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Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?

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GUEST,Bob 28 Sep 06 - 07:32 AM
Mr Fox 28 Sep 06 - 08:21 AM
Geoff the Duck 28 Sep 06 - 08:41 AM
Charley Noble 28 Sep 06 - 08:42 AM
Rapparee 28 Sep 06 - 08:59 AM
jacqui.c 28 Sep 06 - 09:29 AM
John MacKenzie 28 Sep 06 - 09:30 AM
Big Al Whittle 28 Sep 06 - 09:48 AM
GUEST 28 Sep 06 - 09:52 AM
GUEST,neftig 28 Sep 06 - 10:11 AM
Jim Dixon 28 Sep 06 - 10:39 AM
jacqui.c 28 Sep 06 - 11:23 AM
Rapparee 28 Sep 06 - 11:30 AM
Wesley S 28 Sep 06 - 11:46 AM
Paul Burke 28 Sep 06 - 11:54 AM
Richard Bridge 28 Sep 06 - 12:04 PM
GUEST 28 Sep 06 - 12:07 PM
McGrath of Harlow 28 Sep 06 - 12:41 PM
Wolfgang 28 Sep 06 - 12:45 PM
Les in Chorlton 28 Sep 06 - 12:52 PM
McGrath of Harlow 28 Sep 06 - 01:14 PM
Little Hawk 28 Sep 06 - 01:18 PM
GUEST 28 Sep 06 - 02:40 PM
Richard Bridge 28 Sep 06 - 02:43 PM
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Les in Chorlton 28 Sep 06 - 03:03 PM
McGrath of Harlow 28 Sep 06 - 03:20 PM
Little Hawk 28 Sep 06 - 03:34 PM
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Don Firth 28 Sep 06 - 04:20 PM
GUEST,Lunchman 28 Sep 06 - 04:37 PM
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Little Hawk 28 Sep 06 - 05:16 PM
Big Al Whittle 28 Sep 06 - 05:58 PM
Charley Noble 28 Sep 06 - 08:28 PM
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JamesHenry 29 Sep 06 - 06:17 AM
Les in Chorlton 29 Sep 06 - 06:26 AM
Scrump 29 Sep 06 - 06:29 AM
jacqui.c 29 Sep 06 - 08:06 AM
Snuffy 29 Sep 06 - 08:38 AM
GUEST,Coyote Breath (without cookie) 29 Sep 06 - 10:17 AM
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Subject: BS: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: GUEST,Bob
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 07:32 AM

Jimmy Miller is oft times eulogised on mudcat. But how can you revere a man who deserted from the army during WW2?
Do none of you a conscience?
Did he run away because of cowardice, or because he was a Stalinst?
The man shold be erased from Folk history, he was an embarrassment.


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Subject: RE: BS: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Mr Fox
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 08:21 AM

But not as much of an embarrassment as somebody who can't spell 'should'.


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Subject: RE: BS: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 08:41 AM

George W Bush used family connections to "dodge the draft".
Does that make him any better or worse singer than he would have been.
This is a Folk Forum. Let's discuss his songs.

Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: BS: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 08:42 AM

Get a life, Guest Bob!

And I bet your mother wore combat boots!

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Rapparee
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 08:59 AM

Why can't someone be both -- and a great songwriter as well?

Let's see: WW2 ended 61 years ago.... Why should I give a rat's tushie?


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Subject: RE: BS: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: jacqui.c
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 09:29 AM

Walk a mile in another man's shoes before judging him. Until you know the exact circumstances why bring a man down?

As has been said, Ewan is admired for the contribution he made to folk music. If he had stayed in the forces maybe he might have died and we would have lost one of the major contributors to the genre of his generation.

Look into the background of a number of the people who are put on pedestals these days. I am aware of one actor, well known in the UK, who served a prison sentence for murder. His later life may not have borne close scrutiny either. However, it did not stop him making it in the trade.


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Subject: RE: BS: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 09:30 AM

Guest Bob raises a valid point but in a combative way, he also only offers 2 alternatives as to McColl's desertion, methinks it may have been a bit more complicated than that!
My last words on this thread, as the original post is designed to cause an argument.
Giok


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Subject: RE: BS: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 09:48 AM

My father never spoke much about his combat experiences with the armoured division of the Irish Guards. He just said it was 'wholesale slaughter'. And if you weren't there - you will never know the meaning of the phrase.

I don't really blame anybody who found himself in such a situation from walking away.

Anyway the handing out of white feathers is despicable - only a scoundrel would do it. We don't neeed to know the name, or make the acquaintance of such a wretch.

Return, when you are a nicer person. And if it is beyond your power to reform - piss off!


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Subject: RE: BS: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 09:52 AM

I'm not sure anyone will ever know. Another side of the coin is that apparantly he was never charged - something I'd have thought quite unusual for a "coward or traitor". Perhaps there was more to it than the more obvious conlusions? Perhaps not.

It all seems too foggy to me. I think its best just to "judge" him on the rest of his life, his contibutions to folk music, etc.


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Subject: RE: BS: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: GUEST,neftig
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 10:11 AM

Yeah, "Bob"? I bet you would approve of a German who deserted from the army during WWII, wouldn't you? Screw you. Your judgements upon other people's worth are totally arbitrary, and stem from a twitch in your own gimpy knee.


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Subject: RE: BS: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 10:39 AM

GUESTs who start provocative threads - trolls or idiots?


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Subject: RE: BS: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: jacqui.c
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 11:23 AM

Yes.


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Subject: RE: BS: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Rapparee
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 11:30 AM

Why can't they be both? And lousy singers as well?


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Subject: RE: BS: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Wesley S
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 11:46 AM

There's no reason why a troll couldn't be an excellent singer.


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Subject: RE: BS: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Paul Burke
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 11:54 AM

Of course they are excellent singers... I am a troll, foldy roll,I am a troll, foldy roll, I am a troll, foldy roll, and I'll eat McColl for supper.


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Subject: RE: BS: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 12:04 PM

I suppose there was no such thing as a conscientious objector, was there? D'oh!


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Subject: RE: BS: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 12:07 PM

They don't usualy join do they?


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Subject: RE: BS: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 12:41 PM

This news story gives a few more details, and it was rather more c0mplicated than the opening troll indicates. Basically he appears to have decided to split when he'd been picked out by his superior officers as someone suspected of beiing a politically dangerous Communist - this beig at a time when the Russo-German Pact was still theoretically in operation, so he mighthave felt a bit vuklnerable to harassment or worse if he stayed put.

...his commanding officer expressed his concerns to Hyde Borough Police on December 16, 1940.

The report stated: "His influence over his fellow soldiers was that of a man of much greater intelligence than the ordinary soldier.

"In some ways they would follow him, though at no time was he ever discovered suggesting improper action, he may well have done so under cover. "

Two days later MacColl went AWOL.


