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Who's Ewan MacColl?

27 Aug 00 - 12:03 PM (#286090)
Subject: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Fedele

Actually, I only know a mathematics expression about him: Woody Guthrie : USA = Christy Moore : Ireland = Ewan MacColl : Scotland.
Please tell me more and suggest some links or so.


27 Aug 00 - 12:40 PM (#286107)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: sledge

Try going to www.pegseeger.com/html/ewan/html for a nice potted history.


27 Aug 00 - 12:45 PM (#286108)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: sledge

Forgot to add, for an idea of material by Ewan MacColl go to WWW.musikfolk.com and check the back catalogue section.


27 Aug 00 - 01:21 PM (#286129)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: McGrath of Harlow

Except he was a Lancashire lad from Salford.


27 Aug 00 - 03:19 PM (#286164)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Amergin

Think his parents were Scottish though....


27 Aug 00 - 04:35 PM (#286196)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Ed Pellow

He was of Scottish parentage, born and brought up in Salford. His autobiography "Journeyman" is a somewhat odd book, but well worth a read.

Sledge got his/her link slightly wrong. Try www.pegseeger.com/html/ewan.html

Ed


27 Aug 00 - 04:56 PM (#286200)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Catrin

An interesting aside here. I have it on good authority that the first time "The first time ever I saw your face" was sung, was down a telephone line from Ewan McColl to Peggy Seeger. He wrote it for her when they were first in love..... Now isn't THAT romantic.

Catrin.


27 Aug 00 - 08:57 PM (#286260)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Lox

In fact, "dirty old town", that old classic that everyone assumes is about Dublin, is about Salford.

Ewen MacColl is the Godfather of 20th century folk. He wrote some of the most stirring songs available to humanity, but whats more, he managed to write songs that slipped as effortlessly into the "timeless trad" bracket, as they did into the contemporary pop scene. Then, just when you think that this is too much for one man to achieve in one lifetime, he resurrects historical gems like "the highland muster roll" and "geordie's o'er frae france".

He was a master social scientist, i.e. he had a knowledge of history and culture, combined with deep humanity.

Hence, his work appeals to such a diversity of people. Listen to his lyrics carefully to understand why for yourself.


27 Aug 00 - 09:20 PM (#286264)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: GUEST,Dave Brennan

I knew him briefly when he would run or organise critic-circle events. I used then to live in Liverpool. This was about the time Mister Fox came on the English folk scene and of course the coming of 'electric folk.'

He was an extremely knowledgible about all types of European folk music. His wife, Peg also knew so much and it was often you'd hear her beside or behind him when he'd hum something and she joining in.

I enjoyed the trips down even though the train fare was a scandalous price for a sixteen-year-old then.


27 Aug 00 - 09:31 PM (#286265)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: p.j.

Lox,

I love what you wrote. Clearly, I don't know enough about Mr. MacColl, and I intend to learn more, largely because of your post.

There are a few people who make me jump to my feet the way you did for this, and I wanted you to know I appreciated your show of respect for his work. You've planted a seed.

pj


28 Aug 00 - 03:44 AM (#286379)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Amergin

He's written a few songs that are generally accepted to have been around forever.....one of these was "The Manchester Rambler" which was written for a protest march.....I might post details later...but have been forcefully told I need to get to bed...

Amergin


28 Aug 00 - 05:12 AM (#286387)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: robroy

Dirty Old Town was written I think for a modern day version of Romeo & Juliet however that might have been Sweet Thames Flow Softly - Great Songs anyway!

Robroy


28 Aug 00 - 05:35 AM (#286391)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Marcus Campus Bellorum

Is he related to Kirsty MacColl?


28 Aug 00 - 05:59 AM (#286393)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: GUEST,Ian M.

Kirsty MacColl is his daughter.


28 Aug 00 - 07:15 AM (#286401)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: GUEST,Barry Finn

It's very hard to speak of Ewan's contributions to folk music, you'd have to read volumes. To me there are 4 greats in modern folk, Peter Kennedy-Scotland, Seamus Ennis-Ireland, Alan Lomax-US & Ewan MacColl-England. Out of them all MacColl was the only real songwriter & much of his material has gone on into the repertoires of both traditional & contempory singers alike. His Radio Ballads were landmark classics, his protest songs wore out his welcome to many places before he got there, what he collected & rooted out was the shot in the arm that revived the British folk revival. Barry


28 Aug 00 - 08:13 AM (#286415)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Peter K (Fionn)

Ewan McColl is a pseudonym: he was Jimmy Miller until deserting from the Army during WW2. I think McGrath's description is fair enough, but for some reason McColl did describe himself as Scottish.

