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Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???

DigiTrad:
DIRTY OLD TOWN


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In Mudcat MIDIs:
Dirty Old Town


Tattie Bogle 25 Mar 13 - 06:29 AM
Dave the Gnome 25 Mar 13 - 08:41 AM
GUEST 25 Mar 13 - 09:52 AM
Dave the Gnome 25 Mar 13 - 10:22 AM
GUEST,ollaimh 25 Mar 13 - 10:56 AM
Jim Carroll 25 Mar 13 - 12:22 PM
GUEST,Jack Sprocket 25 Mar 13 - 01:43 PM
Uncle Tone 25 Mar 13 - 03:41 PM
MGM·Lion 25 Mar 13 - 06:14 PM
Uncle Tone 25 Mar 13 - 07:57 PM
MGM·Lion 26 Mar 13 - 01:41 AM
Jim Carroll 26 Mar 13 - 03:58 AM
Uncle Tone 26 Mar 13 - 04:27 AM
Big Al Whittle 26 Mar 13 - 04:56 AM
Dave the Gnome 26 Mar 13 - 05:17 AM
Jim Carroll 26 Mar 13 - 06:46 AM
C Stuart Cook 26 Mar 13 - 09:02 AM
Jim Carroll 26 Mar 13 - 11:35 AM
Dave the Gnome 26 Mar 13 - 01:17 PM
Uncle Tone 26 Mar 13 - 03:14 PM
Jim Carroll 26 Mar 13 - 04:02 PM
GUEST 26 Mar 13 - 07:46 PM
Uncle Tone 26 Mar 13 - 08:13 PM
MGM·Lion 27 Mar 13 - 01:33 AM
GUEST 27 Mar 13 - 03:48 AM
MGM·Lion 27 Mar 13 - 04:05 AM
GUEST 27 Mar 13 - 04:39 AM
Jim Carroll 27 Mar 13 - 05:05 AM
Les in Chorlton 27 Mar 13 - 06:13 AM
C Stuart Cook 27 Mar 13 - 09:54 AM
John Routledge 27 Mar 13 - 11:11 AM
MGM·Lion 27 Mar 13 - 11:55 AM
MGM·Lion 27 Mar 13 - 12:00 PM
GUEST 27 Mar 13 - 12:53 PM
MGM·Lion 27 Mar 13 - 01:35 PM
GUEST 27 Mar 13 - 03:01 PM
MGM·Lion 27 Mar 13 - 03:53 PM
Jim Carroll 27 Mar 13 - 03:59 PM
MGM·Lion 27 Mar 13 - 04:00 PM
MGM·Lion 27 Mar 13 - 04:24 PM
Uncle Tone 27 Mar 13 - 05:00 PM
MGM·Lion 27 Mar 13 - 05:09 PM
Uncle Tone 27 Mar 13 - 05:58 PM
MGM·Lion 27 Mar 13 - 06:47 PM
MGM·Lion 27 Mar 13 - 06:51 PM
Tattie Bogle 27 Mar 13 - 08:36 PM
Leadfingers 27 Mar 13 - 09:38 PM
MGM·Lion 28 Mar 13 - 03:45 AM
janemick 28 Mar 13 - 04:20 AM
Doug Chadwick 28 Mar 13 - 05:39 AM
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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 25 Mar 13 - 06:29 AM

Ooooo, sorry janemick, bl""dy predictive text on iPad!


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 25 Mar 13 - 08:41 AM

I've learned even more! Having lived in or around Salford and Manchester all my life until now I was surprised to hear about the Salford and Manchester Junction Canal! I googled it and found it was abandoned in 1922. Seems to have been superseeded by the Manchester Ship Canal. Thanks for the reference, Tatie:-) I think tne old canal referenced in the song though is probably the Manchester, Bolton and Bury which had it's start around the same place as tne gasworks in Salford.

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Mar 13 - 09:52 AM

Dave is right. The Manchster and Salford Junction Canal never actually reached Salford, but finished on the far bank of the Irwell. The Manchester Bolton and Bury started almost opposite, on the Salford side, so never reached Manchester. While the Salford Bolton and Bury would have sounded perhaps a little provincial, the Manchester and Manchester Junction Canal would probably not have attracted many investors.

Parts of the M&SJ still exist, though waterless- one lock in the basement of a hotel, and one stretch under the former Manchester Central Station (now GMEX) that was at one time used for television studios.


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 25 Mar 13 - 10:22 AM

Fascinating, Guest. Mrs G has a book about 'Underground Manchester'. I will see if the canal is referenced in it. I'd love to have a look in some of those old cellars and under the arches at the side of the Irwell - Wonder if they will ever open them up to tourists!

D.