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Subject: RE: BS: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Wolfgang
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 12:45 PM

Fact is he was in the Army (joining in June, 1940) and went AWOL on December 18th, 1940. MI5 had monitored him since 1932 and had placed him on a Special Observation List when he joined the army. His superiors did not like his activities in the army and feared his bad influence on fellow soldiers.

It is hard to believe for me that MI5 had observed him all the time but completely lost track of him after December 1940. In January 1941 a colonel wrote: Pte. miller has been absent from this unit without leave since 18th December, and there would appear to be something fishy concerning his absence, as communications have been received from his wife asking for extensions of leave

After the war there has been no action against MacColl, completely different from the treatment of normal deserters.

One can speculate what has happened. Perhaps, MI5 was quite happy to have him, the communist, no longer in the army and there was a kind of mutual agreement that he needed not to come back and that the AWOL would not be prosecuted in his case.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: BS: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 12:52 PM

I guess this will run and run. What did he say about going AWOL? It's very difficult to separate McColl the singer from McColl the agitator - mostly because McColl wouldn't let it happen. His contribution was massive but his arogance could be painful.


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Subject: RE: BS: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 01:14 PM

I rather suspect that he left with the encouragement of his superiors, as a way of avoiding an embarrassing situation.


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Subject: RE: BS: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 01:18 PM

Nonconformists and free spirits are always detested by the military command structure...in ANY army. The military values unthinking obedience to superior authority above all else. He got encouraged to leave? Good. It speaks well for him. I would say the same of someone who got encouraged to leave the Catholic Church for thinking outside the box. Same basic deal.


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Subject: RE: BS: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 02:40 PM

Sighhhhhh
One of these days we'll get around to discussing his singing - oh - was that a pig I just saw flying past the window.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: BS: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 02:43 PM

I rather like the military distrust of intelligence...


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Subject: RE: BS: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 02:43 PM

But there again, I have much sympathy with those who believe that wealth should be shared fairly too...


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Subject: RE: BS: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 03:03 PM

True enough Jim, I only saw him and Peggy once and they were very, very good, they wrote lots of great songs and made a massive contribution to the revival and so did lots of other people. If he left political and personal controversy it was no more than he would have wanted or expected.


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Subject: RE: BS: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 03:20 PM

Interesting thing with that report I quoted from and meant to link to (and have now) - throughout Ewan is identified as "Singer Kirsty MacColl's dad", rather than the other way round.

I don't actually think he'd have liked that too much.


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Subject: RE: BS: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 03:34 PM

Why just leave the choice at "coward or traitor"?

Why not include these possible choices as well: "wife beater, apostate, pervert, cheater, scoundrel, wastrel, drunk, layabout, criminal, thief, opium fiend, morbidinist, blackmailer, murderer, masochist, grave-robber, serial rapist, and tort-feaser"?

I mean, hey, if we're going to pass judgement on another human being, why restrict the field so narrowly, Bob?

(the above is intended as sarcasm)


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Subject: RE: BS: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 03:57 PM

I rather assume the selection of the words were a reference to the word of the Red Flag -

...Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer
We'll keep the Red Flag flying here.


As sung by the British Labour Party to wind up its Manchester conference today. (Good grief...)


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Subject: RE: BS: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Don Firth
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 04:20 PM

The fact that Ewan MacColl was not prosecuted for being AWOL might indicate that there was much more going on than meets the eye.

I wonder what GUEST, Bob's real problem is with Ewan MacColl.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: BS: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: GUEST,Lunchman
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 04:37 PM

Ewan McColl can sing better than GUEST, Bob.


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Subject: RE: BS: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: GUEST,Coyote Breath
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 05:13 PM

Sounds like Ewan MacColl had both the honor and integrity to live his life without compromise. Good for him!

In January of 1959, while stationed in France with the USAF, I walked into the orderly room and told the first sargeant that I quit. I told him I would ONLY follow direct orders from that point on and would do NOTHING to contribute to our NATO "mission".

I was kept in that orderly room and away from the microwave communication equipment I had been responsible for until I was finally give a "General Discharge, Under Honorable Conditions" in May of that year. Basically, I went "on strike".

In the course of the USAF trying to figure out just what I was up to I was asked if I was a Communist. I said, "Not yet"!

I got the discharge I received because I hadn't done anything to warrant any other type of discharge. No laws broken, no bad deeds done. I was still able to enjoy all my veteran's benefits (including the GI Bill funds to attend college).

I wasn't allowed to keep my uniforms (oooh!)

I don't know what sort of reaction I would have gotten had I been in during Vietnam or what would happen if I were a soldier in combat (as in Iraq or Afganistan) Maybe I would have been court martialed. The investigators just couldn't understand why I "quit" and I wasn't saying anything to help them. I quit because what I was doing was wrong. I decided that my being in the military, no matter how much removed from any sort of combat, was wrong.

I took a chance when I quit. I really had no idea how they would react but I figured that if I just "quit", not presenting any threat of any kind they would just let me go, to avoid any "problems".

While what I did might seem like a blow against the system, I looked at it as a challenge, a contest of wits and I thoroughly enjoyed myself!

CB


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Subject: RE: BS: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 05:16 PM

Good for you, Coyote Breath. I wish there were a hundred million more who would the wisdom and the guts to do the same as you did.


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Subject: RE: BS: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 05:58 PM

Another thing, how can someone who has given so much to this country and whose genuine patriotism and love of the people of this country shines out in a hundred songs at least - how could someone like that possibly be a traitor?


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Subject: RE: BS: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 08:28 PM

Well, I'm impressed that this troll thread has actually generated some good discusion.

The choices of "coward " or "traitor" certainly ticked me off initially but I do find the AWOL situation worthy of further discussion. There are all kinds of choices that people can make in their lives, and Ewan's choice was probably a reasoned one. I'm surprised that there is no record of any follow-up on the part of the British Army. Maybe they were just too busy, or maybe someone did some thinking and realized that Ewan was too tough a nut to try to crack.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 10:37 PM

As Studs Terkel said introducing him at Newport in 1959, "Here is a monumental figure in the world of folk music!"

I just put Ewan and A.L. Lloyd's grand riverside LP onto a CD----the one called Champions And Sporting Blades. All sporting events and matches chronicled in great songs and ballads.

Someone started a thread recently called something like, "Did Ewan MacColl ever do any songs that weren't serious"---in the tragic sense, I guess. Well, this LP proved that he did on just about every cut.

A great artist with a treasure trove who learned from so many source singers!!! ;-)

Art


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: JamesHenry
Date: 29 Sep 06 - 06:17 AM

Perhaps Jimmy Miller (deserter) was never prosecuted by the military because he had taken on the identity of Ewan MacColl, someone who didn't appear on their records?


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 29 Sep 06 - 06:26 AM

When did he first Ewan?


