is not a fishing boat but you can't have a lugger than is not a sailing vessel - a lugs'l is a four cornered sail set fore and aft bent onto a yard slung off centre.

The term 'sailing lugger' is a tautology.

Anne


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 13 Aug 04 - 06:13 AM

But you could have a lugger with an auxilliary engine, Anne; maybe he meant one that didn't, but was entirely wind-powered?

And Barrie: yes we did! I don't think I've ever heard anyone else sing that last verse, but it's time we started.

Steve


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Greyeyes
Date: 13 Aug 04 - 06:56 AM

Not convinced "sailing lugger" is necessarily a tautology. A lugger tied up at the dock for instance would be a lugger that wasn't sailing. So it could mean he was cabin boy on a vessel about to set sail.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: IanC
Date: 13 Aug 04 - 07:07 AM

What's wrong with tautologies anyway?

They're often used in East Anglian speech to strengthen the meaning of what's being said. In a song, they can also provide emphasis.

:-)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 13 Aug 04 - 08:44 AM

Absolutely correct, Ian!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Aug 04 - 08:45 AM

Great pity they don't use it at the fishing museum in Yarmouth and Peter bellamy's music. why are these places run by people who ...words don't fail me...butI've upset my quota of people for today.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 13 Aug 04 - 09:47 AM

They'd probably like to, but can't afford the royalties. Can anyone find out?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Abby Sale
Date: 13 Aug 04 - 10:52 AM

Just to add a bit of trivia to this mythic song - MacColl not only studied Larner's speech (and his life history) in search of accuracy...he also did so with the rest of the song.

He pinned a huge map of the North Sea on his bedroom wall. As he wrote, he would run into the bedroom and consult the map. This ensured for him the place names and possible routes for the trips. Much of the progress of the song's subject is taken directly from Larner's life.

That "Shores of Erin" reference is slightly off. It was possibly a single incident, not that the song was generally or even widely known by that. It seems to spring from a comment, apparently by MacColl and both Palmer (Oxford Book of Sea Songs) and "freeborn man" LP, note it's been collected in Ireland as "The Shores of Erin." I've never seen any corrorboration of that until just now reading Dave Bryant's comment above. But I'd still really like to see a certain reference and text. Maybe it's just the whistle tune mentioned by curmudgeon.

Last, I believe this to be a great example of a true "folk song." Or "Neo-folk song." That is, one that is recent, transmitted in part electronically and of known authorship but... Passes in the community of folksingers oraly and rapidly and "processes" as it goes. It was recorded early on (and in significantly differing versions) by the likes of Killen, Kelly, Makem, the Corries and even MacColl. (MacColl because he kept changing it and in the Radio show, he is not the sole singer of the song.) It even enters the literature as early as 1965 by no less than Palmer.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: RoyH (Burl)
Date: 13 Aug 04 - 01:04 PM

A few years ago Peggy Seeger told me that once when she was the hairdressers the young woman attending to her was humming a tune. Recognising it, Peggy asked her, 'What's the name of that tune?'. She answered 'It's an old Irish song called 'The Shores of Erin'. Call it what you like it remains one of the best folk revival songs ever written. Burl.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 Aug 04 - 02:14 PM

There are naysayers who state that MacColl's "Shoals of Herring" spread so rapidly that it metamorphosed into "Shores of Erin;" to the point that some insist that their grandparents sang it (several singers websites).

There is an old song, "The Green Shores of Erin," by C. H. Duval, but the tune is different.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: GUEST,Tam
Date: 13 Aug 04 - 05:49 PM

Peggy at the hairdressers? There's a picture!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: GUEST,Anne Croucher
Date: 13 Aug 04 - 06:13 PM

A lugger with an engine is still a sailing vessel with a lugs'l - you know what I ment.

I still think fishing lugger makes more sense.

Singing 'sailing lugger' is like saying 'car with wheels'.

I did hear that a month after Singing the Fishing was on the radio someone bought several rounds of porter in order to collect a really good song from some Irish chaps, only to find that he had been given 'shoals of herring' transmogrified into 'shores of Erin' for his trouble.

Anne


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Compton
Date: 13 Aug 04 - 09:14 PM

I used to sing this after hearing Bob Davenport sung it.(when both Bob and I were much younger!!..people used to say it was strange that I was varying key between each verse...than I heard a record with Bob that I got it off...and damn me, he sang it in all sorts of keys as well!!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Jim McLean
Date: 14 Aug 04 - 05:05 AM

Alex Campbell used to say you could tell which key Bob was singing in by the colour of his neck!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: John Routledge
Date: 16 Aug 04 - 06:23 PM

Bob is performing at The Grove, Leeds, UK on 3rd Sept. I will ask him to sing it :0)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Compton
Date: 16 Aug 04 - 06:44 PM

John, see how many key changes he makes!!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Abby Sale
Date: 18 Aug 04 - 12:41 PM

As I recall, in the Radio Ballad, the first and last verses are separate from the rest (and the last verse is rarely if ever, sung by MacColl.)