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: GUEST,ollaimh
Date: 25 Mar 13 - 10:56 AM

the whole fake persona of anglo folk was everywhere back in the sixties and seventies. it's cultural appropriation. a form of racism. it's often worse from old "socialists". their brave new world of fine housing would have happily wiped out the ethnic enclaves, and not to worry about the culture, they would do the culture for you.

jimmy miller wrote good songs, but he was unconscious of the effect of his ideas about ethnic differences. his followers pretty routinely would shut out people actually from the ethnic background he pretented to be from because they had one of those--a fake. I found this for French gaelic and many other ethnic groups.

it's so much easlier to have a well mannered anglo sing the foreigh songs than those annoying foreigners who don't know who to brown nose and how to tug the forelock properly.the anglo folk scene is much more concerned with minorities kissing the right asses than the actual music. luckily the paying scene wants traditional music played by people from traditional cultures--especially in the united states.

and miller was from lowland scots background. NOT A GAEL. the reason lowland scots and English want to pretend these ethnic differences don't matter is because then they would have to address their centuries of bloodshed and injustice. after all it's all just geography, I was born in nova scotia so I an an Amerindian native , that would be the same claim.


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Mar 13 - 12:22 PM

"jimmy miller wrote good songs,"
No - Ewan MacColl wrote good songs.
I wonder whether you people ever consider the effect of your referring to somebody by a name he stopped using forty-odd years ago, has on Neill MacColl and Callum MacColl or Kirsty MacColl or Hamish MacColl, or Kitty MacColl
Would you refer to Judy Garland as Ethel Gumm, or Irving Berlin as Israel Baline or Cary Grant as Archie Leech - or Bob Dylan as Robert Zimmermann - it would be simple bad manners to do so, so why use it as a vendetta against somebody who has been dead for thirty-odd years, a little ghoulish, don't you think?
It's a snide small-minded practice and only small-minded people resort to it to score some sort of small minded-points.
MacColl's mother was from Auchterader in Perthshire, his father was from the lowlands - MacColl sang Scots songs because that's what he grew up with, not to claim any sort of "Gaelness" whatever that is.
In the twenty-odd years I knew Ewan I never heard him once refer to himself as a Gael
He was born and grew up in Salford in the middle of the 1930s depression in appalling conditions which gave him a life-long hatred of the system that produced it.
His life experience inspired him to look out 'ordinary' people (whatever they are), listen to and record what they had to say and make songs based on what he was told. Songs like Freeborn Man, Shoals of Herring, Shellback and Tenant Farmer were based on actual recordings of fishermen, farmers, Travellers, coalminers.....
The Radio Ballad 'The Travelling People' helped draw attention to the persecution of Travellers in Britain and helped bring about changes in the laws regarding stopping places for them.
The Radio Ballads gave 'ordinary' people a voice they never had before, Navvies, railwaymen, fishermen, colaminers....
Far from being "racist", songs like 'Sharpville' and compositions like 'White Wind' exposed extreme murderous racism... and helped immortalise some of it worst excesses.
He drew attention to the fact that the music we love came from working people and was almost certainly a reflection of their lives throughout history - the 'lower-class art of people who are still considered as being 'artless'.
I'd be more than happy to have a tiny fraction of this carved on my gravestone - wouldn't anybody?
The only opportunity we will ever get to seriously discuss and analyse MacColl's contribution to traditional song is when we make this back-biting and corpse-dancing a thing of the past.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: GUEST,Jack Sprocket
Date: 25 Mar 13 - 01:43 PM

Well that's told us ollaimh. I apologise deeply for ever liking folk music when I should have liked something belonging to my own race, whatever that might be. James Miller's mother was born 25 miles too far east and the wrong gender to be true Scotsman, and James himself was born in England, and had no right to consider himself Scottish, unlike people born in Nova Scotia where the magic sticks yea even unto the seventh generation. But suitably chastened I will cease to sing or play music that doesn't belong to me, and take up Blues.


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 25 Mar 13 - 03:41 PM

Jimmy Miller was his given name. Jimmy Miller was a small time actor. Ewan McColl was an act. A very good act, but that is what it was.

Which of his spoken accents did you prefer? His natural Salford accent, or his Scottish accent when he was acting?

That doesn't stop him from being remembered as a great song-writer, a great radio programme producer, and a great folk entertainer.

But he was playing a part.