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Scrump
Date: 29 Sep 06 - 06:29 AM

Oops, just seen this thread. Maybe this comment I just made elsewhere would have been more appropriate here.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: jacqui.c
Date: 29 Sep 06 - 08:06 AM

I agree Scrump. A few years ago I worked with a guy who was an absolute homophobe. There was a particularly good singer around at that time but this guy wouldn't even listen to his music because the singer was homosexual. I reckon that was his loss but it was difficult to understand why his sexuality was so important to someone who was only ever going to know his music.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Snuffy
Date: 29 Sep 06 - 08:38 AM

So when was his next recorded sighting after 18/12/40 and what was he doing in the meantime?


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: GUEST,Coyote Breath (without cookie)
Date: 29 Sep 06 - 10:17 AM

Thanks LH, but "guts"? I just got fed up.

Could someone enlighten me as to why the sudden attention to Ewan MacColl?

I like what I have heard from him (Springhill is a favorite, the imagery is powerful and appropriate to the story and to all mine disaster stories).

CB


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Wolfgang
Date: 29 Sep 06 - 10:29 AM

C'mon, half anonymous attackers, we have only three threads about MacColl running. You can do better than that. Surely there must have been a rumour about his marital life once (there always are) and didn't he once borrow a songbook and forgot to bring it back?

Wolfgang (clueless about the real motivation for these attacks)


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 29 Sep 06 - 10:31 AM

According to the news report he became Ewan in 1952.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 29 Sep 06 - 12:07 PM

Jim Carroll, I wonder if you would be kind enough to contact me at my home email, dave @ deyre.plus.com.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Sep 06 - 02:50 PM

Dave,
My e-mail has gone awol and we are going on holiday on Sunday,
Will try to contact you again tomorrow, o/w will be back on Monday week
Jim Carroll
PS Don't understand technology - why can't I send e-mails but can mail to Mudcat - why did I ever abandon teh quill pen!


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Effsee
Date: 29 Sep 06 - 04:50 PM

"The murky past of Kirsty MacColl dad, who sang with the Irish punk band The Pogues " LOLOLOL


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 29 Sep 06 - 09:18 PM

Thanks Jim,

dave@deyre.plus.com will reach me.

I suppose another half dozen emails offering me viagra wont make much difference. Mind my wife is wondering why I keep deleting them!!

Dave Eyre


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Don Firth
Date: 29 Sep 06 - 10:00 PM

Hmm. Interesting. I notice that GUEST,Bob dropped his little stink-bomb and then hasn't been back.

Freakin' troll!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Roberto
Date: 30 Sep 06 - 01:37 AM

I think the Mudcat should modify the title of this thread (criticism of Ewan MacColl?): GUESTBob's is a shame, don't let him win this. R


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Don Firth
Date: 30 Sep 06 - 01:49 AM

I agree.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 30 Sep 06 - 02:27 AM

I don't know about anybody else, but I find the title of this thread offensive.

You may not have agreed with Ewan about everything and, I can see one or two folks here bumped into him on a bad night. but I thought he was more than all right, and I don't mean as an artist - I mean as a person.

And he had a son Hamish, I seem to remember. He was into music. It wouldn't be very nice for him to see his Dad talked of as a coward and traitor.

I mean, fair enough - if he'd been a serial murderer or something, but he wasn't.

I remember chatting with Martin Carthy onetime - must have been about a year before he Ewan died. From what Martin said, I don't think he saw eye to eye with Ewan about everything - but thats how it should be between two great artists. Anyway Martin had just done done a gig with him, and Ewan had suffered an angina attack onstage. Martin was very moved at the way Ewan had insisted on finishing the song - getting through to the end of the gig, even though the angina was kicking in.

And god knows the guy stood up for stuff, he believed in.

So please not a coward or traitor, when it came to stuff that mattered to him.

big al whittle


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Sep 06 - 03:34 AM

I'm off on a week's holiday tomorrow.
I look forward to coming back and finding everybody discussing Ewan as a singer.
On the other hand, I used to believe that one day we'd all be living under socialism - so there you go!!!!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 30 Sep 06 - 04:16 AM

I thought I was doing.

Obviously not your satisfaction.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Sep 06 - 10:58 AM

weelittle drummer,
Sorry - the socialism I mean involves everybody having enough to eat and no more war.
Nobody mentioned invading third-world countries
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Jeri
Date: 30 Sep 06 - 11:35 AM

And the American comes in to translate... sad day, innit?

Jim was hoping 'everybody' would discuss Ewan MacColl's singing.
Weelittledrummer said he though he had been.
Jim non-sequituristically clarified what he meant by 'socialism'.

Wee, I thought Jim was talking about posters in general, not you. I thought you'd been talking about the man and singer. The politics are woven through his life, but to focus on one rumor (which some others are doing) is just petty and stupid in light of the contributions MacColl made. And no, I never met him, never saw a gig, and I don't think he's perfect. Finishing a gig in the midst of an angina attack sounds very heroic, but in my view, it's just macho recklessness. Nevertheless, it fits with the larger than life opinion some have of him.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 30 Sep 06 - 12:42 PM

yeh that's right Jeri. No I never confused Blair with socialism.

My mother used to say - the thing about Christianity - its never been tried.

I suspect someone could say the same about socialism.

as you get older, you do tend to think - theres probably a reason nobody's tried it.

Re the angina - I don't think it was macho, he was a nice guy, not without his faults I'm sure. But he probably just felt that it mattered what he was doing. And he was used to soldiering on, as most players are when they don't feel well, so he that's what he did.

Those long ballads he used to do. they're longer than any speech in shakespeare - they demanded committment from him - I suppose that;'s why he felt entitled to ask for that from the audience.

al


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Sep 06 - 01:24 PM

'My mother used to say - the thing about Christianity - its never been tried.'
Ghandi said the same about western civilisation
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Willie-O
Date: 30 Sep 06 - 01:39 PM

I think anyone who has not done so should take a minute to read the whole article that apparently sourced the information on E.MacColl's wartime record. It is quite badly written both from a standpoint of grammar, and knowledge of subject matter, as to be full of chuckles.

To wit, starting with the opening zinger:

  • Tragic folk singer Kirsty MacColl's communist dad, Ewan,
  • The murky past of Kirsty MacColl dad,
  • The files dating back to 1939 contained information on double agents,spies, and those suspected of trying to undermine the British Empire. (Any guesses which category MacColl fell into? I go with the third and my spidey-senses are just a-tingling!)
  • HEY, it turns out his CO was a songwriter too!: "But despite penning an anti war tune called Browned Off, in which he claims to be browned off at having to "help to save democracy", his commanding officer expressed his concerns to Hyde Borough Police on December 16, 1940."
  • And it seems the MI5 had a fallback reason for not pursuing the aristocratic fascists: " MI5 feared: "If too many titled people are arrested the public might get the wrong idea as to the importance of the Fifth Column in this country." " Better to take on the folksingers! although they seemingly ignored MacColl after his desertion. Guess that was all they wanted from him.
  • In other news: "Another file uncovered a Japanese spy ring operating in the Far East during the run up to World War Two." Holy crap, would you have ever believed it? I'm on the edge of my seat here with this incredible revelation. Wait, it gets better: "Japanese spies posed as boy scouts..." I always thought there was something fishy about those neckerchief-wearing flag-raisers.
  • And finally, "a Norwegian fishing boat, Motor Vessel Reidar, was being used in 1943 to ferry German agents into Scotland." Well, turnabout is fair play, at least if you're a fascist at heart. There was a whole squadron of Norwegian fishing boats helping the Allies infiltrate Scandinavia. They called it The Shetland Bus. (Look up the book of the same name.) One of them tried to smuggle a torpedo into a fiord to sink the Bismarck--or was it the Graf Spee?-- where it was hiding out. Great yarn there. They got stopped, searched and were let go by the Nazis patrolling the mouth of the fiord, while they had their torpedo underwater on a towline.   