"Sweet Thames" was the one written for a modern radio version of Romeo & Juliet. "Dirty old town" was written to cover a scene change in one of the numerous socio-political plays he wrote for Theatre of Action and Theatre Workshop in the 30s,40s and 50s.

He was one of the major influences in agitprop theatre which sowed seeds of dissent in working-class communities across Europe in the 30s - just never got to be trendy like Brecht. It was only after teaming up with Peg Seeger around 1955 that he became primarily a singer songwriter. Before that, most of his songs were written merely as props for his stage work. Before, during and after WW2, he and Joan Littlewood (who was his wife for a while) were frequently hassled by the law, as were their productions, and both were blacklisted by the BBC (they were of course both Communists).

He was a true internationalist, with his outlook being strongly influenced by the Russian revolution, and steeped in causes like independence for India, the republican side in the Spanish Civil War, etc,just as much as the working-class struggle in Britain.

"Manchester Rambler" is presumably the one he called "I'm a rambler." That and songs like "Shoals of Herring" and "Freeborn Man" must put him up with the all-time greats.


28 Aug 00 - 08:58 AM (#286445)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Wolfgang

Born in Auchterader, Perthshire, Scotland and only moving to Salford (shortly) after the birth, my only source on this says. So what's correct? Ed, if your information (born in Salford) is from 'Journeyman' which I haven't that should settle the case. Not that it really matters but I'd love to know.

Wolfgang


28 Aug 00 - 09:13 AM (#286451)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: John in Brisbane

I inherited my love of MacColl from an old friend who sings mant, many of his songs. I have seen a PBS documentary on his life and death which just enhabced my enormous respect for him as a person.

The story re First Time Ever I Saw Your Face goes something like - MacColl was scoffing at the quality of pop songs of the time. A friend put him to the challenge and he wrote the song in the next thirty minutes.

I have posted the music/lyrics for a number of his Radio Ballads here and will do some more when I get time.

Re Wolfgang's question - I don't know the answer but we have had a long discussion on this subject a couple of years ago.

Regards, John


28 Aug 00 - 10:14 AM (#286483)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Liam's Brother

As you might gather from reading above, he was many different things and he reserved the right to be each of them despite possible contradictions, e.g. Englishman (by birth) - Scot (by heritage); traditional singer - singer/songwriter; Communist - Briton. He was incredibly prolific and so much of his musical output was of very high quality. His songs have been enthusiastically embraced by people who have heard of him. His singing is precise but seems remarkably unstudied.

I first heard of him the year I arrived in America. I first met him about 18 years later. We had a beer together at the bar of the Bull & Mouth pub in London. By that time, I had collected all of his recordings and it was quite a treat for me to have a few mintues with him. I expected him to be a towering figure physically but, to my surprise, he stood only about 5'7" or so.

He was extremely kind and gracious, very interested in the folk club I was running at The Eagle Tavern in New York and about the traditional music scene in the United States in general. I told him I was working on a collection of Irish, English and Scots folk songs and he promised to contribute a song he and Peggy had colected. Not long after, a letter and the words and music for "The Campanero" arrived in the mail.

He has been accused by some who sang with him in the Critic's Group and others as being dictatorial. Certainly, he had a masterful grasp on what he was doing. On the occasions I met him, he was close to fatherly.

Concerning his far-left political aspect, the '20s and '30s were desperate times. One can certainly understand becoming radicalized seeing people without food and shelter in the midst of great wealth. Remember that much of what was consider radical then has been incorporated in the foundation of present-day Western society: unemployment and medical insurance, government retirement benefits, 40-hour work week, etc.

I think he was quite a guy.