Tone


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 25 Mar 13 - 06:14 PM

"Jimmy Miller" was not any sort of actor, Tone, small or big or any other sort of time ~~ any more than William Pratt was:- for anyone who happens not to know, the real name of the man who acted thruout a long and distinguished career under the famous name of Boris Karloff. Mr Miller used the name Ewan MacColl throughout his career as performer and author, whether as actor or playwright or singer of folksongs or writer of songs in the folk idiom. He had, as pointed out above, as much right to be known by that name as Israel Baline had to be known as Irving Berlin, or Mary Ann Evans to be known as George Eliot, or Lord Stansgate to be known as Tony Benn, or any other of thousands of examples that could be adduced. What point anyone thinks they are making by insisting on referring to the creative and performing artist Ewan MacColl by what happened to be his birth name, of which he made no secret but which he preferred not to use as his professional name, I cannot conceive.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 25 Mar 13 - 07:57 PM

@MtheGM Quote: "Jimmy Miller" was not any sort of actor, Tone, small or big or any other sort of time"

wiki

Quote from above:

Acting career

In 1931, with other unemployed members of the Clarion Players he formed an agit-prop theatre group, the "Red Megaphones." During 1934 they changed the name to Theatre of Action and not long after were introduced to a young actress recently moved up from London. This was Joan Littlewood who became Miller's wife and work partner. In 1936, after a failed attempt to relocate to London, the couple returned to Manchester, and formed the Theatre Union.

In 1940 a performance of The Last Edition – a 'living newspaper' – was halted by the police and Miller and Littlewood were bound over for two years for 'breach of the peace'. The necessities of wartime brought an end to Theatre Union. He enlisted in the British Army during July 1940, but deserted in December. Why he did so, and why he was not prosecuted after the war, remain a mystery.[2]

In 1946 members of Theatre Union and others formed Theatre Workshop and spent the next few years touring, mostly in the north of England. Jimmie Miller had by then changed his name to Ewan MacColl (influenced by the Lallans movement in Scotland).[1]

Tone


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Mar 13 - 01:41 AM

Yeah, OK. It remains somewhat uncertain or ambiguous as to when, at what point, he began to use EMacC as his stage-name/pseudonym. I don't suppose anyone has any Red Megaphone or whatever programmes to settle the point. Did 'street theatre' companies even have programmes, or for that matter names known to their audiences? It is the sort of thing which I mentioned in my Times review of his autobiography Journeyman, about which he tends to remain silent, or fudge.

Still, I do take the point, Tone.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Mar 13 - 03:58 AM

"Which of his spoken accents did you prefer?"
Can't help there - only met him for the first time in 1965, by when he had a fairly neutral accent, occasionally lapsing into an occasionally irritating "BBC" one - not a trace of 'Salford' as I knew it anywhere.
Personally, I prefer to hear Scots ballads sung in a Scots accent - MacColl introduced me to 175 Child ballads, some in multiple versions, and got me hooked for life.
He was actually far more than a "folk entertainer", a fact that people would be more aware of if we didn't have to climb garbage mountains like this every time his name was mentioned.
For nearly ten years he devoted a night a week to running a workshop for younger and less experienced singers, during which he developed relaxation and voice techniques for singing and methods of approaching songs in order to get the best of enjoyment out of them and keep them alive in the repertoire forever - worked for me anyway.
He also discussed song-making techniques and ran group sessions which produced a number of excellent songs and song-makers, still around on the scene today, some of them teaching younger singers themselves.
I was delighted when people took up some of the Radio Ballad techniques MacColl devised along with Peggy and Charles Parker and dearly hope that this method continues to be used and developed.
Instead of looking at these and many more aspects of MacColl's work we are still scrabbling the foothills of whether we should respect the fact that at one stage of his life (dealt with adequately in Ben Harker's biography, 'Class Act') MacColl chose to change his name.
It seems to me small-mindedly vindictive and simple bad manners (not to mention inconsistent) to continue to use a name he abandoned in the 1940s and ignore the one he chose to use throughout his singing career and by which everybody on the scene knew him. For the life of me I can't recall hearing anybody refer to the N.E singer 'John Pandrich', and I never, ever get a reply to my question about Robert Zimmermann.
It really is time the revival grew up rather than lapsing into second childhood.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 26 Mar 13 - 04:27 AM

I think in general terms we can safely say that he used Ewan McColl after WW2, and he was Jimmie Miller, the small time political actor in the 30s, prior to WW2. I too wish we knew more about that period. Maybe Peggy Seeger has inherited archive material. I don't know.

I knew him in those days through Barney Wood, who was one of the founders of the Herga Folk Club, which I think can still claim to be one of the first in the country. Barney (bless 'im) made it clear then that Ewan was not what he claimed to be, and that was in the very early 70s.

I'm not knocking anything he did for the folk revival in whatever name. He was one of the early pillars, alongside Bert LLoyd and Cyril Tawney and others. He was brilliant as an acting performer, presenter and song writer.

I met him a couple of times when he was in full Scottish accent mode and I knew then that he was faking it for effect, but I didn't care. The gigs were great!

The point I have been trying to make is that we should know he was faking it for effect. That is all.

I know Bob Dylan and others changed their names, in the folk idiom, but not many changed their accents as well. McColl was unique in that.

Tone


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 26 Mar 13 - 04:56 AM

I see......you think Bob Dylan sang in his natural accent, and Martin Carthy, and Mike Waterson....

well its a point of view....

