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Peggy Seeger on BBC

04 Aug 12 - 02:01 PM (#3386108)
Subject: Peggy Seeger on BBC R4's 'Loose Ends'
From: YorkshireYankee

As I write this, am listening to Peggy Seeger on Radio 4's "Loose Ends":
"American folk legend and grande dame, Peggy Seeger, talks to Clive about her new album 'Folksploitation', which sees her in an unlikely collaboration with the experimental dance music producer Broadcaster. She will also perform the original acoustic version of 'First Time Ever I Saw Your Face' - the song her husband Ewan McColl wrote for her when they first met in 1957."

"Listen Again" here.

04 Aug 12 - 02:50 PM (#3386134)
Subject: RE: Peggy Seeger on BBC R4's 'Loose Ends'
From: Kit Griffiths

When Clive Anderson mentioned Ewan's original policy of not allowing anyone to sing a song that was not indigenous to them, she said, very softly, "We grew up..."

04 Aug 12 - 03:47 PM (#3386156)
Subject: RE: Peggy Seeger on BBC R4's 'Loose Ends'
From: GUEST,Hootenanny

Yes, it was interesting to hear Peggy making that "confession" when so often on these threads people claim that this was never a policy with Ewan and Peggy. Usually from people that weren't there at the time when it was happening.
Personally I always laid the blame with Ewan. I believe like Will Fly mentioned in another current thread that Americans are much more relaxed about this sort of thing in music than some of us Brits. Although Peggy did admit to laughing at the Londoner singing Leadbelly songs way back, I seem to remember her some time later saying that she was wrong to have done so.
The subject came up about Ewan not always being happy with other people's recordings of the song "The First Time Ever". This reminded me of Bill Monroe's reaction to Elvis Presley using Bill's song on his first release. However I think he changed his mind somewhat when the royalties started arriving.
Good to hear that Peggy is still in good voice.


05 Aug 12 - 07:49 AM (#3386360)
Subject: RE: Peggy Seeger on BBC R4's 'Loose Ends'
From: ChrisJBrady


05 Aug 12 - 07:52 AM (#3386364)
Subject: RE: Peggy Seeger on BBC R4's 'Loose Ends'
From: ChrisJBrady

Clive is cast away to Prospero's magical isle with the award-winning actor, Tim Pigott-Smith, who stars as the marooned Duke of Milan in Adrian Noble's production of 'The Tempest' at the Theatre Royal Bath later this month. It's a world of spirits and monsters, mistaken identity and sweet romance - but where does the reality end and fantasy begin? After all, ''We are such stuff as dreams are made on".

Clive navigates his way to calmer waters and dry land where he meets The Man in the Rubber Mask, otherwise known as Robert Llewellyn or Kryten from Red Dwarf. Robert's novel, 'News from Gardenia', presents a utopian vision of Great Britain in the future, as seen through the eyes of a man from the present.

Nikki dials up 'Fonejacker' Kayvan Novak in his alter-ego role of Terry Tibbs, the used car salesman. Terry's now got his own prime time chat show, 'Verry Terry', which sees him interviewing a variety of celebrity guests. First up for the Terry treatment are all round tough guy, Mickey Rourke, and TV presenter, Anthea Turner. 'Verry Terry' is part of Channel 4's 'Funny Fortnight' on Thursday 16th August at 10pm.

American folk legend and grande dame, Peggy Seeger, talks to Clive about her new album 'Folksploitation', which sees her in an unlikely collaboration with the experimental dance music producer Broadcaster. She will also perform the original acoustic version of 'First Time Ever I Saw Your Face' - the song her husband Ewan McColl wrote for her when they first met in 1957.

Further musical entertainment comes from the soulful pop sensation Eugene McGuinness who plays 'Shotgun' from his new album 'The Invitation to the Voyage'.

Producer: Cathie Mahoney.

05 Aug 12 - 11:49 AM (#3386433)
Subject: RE: Peggy Seeger on BBC R4's 'Loose Ends'
From: Jim Carroll

"...when so often on these threads people claim that this was never a policy with Ewan and Peggy"
Don't think I ever read that it was not a policy of Ewan and Peggy's Hoot - I've always pointed out that it was a policy for the Singers Club, agreed upon by the audience committee. I'm proud of the fact that I put my name to it every time the subject was raised - worked wonders for the British repertoire in the clubs.
From The Living Tradition No 39, August 2000
Jim Carroll

