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Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '

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DIRTY OLD TOWN


Related threads:
Dirty Old Town - pop single 1959! (27)
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Lyr Req: First line of Dirty Old Town (11)


GUEST,skarpi Iceland. 30 Jan 01 - 07:31 AM
Dave the Gnome 30 Jan 01 - 07:36 AM
GUEST,skarpi Iceland. 30 Jan 01 - 07:38 AM
GUEST 30 Jan 01 - 07:59 AM
Garry Gillard 30 Jan 01 - 09:44 AM
English Jon 30 Jan 01 - 09:48 AM
AndyG 30 Jan 01 - 10:13 AM
Rick Fielding 30 Jan 01 - 10:20 AM
RoyH (Burl) 30 Jan 01 - 10:27 AM
Dave the Gnome 30 Jan 01 - 10:33 AM
English Jon 30 Jan 01 - 10:38 AM
Rick Fielding 30 Jan 01 - 10:41 AM
GUEST,Roger the skiffler 30 Jan 01 - 10:49 AM
Dave the Gnome 30 Jan 01 - 11:03 AM
GUEST,Keith A at work 30 Jan 01 - 11:37 AM
McGrath of Harlow 30 Jan 01 - 01:41 PM
Keith A of Hertford 30 Jan 01 - 07:00 PM
Peter K (Fionn) 30 Jan 01 - 08:01 PM
Peter K (Fionn) 30 Jan 01 - 08:01 PM
manitas_at_work 31 Jan 01 - 08:20 AM
English Jon 31 Jan 01 - 08:56 AM
GUEST,Fergus 31 Jan 01 - 01:11 PM
Bert 31 Jan 01 - 02:23 PM
Keith A of Hertford 31 Jan 01 - 03:19 PM
Bert 31 Jan 01 - 03:21 PM
GUEST,Johnny 23 Feb 02 - 06:50 PM
Murray MacLeod 23 Feb 02 - 07:10 PM
kendall 23 Feb 02 - 07:42 PM
greg stephens 23 Feb 02 - 07:50 PM
Murray MacLeod 23 Feb 02 - 07:59 PM
greg stephens 23 Feb 02 - 08:03 PM
Anglo 23 Feb 02 - 08:13 PM
greg stephens 23 Feb 02 - 08:23 PM
greg stephens 23 Feb 02 - 08:38 PM
The Pooka 23 Feb 02 - 09:12 PM
Big Mick 23 Feb 02 - 09:17 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 23 Feb 02 - 09:28 PM
Roughyed 24 Feb 02 - 03:29 AM
Liz the Squeak 24 Feb 02 - 04:14 AM
greg stephens 24 Feb 02 - 04:44 AM
Fiolar 24 Feb 02 - 05:21 AM
greg stephens 24 Feb 02 - 05:30 AM
Skipper Jack 24 Feb 02 - 05:48 AM
Dave Bryant 24 Feb 02 - 06:02 AM
Tam the bam fraeSaltcoatsScotland 24 Feb 02 - 07:21 AM
Susanne (skw) 24 Feb 02 - 06:53 PM
sheila 24 Feb 02 - 07:35 PM
Rick Fielding 24 Feb 02 - 11:45 PM
Jon Bartlett 25 Feb 02 - 03:03 AM
Dave Bryant 25 Feb 02 - 04:57 AM
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Subject: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: GUEST,skarpi Iceland.
Date: 30 Jan 01 - 07:31 AM

Hallo all, who wrote Dirty old town? and is it about Salford town I think its in England?.

All the best skarpi Iceland.


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 30 Jan 01 - 07:36 AM

Ewan McColl - you are correct on all other scores. The gas works still stands btw - I drive past it every morning!

Cheers

Dave the Gnome


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: GUEST,skarpi Iceland.
Date: 30 Jan 01 - 07:38 AM

Thank you Dave. skarpi Iceland.


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Jan 01 - 07:59 AM

Or Jimmy Miller............


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: Garry Gillard
Date: 30 Jan 01 - 09:44 AM

Dave, Anything else you can tell us about the words of Ewan MacColl's song? For example, I don't know what a "gasworks croft" is. Or why the girl "springs". Anything really ...

Garry


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: English Jon
Date: 30 Jan 01 - 09:48 AM

Dirty Old Town was definitely written by Ewan McColl in about 1968. My Dad used to know Ewan, longtimeago.... so we know this is true.

Cheers,

Jon


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: AndyG
Date: 30 Jan 01 - 10:13 AM

A croft is a piece of waste-ground. At the time the song was written this was often a WWII bomb-site. The "gasworks croft" would be a desolate piece of ground hard by the gasworks.

