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MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl

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GUEST,Joe_F 21 Apr 06 - 10:01 PM
Folkiedave 21 Apr 06 - 12:29 PM
GUEST 21 Apr 06 - 11:27 AM
Purple Foxx 16 Mar 06 - 09:37 AM
Big Al Whittle 16 Mar 06 - 09:16 AM
Purple Foxx 16 Mar 06 - 07:57 AM
GUEST,Dave S at Work 16 Mar 06 - 07:52 AM
greg stephens 16 Mar 06 - 06:27 AM
Big Al Whittle 16 Mar 06 - 06:15 AM
Purple Foxx 16 Mar 06 - 04:16 AM
GUEST,J C 16 Mar 06 - 04:14 AM
akenaton 15 Mar 06 - 08:33 PM
Bird Flu 15 Mar 06 - 08:18 PM
Big Al Whittle 15 Mar 06 - 07:37 PM
GUEST,DB 15 Mar 06 - 06:16 PM
Purple Foxx 15 Mar 06 - 03:13 PM
GUEST,J C 15 Mar 06 - 03:02 PM
GUEST,DB 14 Mar 06 - 07:33 PM
GUEST,J C 14 Mar 06 - 04:20 AM
Purple Foxx 14 Mar 06 - 03:10 AM
GUEST,DB 14 Mar 06 - 01:47 AM
dick greenhaus 14 Mar 06 - 12:49 AM
Joe Richman 13 Mar 06 - 10:55 PM
GUEST,J C 13 Mar 06 - 02:37 PM
greg stephens 13 Mar 06 - 05:50 AM
Purple Foxx 13 Mar 06 - 05:25 AM
GUEST,J C 13 Mar 06 - 04:35 AM
GUEST,DB 13 Mar 06 - 03:45 AM
GUEST,DB 12 Mar 06 - 06:42 PM
Desert Dancer 12 Mar 06 - 06:32 PM
GUEST 12 Mar 06 - 01:11 PM
akenaton 12 Mar 06 - 08:51 AM
greg stephens 12 Mar 06 - 08:44 AM
akenaton 12 Mar 06 - 08:29 AM
akenaton 12 Mar 06 - 08:26 AM
greg stephens 12 Mar 06 - 08:22 AM
GUEST 12 Mar 06 - 08:04 AM
The Fooles Troupe 12 Mar 06 - 06:44 AM
akenaton 12 Mar 06 - 06:43 AM
GUEST,J C 12 Mar 06 - 04:22 AM
greg stephens 12 Mar 06 - 02:45 AM
Joe Richman 11 Mar 06 - 10:52 PM
GUEST 11 Mar 06 - 07:33 PM
ifor 11 Mar 06 - 04:07 PM
greg stephens 11 Mar 06 - 10:32 AM
GUEST,DB 11 Mar 06 - 05:17 AM
GUEST,Folkiedave in Spain (cookieless) 11 Mar 06 - 04:55 AM
GUEST,J C 11 Mar 06 - 03:59 AM
greg stephens 10 Mar 06 - 05:34 PM
shepherdlass 10 Mar 06 - 02:54 PM
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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST,Joe_F
Date: 21 Apr 06 - 10:01 PM

I still know some of MacDiarmid's poems by heart, from when I was in Scotland in 1959 and the Scottish Nationalist students were enamored of him; so if memorable speech makes a poet, he was a poet. He was also a Marxist Christian mystic, and something of an impostor. One of his poems that I learned turned out not to be his, but to be a snatch of somebody else's prose broken into lines. After that came to light, it transpired that even the breaking into lines had already been done by someone else.

--- Joe Fineman    joe_f@verizon.net

||: In German there are no regular nouns, and in psychology there are no normal minds. :||


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Folkiedave
Date: 21 Apr 06 - 12:29 PM

http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/arts/writingscotland/writers/hugh_macdiarmid/

will tell you all about him.