I'd say moderating your natural voice for dramatic effect was fairly standard procedure for all singers from Pavarotti to Johnny Rotten.


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 26 Mar 13 - 05:17 AM

And ollaimh (Real name of course) just loves to have a go at anything and any one that is English. Not that he is racist or anything. Just redressing the balance as it is well known that Canadians are under the yolk of English oppression.

And there is another thing I have learned in this thread as well! Nova Scotians can talk through their arses :-)

DtG


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Mar 13 - 06:46 AM

Sorry canalwheeler
Reading postings like yours leave me with the feeling that I've dozed off in front of the television and woken up to find I've left Jurassic Park still running on the video.
All this is very much of the past.
Peggy published 2 editions of Ewan's autobiography which deals with Ewan's early days, as does Ben Harker's Book.
"Ewan was not what he claimed to be"
Barney who - sorry - doesn't ring a bell?
MacColl borrowed from the accents he was surrounded with as a child; he used the method all actors do of neutralising them so they were comprehensible to the unfamiliar - worked for me.
In all the years I visited the MacColl household (they kindly fed me and gave me a bed for a month when I first moved to London) I became friendly with Ewan's mother Betsy and to the day she died I still had trouble with her accent (and my dad was born in Glasgow)
"Herga Folk Club, which I think can still claim to be one of the first in the country."
You can claim it, but it was very much an also ran, if at all; it's a toss-up whether the Ballads and Blues or the Topic Folk Club(?) was the first and there are numerous other contenders for the title.
"when he was in full Scottish accent mode"
You have the advantage over me there - never heard him us a Scottish accent other than on stage telling Scots stories or singing Scots songs.
"small time political actor in the 30s"
Wow - I think Bertold Brecht, Sean O'Casey and George Bernard Shaw might have had something to say about that description.
Hugh McDairmid wrote in his introduction to the published play Uranium 235, ".....(Sir David) Lindsay would have been a greater dramatist (and the whole history of Scottish drama very different) if he had been also the Ewan MacColl of the sixteenth century"
"The point I have been trying to make is that we should know he was faking it for effect."
Sorry - tried to resist it but - utter bollocks!
Stories about MacColl were, in my opinion, never accurate, but they certainly haven't improved by being passed through the 'Chinese whispers' process.
The contribution MacColl made to our pleasure and understanding of folk song surely deserves better than this garbage - not to mention last years god-awful travesty on The Critics Group.
Anyway - as much as I'm enjoying all this - must go. I'm extremely grateful for the opportunity to discuss the important issues surrounding MacColl's life rather than all that boring old folk stuff.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: C Stuart Cook
Date: 26 Mar 13 - 09:02 AM

My understanding of the background to the song was that it was written for scene changes in one of the plays produced by Joan Littlewood's theatre company. As such it was slightly disjointed and done with a definite jazz style arrangement. Only later was it all "joined up" and folkified into the much loved song it now is. It must be a good song to be mouldable to so many peoples needs and understandings.

There is an irony to it though which will not be known to the majority. The song was possibly written when MacColl and Littlewood were in residence on Higham Lane, Gee Cross, Hyde on the top of Werneth Low. It was here that the Security Services conducted some surveillance on MacColl.

Werneth Low is a hill detached from the Pennines. Bounded by the River Tame on the North side and the Etherow on the South. These rivers join up with the Goyt to form the River Mersey in Stockport.

Although the cottages and houses at the top of Higham lane were tied into the local hatting industry they were on the edge of open country side, as they are still. Tonight I shall walk my dog through the Country Park in the fields on the other side of the road from their house with 30 mile views over the Manchester/Salford connurbation from its 1000 foot elevation.

Even if it was or wasn't written in the green fields and huge views of Werneth Low it could not be bettered for the description of the myriad of industrial towns spread out below. You couldn't smell the Salford smoke on Werneth Low but Smith's Boneyard on Kingston Brow could do a pretty good job of curling your nostril hairs. Pretty well every town that Ewan and Joan will have looked down on would have provided a similar scene to any in Salford. Hyde, Dukinfield, Ashton, Droylsden, Gorton, Stockport, et al. Canals, mills, steelworks, brass foundries, gas works, dye works, huge smoking chimneys for as fear as they could see.

From where they lived on Higham lane they could see huge chunks of the history of the land. Werneth Low provided streams for some of the first water powered mills of the cotton industry, Mottram the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Steven/Matilda civil war, the Ashton family, the basis of Mrs Gaskells Mary Barton. he may not have been aware of it all but I'm sure he must have absorbed some of it. He was that sort of man.

I'm sure that Jim will dispute or correct something here but so what, I enjoy his precision and detail. He once disputed a story about Ewan getting annoyed about Gypsies camping on his land. Ewan a landowner? The field on the other side of the road from the Higham Lane property was a stop over spot for travellers when they still worked the edges of the connurbation. Whether that was the seed for the story I couldn't say but it but it sounds like it could have been. Later it became the long term home for a very sad looking Shetland Pony that was straight out of Thelwell.