Spring is a season of the year :)
ie Spring's a girl... note my apostrophe, (not in the DT).

AndyG


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 30 Jan 01 - 10:20 AM

Great song Skarpi. Probably one of the most Mis-identified pieces of music ever written. I've had people INSIST that it was about Glasgow, Newcastle, Dublin(!!) and even Liverpool. MacColl told of fishermen scoffing at the idea that he wrote "Shoals of Herring". "That song's been in my family for 100 years" they'd tell him.

That's when you know you've been successful as a "folk" writer.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: RoyH (Burl)
Date: 30 Jan 01 - 10:27 AM

Yes, the 'Dirty Old Town'is Salford, scene of Ewan MacColl's childhood and adolescence. He wrote the song in 1950 to cover a set change in the Theatre Workshop production of 'Landscape with Chimneys', a Ewan MacColl play. There is a good version of it on 'BLACK & WHITE, EWAN MAcCOLL -THE DEFINITIVE COLLECTION'on Cooking Vinyl Records,COOKCD 038.


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 30 Jan 01 - 10:33 AM

Hiya Gary - Gasworks Croft is an easy one. A croft in this sense of the word is a bit of urban wasteland - Imagine old demolished building re-claimed by nature; full of Rose-Bay willow herb, dock, dandelion, old bricks etc. and you have a croft. Unlike the Scotish or Irish crofts which are 'small-holdings'. I guess the words have the same roots though.

The gasworks is where the coal gas for lighting/heating/cooking etc. was manufactured by heating coal until it gave off the gas to be stored in the Gasometers - which are the remaining bits! The other by-product was coke - coal with the combustible gases extracted. Dunno the full implications but it was used in other industries. So - Gasworks croft - bit of waste land at the side of the gasworks!

Springs a girl etc. Bit more difficult. Clever play on words by McColl??? A girl springs from nowhere? Spring is like a girl? I guess some 'McCollogists' in the cafe will know:-)

You need to know Salford, in particular 'Hanky (Hankinson)Park' to realy get into what McColl was trying to put across but his song is still a pretty good description of old Salford.

Try watching the 1961 film "A taste of honey" for a feel for Salford in the late 50's/early 60's. As well as being, IMO, a classic northern-gritty drama, a lot of it was filmed on location in Salford. For earlier history "Hobsons Choice" would be a goodread. Lowry's paintings give a good view as well and to round off the picture check out Salfords web site here to see how (again in my opinion) the council is now bugering things up!

Enjoy anyway and if you want answers to specific questions please fire away.

Cheers

Dave the Gnome


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: English Jon
Date: 30 Jan 01 - 10:38 AM

1950... older than I thought. Definitely by Ewan though. Shoals o' herrin' is a mighty song too.. might dig that one out.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 30 Jan 01 - 10:41 AM

Thanks for the Salford info Dave. Interesting.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: GUEST,Roger the skiffler
Date: 30 Jan 01 - 10:49 AM

Now I don't like to be pedantic (LOL!) but I believe what I have always called gasometers as Dave does, are officially gasholders. Unrelated trivia thread creep: I understand the ones by King's Cross station in London are being demolished for development of the site and then re-erected afterwards as listed industrial heritage structures, though no-one knows what use to make of them!
RtS( who was brought up within sight and smell of Saltley gasworks in Birmingham so this song has always held resonances for me).


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 30 Jan 01 - 11:03 AM

I guess there must be something politicaly incorrect in gasometers if the powers that be now call them gasholders then...;-)

Use for old gasholders then????

New millenium dome (better than the last one)
Wall of death (Richard Thompson related thread)
House the contents of the Tate gallery (The new Lowry centre in Salford looks like a gasometer - why shouldn't London art suffer the same fate?)

Any more ideas???

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: GUEST,Keith A at work
Date: 30 Jan 01 - 11:37 AM

Compare with his other song of love in the city "Sweet Thames Flow Softly" I think he must have lost his hard Northern edge when he came to London.
If you know them , it,s hard to think of Wapping and the Isle Of Dogs as romantic placenames.


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 30 Jan 01 - 01:41 PM

"It,s hard to think of Wapping and the Isle Of Dogs as romantic placenames."

No it's not - it all depends what happens to you there. I think that's part of what Ewan is getting at - in the context of a romance, all places become romantic. Anyway you get great sunsets from the Isle of Dogs sometimes.

I can never hear the line "springs a girl in the streets at night" without getting a vision of some Jill the Ripper character.