Two things not mentioned. He had a long and often vituperative discussion with Hamish Henderson in the pages of the Scotsman about the nature of Scots Traditional Music and in particular the big ballads. Some of this is related in the book "The Armstrong Nose" which covers Henderson´s correspondence.

He took his pseudonym from a Lallans poet. (Plenty about these on the internet- google for it if you are interested) The connection with MacColl is that he may have done the same (almost) for there is one called EVan MacColl.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Apr 06 - 11:27 AM

"Ewan was in the public limelight long before Peggy came along. As a playright he was heralded by Shaw, Brecht, MacDairmid and others as the shining light of the non-commercial British theatre. He was a leading member of the revival along with Bert Lloyd right from the beginning. Peggy brought along the American ballad tradition and marvelous accompaniments. Pete was performing a different kind of music to a different kind of audience altogether."

Who is MacDairmid ? Was he a poet ? Did he perchance sometimes call himself Hugh MacDiarmaid ?


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Purple Foxx
Date: 16 Mar 06 - 09:37 AM

1965 Was also the year that Dylan went electric & Lennon went acoustic.
Both were bridge builders.
I think the "Newness" was distressing to people who needed the sense of belonging that being "in the gang" gave them.
Now we can all (should we wish) enjoy "Like a Rolling Stone" & "You've got to hide your love away."
One person who was particularly adept at crossing backwards & forwards across the bridge was Kirsty MacColl.
None of us fully live in the same world as our parents.
But we can all learn from that world.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 16 Mar 06 - 09:16 AM

I was 16, but 65 was a big year. It was along time ago - Ithought of it as NME, but I could be wrong. Sorry if I misled anybody.

But i remember it as the start of that sort of polarisation.Not long after I saw Bert jansch fans booing and being horrible to Fred Jordan at at a big folk concert in Exeter. Fred just wasn't the sort of thing they thought of as folk music. there was a young American called Marc Sullivan in Exmouth folk club that year and the traddies pointedly talked incessantly through his set.

The year before there had been a more tolerant and gentler zeitgeist in the folk clubs.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Purple Foxx
Date: 16 Mar 06 - 07:57 AM

No I am certain it was not the MelodyMaker one.
I was only 3 in 1965.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST,Dave S at Work
Date: 16 Mar 06 - 07:52 AM

Are we not confusing this interview with a famous one that he certainly did for Melody Maker with Karl Dallas in 1965 in which he slaughtered Dylan and Paxton(I don't recall Donovan getting a mention)for their stance as protest singers saying that they were not writing anything with which LBJ could disagree. When asked were they not the voice of young America MacColl said that sadly they were, before telling people to listen to Aunt Molly Jackson if they wanted to hear a real protest singer. He really went to town on Dylan dismissing his songwriting as above and rubbishing his poetry as "re-hashed Ginsberg,punk and terribly old hat" Naturally over the next few weeks the letters page was crammed with replies, some from well known rock stars of the day, denouncing MacColl for his tirade. Personally as a devotee of both men's work I think that this was the first time that I respected someone's opinion even though I did not agree with it.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: greg stephens
Date: 16 Mar 06 - 06:27 AM

GUEST JC: would you consider joining up as a member of this forum, and sending me a PM to let me know you've arrived? Or alternatively, google on my name or the Boat Band, and get in touch that way. I would like to ask you some questions about Mary Delaney and stuff(assuming you are that Jim Carroll).


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 16 Mar 06 - 06:15 AM

Of course Ewan had a huge public presence. The question we were asked ia why a publication like NME {which in general spent its time chasing after the likes of The Searchers and Herman's Hermits in 1965) should have wanted to interview him at that point.

MM was at that point a more culturally aware publication with heavyweight writers like Max Jones, Allan Jones, Chris Welch and of course Karl Dallas writing for it.

NME concerned itself was chart stuff, but such was the public fascination with folk music that Dylan, Donovan and The Seekers weren't available every week and my guess is that when they chose to Ewan, they were writing about somebody who was constantly being mentioned in folk circles. Ian Campbell had been in charts with The Times They are a Changing and of course Ian had been involved in the Radio Ballads. Ewan MacColl was a name that was in the air, because folk music so popular.