Peggy Seeger replies

I confess, I confess! I was the one who started the whole 'policy' debate. The Ballads and Blues Club had been going really well since 1953. I arrived in London in 1956. The club met at the Princess Louise in High Holborn at that time and there was an impressive list of residents: Alan Lomax, Ralph Rinzler, Isla Cameron, Fitzroy Coleman, Seamus Ennis, Bert Lloyd, Ewan MacColl, et al. Bert was singing English, Australian, N. American and Scottish songs; Ewan was singing "Sixteen Tons" and "Sam Bass" alongside "Eppie Morrie" and "The Banks of the Nile"; I regularly sang French, German and Dutch songs alongside "Barbara Allan" and "Cumberland Gap". Fitz and Seamus stuck, respectively, to their Jamaican and Irish material. Alan only sang songs that he and his father had collected in the USA. There were many floor singers who came and went - the Weavers turned up from New York and sang in three or four different languages; a west London couple came regularly and sang in Yiddish, a language which they did not speak; two French students would sing Spanish Civil War songs; and so on. It was a free-for-all and I will admit that It was a lot of fun. More about that at another time.
It was that Cockney lad singing Leadbelly who started the rock rolling downhill. Was it 1960 or so? Yes, it was that poor fellow whose rendition of "Rock Island Line" reduced me to hysterical laughter one night. I was literally doubled over in my seat, gasping. I had to be taken out of the room. Most unprofessional, but I couldn't help it. I am North American. Woody Guthrie, Jean Ritchie, Big Bill Broonzy, Leadbelly, et al, used to come to our house in Washington. I knew what the song should sound like and the manner of delivery and the insertion of Cockney vowels into a southern USA black prisoners' song just sounded funny.
I was reprimanded by several members of the audience at the end of the evening. When I explained my reasons, one of the French students pointed out that the insertion of my American vowels into French songs was also quite laughable. I then mentioned that Ewan's rendition . of "Sam Bass" verged on parody. My children have since pointed out that my Scots accent (on a number of Seeger-MacColl records) is not exactly impeccable. But I am straying.... the Cockney singer then confessed that he loved Leadbelly's songs but was losing his confidence in singing them. He was getting bored. I declared that I preferred singing songs from the Anglo-American traditions and only sang the French/German/ Spanish songs for 'variety'. The discussion heated up and was a main topic of conversation for several weeks following. We laid the matter in front of all the residents and interviewed the folks who paid at the door on the subject. The decision to lay down guidelines for what you could sing on stage was not made by Ewan MacColl - it was made by the residents and members of the B&B Club (later known as the Singers Club). If it became hewn in stone - well, that's the way things go.
This policy was meant for our club, not for other clubs. The policy was simple: If you were singing from the stage, you sang in a language that you could speak and understand. It didn't matter what you sang in the shower, at parties, while you were ironing or making love. But on stage in The Ballads and Blues Folk Club, you were a representative of a culture - you were interpreting a song that had been created within certain social and artistic parameters. Incidentally, along with this policy came the request from our newly-formed Audience Committee that we not sing the same traditional song more than once every three months.... they were getting tired of hearing the same songs week after week. This forced us residents to learn new songs at an unholy rate. But it brought out lots of new songs and ballads and really got us thinking about how we sang what we were learning.
Shortly afterwards, the Critics Group was formed, at the behest of several singers who also found that they were losing their way in singing traditional songs. We began to attract singers who wanted to study folksinging. You know, there is no set discipline for folksinging - it's an 'anything goes' area even though real dyed-in-the-wool field singers are very specific about how they sing and what they sing. The purpose of the Critics Group was to make it possible for the singers who had not been brought up in the 'folk' tradition to sing the songs in a way that would not abrogate the original intention of the makers. It was an attempt to keep the folksongs folksongs, not turn them into classical pieces or pop songs or anything-goes songs. We analysed accompanimental and vocal styles, tried to expand our abilities to sing in different styles so that we could tackle different kinds of songs (within the languages and dialects that we spoke) and still keep the songs true to themselves. Once again, we were not initially telling other singers how to sing - just deciding how WE were going to sing. If we became evangelical and sounded dictatorial, well - that's the way things go. The intentions were honourable.
I must admit that I am still going that way and tend to be rather intolerant of female singers lilting "Ranzo Ranzo Way Away" as if it were a lullaby or a love song; of a band of instrumentalists producing "Sir Patrick Spens" (which had been unaccompanied for several centuries) with four fiddles, two double basses, drums, electric guitar and unintelligible lyrics. It was such a good song.... but OK. Just don't call it folk song. And while you're at it, listen to some of my own early recordings - say on the Fellside album 'Classic Peggy Seeger'. Listen to me in my early years singing so fast that even I (who know the words of the songs) cannot understand what I am singing. Or listen to me accompanying Ewan on sloshy guitar or overharmonising with him on "Lassie Wi' the yellow Coatie". We all do these things in our youth and before we have understanding (just wish I hadn't recorded them). Ewan did this himself in his early recordings and never pretended that he didn't. What he was really trying to do in his later years (and I will be the first to admit that sometimes we could both be hamfisted about it) was encourage understanding of where these songs came from and how easy it is to ruin them, to turn them into something else. Kind of like what's happening to the earth right now. We're all doing just what we want to a beautiful piece of natural art (aka nature) - and only just now beginning to worry about having to live with the mess. Unfortunately, that's the way things go. And so many of the intentions are not honourable.
I've done my share of 'changing' the folksongs. Had to. I wasn't brought up on the front porch of a cabin in the Appalachians and I don't care to pretend that I was. I had a middle-class classical musical training and that's hard to shake. But I don't pretend to be a folksinger or that the folksongs (as i sing them) are 'ur' versions. I am a singer of folksongs and I hope that'my lullabies are lullabies and the words of my ballads are intelligible. Ewan MacColl was one step nearer to being a folksinger than I; having been brought up in a Scots community in Salford. He is a man who is a perfect example of the old saying "stick your neck out and someone will chop your head off". I didn't know, until after he died, just how many enemies and ex-post-facto critics we had made. WE. Please remember that he and I were in this together and you can now aim your missiles at someone who is still here and who is quite articulate on the matter. Pity more folks didn't have the courage and the knowledge to talk with him while he was alive. He was actually an interesting, approachable person and was happy to talk to anyone who approached with a less-than-hostile attitude. I learned so much from those years.... and, of course. I am biased! I am also fed up with people who criticise him with only hearsay and second (third, fourth, umpteenth) knowledge on which to base their opinions.
Like Ewan, I've always got lots more to say but I don't care to argue all this out nitty blow by gritty blow. By the way, I'm just finishing up a book of his songs. 200 of them. 'The Essential Ewan MacColl Songbook' (Music Sales, autumn 2000). Those of you who have followed or partaken in this controversy might find my long critique of him as a person and an artist enlightening. It won't be what you expected from the person who was his lover and working partner. Information is on my website:
Peggy Seeger, North Carolina