One thing about the old gasworks - they realy were smelly places, and the whole area around reeked of them. That wouldn't have needed pointing out at the time, but nowadays people don't have that association, because the gas pumped in from the North Sea doesn't have the smell.

I've got the feeling the song is a bit earlier than 1968. I'm sure I remember Ewan singing it in the Ballads and Blues Club in Soho Square in the late 50s.


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 30 Jan 01 - 07:00 PM

He wrote it in 1950.
I think he meant that the sight of a pretty young girl in a summery frock was the only sign of the easing of Spring.


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 30 Jan 01 - 08:01 PM

Keith at work, as a northerner, I've got to say that some of those east London placenames sound evocative to me: Spitalfields, Whitechapel, Limehouse, Canary Wharf, Walford.... (only kidding). English Jon, our guest is also right, the song was definitely written by Jimmy Miller, who became better known as Ewan McColl.


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 30 Jan 01 - 08:01 PM

Keith at work, as a northerner, I've got to say that some of those east London placenames sound evocative to me: Spitalfields, Whitechapel, Limehouse, Canary Wharf, Walford.... (only kidding). English Jon, our guest is also right, the song was definitely written by Jimmy Miller, who became better known as Ewan McColl.


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: manitas_at_work
Date: 31 Jan 01 - 08:20 AM

DtG wrote: House the contents of the Tate gallery (The new Lowry centre in Salford looks like a gasometer - why shouldn't London art suffer the same fate?)

Well the modern Tate is housed an the old Bankside powerstation - will that do?


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: English Jon
Date: 31 Jan 01 - 08:56 AM

He changed his name? Never knew that either. Just goes to show you learn something new every day here.

Cheers, Jon

Deptford, incidentaly, IMHO is the most romantic place in the world.


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: GUEST,Fergus
Date: 31 Jan 01 - 01:11 PM

A great Ewan McColl song, being done to death these days but yet it survives. One thing I find interesting about the words is the fact that it is a non-rhyming poem.


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: Bert
Date: 31 Jan 01 - 02:23 PM

Way to go Skiff!

It's a Gasholder or sometimes Gas Holder, because that's what it does. A gasometer is a device that measures gas, some of which look like small gasholders. The public acceptance of the wrong term is due to the press who often manage to get things wrong.

If you're interested, Fulham Gasworks, claims to have the oldest gasholder in the world. 1860 something, I think.

Bert.


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 31 Jan 01 - 03:19 PM

But the gas holder goes up and down according to how much gas is in it. That means that the gas holder is a gasometer.


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: Bert
Date: 31 Jan 01 - 03:21 PM

Yup, but that's not what it's for, that's just a side effect.


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: GUEST,Johnny
Date: 23 Feb 02 - 06:50 PM

A year to late but Ewan Macoll wrote it


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 23 Feb 02 - 07:10 PM

Well, I am glad that's finally been settled ...

Murray


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: kendall
Date: 23 Feb 02 - 07:42 PM

met my love by the gasworks croft..romantic it aint!


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: greg stephens
Date: 23 Feb 02 - 07:50 PM

ok, but who played (a) guitar (b) harmonica and(c) clarinet on the 45 single (the one by ewan mccoll i mean). and what was on the flipside? youve got five minutes


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 23 Feb 02 - 07:59 PM

Diz Disley ? Larry Adler? Acker Bilk ?

Murray


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: greg stephens
Date: 23 Feb 02 - 08:03 PM

(a) no (b) no (c)no. sorry, no Suckadork LP


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: Anglo
Date: 23 Feb 02 - 08:13 PM

Well greg, I have a record with sons Calum & Neill on guitar, Chris Taylor on harmonica, and Bruce Turner on clarinet. But that's probably not the one you mean :-)


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: greg stephens
Date: 23 Feb 02 - 08:23 PM

that is very interesting. when was that? was it a single ? i am thinking of a Decca single,not sure what year, i havent unpacked everything since moving house, so i cant check.


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: greg stephens
Date: 23 Feb 02 - 08:38 PM

this is even more interesting, i just thought i'd check myfacts and found a pretty definitive looking website with discography, and my single isnt on the list. maybe i've got a COLLECTOTS ITEM?


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: The Pooka
Date: 23 Feb 02 - 09:12 PM

Great information. Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: Big Mick
Date: 23 Feb 02 - 09:17 PM

One of the most interesting threads in a while. Thanks for correcting a misconception I had.