Both magazines sold around 4 million copies a week, and each issue it was reckoned was read on average by three people. they were enormously influential in an age when there wasn't that much music radio or tv.

After 1970 I think the music business became a tributary of showbiz, and the creative force went out of the English music scene to a large extent. By the time Julie Burchill was writing about punk in the 70's, she had a much smaller and shrinking constituency.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Purple Foxx
Date: 16 Mar 06 - 04:16 AM

Guest JC,I can't even remember the year but I think it was either 1985 or 1986.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST,J C
Date: 16 Mar 06 - 04:14 AM

Purple Foxx,
Thanks; will look that one out - a year would help. Never had any problem with vigorous discussion; god knows, MacColl and Seeger came in for enough flak themselves right from the word go. Had a wonderful example of a piece of outright distortion from Reg hall in the first of the "Folk Britannia' series the other week.
One of the most comprehensive interviews of MacColl and Seeger, in which their politics were fully discussed, appeared in the eighties in Folk Review Magazine, entitled 'And So We Sang'; it was spread over three issues.
More recently, and probably more accessible was a boxed set of 3 cassettes called 'Parsley, Sage and Politics' which has sections entitled, 'Making of a Folksinger', 'Singing Streets'.'Manchester Rambler', 'Stage Left', 'First Time Ever', 'The Radio Ballads', 'Ballads And Blues', 'It's All Happening Now', and 'Singing Out'. This leaves no doubt whatever as to their political beliefs.
The song 'First Time Ever' was written in 1957 and did not become a 'pop song' until Roberta Flack and Elvis Presley got their hands on it.
As we found out to our cost when we recorded a song called 'What Will We Do' from a Travelling woman, once a song is put into the public domain, there is no control whatever on how it is performed.
Peggy Seeger recorded 'First Time Ever' the way it was intended to bwe sung on a number of occasions, the first being on a Folkways LP in the sixties.
Ewan was in the public limelight long before Peggy came along. As a playright he was heralded by Shaw, Brecht, MacDairmid and others as the shining light of the non-commercial British theatre. He was a leading member of the revival along with Bert Lloyd right from the beginning. Peggy brought along the American ballad tradition and marvelous accompaniments. Pete was performing a different kind of music to a different kind of audience altogether.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: akenaton
Date: 15 Mar 06 - 08:33 PM

You can't get a more POP song than his "first time ever I saw your face"........   Oh Fuck!!   You've been spendin' too much time with the chickens.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Bird Flu
Date: 15 Mar 06 - 08:18 PM

Never liked the bloke. He was obviously jealous of Dylan's genius. You can't get a more POP song than his "first time ever I saw your face". The man was up his own proverbial arse.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 15 Mar 06 - 07:37 PM

They interviewed MacColl because he was a name that was constantly cropping up. No folk song book (which were selling by the lorry load) was complete without The First Time Ever. Dirty Old Town was the first song in the harmonica instruction book that was everywhere. the Bells of Rhymney was on an a toptwenty Pete Seeger album. Pete was having hits - little boxes, etc - and ewan was of interest because he was married to a Seeger.

If you can imagine folk music was of absolutely central interest to everyone - it's validity as an art form was discussed everywhere, every medium sized town had two three folk clubs, every music teacher in England was playing Joan Baez's versions of Childe Ballads...folk music was ubiquitous.

MacColl finished the whole thing with that interview. He said that Dylan and Donovan weren't folk music - they were pop singers. that was in june or thereabouts. By the summer the words had got round that it was allright to be as rude as you liked to anybody who didn't conform to your idea of folk music.

I can remember reading that interview as a sixteen year old kid with my head in my hands, and realising that something that I had wanted to be involved in was dead in the water.