One is sung by Lloyd & the other by MacColl but they are significantly different in key, tune & scansion from the rest of the song...They are a set but styled very differently by the two men. That would account for two key changes right there.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: John Routledge
Date: 18 Aug 04 - 01:27 PM

As a song to be sung direct to an audience the "Radio" version minus the first and last verses seems more satisfactory to me.

After all the audience is not listening to the radio :0)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Compton
Date: 18 Aug 04 - 02:34 PM

Abby, it was almost EVERY verse!!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: GUEST,Growlin' Graham Carter
Date: 06 Dec 11 - 10:59 AM

I studied this song recently after somebody suggested that it might be suitable for me to perform. In the end I went for authenticity and transcribed the lyric directly from a verson of Ewan singing it live. I don't believe that somebody from Yarmouth would use the word "Bonny". It's a wonderful song and I'm glad I learned it.....it will be a life long companion now.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 07 Dec 11 - 10:20 AM

"I don't believe that somebody from Yarmouth would use the word "Bonny". But wasn't Yarmouth annually teeming with Scots fishing girls at that time? Surely the local fisherfolk would pick up on words from the Scots and vice-versa? Bonny is not exactly an unknown word in England though I know it is used more in the north of England.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Dec 11 - 02:48 PM

I always leave out the first and last verse, i agree with the comments about east anglians using or not using bonny


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Dec 11 - 03:00 PM

As Allan said, Yarmouth was full of Scots fish-gutters.
Also, Sam Larner, on whom much of the 'Shoals' text was based, regularly put into Scots ports while on a trip. He described taking part in a singing competition in Peterhead on one of these trips
There was much to-ing and fro-ing between the eastern ports; Sam's nephew's wife Ella was nicknamed 'Sunderland' because that was her home place, having moved down from there as a fish-gutter - "bonny" is a word still commonly used in her part of the world.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 08 Dec 11 - 02:39 AM

"Yarmouth was full of Scots fish-gutters." Quite so Jim. My mother-in-law's grandfather lived in Gorleston and she said she remembers the place was full of Scottish girls. Likewise the link below suggests that perhaps over half the fishing fleet setting out from these ports originated in Scotland. So the place was presumably teeming with Scottish men at times too. It wouldn't be unusual for an Englishman to pick up a word often used by Scots especially when the said word isn't in itself even alien to England.


"The catches during this period were prodigious. This was the time when it was said it was possible to walk from one side of Great Yarmouth harbour to the other, across the boats. By the end of this period Great Yarmouth had a fleet of over one thousand boats, three quarters of which made the autumnal trip from Scotland. Lowestoft had a massive fleet of over seven hundred and fifty boats, with over half coming from Scotland"


http://www.gorlestonhistory.org.uk/fishing/fishing.php


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Dec 11 - 06:17 AM

A point about MacColl's song-making, especially some of the Radio Ballad ones.
He regularly took actuality recorded from people like Sam Larner and used it directly - "living gales" and "silver darlings" came from Sam, 'Just a Note' was inspired by Sligo man Jack Hamilton, and much of 'Shellback' was taken from recordings of Ben Bright. 'Tenant Farmer' was made after a New Years party at Sandiford after talking to a border farmer who had been evicted from his land for not being able to pay the rent increases. These, in my opinion, were some of his most durable and 'authentic' songs and why, as Susanne said, Sam Larner claimed "I known that song all my life". Travellers we have met have made similar claims of 'Freeborn Man'.
Ewan was regularly accused of 'stealing' songs from the tradition and claiming them as his own, though I am not aware of one song this has been claimed of that has been found prior to the date his having written it.
A mark of his ability to listen to what people said - and how they said it, as far as I'm concerned.
Jim Caroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Dec 11 - 06:50 AM

GOODpoints jIM, But with any song the singer should feel free to sing which verses he prefers


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Dec 11 - 06:54 AM

while we are on the subject of listening this song was taken from listening to a fisherman talking about his life, and from listening to a lt of macColls songs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=peA18SO9afU&list=UU-GtPNIEDLICv5yKnirJAPg&feature=plcp


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Dec 11 - 06:55 AM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=peA18SO9afU&list=UU-GtPNIEDLICv5yKnirJAPg&feature=plcp


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Dec 11 - 06:56 AM

"But with any song the singer should feel free to sing which verses he prefers "
Sorry Cap'n - did I suggest otherwise?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Dec 11 - 07:08 AM

no you didnt, just remarking how i feel about it


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: GUEST,Barnacle (at work)
Date: 08 Dec 11 - 07:50 AM

The Tide and Tide Museum in Great Yarmouth does use "Singing the Fishing" and is a brilliant place to go, based in an old curing shed. I have been lots of times, but recently took my 9 year old German grandson, who thought it was wonderful, too - especially the smell. The restaurant is delighful as well with kippers that, in the words of aforesaid grandson "taste better than smoked salmon". Incidentally Sam Larner's house, in the next but one village to me, has just been graced with a blue plaque.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Dec 11 - 09:45 AM