I love the bit about "The Shoals of Herring", Rick.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 23 Feb 02 - 09:28 PM

Whereas Kieran Kane wrote a great song titled, Dirty Little Town.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: Roughyed
Date: 24 Feb 02 - 03:29 AM

You have to remember that this song was written before the clean air acts. Salford, like the rest of industrial Lancashire was a smoky, dirty wasteland. Ewan was trying to reclaim romance for the industrial working class from the pastoral moon spoon June Tin Pan Alley stuff . His point is that for the working class the surroundings were awful but they were still special when you were in love. And growing up just next to Salford, it is true.

I once sang this song on a march for jobs as we were marching through Salford. I looked behind me and the banner behind was for the Communist Party of Great Britain. One of those moments when everything comes together.


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 24 Feb 02 - 04:14 AM

He changed his name? Never knew that either. Just goes to show you learn something new every day here.

English Jon - he changed EVERYTHING about himself. He totaly re-wrote his own life history. There are two seperate histories, Jimmy Miller and Ewan McColl, and at some point they were one and the same person, but only fleetingly. It's almost like the plot of Total Recall (We can remember it for you wholesale, by P K Dick), Jimmy Miller suddenly became Ewan complete with memories of a fake childhood and working history.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: greg stephens
Date: 24 Feb 02 - 04:44 AM

Anybody ever heard the legendary Ewan McColl recording of "John Henry" from the skiffle era? If you're not au fait with the details of political squabbles on the English folk scene inthose days, the reason why it was so funny wasthat in later years Ewan was adamant and quite ruthless in imposing on younger singers his theory that you should only sing songs from your Own Culture ( he had a few problems in deciding what his own culture was, part of the whole Jimmy Miller/Ewan McColl bit). But it is fairly clear that his own life history did not include being a steel-drivin' man at the Big Bend tunnel on the C&O road. Just having a little laugh, by the way: he was a genius and his "Radio Ballads" completely changed my life.


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: Fiolar
Date: 24 Feb 02 - 05:21 AM

I worked in Lancashire before the Clean Air Act and working in a hospital, a regular part of the hygiene was to wash the window ledges. If the wind was from the South (ie from the industrial area) you could guarantee that 30 minutes after cleaning there was soot again on the surface. As for the ultimate recording of "Dirty Old Town" it is definitely by The Dubliners.


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: greg stephens
Date: 24 Feb 02 - 05:30 AM

People justiying singing contemporary songs in folk clubs tend to justify it all by some wonderful thing that will happen to the songs when they are "accepted by the people" and "absorbed into the tradition" or however the concept is expressed. Judging by pub sing songs all over the country, songs you get requested everywhere etc etc, i think this wonderful thinghas only happened once in england since the folk revival started (not a great success rate considering how the singer songwriters have been churning it out for 50 years). And it happened with the Dubliners record of "Dirty old town". fair play to the lads.


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: Skipper Jack
Date: 24 Feb 02 - 05:48 AM

Dirty Old Town could be a description of any old industrial town. Maybe That was what Ewan MacColl intended?

I remember going past the docks area in my home town and "Dirty Old Town" was and apt description of the area.

From my bedroom, I could hear the old steam engine shunting goods wagons all through the night. I grew up with that.


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 24 Feb 02 - 06:02 AM

Poor Ewan/Jimmy was the butt of many jokes on the folkscene in the mid-60s (probably due to jealousy), when he was often referred to as "God". I think this came from a joke which went as follows:

A man knocks on the pearly gates and asks to come in to Heaven. St Peter asks him what he did on earth and he says that he was a doctor. "What sort of doctor ?", asks Peter. "A General Practioner", answers the man. "Oh we don't need any of those" says Peter, "Nobody ever gets ill here - go down to purgatory and come back in a thousand years". Another doctor, a gynecologist, asks for admission and is also sent down to purgatory because "No one gets pregnant up here". A third doctor asks for entry and when he tells Peter that he's a psychiatrist, Peter exclaims, "Come in we need you - God thinks he's Ewan McColl !".

I have also heard Ewan and Peggy called "Jimmy Miller and Mrs Campbell". While I won't go into the origins of this, a clue may be found in Cyril Tawney's song "New names for Old".


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: Tam the bam fraeSaltcoatsScotland
Date: 24 Feb 02 - 07:21 AM

there's a Ewan McColl song book out called the essential Ewan McColl songbook it's published by oak publications.