    W-O
    been reading J LeCarre this morning.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Tim theTwangler
Date: 01 Oct 06 - 06:37 AM

hi this MaColl bloke was he a folk singer then?
The name rings a bell somewhere.
It woud be very unusual for a Scott to be something like a barrack room lawyer wouldnt it?
I never yet met a scot who was well educated,witty,inteligent,opinionated or bolshy.
lol.
On a serious note is he the one who sort of decided to dictate who could play or sing what sort of songs in folk clubs?
Is all before my time but does appear to be all a bit tinged with the middle class 'fifties wat of life you know rich man in his castle ,poor man at his gate.
He made the jocks all ginger and taught them how to hate.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: GUEST,thurg
Date: 01 Oct 06 - 02:28 PM

A couple of people suggested changing the scurrilous title of this thread but it hasn't been done - any comment from the moderators?


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: The Sandman
Date: 01 Oct 06 - 02:50 PM

Ewan maccoll ,was neither coward or traitor,neither was he an embarassment, apart from to Bob.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: GUEST,erictheorange
Date: 02 Oct 06 - 03:12 AM

>>GUEST,thurg
>>Date: 01 Oct 06 - 02:28 PM
>>
>>A couple of people suggested changing the scurrilous
>>title of this thread but it hasn't been done - any
>>comment from the moderators?

While not wanting to stir things up I have to say that I think most in my grandparents' generation would have assigned one of the two descriptions in the post title to a deserter. Certainly members of my own family, who between them served in most of the notable battles fought by British forces, occasionaly expressed similar sentiments about deserters, while being generally understanding of those who chose Concientious Objection.

While you personally may not like the descriptions, with what information we have available about MacColl's desertion I'm sure there are many that would think them appropriate.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 02 Oct 06 - 03:28 AM

Yes and in the middle ages, he would have been a fiend and heretic. But this is now!


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: GUEST,thurg
Date: 02 Oct 06 - 09:51 AM

Date: 02 Oct 06 - 03:12 AM


"While not wanting to stir things up I have to say that I think most in my grandparents' generation would have assigned one of the two descriptions in the post title to a deserter. SNIP

While you personally may not like the descriptions, with what information we have available about MacColl's desertion I'm sure there are many that would think them appropriate."

If those of your grandparents' generation would have passed such harsh judgement on a case that they know little or nothing about, that's one thing; perhaps their own hard experiences gave them some moral right to jump to conclusions, but that's them and their experiences, it's not ours. Furthermore, passing those kinds of knee-jerk judgements in the privacy of one's home is one thing; would they have been so quick to blazen them around the world? As for that, my own father fought in WWII and his father in WWI, and I never heard the words "coward", "traitor" or "deserter" uttered in our home (in judgement of any common soldiers), but I did on a number of occasions hear sympathy expressed for those accused of various types of aberrant behaviour under war conditions.

I have no opinion about MacColl one way or the other, but it's quite clear from the posts that no one on this thread knows much about the circumstances of his desertion, or extended AWOL, therefore I cannot understand why they would feel it appropriate to publicly besmirch his memory with the crass insinuations of the thread's title.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: GUEST,thurg
Date: 02 Oct 06 - 09:53 AM

PS I don't think I'll add to this thread again, because I don't want to be responsible again (after this!) for moving its offensive title to the top of the list.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: GUEST,musicman
Date: 02 Oct 06 - 10:47 AM

horrible scotch coward! My granpa died so that the likes of this womanising scum could live the life of riley on royalties from songs stolen from poor illiterate tinkers & sailors.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: InOBU
Date: 03 Oct 06 - 12:25 AM

Musicman, I find the term poor illiterate tinkers rather, well, not a good discription of Pavees or Romanichals... Frankly, it is the Gyzhen (Georgios ) who spend all this breath tring to toss horse manure on folks too intelligent to play cannon fodder ... look, yer man was a great singer, great friend to the Travelling man, and toss all the crap ye'd like to toss, I'd like to see you measure up to the man... good bloody luck mate. Arrack sa gyzhen, praleh, stay out of the army...

Cheers lor


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: GUEST,StevieGordon
Date: 03 Oct 06 - 02:53 AM

I dont know about traitor but the guy was a coward because if he wasnt he would have refused to fight and taken his punishment like a man not run off and hid like a little child.

Surely somebody who runs off rather than stand up and face the consequences of their actions is a definition of a coward?

For all of you defending him i think you are letting your admiration for ewan maccoll the musician to cloud your judgment on the actions of ewan maccoll the man. I am a big fan of his music and i will always regard the musician in him as a true great just as i will always regard the man himself as a disgrace and a coward.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Don Firth
Date: 03 Oct 06 - 10:08 AM

This whole thread ought to be in the BS section, because that's pretty much what it amounts to.

I can't see a helluva lot of difference between what Ewan MacColl allegedly did and what thousands of young Americans did during the Vietnam war. Not wanting to participate in a war they didn't believe in—and feeling that they shouldn't have to go to prison for follow their convictions if there was another way—they took off for Canada. You can't say they didn't pay for following their consciences because they had to give up the lives they had, leave their friends, family, and jobs, move to a foreign country (albeit not all that foreign), and try to establish themselves there; not necessarily an easy thing to do. Sometimes that can take more sheer guts that just submissively following the herd.

As I said above, the fact that MacColl was not prosecuted could very well mean that there is more here than meets the eye. Nobody seems to know what the whole story is, but ignorance doesn't keep a lot of people from mouthing off anyway.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Greg B
Date: 03 Oct 06 - 11:58 AM

Don, I believe most people do see a lot of circumstantial
and moral difference between Vietnam-era draft resistance
and the desertion by a soldier from the Allied cause during
World War 2.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Ringer
Date: 03 Oct 06 - 12:14 PM

I intend no comment on Ewan MacColl, his actions, history, politics or music, but was delighted to discover, in a thread about someone's (alleged) desertion from the army in wartime, weelittledrummer's contribution (30 Sep 06 - 12:42 PM): "...he was used to soldiering on."

Priceless!