"....blue plaque."
Wonderful news wonder if they'll put one on Walter Pardon's, or Harry Cox's.
In Sam's time Winterton had a reputation of being somewhat parochial.
We were told on a number of occasions that if a lad from another village came courting a local girl, the men would picket both roads to keep him out.
Another story was of the fisherman who had just finished washing his boat down on the beach when a butterfly landed on it. The man was so furious at "having all his hard work spoiled that he chased it over four fields before he squashed it flat".
Sam's local, the Fishermans Return, was the venue of a weekly singaround.
The landlord bought one of the first 'wirelesses' and, on being asked by a local what it was, he explained "that's a gadget for bringing the news and the latest music from London".
The old man leaned across the counter, hooked the "gadget" off the shelf onto the floor, where it smashed into 100 pieces - it was never replaced.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: GUEST,Alex Binnie
Date: 19 Jan 14 - 02:32 PM

Just to throw a herring among the pigeons (!!) can I suggest the McColl heard the tune first from Scots Gaelic speakers?
I have spotted it in a book of pipe tunes, where it is described as a popular Gaelic song " An Sgada Sgathan".
Nothing wrong in using existing tunes, Burns did it all the time!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Jack Campin
Date: 19 Jan 14 - 02:58 PM

I have that pipe tune book - the Cabar Feidh Collection, no date I can see but no earlier than the 1980s. They call it "Sgaoth Sgadan". I think they're havering. Maybe somebody translated "Shoals of Herring" into Gaelic?

I wonder how many other tunes by Communists got into the British Army repertoire?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: mayomick
Date: 19 Jan 14 - 03:18 PM

My family had the Clancy Brothers LP with the Shoals of Herring in the sixties. We all used to love the song and were convinced that it was called The Shores Of Erin , for ages even though the title was clearly written on the LP sleeve

Alex. I once heard an Irish republican pipe band playing a tune that I took to be Dirty Old Town in Dublin's O'Connell St, which I thought was a bit odd at the time . It was in fact the tune to a rebel song about O'Connell St "the night was young and the battle over , the moon shone down O'Connell St." I assume that MacColl must have somehow taken the Dirty Old Town tune from that song , but the air itself is probably older than the twentieth century ; somebody who knew as many tunes as McColl did could have just composed the song from the music in his own head with a little variation. I've sometimes thought that The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face was influenced by Blackwaterside .


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Jack Campin
Date: 19 Jan 14 - 05:13 PM

Thread on the tune mayomick was talking about here:

The Dying Rebel

which says the tune for it was "Waly, Waly". Which is a bit like "Dirty Old Town", and does predate the 20th century, but it's not the same tune.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 19 Jan 14 - 05:55 PM

I am surprised no-one has put this link up on this thread!
Shoals of Herring.. Ewan McColl!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 20 Jan 14 - 04:54 AM

Thanks for the above link.

Wonderful song. Wonderful singer.

And I liked the photos that had been posted on the link


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Jan 14 - 06:00 AM

Interesting to re-visit this subject
MacColl wrote it as a whole song for 'Singing the Fishing' - it was broken up for the programme.
He based the lyrics directly on actuality recorded from mainly Sam Larner - the recordings are in The Charles Parker Archive in Birmingham and in the Ewan MacColl Archive at Ruskin college - lines like "stormy seas and the living gales" came directly from Sam.
He adapted the tune from the the version of the ballad "Famous Flower of Serving Men' 'Sweet William' included in Gavin Greig's 'Last Leaves of Traditional Ballads' which Ewan recorded on a Folkways album.
Peggy said he adapted the same tune for several of his songs, including 'Freeborn Man'.
I was said to learn the late Louis Killen was one of the Ewan knockers who claimed MacColl didn't write some of his best songs, but stole them from elsewhere - alongside the pratt writing in Musical Traditions who claimed MacColl stole 'Herring' from Sam Larner and claimed it as his own.
The song has been recovered several times from source singers since it was composed, but invariably in fragmented and distorted versions
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: GUEST,Ruth Archer
Date: 20 Jan 14 - 06:30 AM

Shoals of Herring in The Guardian yesterday, and in the new Coen brothers' film:

Inside Llewyn Davis has its pleasures and its flaws, as did the folk movement

Jim, you'll enjoy his assertion that MacColl took the tune from an older Irish song, "The Shores of Erin". :)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 20 Jan 14 - 07:04 AM

Also repeats the canard that Ewan claimed to have been born in Auchterarder. Nowhere, in his autobiography Journeyman or anywhere else, did he make such a claim ~~ if he had, why would he have sung all his English songs, inc Shoals, in his native light Lancashire accent? He always named Salford as his birthplace. It was his mother Betsy who came from Auchterarder.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Jan 14 - 07:34 AM

"Jim, you'll enjoy his assertion that MacColl took the tune from an older Irish song, "The Shores of Erin"
It actually appeared under that title in a learned work on Sea lore, 'Folklore and the Sea' by Professor Horace Beck, as being typical of the songs sung by Kerry fishermen.
I don't mind that sort of thing too much - there's genuine ignorance and there's sheer vindictiveness and dishonesty.
"Auchterarder"
I think this arose from record notes written by Ken Goldstein for some of Ewan' early records on Riverside.
I have no idea whether this was a mistake on Ken's part or Ewan wishing to create a Scots persona for himself, which is possible, but would have been a little foolish as he was already well established as a playwright coming from Salford.
I was once amused by Ewan's discomfort when I had a meal in their home once and his mother Betsy loudly declared to me across the table "we christened him Jimmy, you know"
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Jan 14 - 09:52 AM