All the best,
Dan Milner


28 Aug 00 - 11:10 AM (#286505)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: KathWestra

I'd just like to add a plug for Ewan's "Radio Ballads." These were combinations of songs and narrative on various topical issues, which were run on BBC radio. There are about 8-10 of them that have been re-released on CD, and they are splendid. The ones on the fishing industry ("Singing the Fishing") and on the Traveling People are my personal favorites, but all are amazing work. "Shoals of Herring" was written for the fishing program. Kathy


28 Aug 00 - 02:04 PM (#286629)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Peter K (Fionn)

Sorry John in Brisbane, but my money's on Catrin's account of where that song came from. I've heard your version before, but I also heard McColl several times introduce the song with the story Catrin has. He reckoned it was completed in less than 10 minutes, during the phone-call (she was in the States, he in England), and Peggy typed it up the same night. Peggy would be sitting beside him while he was saying all this, so I think it's true enough, or at least within normal poetic licence.

And Dan, let's not apologise for his politics! And don't you forget (I'm sure you don't) that there are still some without food and shelter in the midst of ridiculous wealth.


28 Aug 00 - 02:30 PM (#286650)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Groucho Marxist (inactive)

I've also heard Peggy Seeger tell Catrin's version.

Groucho


28 Aug 00 - 03:14 PM (#286677)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Malcolm Douglas

Journeyman doesn't state unequivocally that he was born in Salford, but it does say specifically that his parents moved there several years before he was born, in 1915.  It was his mother who was born in Auchterader, in 1886.

Malcolm


28 Aug 00 - 03:24 PM (#286687)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Catrin

Oooh, Thank you Fionn and Groucho.

Reading through the thread I felt saddened that someone I trusted must have been winding me up (that story did seem perhaps a little too romantic to be real, so I was ready to believe it was not true, whilst still 'believing' it -if you know what I mean).

Your words lifted my spirits.

Catrin


28 Aug 00 - 10:25 PM (#286939)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Liam's Brother

Fionn, I came to praise Ewan... not to apologize for him. And, yes, I live in New York City so I get to see both sides of life and to do my bit for the less fortunate.

All the best,
Dan


28 Aug 00 - 10:39 PM (#286945)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: The Lighthouse

"Move Along" has always been one of my faves along with "I'm a Free Born Man" and "Sweet Thames". I've heard that all the words to "Shoals of Herring" are actually made by sailors in interviews for the BBC and he put them all together into a fine, fine song.


28 Aug 00 - 11:15 PM (#286972)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: pastorpest

"Folk Songs and Ballads of Scotland" compiled and edited by Ewan MacColl and published by Oak reveals another of his accomplishments: rich knowledge of and love for traditional music.


29 Aug 00 - 11:45 AM (#287182)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Liam's Brother

Hi Lighthouse!

Ewan MacColl was never a sailor and I understand that what may have been his only ride in a fishing boat was not too pleasant for him. One of the people he interviewed (and collected traditional songs from) for the radio ballad Singing the Fishing was a retired herring fisherman from Winterton, Norfolk named Sam Larner. Sam was a firecracker of a bloke although he was in his '80s, as I recall, at the time. "The Shoals of Herring" was written by Ewan based on his interviews with Sam. An LP was made of Sam including both talk and songs. It was issued in the USA by Folkways.

My father and I drove over to Winterton in 1968 or 1969 in the hopes of possibly meeting Sam. He had, sadly, died a few years earlier but we got to speak with some of his friends. The herring fishing was done there in small boats just off the shore and it struck us just how local everything was. There was no harbor; the boats were pulled up on the beach near a few tiny sheds to store gear and make a cup of tea. I suspect there had been hardly any change in many years.

All the best,
Dan Milner


29 Aug 00 - 02:46 PM (#287284)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Peter K (Fionn)

Sorry Dan, I thought you thought his card-carrying membership of the party needed explaining, whereas it's those of us who carry on with our capitalist faith in an economy of infinite growth, fuelled by infinite greed, as though the Earth's resources will go on for ever, who need to explain ourselves!


29 Aug 00 - 11:33 PM (#287603)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Art Thieme

Ewan MacColl's work on sea songs--whaling ballads etc. with A.L. Bert Lloyd on at least a dozen record labels is some of the most important work ever done. As Studs Terkel said when he introduced Ewan at the Newport Folk Festival in '59, "Here is a monumental figure in the world of folk music!"

Art Thieme


29 Aug 00 - 11:58 PM (#287610)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Liam's Brother

Art, I'm delighted you mentioned those recordings. The 2 Stinson LPs, Haul on the Bowline and Off to Sea Once More were the 2nd and 3rd folk albums I ever bought and the reason why I started singing maritime music. That's nearly 40 years ago and I've never heard sea songs sung better.