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 03 Oct 06 - 12:41 PM

one of those weeks. I can't say anything right on mudcat. try helping some bugger pitch a song on - and see what happened on that thread.

i still don't think Ewan was a traitor or a coward.

Just need Ard to come on and call me a bufoon again, and it'll be a hat trick.

I'll put a dust cover over the computer for a year or two.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Don Firth
Date: 03 Oct 06 - 01:37 PM

Granted, GregB. There was indeed a great deal of difference in the moral quality of the two wars. But there were Conscientious Objectors in World War II, and although there were those who considered them to be cowards, the military recognized them, and if they were drafted at all, accommodation was made for their convictions, like assigning them to non-combatant duties such as being clerks or medics. And there were a lot of men classified as 1-A (first on the list to be inducted) who were not drafted because they were in essential industries, the sole support of their families, or otherwise deemed needed elsewhere. These men often took a lot of uncalled-for flak ("You're young and fit! Why aren't you in the Army!?"). I knew a few C. O.s during the Vietnam era and, although there was a great deal more sympathy for a young man not wanting to be yanked out of school or his job and stuffed into a uniform than there was World War II, to the best of my knowledge, during the Vietnam war, no such accommodations were made.

If a person refuses to be put into a position in which they may have to kill other people, that does not mean that they are cowards. It often takes a lot of courage, especially during what practically everyone agrees is a "just war," to say, "No, I won't do this!" Automatically assuming that they are "cowards" or "traitors" is the knee-jerk reaction of a lot of folks who don't necessarily think very deeply.

I met Ewan MacColl at a folk festival back in 1960 and I admire him greatly as a singer and as the source of several fine, much requested songs that I sing. And a good friend of mine who was interested in folk music, but hadn't considered singing himself, changed his mind when he saw MacColl at the aforementioned festival and realized that even if he didn't play a guitar or banjo, he could go ahead and sing anyway. He quickly became one of the better folk singers in the Pacific Northwest, and eventually did take up the banjo. MacColl inspired a lot of people that way.

However, my admiration for someone as a singer does not blind me to that person's faults. I've learned a lot of songs from people whom I thought were real rotters, but the songs are good. But beyond MacColl's activities as a singer and a social activist (and I don't care if that isn't his real name; lots of performers use stage names), I don't know much about him or his background, other than that he accumulated a lot of great songs and made them available to anyone who wanted to sing them.

My main point is that the hyperacidity of some of the comments about MacColl in this thread indicates to me that the person who started this thread, and those who seem to be getting great joy out of piling on, have some gripe against MacColl beyond what he may or may not have done during World War II. Other than allegations and accusations, I haven't seen anything very definite.

And I repeat:   if what he is accused of is true, and without extenuating circumstances, then why was he not prosecuted?

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 03 Oct 06 - 02:17 PM

I think its 'smack an old folksinger' week.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 03 Oct 06 - 02:45 PM

I believe that "...those who seem to get great joy out of piling on ...etc." do so, basically, because they perceive that MacColl was anti-rock music. Ewan made the big 'mistake' of being indifferent to (or possibly hostile to) commercial rock music just when it was beginning to swamp our popular culture - and some people have never forgiven him for it.

MacColl pushed the idea of performing traditional, or traditionally inspired, music in folk clubs at a time when some were hoping for an 'anything goes' policy in such clubs. Some of these people were just anti-intellectuals who didn't want folk clubs to be any more taxing than the latest pop hit, but others saw folk clubs as a convenient platform for launching their own careers as rock musicians. When the latter received a poor reception in the clubs (or were, perhaps, unsuccessful in achieving their aspirations) they had a tendency to blame the person who they saw as the most influential artist of the post-war Revival.

I have advanced this hypothesis before but, revealingly, have usually been met by a deafening silence.

Finally, I should like to point out that I have no quarrel with people who didn't find MacColl's work to their taste or who may have disliked his politics or disagreed with his views on folk music - you are entitled to your opinions. I suspect, though, that trolls like 'Toxic Bob', who started this thread, would have had no interest whatsoever in MacColl's war record if he had played an electric guitar and had enthusiastically welcomed would-be rockers into folk clubs!


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Greg B
Date: 03 Oct 06 - 03:40 PM

Don, I'm aware that there were COs in WW2, and I have
to say that I admire the tenacity of holding on to
such an ideal when Fritz has just slipped a blockbuster
down your mum's chimbly pot.

I just don't believe that our old pal Ewan was one of
those.

I think that he was a CO, where CO stands for 'Cantankerous
Objector.' If you review his body of political work, what
you see is someone who has a serious problem with authority
(unless it was his) and who is suspicious of government
in all of its forms, and who finds hierarchical systems
(of which he wasn't in charge) distasteful. He also was
one of those who was a bit of an absolutist, the sort
that was given to paint in rather broad strokes. It would
not surprise me that, as a younger man, he might have
persuaded himself that he could 'never support a government
which...' even in the matter of the common defense.

A friend of mine, really a fine Republican fellow, was
none the less given a general discharge from the US Army
in the post-Vietnam era because he had a 'personality
unsuited to military service.' Meaning he essentially just
couldn't get the particulars of soldiering right, to the
point where having him around was more of a pain in the
arse than discharging him. He was just unable to conform.
It was a rather protracted AWOL which precipitated that
final outcome.

So it may have been with Jimmy Miller.

One other thought comes to mind; it's clear that Jimmy Miller
re-invented himself as Ewan MacColl. How do we know that this
one isn't a case of 'I wasn't fired, I quit!' This was certainly
an individual who didn't like being told what to do and when
to do it, or for other people to be in charge of his life and
fate. And he cultivated a bit of an anti-establishment image.
Perhaps this was part of it.

This would explain why he wasn't prosecuted (or perhaps he was
and just didn't discuss it) for desertion. It may have been just
a long AWOL which was the culmination of a series of events which
caused the British Army to believe that keeping Jimmy Miller
around would be a special favor to Adolf.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: M.Ted
Date: 04 Oct 06 - 12:56 AM

Let's not forget that the Communist Party of that time was totally controlled by Moscow, and that members were expected to tow the Party line--it would not have been unreasonable for a commanding officer to be concerned that Jimmy Miller, or any other Communist organizer, might be carrying out orders from Stalin. It certainly happened.

It also happened that Communist organizers were recruited and used by Allied Intelligence to avert strikes in industries involved in defense , and to generally keep labor in line. Also to keep tabs on other Communists.

MacColl's seeming desertion in wartime, with no apparent consequences, is unusual, in the very least. The fact that he seems to have disappeared, then re-appeared with a new name that suggested a past very different than his true background adds even more zest to the tale.