I was said to learn the late Louis Killen was one of the Ewan knockers who claimed MacColl didn't write some of his best songs, but stole them from elsewhere -"
if that is true what is the relevance here apart from having a go at Killen?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Jan 14 - 09:59 AM

"f that is true what is the relevance here apart from having a go at Killen?"
Louis Killen claimed to have put it together as a song
Stop trying to cause an unnecessary argument on something thet has been posted
Jim Carroll

"Ewan MacColl certainly wrote it but only in snatches for different radio shows. I saw Louis Killen many years ago and he claimed to have put it together as a song. He even laughed about Ewan being asked to sing it and not being able to."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 20 Jan 14 - 11:49 AM

Look I don't get the chance to drop a name very often so here goes:

In a discussion I had with Bobby Campbell in July or August 1972 in his flat in London when he still lived with Bea Campbell, he said the song had been pulled together from the Radion Ballad where, as pointed out above, it can be heard in parts - across a number of passages through the programme.

As I recall, it came into the repertoire of the Exiles (Enoch Kent, Bobby and Gordon McCulloch) via this process.

I guess loads of people listened to Singing the Fishing and did pretty much the same - as I also guess, was what Peggy & Ewan wanted.

Great song


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Newport Boy
Date: 20 Jan 14 - 11:56 AM

I don't know when people suggest that Louis Killen 'put this together as a song', but I would be surprised if Ewan couldn't remember it in 1963. That's the first printed version I know - in the 'Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger Songbook', Oak Publications, New York. The copyright is to Stormking Music, 1962.

The words (apart from the omission of the introductory verse) are exactly as in the DT. The tune is also the same, except that it's in 3/4, which is how I hear it and have always sung it.

Phil


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Jan 14 - 12:18 PM

JIM , I Think you are incorrect, i never heard lou killen make any such claims, furthermore he heard me sing it once, and i introduced it as being written by MacColl, LOU made no comment, please stop repeating drivel., are you sure you are not confusing lou killen with ian campbell?I was under the impression it was the Campbells that put it together as a song.
I sympathise with you Jim, because I understand you are a disciple of MacColl, and misinformation must be very annoying for you.
I recall having a conversation with MacColl and he said he never sung it live and that the Ian Campbell group put it together as a song .I think this is likely to be nearer the truth than the absurd claim that Lou Killen said he put it together as a song, honestly Jim, you do repeat some old cods wallop sometimes.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 20 Jan 14 - 01:59 PM

Re my post above: Gordon McCulloch and Ian Campbell (no relation to Bobby) are listed as vocalists on the recording so clearly both would have the ealiest access to the song

Singing the Fishing


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Lighter
Date: 20 Jan 14 - 02:10 PM

The divil's always in the details.

Beck did include the song in Folklore and the Sea as anonymous and traditional about forty years ago, but the title there was "The Bonny Shoals of Herring."

"Shores of Erin" is a later, er, "folk" development.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Lighter
Date: 20 Jan 14 - 02:29 PM

Here's someone clearly singing "Shoals of Herring," and the poster thinks it's "Shores of Erin."

Which doesn't even make sense in the song!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiU04meCXI0

Come on. Has anybody actually heard a real song called "The Bonny Shores of Erin" that had anything to do with MacColl's song?

The Internet suggests not.

It's a big jump from a mondegreen to a whole song built around it.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: GUEST,Iain
Date: 20 Jan 14 - 02:51 PM

Shoals of herring was recorded by the Dubliners, with Luke Kelly singing, around 1966 if I remember correctly. This version has the slow verse beginning and end. Also the diction of Luke Kelly is very clear.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Jan 14 - 06:45 AM

""Shores of Erin" is a later, er, "folk" development."
No - it is possibly a mishearing.
It happened all the time, especially among non-literate communities like the Travellers - you want to here some of the mondegreens we've recorded down the years.
It can and does happen among folkies.
I was present during a musing discussion between MacColl and The Johnsons, who had just guested at The Singers Club.
They had sung his 'Tunnel Tigers' and he was carefully the significance of the chorus:
"Up with the shield and jack it, ram it""
They had sung
"Up with the shield and jacket, ram it"
Now that doesn't make sense.
"JIM , I Think you are incorrect, i never heard lou killen make any such claims"
Don't care if you did Dick - I didn't make the claim - somebody else did further up.
If you are going to interrupt a discussion, please don't do so before making sure you know what you are talking about - it helps to read what other people have written.
"it live and that the Ian Campbell group put it together as a song"
Load of crap - he recorded it on the folkways album, 'New Briton Gazette' not long after he wrote it.
He always wrote all his songs for the radio ballads in full and gave full texts to whoever was going to sing them to rehearse before they were recorded - standard practice.
Someone said Lois Killen put it together, you claim Ian Campbell did - thereby hangs yet another MacColl Chinese whisper!
And don't use loaded terms like "MacColl disciple" - I certainly am not, and such inanities get in the way of the real discussion - just as you are getting in the way of this one.
Please take your vendetta elsewhere.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 Jan 14 - 07:31 AM