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Mar 13 - 11:35 AM

"I'm sure that Jim will dispute or correct something here but so what, I enjoy his precision and detail."
Why should I; I'm extremely grateful for vivid picture you paint of where he lived at that time (mentioned briefly in Ben Harker's book)
I have heard the story of his clash with the gypsies, when I was told of it, it was said to have happened at their home in Beckenham, where they lived from the early sixties - I suggest if anybody gives credence to this they should 'Google-Earth 35 Stanley Avenue and judge the possibilities of a Gypsy family attempting to camp in their garden; they lived on the top half of a maisonette with access to half of the back garden and a pocket-handkerchief sized flower-bed in the front.
Had he behaved in such a manner he would have been given short shrift from his "friend and drinking companion" from at least 1950, Hamish Henderson, who was a fierce advocate of Travellers rights.
His friendship with the Stewarts dating from the early sixties and his work on The Radio Ballad and with all the Scots Travellers he recorded, and with Caroline Hughes and later Nelson Ridley, suggests the story to be yet another of those vindictive and unqualified yarns that I have always intended to write down and distribute in an attempt to get further information on.
One story I know to be true (it was included in an interview with Sheila Stewart published in 'The Living Tradition') is the one told as an anti-MacColl yarn.
When they were making 'The Travelling People' they decided quite late in the work to include some Traveller made songs (the Stewarts called them "makkie-ups). They circulated an appeal for such songs and received a tape of 'Gypsy women' singing a couple. At the last minute, virtually on the eve of the broadcast, John Brune confessed to having written and sung them "in a funny voice" - the result being that Sheila Stewart, who was given the task of singing them, was withdrawn from the programme, far too late to be given anything else to do - hilarious!!
Personally, I don't give a toss of what people think of Ewan and Peggy - my memories are my own; of a warm, friendly, knowledgeable and talented couple eager to share all this and more with anybody who asked their help or advice.
Even before I moved to London to join the Critics group I had stayed at their home several times to make copies of their field recordings to use in the workshop I was running in Manchester. They tossed young Callum out of his room whenever anybody visited and provided a Ferrograph and a Tandberg to make copies on.
Knowing them not only encouraged me to lift the corner of folk song to find what was underneath; it was talking to Ewan that prompted us to start collecting songs and information ourselves, which re-shaped our lives completely.
Sorry if all this sounds sycophantic - it isn't intended to be. Ewan could be a difficult bugger when he wanted, and his powers of exaggeration were something else! He certainly had flaws you could hide a London bus in, but I do get pissed off when I only hear of his awkward side
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 26 Mar 13 - 01:17 PM

Good post, C Stuart Cook. I know Werneth Low quite well too, having cut my 'Manchester Rambler' teeth in the dark peak :-) I also worked in Sheffield for quite a while and, dropping down from the Snake after a day shift, with the lights coming on ever the area you describe was one of the finest sights.

One thing did strike me when you said "Pretty well every town that Ewan and Joan will have looked down on would have provided a similar scene to any in Salford. Hyde, Dukinfield, Ashton, Droylsden, Gorton, Stockport". They all do indeed have a lot in common but one thing sets Salford apart from the rest - It is a City! Most Salfordians are quite proud of the fact that we became a city before Manchester. So, just maybe, Ewan was not writing about Salford after all. Unless of course he was just using 'Town' with poetic licence :-)

Going back to then song, did I mention before, talking about poetic licence, that it is one of the very few lyrics I know that has no rhyme in at all!

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 26 Mar 13 - 03:14 PM

@Jim Carrol Quote: "Barney who - sorry - doesn't ring a bell?"

Barney and Mary Wood, with Bob Wakeling were part of the original resident band of the Herga Folk Club, Harrow. Before that they formed the original Herga Song Club in 1959. I didn't claim it was the first. But it can claim to be one of the first.

From a Bob Wakeling biog.

In 1973 the same trio began and hosted the Pumphouse Folk Club, Watford

Pump House Folk Club 40th

In the photograph the performers are l to r, Barney Wood, Mary Wood and Bob Wakeling, who is still performing.

Barney did a lot to raise interest in folk song, since his early days in The Woodcraft Folk. I sang with Barney and Mary as 'Folkus' in the mid 70s and Barney danced or played drum with my NW side, Cottonmill Morris in the late 70s & early 80s. Barney and Mary frequently guested a the Steamer Folk Club St Albans.

Dirty Old Town was one of Barney's favourite songs. He would sometimes introduce it by saying, "Here's a song by a guy called Jimmie Miller. You might know him better now as Ewan McColl." As the song first appeared as part of a play in 1949, it could possibly have first been written when he was still JM. But does it matter?