If he'd been an American entertainer, our British counterparts would likely be outraged by any suggestion that it was improper to ask questions about the distant past--and they'd be right--


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Snuffy
Date: 04 Oct 06 - 08:42 AM

It appears that nobody actually knows what he did after 1940 - he seems to have disappeared without trace for how many years - 5, 10, 12? We know that he was reported as AWOL but this could be deliberate misinformation put out by the authorities. Some possibilities include
  • British intelligence "arranged" his desertion, and employed him on some top secret duties (did Sean Connery base his Bond on MacColl?)
  • He went to Russia, and helped the Allied war effort from there
  • he spent the war with the travelling community and collected much of his song collection in this time
  • he was captured by a Venusian UFO and returned years later after re-programming
. In other words, we don't know. And I find it hard to condemn anyone for something if I don't he did it in the first place. If and when it is ever revealed that he was a common or garden deserter then, and only then, will I join the ranks of the condemners.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: GUEST,kuksky
Date: 04 Oct 06 - 10:20 AM

The traitor went to live in a luxury moscow apatment, paid for by his friend stalin. my own grandfather was his butler during those years. he told me that he had never before worked for such a nasty, greedy, hateful man in his life. whem he went back to england he owed my grandad 3 years back pay. he also stole an old song from him "dirty old town" which gramps had written about moscow years before. my grandad swore that if he ever got hold of the man he would kill him. miller got to hear about this and shat his cowardly ass and changed his name to a scotch sounding one.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 04 Oct 06 - 10:39 AM

but others saw folk clubs as a convenient platform for launching their own careers as rock musicians.

Evidence? As far as the UK is concerned, name two.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 04 Oct 06 - 11:10 AM

This thred has been corrupted by the influence of the trousers and people not showing any respect for evidence. We should all stop posting.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Dave Wynn
Date: 04 Oct 06 - 12:15 PM

One shouldn't ask people to stop posting because one doesn't like the direction a thread takes. Not cricket. My worthless 2pennworth is that his daughter Kirsty had the talent in the family. She was innovative,amazing vocal range and dynamics. Mr Miller was not a good performer (IMO) but could write good songs by empathising with the various work and social communities. Something he didn't want people to do, as his ethos was sing only the songs from your region and culture.

Spot the Dog


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 04 Oct 06 - 12:44 PM

Yes you are probably right Spot. Some threads seem to have a life history which is almost predictable.

Person raises point, interesting posts follow, spelling mistake leads to irrelevant corrections, famous people are slagged off, defenses are given. Much irrelevance is posted, others join in who do not always read earlier posts, the same arguments offered earlier are put up as new. More slagging off and defense, god why am I bothering?


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Don Firth
Date: 04 Oct 06 - 01:36 PM

Do I believe anything GUEST,kuksky wrote above? Oh, sure! And I own 3,000 square miles of swampland, so what do I know. . . .

(Some people try to attain Enlightenment. Others have mastered the Art of Attaining Total Despicability. 'Tis well GUEST,klutzky should hide behind a cloak of anonymity. Gutless libelous twit!!)

How about this as an alternative:    MacColl/Miller was working for British Intelligence during the time in question and he and the few who knew of his activities were sworn to lifelong secrecy.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Wolfgang
Date: 04 Oct 06 - 02:12 PM

We don't know what has happened as many have said. That's the end of that line of discussion.

But lets assume for the sake of the argument that he actually was either a coward or a traitor would that change for me what I like about his music and his many contributions to folk music. I'm one of those persons who (mostly) can separate different actions of a person. It would not change a bit for me my admiration for his musical contributions.

There are limits to that, of course. If a mass murderer, say Hitler, would have written a beautiful song I still could admire in a technical way his artful choice of words and a fine tune, but the song would be dead for me for I could never hear or sing it without the ugly associations.

But we are not talking mass murderer here we are talking at worst traitor or coward and even that seems unlikely to me, much less likely for instance than M.Ted's idea.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Greg B
Date: 05 Oct 06 - 01:15 PM

I got it.

It was all an act.

He was a Tory infiltrator.

Nobody knew, but he dined with Maggie Thatcher on the
second Thursday of each month!


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Oct 06 - 07:35 AM

Missed most of this – have been away for a week; sory to re-open an old thread.
I've heard MacColl accused of many things but now think I've heard it all. He now appears to be answerable for the Holocaust – pity he wasn't born a few years earlier so we could have got him for sinking the Lusitania as well.
If WW2 had been an anti-Fascist war it would have started three years earlier when a Fascist general overthrew a legally elected government in Spain, and in the process allowing the Luftwaffe to practice its bombing skills on the civilian populations of Madrid and Guernica. Not only did the 'anti-Fascist' allies look the other way, but they rewarded those who went to Spain to fight with police records and, as in my father's case, honourable mentions on blacklists which prevented them from obtaining work in their home towns when they returned.
Anybody claiming to know anything about the war would be aware that the invasion of the Soviet Union and the consequent change of policy threw the left into total disarray. Some Communists and Socialists accepted the new line, others rejected it and continued to believe that the original analysis of the war was the correct one; that it was a war for political and economic domination and therefore to be opposed. The secretary of The British Communist Party at the time, Harry Pollitt, resigned over the matter. It is naïve in the extreme to believe in a monolithic left movement which leapt to obedience of a party line – it just wasn't like that.
MacColl's attitude was a simple one; worker killing worker was no way for a Socialist to behave, therefore he refused to fight. His stance was made obvious in his parody of the song, 'A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square'.

That lovely night, the night we met there were whistling bombs in the air;
No bankers dining at The Ritz, and the refugees slept in Berkley Square,

I maybe right, I maybe wrong, but the newspapers say it's no lie,
The rich folks' children sailed away and left all the workers' kids to die.

I have to say I never hear the terms traitor and coward without thinking of white feathers and firing squads; surely humanity at its lowest ebb. As far as I am concerned, decisions concerning the taking of life and the risking of ones own are far too important to be left to flag waving politicians and faceless bureaucrats mouthing patriotism and only too happy to send me and mine to fight without the slightest intention of taking up arms themselves. I have no idea what I would have done in the circumstances; I would like to think I would have had the courage to have said 'No', but you never know till it happens to you, do you?
Somebody asked, 'what would have happened if everybody had done what MacColl had done?' The answer, of course, is war would have not taken place as there would have been nobody to fight it – a Utopian dream held by many of us on the left (though there was the Russian example in WW1 of course)!
I envy those with such remarkable insight that they feel confident enough to decide what MacColl's motives were sixty odd years after the event and presumably without having discussed the circumstances with him – would that we all had such powerful crystal balls – if you know what I mean! Personally I prefer to judge people by the whole of their actions and not something done over half a century ago which I might or might not disapprove of.