I dont believe Lousia Killen claimed she put it together.
I said "I was under the impression that the Campbells put it together as a song"I am also sure MacColl told me he did not sing it live,    that does not mean that i said he did not record it.
as far as i am concerned MacColl wrote the song, Furthermore there is no vendetta, just a desire for you to stop believing and repeating ridiculous claims that Killen said certain things, based on supposed hear say.
it is fairly easy to check who recorded it first in its entireity, and is not a matter of vast importance, I have never disputed who wrote the song.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Jack Campin
Date: 21 Jan 14 - 07:47 AM

They had sung his 'Tunnel Tigers' and he was carefully the significance of the chorus:
"Up with the shield and jack it, ram it""
They had sung
"Up with the shield and jacket, ram it"
Now that doesn't make sense.


Both make equal sense to me. The normal way you make a tunnel is by connecting short segments of lining after boring a few feet more hole. Why wouldn't you call the lining a "jacket"? A quick google says the word is used in exactly that way in "Tunnel Construction" [1998], edited by Messe München International, p.31.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Jan 14 - 07:49 AM

OH DEAR - NOT AGAIN!!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 21 Jan 14 - 08:04 AM

"Up with the shield and jack it, ram it""
They had sung
"Up with the shield and jacket, ram it"

,..,

I can't see how these would actually sound any different in singing.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Jack Campin
Date: 21 Jan 14 - 08:09 AM

I don't recall any discussion about this before.

Why wouldn't MacColl have found out what the standard terms of art used in the tunnelling trade were, and put them in his song?

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-89013607/stock-photo-metal-caisson-jacket-on-the-underground-footpath-tunnel-across-the-river-thames-in-greenwich.html


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Jan 14 - 09:51 AM

A matter of emphasis Mike - Jacket - one word, jack it two words.
As with 'Shoals', MacColl made the song directly from interviews with navvies and tunnel workers - he said that this was how the phrase was explained to him - there are recordings of the interviews he did with some of them on our shelves.
It would seen he might have got it wrong, if he did, he and I owe an apology to Adrienne Johnson (but sadly both are dead)
Thanks for the heads up Jack
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Jan 14 - 03:45 AM

here is more info on who recorded the song,Killen recorded it some years after ian campbell, which in my opinion reinforces my point that killen would not have made such a ridiculous claim as to have put it together, killen was not noted for her song writing skills.The Shoals of Herring

[ Roud 13642 ; Ewan MacColl]

The Shoals of Herring was written for the third of the eight BBC radio ballads by Ewan MacColl, Charles Parker and Peggy Seeger, Singing the Fishing (first broadcast on August 16, 1960, released on an Argo LP in 1966 and now available on a Topic CD). It was about the herring fishery and fishermen, and the song was designed specifically to highlight the life-story of Sam Larner, who had spent a long life as a herring fisherman, but was retired at the time of the recording. He first went to sea, he said, in 1892, when he was just a boy. In this moving documentary, the song is sung partly by Ewan MacColl and partly by Bert Lloyd, all skilfully interpolated among the spoken words of Mr Larner. An extract of this with A.L. Lloyd and Sam Larner is on the last track of the first side of Karl Dallas' brilliant 4 LP anthology, The Electric Muse: The Story of Folk into Rock.

(A 12" LP of Mr Larner was later produced: Now is the Time for Fishing: Songs and Speech by Sam Larner of Winterton, England, collected and edited by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger; Folkways 1961; Topic 2000.)

Ewan MacColl sang The Shoals of Herring again in 1983 on his album Black and White; this track was also included on the 3 CD anthology The New Electric Muse: The Story of Folk into Rock.

The Ian Campbell Folk Group sang The Shoals of Herring on the 1964 LP Edinburgh Folk Festival Vol. 2, and Nigel Denver recorded it in the same year for his eponymous LP Nigel Denver.

The Three City Four (Martin Carthy, Leon Rosselson, Ralph Trainer and Marian McKenzie) sang The Shoals of Herring on their 1965 LP The Three City Four.

The Exiles sang Shoals of Herring in 1967 on their Topic album The Hale and the Hanged.

Louis Killen recorded Shoals of Herring in 1968 for his 1973 LP Sea Chanteys, sang it in 1973 with the Clancy Brothers on their album Greatest Hits, and sang it solo in 1979 on the Folkways album Sea Songs Seattle and in 1995 on his CD Sailors, Ships & Chanteys.

Dave Burland, Tony Capstick and Dick Gaughan sang Shoals of Herring in 1978 on their album Songs of Ewan MacColl.

Bob Fox sang Shoals of Herring in 2003 on his Topic CD Borrowed Moments.

Robert Lawrence sang The Shoals of Herring in 2010 on his CD The Journey Home.