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 24 Feb 02 - 06:53 PM

Let's hear the man himself - even if this was written after he'd metamorphosed into Ewan MacColl for good (incidentally, his ex-wife Joan Littlewood claims the name-change became necessary after Jimmy Miller had deserted from the army)

[1990:] Sometimes from the vantage point of the Peel Park reading room I would gaze out over [Salford] with its endless streets of identical houses, its rampart church spires and its innumerable factory chimneys pointing accusing fingers at the sky. Even from a distance it looked moribund, a 'place much decayed', and yet I was stirred by it, filled with a disturbing kind of enthusiasm. In the shabby wilderness, with its mean streets and silent cotton mills looking like abandoned fortresses, in those geometrically arranged warrens and occasional clusters of bug-infested dwellings built in the reign of daft George for 'the better class of artisan', in that wasteland of rotten timbers and rusting iron, of a fouled river and an abandoned canal, a quarter of a million people are born, live and die. It is my Paris. [...]

What is it I feel for this place? Hatred? Yes, most of the time, but not all the time. Not all the time. [...] Sometimes lying in bed at night I am overcome with the awful fear that I will never escape from this place, that I am trapped and destined to live out my life in this awful ratpit. [...] Of course I hate it, I loathe it, I am scared of being devoured by it; and yet, though I live to be a hundred, it is unlikely that I will ever come to know any place as well as I know this one. That smoke-encrusted brick was among the first things I ever saw. I have absorbed this place through the palms of my hands; the soles of my feet have walked, run, slid, hopped, jumped and skipped along its flagstones and cobbles, through its roads and alley-ways, ist detours and short cuts, its dumps, cinder-crofts and parks.

My nose is equally familiar with the place. If I were to walk blindfold through this labyrinth of odours, my nose would guide me like a well-trained bloodhound. [...] There's smells and smells, of course. On the whole, the smells of winter are bearable; half the time we don't even notice them. After all, you've had them in your nostrils since the day you were born. In the summertime they are less easy to put up with because then, in addition to the smell of this or that factory or industrial process, there is the stink of sewers and - even worse - the stench that issues from the few houses in the street where the struggle against dirt and squalor has been abandoned. It isn't easy to live in a constant state of siege, with dirt as the enemy. (MacColl, Journeyman 180ff)


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: sheila
Date: 24 Feb 02 - 07:35 PM

Dave Bryant - I believe there was a thread about Mr & Mrs Campbell and Jimmy Millar, a year or so back (unless I'm thinking of uk.music.folk?)


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 24 Feb 02 - 11:45 PM

MISTER Campbell was the first UK folksinger I ever saw live in the flesh, when he visited the Riverboat in Toronto (The Clancy's don't count). Considering that I thought MISSUS Campbell to be the sexiest banjo player (from her 8 by 10) that I'd ever seen...I was SOOOO jealous!! ...till the ACTUAL story came out.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 25 Feb 02 - 03:03 AM

I know that Ewan wound a lot of people up with his notion of singing songs from your own culture. It's very easy to cut large holes in the theory, and I've done it myself (what is a middle class southerner like myself to sing? Copper family rubbish? Rural shepherdesses? How is this stuff closer to me than a) Durham mining songs or b) picking bales of cotton? NONE of it is relevant to me in the sense that it's my own culture: these three above named are all equally foreign.

BUT, that said, does anyone want to argue that there'd be any British folk song at all if someone like Ewan hadn't DEMANDED that Brits make and reflect on their own culture? I'm speaking from the perspective of Canada, which never made its own such demands in the 60's and is now left with either a spurious "Celtic" culture or Stan Rogers fan clubs.

Ewan took up the challenge of thinking through the relevancy of rural-based folk song and searching, with others, for the industrial parallels. I don't think he found much, but he made valiant attempts to fill the lacunae he found, with his own and others' songs, in the pages of New City Songster.

Please excuse the rant and interpret my words broadly. I sing Copper family songs myself but only for personal pleasure. I do draw the line at Celtic twilight and S. Rogers, both for me unbearably sentimental.

By the by, can anyone place the tune of Dirty Old Town? I've found a possible source - a US version of "Lady Gay" (i.e. "The Wife of Usher's Well", Child 79).


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Subject: RE: Who wrote ' Dirty Old Town '
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 25 Feb 02 - 04:57 AM

"New Names for Old" is definitely about Peggy's marriage (of convenience) to Alex Campbell while he was waiting for his divorce to come through. I believe that the subsequent divorce/anullment took longer than planned because Alex found other uses for the money he was sent to start the legal proceedings.

One of the things that used to annoy some people was that Ewan used to drive (what was then) a quite upmarket car (Citroen DS) and lived in a house in Park Langley, Beckenham - hardly in the price range of the average manual worker that he championed

The song "Sweet Thames flow softly" was written as a commision for a BBC program. I think that the title line was borrowed from a much older book title.


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Mudcat time: 25 November 12:08 AM EST

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