Changing the subject a little; I have to confess that my attitude to EFDSS has always been an ambivalent one. While I have always seen the advantage of having an organisation to represent traditional song and music, I have never really been convinced that those occupying Cecil Sharp House are quite what I have in mind.
Even so, it came as somewhat of a surprise a few months ago to receive a circular letter from the editor of one of their publications, 'Dance and Song' concerning MacColl.
Had it questioned his ability as a singer, or his approach to traditional singing, or his contribution to our understanding of the tradition, I would have welcomed it as an opportunity for debate – but no.
'Did I know MacColl had an MI5 record?' – Well yes, I did as a matter of fact; he wore the fact as one would wear a medal.
'Did I know he'd deserted from the army?' – Yes, I was aware of this too.
'Where did he go after he deserted?' I had to confess ignorance of this one, on the other hand, I really didn't and don't care.
If the editor of a publication supposedly concerned with traditional music can find nothing better to do than to arm-wrestle a sixteen year old corpse over a sixty-odd-year-old event that has nothing whatever to do with traditional music, it really doesn't auger well for EFDSS's role in the preservation and dissemination of that music.

I have to apologise for the length of some of my postings, I believe it would be unsatisfactory to try to deal with big subjects with flip answers.
In the unlikely event of our ever getting down to discussing MacColl as a singer, songwriter, political satirist and activist, teacher, theorist on singing styles and techniques, collector, researcher, writer, editor, poet, playwright, actor, director, theatre company founder and all the other activities he turned his hand to, I'm afraid my postings are quite likely to get longer rather than shorter; though I have come to realise that there are those out there who will move heaven and earth before they will allow such discussions to take place.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Oct 06 - 01:08 PM

well done jim, maccoll was a hero, a great songwriter and somebody every one, who loves   traditional music, is indebted too.I wish the maccoll bashers, would find something more interesting to do,.
these nonentities, remind me of pooter, in the diary of a nobody


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Oct 06 - 01:38 PM

I agree CB. There must be other folk singers who have questionable backgrounds and still alive to defend themselves. Why not open a thread about them? No? Shows you who the real cowards are.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Oct 06 - 06:41 PM

hurrah lets hear it for saint ewan.

and let it be known that any that shall question his actions are declared heretics and shall be burnt at the stake for he was our saviour and everything he did was noble and true. if it seems that it wasnt its because we dont know the full story.

all his actions were heroic and devoid of self interest and in ww2 he made his stand. he would not fight the capitalists wars so he stood proud and tall. he refused to to fight and damn the consequences. he took his punishment like the hero he was.

ermmm then again maybe not

how about

he didnt run away he was working for the capitalist governments forces as a secret agent under the cover of being a deserter. it was through his colaboration with the capitalist pigs that he demonstrated his objection to their war

errrrm no that doesn't work

how about

he was a bloke. he did some good things. he did some crap things. some people only want to remember the good things and put him on a pedastal and that sticks in the throat of others who think a lot of his success compared to his trad music contemporaries is down to good PR and his BBC contacts and so they feel the need to highlight the crap things he did to balance it out

still it seems most of the maccoll fan club are quite ancient so we probably wont have to listen to them raving on for too much longer


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Oct 06 - 03:37 AM

Ho hum
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Oct 06 - 05:14 AM

at the age of 55. I,dont consider myself ancient, On a television programme, last night,KITTY HAYES said life began at 70.
I made it clear in my earlier posts,that I dont think Ewan was a saint,but he had ten times more talent than 95 percent of the contributors to this thread,jealousy is a bad road to travel down.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: M.Ted
Date: 11 Oct 06 - 09:14 PM

Mr. Carroll, your loyalty is admirable. However, with due respect, you had better get used to the questions and the debate. MacColl, as they say, belongs to the ages now.

The depth, width, and breadth of his influence mean that every aspect of his work and life are fair subjects for discussion and deconstruction. And more--in time, there will be Doctoral Theses.

The immortal Mr. Wilde said something to the effect the only thing worse than being talked about was not being talked about. Not much consolation, perhaps, but a wise thought--


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Oct 06 - 02:39 AM

M Ted
I agree entirely
My objection is summed up in your statement "every aspect of his work are fair subjects for discussion and deconstruction".
So far I have only heard the rumours and distortions - unless you would like to point me in the direction to where his work as a singer, songwriter, playwright.......... et al has been discussed in any great depth.
I have no objection whatever to his war record, his accent, why he sang with his hand over his ear, whether he has two Weetabix for breakfast........ etc discussed as long as that discussion takes place along with his work as an artist.
I don't know whether you ever saw the Monty Python, Arthur 'Two-Sheds' Jackson sketch - which, for me, sums up the approach taken to MacColl and his work perfectly.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 12 Oct 06 - 03:39 AM

For those who would like to read it....

"Two Sheds" Jackson Sketch here.........


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Betsy
Date: 12 Oct 06 - 03:54 AM

The words in the provocative title thread is not warranted or proven, if they were-the British Army would have dispensed their usual abrupt summary justice. They were not exactly known for their understanding-manner especially in wartime.
There must be more to this matter for McColl to have avoided a firing squad or execution.
There is a possibility if his Communist leanings and connections were as strong as have been suggested , that , someone in the Establishment could have pulled strings to "save" him.
This self-same establishment which was generally made up of Oxford / Cambridge fine gentlenmen , who were, in turn, riddled with Fascist and Communist cliques. Dangerous and intriguing times certainly.
I'm sure there was a time in the 50's/60's that all beatniks / folkies were thought of as "Commies".Will we ever know ?


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 12 Oct 06 - 05:39 AM

one thing is certain. it is this belief that those who feel themselves possessed of analytical and critical faculties - and feel this confers upon them the right to abuse the creative individuals of the folk club movement - this is what has holed the movement below the waterline.

In the past, no doubt MacColl was guilty of this himself - numerous people have attested to it. At that point though, the movement was a mass movement and he felt there was headroom to reorganise and refine his purpose.

But the writing has been on the wall for two or three decades now. We need unity within our movement if we are to succeed. We are under threat, under represented and the future does not really look good. I see very few young people interested in fingerstyle guitar accompaniment for example.

Think how few really good articles there have been about the players of distinction that our generation produced. How the skill has been relegated and abused as not 'in the tradition'. The chickens are coming home to roost for this bloody silly factionalism.

And the slur implicit in this thread title on a great contributor to the folk club movement is just SO typical.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: M.Ted
Date: 12 Oct 06 - 01:45 PM

This reminds you of"Two Sheds" Jackson? Then, to paraphrase another misunderstood literary light, "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here"--

A small point, Mr. Carroll, you misquoted me- I didn't say: "every aspect of his work are fair subjects for discussion and deconstruction", I said "every aspect of his work and life are fair subjects for discussion and deconstruction."--you made a small, but significant omission, and it miscontrues my meaning. At any rate, you can't set the terms for the discussion, even when it seems to be reasonable to focus on his work as an artist. I

Betsy--I think that the ambivalence of your post really embodies what it is all about--on one hand, we have a desire to cut through the cavilling and innuendo and bring the spotlight back on to the work of an important figure, and yet, in defending, we are forced to confront inconsistancies and ommisions that we ourselves can't accept.

And, WeeLittleDrummer-why did the simple act of playing folk music, the most abundant music in the galaxy, become an organized and orchestrated "movement"? MacColl, and Allan Lomax, who, in many ways, was his American counterpart, imposed their own personal, political and social agendas into the practice of playing, collecting, and even creating "folk" music.