All the best,
Dan


30 Aug 00 - 12:17 AM (#287621)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Marcus Campus Bellorum

His daughter's songs are terrific!!!


30 Aug 00 - 04:41 AM (#287687)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Fedele

Oh, his daughter also sung a song with Pogues (Fairytale of New York: it's NOT terrific!) and makes backing vocals in a Billy Bragg's one (even though I don't hear her...)
And is this guy still alive? I hope so. I've been told that he went rambling with Luke Kelly (Dubliners) for a while.
Nice to see that when I start some threads a lot of people answer. It's so depressing when NO ONE answers.


30 Aug 00 - 04:57 AM (#287692)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Catrin

Fedele,

Sadly, Ewan died a few years ago. Not sure of the exact date but I'm sure someone will tell you....


30 Aug 00 - 08:25 AM (#287730)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Liam's Brother

One of the things he did was to encourage younger singers. Louis Killen and Luke Kelly were 2 of those earlier on. Alan MacLeod (of Holdstock and MacLeod) used to spend part of an afternoon with him once or twice a week on a set schedule. John Faulkner and Donal Maguire were in the Critics Group.

All the best,
Dan


31 Aug 00 - 02:55 AM (#288362)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Marcus Campus Bellorum

Kirsty McColl, Ewen's daughter is an artist in her own right.

Check this site.

http://www.iag.net/~akoustic/kirsty/kirsty.html


23 Sep 01 - 02:40 PM (#557129)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Joe_F

The statement that MacColl was born in Auchterarder appears in the booklets accompanying most, if not all, of the Folkways records from the 1960s. Likewise, the Riverside records call him "Scots-born". What might have been the point of this falsehood?

The news that he deserted during W.W. II may be a start on explaining another oddity: The whole war is missing, without a word of explanation, from his autobiography _Journeyman_. That is a rather large event to slip into a crack between two chapters. What in hell went on?


23 Sep 01 - 04:26 PM (#557193)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Dave the Gnome

See also -

MacColl Tribute in Salford - Sunday

I couldn't make the Saturday event and didn't even try the Sunday on the advice of other 'catters. Call myself a folkie - I dunno... My excuse is I was on other folk business (Arranging the Swinton Festival) so I am excusing myself;-)

Hopefuly some others did manage to attend at least one of the events and can udate us with some details?

Cheers

Dave the Gnome


23 Sep 01 - 06:13 PM (#557253)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: 8_Pints

Please see the Tribute to MacColl thread for an update on this brilliant event.

Sue vG


23 Sep 01 - 06:21 PM (#557258)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: 8_Pints

Please see the Tribute to MacColl thread for an update on this brilliant event.

Sue vG


23 Sep 01 - 07:17 PM (#557306)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: dick greenhaus

If you haven't heard Ewan MacColl, there are a large number of recordings available on CD, including the Radio Ballads (Sam Larner is also available). If you're interested call CAMSCO (800/548-FOLK) and I'll be happy to make suggestions.

Sadly, some of Ewan's major works are not available (yet?) on CD. I refer particularly to his LP set "The Long Harvest" )with Bert Lloyd, and "Blood and Roses" with Peggy Seeger. One cvan always hope.


24 Sep 01 - 06:04 AM (#557533)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Trevor

The threads about 'saddest song', 'most moving song' etc regularly have references to 'The Joy of Living'. The story of this song is well known. I've tried singing it and find it difficult and I've come to the conclusion that the only person who should sing it is Ewan MacColl.


24 Sep 01 - 08:56 AM (#557619)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: 8_Pints

Trevor,

This was sung last night by Geordie MacIntyre & Alison McMorland at the Salford Tribute to Ewan McColl (see separate thread), and yes it was very moving.

Bob vG


25 Sep 01 - 07:46 PM (#558732)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Tattie Bogle

Bob Blair sang it at Kelso "Both Sides the Tweed Festival" last October, and got the tears rolling down my face. We called our son Ewan - after Ewan McColl too (even if a few ignorant people said "Ewan who?" - or from my Canadian sister-in-law "EEE-Wann - what sort of a name's that?") As we've lived in Scotland since "our Ewan" was 3 years old (now 17) I'd say it's a very good name to have, even if 5 of your classmates have the same one! Tattie B


25 Sep 01 - 08:26 PM (#558771)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Bat Goddess

Curmudgeon here.