06 Aug 12 - 05:18 AM (#3386762)
Subject: RE: Peggy Seeger on BBC R4's 'Loose Ends'
From: GUEST,Hootenanny

Hi Jim,

Just briefly two points:

Peggy's reply:
It states incorrectly that The Ballads & Blues Club became the Singers Club. It Did Not. I have clarified this in the past. Peggy and Ewan went off and formed the Singers Club in 1961. The Ballads and Blues Club continued until May 1965.
I do not dispute the fact that some of the Ballads and Blues audience probably went to the Singers Club but the Ballads and Blues Club continued to get packed every Saturday.

In Saturday's broadcast when questioned on the subject Ewan's policy of singers singing only the material of their own background Peggy replied "we grew up".


06 Aug 12 - 03:55 PM (#3386844)
Subject: RE: Peggy Seeger on BBC R4's 'Loose Ends'
From: Jim Carroll

And Peggy wrote what she wrote in 'The Living Tradition'; that was Ewan's and her stance and that was the policy club committee continued to follow.
Since Ewan's death Peggy has tended to avoid controversial discussion on the revival.
Peggy's letter sums up perfectly the club policy and why it was adopted far more succinctly than her somewhat evasive answer to a complicated question. I would have been surprised if she had taken up the question asked in the circumstances of that particular interview with a non-folkie - Clive Anderson.
I have no doubt whatever that she still holds the views she did on the policy of the Singers Club - we spent a day or so with her last year when she toured Ireland, and watched her knock a capacity audience (many of whom were hearing her live for the first time) dead with her ballad singing - not much of sign of compromise there.
As far as the Singers/Ballads and Blues go; I know what happened. Even if I hadn't spoken to many of those involved, I still have Ewan's article somewhere - 'Why I am opening a new club' in an old Karl Dallas magazine, (Folk Music?). Whatever the facts of the matter, I know which club continued to add to the enjoyment and promotion of folk music in the decades following, up to Ewan's death.
Jim Carroll

07 Aug 12 - 05:57 AM (#3387071)
Subject: RE: Peggy Seeger on BBC R4's 'Loose Ends'


However strongly you feel about Ewan and the Singers Club. It was but one club in one city. There were and still are a number of clubs in a number of towns where people can enjoy the music that comes under the broad umbrella of folk. You probably would not agree with the policy or lack of it of many of them but they still work for many people and probably bring it to a wider audience by not placing restrictions on what to sing and how to sing it.