Now that they are gone, it's time to look at where the "movement" has been, and why it was there--
Wwhat should we go back to, and what should we leave behind? Is fingerstyle guitar accompaniment really tied irrevocably to "the music of the common people"? How closely does the Sharpe/Child et al canon of folk ballad really correspond to the "music of the common people"--and how real are those "folk roots", anyway?


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 12 Oct 06 - 03:08 PM

Movement is exciting and implies life and hope.

Stasis, lifelessness, moulding ,mouldy, decaying, dessicated, moribund - a lot of people would be happier with folk music in that state.

Particularly - the curators, the guardians of the museums and tradition.(dare I leave out 116th verse? read one thread recently)

But give me a living artform with sentient beings anyday. Something which inspires and expresses (think of it as breathing in and out) - and that I'm afraid requires idealism, effort and sacrifice.

Its the human condition you are at war with. For nothing of value was ever achieved without those things.

Movement!


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Greg B
Date: 12 Oct 06 - 05:08 PM

It seems there's a distinct difference between the work of Ewan
MacColl and, for example, a Barry Manilow.

I think one could, in fact, argue that Barry Manilow's life outside
of his work is nobody's business but his own and doesn't bear scrutiny
in the public forum.

It seems to me, however, that MacColl's work was, by definition,
more of an extension of his life and therefore his character than
that of your average 'pop star.' Indeed one quite had the impression
that much of his work was in the way of telling people how to live,
governments how to govern, and so on.

When one puts oneself in such a position, telling people how to live
and governments how to govern, etc., one opens oneself up for
scrutiny as to how one lives and governs oneself.

And that's what is happening here.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: M.Ted
Date: 12 Oct 06 - 05:57 PM

When I question the "movement" aspect of folk music, it isn't that I doubt that there was one--what I really have a problem with is that the "movement" was a bit too organized--

The Communists used folk music--"The People's Music" --to lay the foundations for "The People's Revolution" And it was not left to chance--they did it systematically--MacColl's heavy handed management of the "folk movement" in the UK bears a close resemblance to the controls exerted by Lomax in the US, and seems very much like the sort management that the communists excercised in other areas. And, contrary to comments above, the Party regularly purged individuals who did not support the party line--


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: GUEST,Chicken Charlie
Date: 12 Oct 06 - 07:45 PM

After 61 years on this narrow-minded planet I shouldn't be surprised, but I'm still jarred by someone wishing to erase someone else from music history because of something non-musical that he did. It's not that I don't have a conscience, bubba, it's that Ewan McColl evidently DID. Not that it's the least damn bit material, but I served my time in the armed forces, combat zone and all, but I have no problem with anybody who felt he had a better idea on how to spend his life. Frankly I didn't know McColl was a deserter, but now that you have informed me of this fact, Sir Guest Bob, arbiter of all our actions, I will go out and buy all the Ewan McColl records, tapes, CDs and artifacts I can afford. So there, Mr. I don't like your political beliefs so I'm not going to listen to your music. PS. Do you have anything to show for yourself??

Chicken Charlie


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 12 Oct 06 - 08:58 PM

No it was just a movement - happens in art.

surrealists, cubists, impressionist, pre-raphaelites....

the folk club movement was bloody terrific in the early days. such profusion of music....a mass movement. Barrie Roberts told me when he opened his first folk club in Walsall, they were queueing round the block outside the pub from 6 o'clock.

thats the power of desire for something different from the crap pouring out of the TV that the factionalists managed to stifle.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: M.Ted
Date: 12 Oct 06 - 10:23 PM

It was a fine thing, no doubt about it, WLD--and it was like that here, too--a phenomenon of a sort that was more transitory than was imagined at the time--and the bubble burst, leaving the factionalists(as servicable name for them as I've heard) to fight over the remains.

I have an interested in the factionalists, however, as they pre-existed the phenomenon, and were threads that ran through the confluence--as to your list, with the exception of surrealism, I'd say they are more schools, rather than movements--though this is a moot point for a lazy day--


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 03:37 AM

I think when you read say the letters of Kandinsky when he was part of all that movement away from naturalistic and representative art. Or the memoirs of Stephen Spender and Isherwood - when they were part of the 1920/30's literary scene.

There is that same kind of buzz. that's what it must have felt like to be MacColl in 1958, or Bert Jansch in 1965. Part of a climate of creativity.

I suppose that's the things with climates - they do bloody change. As Paul Simon says -" you can't be forever blessed....."

I just think of the people who were emerging when I was young, in some ways it was intimidating - you felt your own talent could never match Renbourn, Jansch, McTell, Wizz........does it matter that that sort of player won't be around for ever, that there won't be anybody trying for that same synthesis of complex guitar style and lyric. I think it does.

I do think, WE (the generation just after the explosion)let it go off the boil...

Furthermore, I feel myself and my contemporaries to be distant cousins of what was happening in those years - part of the same movement - duller stars in the firmament. And I think that's pretty much how history will write it.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: M.Ted
Date: 13 Oct 06 - 11:28 AM

Whatever the apparent magnitude of your star--remember that the constellations are made of many stars-

Metaphors aside, the crowd always moves on to the next big thing--The same sort of crowds that flocked to Dylan and Jansch, moved on, successively, to the Beegees(their disco music), The Sex Pistols, Genesis, the Smiths, The Pet Shop Boys, The Cure, Belle and Sebastian--etc--the folk factions shored up whatever they had left after the deluge, and carried on.

The advantage that painters and, to a lesser degree, writers, have is that they can work alone.


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Oct 06 - 03:32 PM

Sorry about re-opening this - I really think all that is to be said on it has been and nobody is going to change their minds at this stage.
However, I feel I need to apologise for something I wrongly assumed.
Earlier in the thread I wrote that I had received a message from the editor of Dance and Song regarding MacColl's war record. I assumed that this was a genaeral posting and that I was one of many recipients.
I am assured by the editor, Derek Schofield that this was not the case and, knowing my interest in MacColl, he had sent it to me alone in case it had not reached the West of Ireland. He was not writing as editor of Dance and Song, but as somebody with a mutual interest in Traditional song.
Sorry Derek, Dance and Song and EFDSS.
You may put my knee-jerk reaction down to a tendency I have nowadays to over-react when I become aware of what I believe to be unfair criticism of MacColl to the detriment of the valuable work he did.
On the other hand, you are also welcome to consider it a result of my advancing years having turned me into a knouty old git.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Ewan MacColl - coward or traitor?
From: Betsy
Date: 14 Oct 06 - 08:17 PM

Ewan MacColl or Jimmy Smith - Requiescant In Pace - you've
done wonderful things in this mortal world of ours.
Coward or traitor? I don't think any of us has the knowledge to totally condemn you , and ,I would much prefer that people walked away from om a fight they couldn't win, and went one to live a full and useful life.
Let's got off his back.

Cheers
Betsy


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