The mention of Salford brought to mind the first verse of a dimly remembered song by MacColl.

I've never been out of Salford town, the place where I was born,
Except when I was in the ranks, and wore a uniform.
But I'd sooner never traveled if the only way to see
The world was through the battle sights of a Mark Four-Three-O-Three.

Many years ago there was a radio series about MacColl titled "Parsley, Sage and Politics." I was able to catch the first due to a blizzard that kept us from the Friday night session. However, music beckoned on the remaining nights of the broadcasts, the tuner at the Press Room couldn't bring in the station and I've been looking to hear the entire broadcast ever since. can anyone be of some help in this quest?

Thanks -- Tom


25 Sep 01 - 08:53 PM (#558795)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Finn McCool

Listen to Mary Black sing MacColl's Schoolday's Over (on "Song for Ireland") and you will appreciate his feel for the hopelessness of the lives of exploited workers. You will also appreciate his musical genius and lyricism. Mary's not bad either on that cut!

--Finn


26 Sep 01 - 09:21 AM (#559163)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Snuffy

Ah, Mark IV 303s - brings back happy days in the cadets! But then, we didn't have to use them in anger.


26 Sep 01 - 09:37 AM (#559173)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Jeri

Click here for info on tapes of Parsley, Sage & Politics at Peggy Seeger's Website.


28 Sep 02 - 11:13 PM (#793273)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: toadfrog

CROSS-REFERENCE


28 Sep 02 - 11:49 PM (#793286)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Rick Fielding

Wonderful thread. Couple of great little bits of information that even a 'folk-nerd' like me hadn't heard. Thanks.

Rick


29 Sep 02 - 05:01 AM (#793343)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Gurney

About 28 years ago I did some mechanical work for gypsies or travellers, and they knew all the McColl radio ballads about them, although they weren't singers. That impressed me, life imitating art.


29 Sep 02 - 06:51 AM (#793367)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: The Shambles

Yes but who was Stalin?


29 Sep 02 - 07:00 AM (#793371)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: The Shambles

Ewan MacColl and Stalin


29 Sep 02 - 07:06 AM (#793373)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: The Shambles

Joe Stalin


30 Sep 02 - 07:04 AM (#793920)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Dave Bryant

Although Jimmy Miller / Ewan MacColl is always associated with Salford and Scotland, he spent most of his life down in the South. I don't know where he lived in his Stratford East (E. London) / Joan Littlewood days, but he and Peggy lived at Langley Park, Beckenham, Kent (now Greater London) from the 60's on - quite a posh area for a socialist !


30 Sep 02 - 07:30 AM (#793927)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Noreen

Socialists aren't allowed to live in 'posh' areas, Dave?


30 Sep 02 - 08:47 AM (#793958)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: GUEST,Alex

Just to say that Kirsty died recently after being run over by a speed boat type thing while swimming, I think,in the USA. Her songs are definately worth listening to. (Don`t come the cowboy with me is one that springs to mind) regards Alex


30 Sep 02 - 09:11 AM (#793965)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Dave Bryant

Noreen - I don't give a damme where people live. Ewan did however, on several occasions, make quite rude remarks about people who lived in "posh" houses - once even when we were round at Stanley Avenue for one of his Sunday morning "open sessions" - it caused some raised eyebrows at the time.


30 Sep 02 - 11:10 AM (#794001)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: Mr Red

I was told by Tam Kearny (Fiddlers Green FC Toronto) that EmacC listed songs in one of his books as "from the singing of Jimmy Miller" - and by inference (& implication) "trad". I also heard Jim Lloyd review his last album and he credited EmacC as co-writer of "A Stitch in Time" which I regarded as strange to the point of falshood - why did Martin Carthy never credit EmacC every time he sang so proudly? The power of fame - if you want famous people to popularise your song they gotta write the song for you. Feet of Clay would describe my view of the great man -


30 Sep 02 - 03:01 PM (#794164)
Subject: RE: Who's Ewan MacColl?
From: GUEST

Ewan listed lots of his songs 'from the singing of WILLIAM Miller' his dad. Some songs are listed as 'from the singing of Betsy Henry of Auchterarder' his mum. Jim Mclean