As far as the Singers/Ballads and Blues go: I was there, you were not.
No big deal but that is a fact.


07 Aug 12 - 07:57 AM (#3387097)
Subject: RE: Peggy Seeger on BBC R4's 'Loose Ends'
From: Jim Carroll

True I wasn't there - my wife was around the time of the move to the Singers Club, which I visited several times as early as The Pindar of Wakefield and the Boys Club just off Red Lion Square.
Beside the point really - I lived in London for thirty years and visited many/most of the clubs there - we helped start several - Hammersmith Traditional Club, Putney Bridge Folk Club, The Court Sessions, The Railway, Stratford...
I managed to visit most of the traditionally based ones at least once.
The fact remains, if I wanted to hear traditional and traditionally based songs sung well, without compromise in either standard nor in what was presented, The Singers Club always did it for me right up to the time of its demise - I never found that with another club I visited.
I have no idea of how good or bad the Ballads and Blues was - it had gone the way of all flesh when I moved south. From talks with some of the people involved, MacColl and Seeger, Bert Lloyd, Seamus Ennis, Joe Heaney and others, I get a 'curate's eggish' impression, backed up by a poorly recorded radio feature I have here somewhere.
When I moved to London the residents were Ewan, Peggy and Bert, ably backed up by members of The Critics Group, with a guest list to die for - The Stewarts, Jeannie Robertson, Lizzie Higgins, Kevin Mitchell, Willie Scott (I think I saw Harry Cox there once)..... enough to inspire a lifelong interest which hasn't yet diminished.
As far as the Singers Club policy of singing songs in your native language - that's what it was, a policy for the club; it was first mooted by Alan Lomax some time in the early fifties (got to hear him talk about it at Ewan's 70th symposium) to encourage singers to examine their own repertoires rather than to sound like cowboys riding the ranges of Walthamstow and Crouch End - worked like a charm as far as I'm concerned.
Jim Carroll

07 Aug 12 - 12:33 PM (#3387197)
Subject: RE: Peggy Seeger on BBC R4's 'Loose Ends'
From: GUEST,Hootenanny


The point of my first posting above was not to claim the superiority of one club over another, purely again to make the point that the Ballads and Blues Club DID NOT BECOME THE SINGERS CLUB.
The two clubs catered to a different audience and I would say that the Ballads and Blues catered to an audience with a wider taste.
In addition to Peggy and Ewan and Bert we had Sam Larner, Harry Cox, The Copper Brothers, Jack Elliott (New York not Birtley), Fitzroy Coleman, Pete Seeger on one occasion, Alan Lomax on another, Hall and MacGregor, Seamus Ennis, Domoni Behan, Fred Gerlach who like our cockney lad sang Leadbelly Songs, Sandy & Caroline Paton, Ralph Rinzler,Joe Locker, Alex Campbell, Dorita y Pepe etc etc.
Quite a mixture. Plus there were concerts promoted by the B&B for Pete Seeger when he got his passport back. Jessie Fuller, Josh White and also the The Weavers. Many of these admittedly not to your taste. I list them just to show the variety that was made available
not as I said to claim superiority.



08 Aug 12 - 03:04 AM (#3387427)
Subject: RE: Peggy Seeger on BBC R4's 'Loose Ends'
From: Jim Carroll

"Many of these admittedly not to your taste."
Most of which are to my taste and were very much a part of my formative years in folk. Most of the guests you mention were booked before the deparure of Ewan and Peggy, Dominic was one of the residents at The Singers when I visited it in Red Lion Square . I have to admit I know very little about The Ballads and Blues after they left, which I believe was caused by a difference in policy.
I really believe an objective half decent history of the revival written by somebody who wasn't involved, is sorely needed. I find Mike Brocken's efforts a somewhat sad exercise in axe-grinding - not necessarily by the author, rather by many of the interviewees.
You're right of course - this isn't, or shouldn't be about the superiority of one club over the other - that tends to be a matter of personal taste rather than the best way to promote tradititional songs, It should be about how it got where it is now and where it goes from here - but that's a different can of worms.
Jim Carroll

08 Aug 12 - 04:26 AM (#3387455)
Subject: RE: Peggy Seeger on BBC R4's 'Loose Ends'
From: GUEST,Hootenanny

Yes Jim, many of those guests I mentioned were there before Peggy and Ewan departed but doesn't this show that in addition to booking Peggy and Ewan as residents the B & B also brought in a range of traditional singers and non traditional singers enabling the members to hear a pretty wide spectrum of music. After Peggy and Ewan left to form their own club then it is obvious that those club members whose taste was for the home grown tradition would follow them. As both clubs operated on a Saturday evening in central London it would have been stupid to try and split the audience. As far as I am aware the B & B did not have a policy other than to book good entertaining performers be they traditional or revivalist or whatever.