"Garbage? Utter bollocks? It is possible to have a reasoned discussion here without resorting to such bar-room language.

Tone


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Mar 13 - 04:02 PM

""Here's a song by a guy called Jimmie Miller."
He was ill-mannered and vindictive as well then?
Sorry - still can't see why MacColl can't be called MacColl and Dylan is never called Zimmerman, and you obviously aren't going to explain.
"Garbage? Utter bollocks? It is possible to have a reasoned discussion here without resorting to such bar-room language."
Sorry - I find it very odd that somebody so ill-mannered as to insist on calling a (fellow?) performer by a name he abandoned back in the 1940s should be so insensitive as not to know why anybody should find that offensive -, more than a little odd to complain about my strong (but perfectly serviceable) language, don'cha think?
Do you really not understand why it is downright bad manners to behave in such a way?
MacColl has been known by that name since some time in the mid 1940s, which pre-dates his writing Dirty Old Town by around 5 years: which is beside the point - he chose that name, he is universally known by that name, he wrote and recorded using that name, I'm damn (whoops - sorry for the language) sure that most young people coming into the scene wouldn't know who on earth you were talking about if you talked about Jimmie Miller - "who he?".
Does it matter - it obviously does to you, otherwise you wouldn't use it given the present circumstances.
It simply is vindictive bad manners on the part of you, your mate Barney - (sorry, still doesn't ring a bell despite the fact that I visited the Herga when it was in the Royal Oak dozens of times - are you sure that's his real name?), and all the other dinosaurs who still wander your part of the planet.
I don't suppose you would explain why you insist on using it any more than you would explain the Zimmermann thing!
Sorry - you are beginning to irritate me - I've already got one of you, thanks all the same.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Mar 13 - 07:46 PM

I've never said McColl can't be called McColl.

Quote: "Barney - (sorry, still doesn't ring a bell despite the fact that I visited the Herga when it was in the Royal Oak dozens of times - are you sure that's his real name?"

That was quite funny.

If you visited the Herga after 1973, Barney Wood was by then running the Pumphouse club in Watford with Bob Wakeling. Did you look at the picture on the link?

And I note your irritability. It seems to be a problem you have, so I'll I'll leave you to it.

Tone


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 26 Mar 13 - 08:13 PM

My apologies. I had not realised that I was logged out for the above post.

Tone


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Mar 13 - 01:33 AM

'I've never said McColl can't be called McColl.'
.,,.
No, and you had better not, because his name was MacColl. Not a minor point; your failure to get it right was a factor of your general unmannerliness in the matter of which Jim so rightly complains, Tony.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Mar 13 - 03:48 AM

Don't be silly.

Tell that to the BBC:

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

Jimmie Miller

Tone


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Mar 13 - 04:05 AM

I fear you might have missed the point, Tony my duckling, that you rendered MacColl as McColl ~~ which was careless and rude. You are the one being silly.

If you didn't, then I have no idea what you are on about whatsoever; but please don't trouble to expound.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Mar 13 - 04:39 AM

Oh, my profuse apology for a typo. Get a life!

Tone


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Mar 13 - 05:05 AM

Your BBC link is headed 'Ewan MacColl' - the Miller bit indicates his birth given name (Christian name wouldn't have applied to Ewan).
It wasn't his 'stage name' - he had it changed by deed-poll, the reasons for him doing so had nothing to do with his being a performer - all covered in Harker's book.
MacColl can be called Robert Zimmermann if anybody takes it into their head to do so, though why anybody should is beyond me.
My objection is that his name change and the constant drawing of attention to it is a diversion; a deliberate attempt to somehow belittle his work and his ideas and to suggest that - how did you put it - he was "not what he claimed to be", or "faking it for effect" (thank you for those two excellent examples, by the way).
It is a rather nasty device used by performers throughout the folk scene against a fellow artist for 'cutting somebody down to size'. It may happen in other fields of art, though I've never come across it elsewhere, not to this extent and certainly not thirty years after their death - do people really still feel that threatened by the man?
As I said earlier, it acts as a barrier against discussing the work we did with the Critics Group, maybe of no consequence - we'll never know until we examine it with others.
After the break-up of the Critics, Pat and I approached Ewan and asked would he be prepared to be interviewed on his ideas on singing; he agreed and over a period of six months we filled twenty tapes of opinions and ideas of him talking on traditional songs and ballads, singing techniques, politics and song, making new songs.... magic!
I've now reached an age that I realise they will end up on an archive shelf somewhere for future generations to make use of (if they are still singing folk songs). That fact is down to garbage heaps such as this one - sad.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 27 Mar 13 - 06:13 AM

Apparantley their are songs called folk songs. Some are very old and some are not. No clear definition seems to have been agreed by a maojority of the people who either sing or enjoy them.