Jon Boden sang Shoals of Herring as the February 20, 2011 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day. He noted in the blog that it's a "powerful song from the Radio Ballads. Sung on FSC, despite being a tad wordy for communal singing—the strength of the melody drives it on."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Jan 14 - 04:16 AM

Does it matter who claimed what Dick?
Somebody claimed that Killen put together Shoals of Herring from MacColl's fragmentary writing of it - you claim that Ian Campbell did.
As far as I am concerned, neither clam has the slightest basis in fact - MacColl wrote it and shortly afterwards recorded it for Folkways Records (New Briton Gazette)
MacColl's technique for making all his songs, for the Radio Ballads, fr the Irishmen, Romeo and Juliet, Before the Mast... all his media work, was to completely make the song complete and pass complete recordings to the singers who were to perform them.
I've just been listening to a recording of Joe Heaney singing MaColl's song, 'New Rocks of Bawn' for 'The Irishmen'.
Joe was given the song and asked to learn it, then perform it in two-verse sections, each section sung in a different key to suit the part of the film it was to be used in - absolutely brilliant.
You throw a hissy-fit about Killen being criticised for something someone (not me) has claimed that he said, but you have little compunction in taking snidey pops at a major performer whose contribution to our love and understanding of folk song is immesureable (and who has been dead for over twenty years).
Quite honestly, I'm tired of mediocre performers and folkie eccentrics working out their inadequacies on a twenty-year-old corpse - grave dancing at its most extreme.
Pat and I have just embarked on a project of producing 1, maybe 2 radio programmes outlining MacColl's work on singing.
I am staggered at the amount of information on his approach to singing and his aspirations for folk song has lain untouched and unconsidered, largely due to the barrier of garbage that has made discussion on his work virtually impossible.
MacColl is dead - let's see if he had anything valuable to say shall we?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Jan 14 - 06:56 AM

You throw a hissy-fit about Killen being criticised for something someone (not me) has claimed that he said, but you have little compunction in taking snidey pops at a major performer whose contribution to our love and understanding of folk song is immesureable (and who has been dead for over twenty years)."
give it a break jim , you are pathetic, i have consistently praised macColl as a singer performer and song writer, i take exception to you repeating hearsay about Killen. OF COURSE MACcOLL HAD SOMETHING VALUABLE TO SAY, he wrote many good songs and was a good performer, you however continue to believe any old hearsay rubbish[ some years old written on this thread] in my opinion you appear to be paranoid about any comments about macColl] why did you automatically believe what the earlier poster said about Killen. I knew lou well enough to know that the comment about killen was very unlikely to be true.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Jan 14 - 07:09 AM

"VALUABLE TO SAY, he wrote many good songs and was a good performer,"
Nice of you to say so as the fine performer you are
Who said I actually believe what was said about Killen - what do you want me to do - call a contributor to this thread a liar
". I saw Louis Killen many years ago and he claimed to have put it together as a song. He even laughed about Ewan being asked to sing it and not being able to."
I' used to this shit from revival superstars - why shoul it be any more untrue than all the other garbage
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Jan 14 - 08:39 AM

Jim you said "I was said to learn the late Louis Killen was one of the Ewan knockers who claimed MacColl didn't write some of his best songs, but stole them from elsewhere"
clear evidence you believed the statement supposed to be made by Killen.
Jim, stop wasting everyones time, including your own.
what i would have like you to do was not repeat the statement.
"I' used to this shit from revival superstars - why shoul it be any more untrue than all the other garbage" what are you on about? what shit from what revival superstars?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Vic Smith
Date: 22 Jan 14 - 08:54 AM

I remember talking to Bert Lloyd many years ago about MacColl's songwriting.
I mentioned that in the couple of years before that conversation that we had got to know Belle & Alex Stewart well and that phrases that came up in their day to day conversation, I found had been used by MacColl in the songs that he has written for The Travelling People. I said that I felt that MacColl was somehow cheating by using so many of their phrases.
Bert Lloyd listened carefully to this and then said, "I think what you are describing is the great skill of the man."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Jan 14 - 09:10 AM

Sam Larner once said he felt as if he had been singing 'Shoals of Herring" all his life
Social commentator and writer, Jeremy Sandford, whose book 'Gypsies' first inspired us to become involved with recording Travellers compiled an excellent collection of Travellers songs (Songs of the Roadside) from his experiences in the Midlands.
He included several of MacColl's songs, which he had been given by Travellers, attributing them as "traditional" and suggesting that Ewan had lifted them from the Gypsies themselves - unintentional praise.
Hi Vic - how's retirement - counting the grapes on the wallpaper yet?
Go away Dick - finished wasting my time with you.   
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Lighter
Date: 22 Jan 14 - 09:45 AM

> Bert Lloyd listened carefully to this and then said, "I think what you are describing is the great skill of the man."

I think Lloyd was right. If speech idioms aren't in the public domain, what is?

Furthermore, whatever else in MacColl's songs might be criticizable as "inauthentic," "too political," "too sophisticated," "not folk," etc., those passages are immune by origin and nature.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Vic Smith
Date: 22 Jan 14 - 10:02 AM

Sam Larner once said he felt as if he had been singing 'Shoals of Herring" all his life.