As for a book about the revival written by someone who was not involved I don't think so. And is there really that much interest?


26 Feb 21 - 12:22 PM (#4094996)
Subject: Peggy Seeger & Calum MacColl on Later ... with Joo
From: GUEST,Kerry Harvey-Piper

Hope it's OK to post this here - Peggy Seeger & Calum MacColl will be on Later ...with Jools Holland tonight (Friday 28th Feb), performing a song from Peggy's new album 'First Farewell' (out on 9th April 2021).

The album is a collection of new original songs, some co-written with sons Calum & Neill MacColl and daughter-in-law Kate St John. It's produced by Calum MacColl.
It's available to pre-order now from Peggy's Bandcamp shop:

26 Feb 21 - 02:12 PM (#4095014)
Subject: Peggy Seeger
From: GUEST,Keith Price

On Later...With Jools Holland BBC 2 tonight 10.00pm

26 Feb 21 - 07:00 PM (#4095063)
Subject: RE: Peggy Seeger on BBC
From: Steve Shaw

Well I tuned in and it seemed to be the one token song...

07 Sep 21 - 02:43 PM (#4119123)
Subject: RE: Peggy Seeger on BBC

Private Passions - Radio 3 - 5th Sept 2021

Peggy tells Michael Berkeley about her complex 30-year love affair with Ewan McColl, which was at the heart of the British folk revival; together they produced more than 40 albums, the revolutionary Radio Ballads for the BBC – and three very musical children.

Peggy describes her surprise and joy at falling in love with a woman 30 years ago; she chooses contemporary a cappella music that reminds her of her wife, Irene. And we hear a piece of extraordinary complexity by Peggy’s mother, Ruth Crawford Seeger, one of the most important modernist composers of the 20th century, whose early death changed the course of Peggy’s life.

Producer: Jane Greenwood
A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 3

07 Sep 21 - 03:00 PM (#4119125)
Subject: RE: Peggy Seeger on BBC

^ btw, no folk on the Private Passions programme


Peggy Seeger
The Puzzle

Ruth Crawford Seeger
Piano Study in Mixed Accents
Performer: Joseph Bloch.

Russian Orthodox Chant
It is meet and right [Znamenny chant]

Choir: Orthodox Singers Male Choir. Conductor: Valery Petrov.

Nassau String Band
Abaco is a Pretty Place

Secret Garden

In Acchord

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Clarinet Concerto in A major, K.622 (2nd mvt: Adagio)
Performer: Emma Johnson. Orchestra: English Chamber Orchestra. Conductor: Raymond Leppard.

07 Sep 21 - 06:24 PM (#4119141)
Subject: RE: Peggy Seeger on BBC
From: Steve Shaw

Well I listened to Private Passions and I got the distinct impression of a rather stiff and inflexible old lady...Sorry...

10 Sep 21 - 08:42 AM (#4119432)
Subject: RE: Peggy Seeger on BBC
From: GUEST,guest

She is on Radio 4 tonight choosing Ewan as the subject of 'Great Lives' at 11 pm.

22 Aug 22 - 03:45 PM (#4150743)
Subject: RE: Peggy Seeger on BBC
From: Joe Offer

Peggy Seeger on Controversial Songs:

22 Aug 22 - 04:50 PM (#4150752)
Subject: RE: Peggy Seeger on BBC
From: The Sandman

well when i read steve shaws posts i get the impression of a rather stiff and inflexible old man, sorry

23 Aug 22 - 12:48 AM (#4150783)
Subject: RE: Peggy Seeger on BBC
From: The Sandman

Peggy Seegers contribution to music has been immense, as a performer songwriter singer musician.

23 Aug 22 - 12:53 AM (#4150784)
Subject: RE: Peggy Seeger on BBC
From: The Sandman

the first song she sang is wide of the mark, the world is run by the very rich the very rich consists of members of both sexes, and we have prime minsters of both sexes admistering their power

27 Nov 22 - 12:16 PM (#4158930)
Subject: RE: Peggy Seeger on BBC
From: FreddyHeadey

Stark Talk - Oct 2022 - Radio Scotland

Peggy Seeger
Edi Stark meets the extraordinary folk legend, Peggy Seeger.

27 Nov 22 - 03:37 PM (#4158948)
Subject: RE: Peggy Seeger on BBC
From: Bonzo3legs

Can't stand the woman and her commy pontifications.