At the end of the 19C lots of old songs of a particular kind were collected by song collectors and many were published. They are often called folk or traditional songs. This is now known as the first folk revival.

From the 1950s onwards a second revival began. More collecting occured and songs were learned from the books of the first revival.People wrote songs aswell. Thousands and thousands of folks clubs operated in the next whatever years. Thousands and thousands of people sang played and went to folk clubs.

Ewan MacColl with Peggy Seeger contibuted massively to that process. I would be hard pushed to list people who contrubuted more.

Why people bother to post on this global website to comment on the personality etc. of EMc is beyond me.


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: C Stuart Cook
Date: 27 Mar 13 - 09:54 AM

I think all forums have a distinct pattern, whatever the subject.

Innocent/genuine comment or question
Some honest answers or comments
Someone takes exception or pontificates.
Someone defends or defines with a degree of knowledge.
Others who sit around waiting for an explotable situation wade in.
Others continue to try to keep the conversation sensible.
Final flattening off as tit for tat becomes tedious.

I always find Jim's replies interesting and informative whether in answer to someone, defending the truth or in exasperation and annoyance.

I made my own contribution in respect of attempting to shed light on a period that seems a bit grey in the overall history of the song. I firmly beleive in a cycle of life of about 5 or 6 years. That always seems to me when I look back on my own life, that over that period of time things tend to change and develop. By the time the 5 years have gone I'm on a diferent path and direction. Between the end of the war and say an arbitrary date of 1956 (tow cycles), when the Folk side of things really kicked in, for at least a part of it Ewan (by now) lived in a place vastly different from the town of Salford that he is more usually associated with. He was living almost on top of the artists Harry Rutherford and L S Lowry, in open countryside at the centre of one of the most important historical areas of the early, water powered Industrial Revolution.

Politically he was on top of the area that contributed more than most to the Chartist Movement, the early ancestor of the socialist movement.The fields of Peterloo were poulated by the inhabitants of the surrounding towns. His father by this time was in Stockport just a short distance away.He could see Kinder Scout to the south and Bleaklow's "frozen sea" to the east. Then, as now, the skies were populated by Skylarks and Lapwings.

You might have guessed I'm passionate about this bit of a hill. I simply cannot imagine that Ewan didn't live here without it being an essential part of everything he became, wrote and sang.

To the original posters who wondered what Dirty Old Town was about, you need to stand on Werneth Low and look about you and on the mighty towns that made up the North West of England, that powered the Indutrial Revolution and subsequently the world. You'll understand it all then(and a lot more).


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: John Routledge
Date: 27 Mar 13 - 11:11 AM

Thanks Stuart - If your last paragraph had been the first post there would have been little debate :0)


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Mar 13 - 11:55 AM

"Oh, my profuse apology for a typo*. Get a life! Tone"
.,,.
I'll get as much life as I like when I choose, you impertinent little man.   MYOB meanwhile, & try to learn what a '*typo' actually is, ignoramus: it is, FYmuch·neededO, not at all the same thing as a repeated impolite error.


~M~


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Mar 13 - 12:00 PM

To help in your efforts, note following from wikipedia

"A typographical error (often shortened to typo) is a mistake made in the typing process (such as spelling) of printed material... The term includes errors due to mechanical failure or slips of the hand or finger, but excludes errors of ignorance, such as spelling errors.


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Mar 13 - 12:53 PM

@ MtheGM Quote: "impertinent little man". Well, if you're going into personal attack mode you've run out of logical argument. But eyeball to eyeball, unless you are over 6ft 4ins, you'll be looking up to me, literally!

@Jim. Quote: "It wasn't his 'stage name' - he had it changed by deed-poll"

Agreed. That piece was probably written by a cub BBC online reporter who knows nothing about folk song. I only gave the reference out of interest, just to keep the thread boiling, as it were. It's been fun.

Tone


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Mar 13 - 01:35 PM

"if you're going into personal attack mode you've run out of logical argument".
.,,.
A facile and pathetic argument, typical of a figuratively little mind whatever the actual dimensions of the body in which it happens to be housed, which would only carry any conviction if the argument had not been further developed, which it was [or was it too much effort for him to read further?]. This was merely in response to the impertinent injunction to 'get a life', the extent to which I choose to conform with which is a matter for my judgment, not that of any impudent interloper who appears to think that an above-average stature affords him some right of interfering in others' existential options.

The argument was then developed by demonstrating, with the aid of an authoritative reference source, that it is a gross, deceitful, evasive misnomer to call an unmannerly and ignorant mistake a 'typo', which word applies to another sort of inadvertent error entirely.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Mar 13 - 03:01 PM

Y'know. I feel very sorry for you. To go to such extremes, anonymously, to try to belittle another poster who holds different views to you, shows huge inadequacy in every other aspect of life. You are obviously a non-achiever in real terms, so "plonk". You're gone.