Adam McNaughtan was asked to review Betsy Whyte's great book Yellow On The Broom. On reading it, he immediately wrote the lovely song of the same title. When Betsy heard it, she said that she couldn't understand how an outsider could summarise a part of her life so perfectly.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Jan 14 - 11:07 AM

"Nice of you to say so as the fine performer you are"
Jim Carroll.
what has anybodys abilties as a performer got to do with giving praise to someone elses singing and song writing skills? even if I was as not as gifted a performer as yourself I would still be entitled to praise MacColls abilities.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Jan 14 - 11:39 AM

I wish more people sang 'Shellback' - much neglected in my opinion
The inspiration for it arose from a chance meeting by Charles Parker with an old Welsh sailor who had served under sail Parker was crossing London Bridge when he say an escape artist trussed up in a canvas sack wrapped in chains.
He started to talk to the assistant who, it turned out, had given James M Carpenter songs in Cardiff 50 years earlier, and had jumped ship in the California in the 1930s and joined the I.W.W - the Wobblies, working alongside Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and T-Bone Slim, organising the fruit-pickers.
MacColl and Seeger recorded him and structured the song Shellback around his description of life under sail - it was used for the BBC film, 'Before the Mast' - stunning song.
Talking of new songs, wonder if anybody has come across Con 'Fada' O Driceoll's latest - 'Hunting the Hair' (not a typo, rather a reflection (pun intended) on hair loss).
There were a number of glowing bald-spots when he sang it here at a concert on Saturday night - magic!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Lighter
Date: 22 Jan 14 - 12:44 PM

Ben Bright was his name. Didn't know he'd sung for Carpenter, though.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Jan 14 - 01:07 PM

Yup
Nice little monograph on him if anybody would like a copy
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 22 Jan 14 - 03:20 PM

For the record, "Singing the Fishing was aird on BBC in 1959. Before the end of 1960, the song was well known (and badly overdone) in Greenwich Village folk circles.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Jan 14 - 03:28 PM

Jon,
If you haven't got it I'd take Jim's offer up. He very kindly sent me a copy which I treasure. Thanks, Jim.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Lighter
Date: 22 Jan 14 - 04:03 PM

Thanks for the suggestion, GUEST (Steve?), but I do have a copy.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 22 Jan 14 - 04:07 PM

Yes, of course it was me, decookied again!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 13 Feb 14 - 02:39 PM

Interesting point, Dick Greenhouse... so it's not anachronistic to have Llewyn Davis sing Shoals of Herring. Still a problem for him to have sung it with his father when he was a child, though.

~ Becky in Long Beach


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: GUEST,John Bowden (not a typo!)
Date: 13 Feb 14 - 06:05 PM

"For the record, "Singing the Fishing was aird on BBC in 1959. Before the end of 1960, the song was well known (and badly overdone) in Greenwich Village folk circles".

Not according to the BBC, Dick:


"Singing The Fishing
First transmitted on16 August 1960 .... Singing the Fishing won the Prix d'Italia for radio documentary in October 1960 and was eventually transmitted in 86 countries".

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio2/radioballads/original/singingthefishing.shtml

I find it unlikely that the song should have been "well known (and badly overdone) in Greenwich Village folk circles" weeks after its first broadcast in the UK, and even more unlikely that Llewyn Davis could have made a recording of it when he was 8 years old! The annoying thing is that there are innumerable traditional fishing/maritime songs the Coen brothers could have chosen to be Llewin's father's favourite song, which was supposed to have such an emotional effect on him in his care home (though why they had to have his father shit himself is another question)! After all, if they could (allegedly) base Jim's beard on that of Paul Clayton, there are plenty of Clayton's maritime songs that would have fitted the bill!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: GUEST,Gordon McCulloch
Date: 15 Dec 14 - 12:32 PM

Having recently been steered to the contents of this correspondence, I confess to having been astounded at the sheer volume of specious nonsense generated about MacColl`s glorious song, even some 50-odd years after its creation. I believe I might throw a wee light on one of the more contentious aspects.
As pointed out by "Les in Chorlton", Ian Campbell and myself both sang
on Ewan`s Radio Ballad "Singing the Fishing" for which the song was written. Every evening after rehearsals/recordings we would walk home
endlessly singing/debating over MacColl`s songs. Out of these enthralled discussions arose the format of the song
which was later to become recognisably "The Shoals of Herring"...that is to say with the slow freely-sung stanzas that bookend the main body of the text.
A cursory inspection of the original script (I still have mine) makes it clear that the song has been cobbled together from two quite separate songs {each with its own air} embedded in quite distinct passages of the radio ballad. My recollection is that the idea of grafting the songs together was my own...but it might just as easily have been Ian`s...memory fades! Either {or both) of us would, however, be equally proud to have made some contribution, however small, to the genesis of MacColl`s splendid creation.
Turning to the vexed question of MacColl`s supposed plagiarism,I feel
this brand of mean-spirited claptrap can only be put about by individuals who have not understood any of the protean workings of the folk process..of which plagiarism is an essential building block . Clearly, Ewan openly embraced this notion in his numerous borrowings from and re-workings of existing materials. Consider, for example, his wry version of "Sweet Thames Flow Softly". MacColl, more than most, respected Brecht`s injunction to "watch the people`s mouth".
In case it might be thought that I speak as one of "MacColl`s disciples"...nothing could be further from the truth. At the time I abandoned (with others) the Critics Group I had already come to rather
dislike the man...particularly his embracing of Maoist ideology at the very height of the notorious Cultural Revolution. I found him to be a self-opinionated bully. Ewan was a polymath who would not recognise any limits to his knowledge...endlessly exasperating...endlessly self-contradictory...a deeply flawed genius...but a genius nonetheless.
He should be given his place.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Lighter
Date: 15 Dec 14 - 12:42 PM

Valuable reminiscence, Gordon. Thanks for posting.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 15 Dec 14 - 02:57 PM

'A cursory inspection of the original script (I still have mine) makes it clear that the song has been cobbled together from two quite separate songs {each with its own air} embedded in quite distinct passages of the radio ballad. My recollection is that the idea of grafting the songs together was my own...'

Please do enlighten us further, Gordon. What exactly are the 2 quite separate songs?

Would you consider posting the original script on a website if one could be found to host it?

The album is BTW one of my absolute favourites. Thank-you for your contribution to the programme and to the thread here.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Dec 14 - 04:09 PM

"A cursory inspection of the original script (I still have mine) makes it clear that the song has been cobbled together from two quite separate songs"
For the record, Shoals of Herring was largely based on actuality recorded from 2 Norfolk fisherman, Sam Larner and Ronnie Balls, and was inspired by Sam's account of his early days at sea.
The air was adapted of Gavin Greig's tune, 'Famous Flower of Serving Men' (Sweet William) - Ewan used it for a number of his songs.
The tune for the opening and closing verses are freely sung adaptations of the main tune (easily checked)
Conincidentally, I have just finished listening to an evening of Ewan and Peggy working on Gordon's Beggar man - magic.
I came away wishing that two singers of Ewan's and Peggy's status would have taken as much time and effort working on my singing.
I was only in the Critics Group for tw years (about the same length of time as Gordon, but at the end rather than the beginning of the life of the Group) - Pat was in it somewhat longer.
Personally, I came away with the opposite opinion to Gordon's, I fonf both Ewan and Peggy generous with their time and knowledge, infinitely patient and helpful towards a relatively new singer
I don't know enough to say what Ewan knew or did not know, but I found the time I spent in the Group inspirational and life-changing and I found much of what was dealt with by them was echoed in much of what we recorded from field singers.
Then again, I have listened to and indexed all 7 years worth of recordings of the Group over the last six months, so I may be somewhat biased.
Matter of opinion, I suppose.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 15 Dec 14 - 04:44 PM

Very gracious of you, Jim. However without even seeing it I'm absolutely certain all of your work is supremely valuable to all of us with an interest in traditional song. Many thanks for this.

Happy Christmas
Steve


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Dec 14 - 07:01 PM

And to you Steve
I fully intend to index some of the MacColl/Seeger actuality and pass it on to whoever will make decent use of it - it's magnificent stuff and fills a huge gap in or knowledge of traditional song.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 16 Dec 14 - 04:54 AM

Jim, your own memories of MacColl and Seeger are scattered across Mudcat.

Collected together, they would be another important resource too.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Dec 14 - 04:55 AM

Jim,
I know you don't rate the authorities over here, but it would be great to have your material even more widely available. I think EFDSS would be interested if you'd give them a chance. They've done a great job with the Full English.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 16 Dec 14 - 05:33 AM

Who's centenary next year?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Dec 14 - 05:40 AM

From Wikipedia; James Henry Miller (25 January 1915 – 22 October 1989), better known by his stage name Ewan MacColl.

And we're already in disputed territory! Was he really christened Jimmy?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Dec 14 - 06:01 AM

"Who's centenary next year."
Oh dear - not ***** again
He was christened James Henry Miller (not "Jimmy")
He had his name changed - no more "disputed" than Robert Zimmmermann changing his name to Bob Dylan)
One day people will actually get round to discussing MacColl's work rather than this 'Two-Sheds Jackson' nonsense
"Who's centenary next year"
It's the 100 th anniversary of MacColl's birth on Burns Night next January
"Full English"
Has our collection finally gone up on Full English?
"Jim, your own memories of MacColl and Seeger are scattered across Mudcat"
Did our final interview with Bob Blair yesterday for the programmes - broadcast dates set for either side of the anniversary.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Vic Smith
Date: 17 Dec 14 - 06:51 AM

Les in Charlton asked -
"Who's centenary next year?"


Well, Les. I am looking forward to it very much -
Bob Copper Born 6th January 1915 in Rottingdean, Sussex.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Shoals of Herring (MacColl)
From: Mysha
Date: 08 Oct 15 - 04:59 PM

Hi,

I've just listened to parts of the documentary The Shoals of Herring. At the end is a song consisting of just these two verses (as I hear it):

With our nets and gear we're faring
On the wild and wasteful ocean
It's there on the deep that we harvest and reap
our bread
As we hunt the bonny shoals of herring

Neither men nor ships we're sparing
As we waste the wild crop of the ocean
Sowing no seed in the sea for tomorrow's need
We may see no more the shoals of herring


I didn't go through it all to see whether the entire song also makes an appearance, though.

Bye,
                                                                Mysha


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