Tone


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Mar 13 - 03:53 PM

What do you mean, anonymously? My identity is known to pretty well everybody on this forum; but who Tone the Canal Wheeler [whatever that is supposed to mean] may be is an entire mystery.

~Michael Grosvenor Myer~


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Mar 13 - 03:59 PM

Mike Grosvenor Myer - columnist from way back to various folk magazines, notably 'Folk Review'
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Mar 13 - 04:00 PM

And it isn't a matter of "different views", you fool. I don't give a piggipoo for your opinion of anything; but to try to pass off a piece of unmannerly repetitious misspelling of someone's name as a 'typo' is a piece of disgusting ignorant evasive deceit of which you should be thoroughly ashamed; but I am sure you won't be, because you have the shamelessness on the little, 76" tall or not. No need to 'try to belittle' you; you manage to do a grand job of that all by your little self.


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Mar 13 - 04:24 PM

As for my non-achievement 'in real terms'. Well, far be it from me... but as you have brought up the subject.. Thanks, Jim, for starting the ball rolling. Also Theatre & Folk critic for The Guardian for over quarter-century; Book critic, esp Folk, for The Times... &c &c &c.

You obviously think of yourself as some sort of 'achiever', Tone. So let's hear it, eh. What your claims to fame 'in real terms'?

Come on ~~ don't be shy.


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 27 Mar 13 - 05:00 PM

@ Jim Quote: "Mike Grosvenor Myer - columnist from way back to various folk magazines, notably 'Folk Review'"

Is that who he is? I'm quite shocked. I had a lot of respect for him, until I read his posts here. He's obviously now a very bitter old man, but I can understand why.

Tone


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Mar 13 - 05:09 PM

Well, now you know. Sorry for your disappointment. I'm nearly 81, but not particularly bitter that I am aware of. Just have always run on the watchword, then & now, that "accuracy matters"; and can you really not see that you were repetitiously inaccurate, & then tried evasive tactics to try & fudge the fact ~ 'typo' forsooth!.

Now, come clean. Who are you, hiding under cloak of anonymity? Who is 'canal wheeler' then? and why?

Tone Tone Tone ~~ OUT OUT OUT!

~M~


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 27 Mar 13 - 05:58 PM

Anonymity and Guest Posting are permitted.

You are free to be anything you want EXCEPT unkind, impolite, argumentative, snooty, or either FOR or AGAINST that of-what-we-do-not-speak.

Be aware of what personal information you decide to share within the forum.


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Mar 13 - 06:47 PM

OK. Right. Fine ~~ do what you like ~~ go & sulk namelessly in your corner ~~ exercise your rights and entitlements. But remember with what pejorative tone & accusatory animus you denounced me for posting "anonymously" at 0301 PM. Another instance of your ignorance; coupled, it now appears with an astonishing degree of sauce4goose hypocrisy on your part. My, what a piece of work you are, to be sure, Mr Whoever-you-are. "Be aware of what personal information you decide to share within the forum" is it now? Why, what a deadly secret you must be hiding. Not Lord Lucan, are you? Or one of the still-to-be-caught-up-with Nazi war criminals? Or Prince Harry having a giggle, maybe?

I feel like Lucy van Pelt draped over Schroeder's piano ~~ "You fascinate me!"

Well just an itsy-bitsy bit.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Mar 13 - 06:51 PM

But perhaps a more apposite Peanuts quote ~~~ Marcie to Peppermint Patty ~~

You're weird, Sir...


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 27 Mar 13 - 08:36 PM

A real thread-killer, all this personal animosity: why don't you just PM each other your insults or arrange pistols at dawn somewhere?
Ewan would be turning in his grave.

Trish Santer


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: Leadfingers
Date: 27 Mar 13 - 09:38 PM

I have always maintained that IF you want a slanging match with another member , do it by PM and DONT foul up another thread !


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 28 Mar 13 - 03:45 AM

Tattie & Leadfgrs ~~ do you really expect me voluntarily to accept abusive anonymous private correspondence & respond rationally to it? Would you? Don't be silly.

Regards

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: janemick
Date: 28 Mar 13 - 04:20 AM

Dirty old town as sea song in Brittany:

MtheGM - I have no idea why they think this is a sea song, but I agree with Jim I, it is a great favourite with our breton friends.

Tattie Bogle's idea about the ship canal is all I can think of (nice predictive text!)

However, if you want to please an audience of Bretons, sing this song!


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Subject: RE: Help: Dirty Old Town? Meaning???
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 28 Mar 13 - 05:39 AM

As I said earlier, way up in this thread, I don't have any problem with the meaning of the song. What I do have a problem understanding is:

MYOB meanwhile, …………………………………………: it is, FYmuch•neededO, ……………………..

I really have tried to work it out but I give up. What does it mean in English please, Michael?


DC


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