There have been some spirited attempts to breathe life into it since, but I think quite instinctively I had got it right as a kid. Its been downhill all the way, since the central unity of the movement was thrown away.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST,DB
Date: 15 Mar 06 - 06:16 PM

You're right, NME was a music paper, so why would they be interviewing a stalinist plastic scotchman?


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Purple Foxx
Date: 15 Mar 06 - 03:13 PM

Guest JC If it's any use I have it in mind the interview I mentioned earlier may have been in N.M.E.
Can't imagine they interviewed MacColl very often.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST,J C
Date: 15 Mar 06 - 03:02 PM

Whoops, sorry,
Take your pills - we'll go for a walk later!


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST,DB
Date: 14 Mar 06 - 07:33 PM

Intellectual discussion?

This is mudcat you twat!


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST,J C
Date: 14 Mar 06 - 04:20 AM

There is a forthcoming biography of MacColl written by Ben Harker and commissioned by The History Workshop Journal (I think) which should be available before too long. I have seen the chapter on the mass trespasses movement in Derbyshire. It seems very even handed, which will make a nice change.
I hope (some time) to make available the material I have on him, particularly on his work on singing technique which I believe to be unique.
Purple Foxx - would be grateful if you find the interview you could let me have a copy - thanks.
'Ewan McShitface - A traitor who pretended to be Scotch - should have been shot!'

Don't you just love to wake up to a good intellectual discussion?


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Purple Foxx
Date: 14 Mar 06 - 03:10 AM

As for MacColl being a lifelong Stalinist,this assertion was based on an interview I read some time in the mid80's.
I have been unable to find that interview & therefore feel morally obliged to retract that claim.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST,DB
Date: 14 Mar 06 - 01:47 AM

Ewan McShitface - A traitor who pretended to be Scotch - should have been shot!


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 14 Mar 06 - 12:49 AM

JUst out of curiosity, what did MI5 (or the FBI or anyone else) think that MacColl, or Seeger, or Guthrie were going to do? Sing "subversive" songs? They were doing that anyway, and in public. Spy out military secrets? Where in hell would a singer get his hands on any military secrets? Start a revolution? Not bloody likely.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Joe Richman
Date: 13 Mar 06 - 10:55 PM

I only know about Peggy's love life because she felt it was important to tell me (and several hundred other strangers) about it.

But more importantly, is there also a KGB file on MacColl? As I recall, there were files on such folks as the Rosenbergs and Mr Hiss,and Gus Hall, too. So perhaps they did have a very nice folder on EMacC. It would be interesting to compare the MI5 file and the KGB file. Or maybe it would just be boring. I don't know.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST,J C
Date: 13 Mar 06 - 02:37 PM

'However MacColl did not, he remained a devotee until the day he died.

I would be interested to know on what grounds you base this on - I knew him well for twenty years up to his death, during which time I interviewed him on several occasions. This is not the impression I was left with.

'Now you're anonymous(why?)',
Well basically because I'm employed by MI5
I was a member of the Critics group along with Charles and knew him quite well. He was generous enough to invite me to his home on several occasions in Birmingham and in Leominster to take copies of his recordings. I was not involved in The Radio Ballads but have done a great deal of research on the work of MacColl, The Critics Group and the revival in general.
If your ever gig ever makes it to West Clare I'd be pleased to share a pint and an opinion with you.
Best wishes,
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: greg stephens
Date: 13 Mar 06 - 05:50 AM

GUEST JC: we disagree fundamentally, but like you I think we've all said enough for now. Now you're anonymous(why?), but I'm not. You can find me any time at a gig, so come and have a chat some time. I am most interested in your comments on the final days of the radio ballads...were you involved in some way? I worked for Charles Parker briefly on the post-McColl ballads, recording singers.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Purple Foxx
Date: 13 Mar 06 - 05:25 AM

As you say, the Majority did change their view on Stalin after Khruschev's revelations.
However MacColl did not, he remained a devotee until the day he died.
In spite of which fact his contribution to music remains incalculable.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST,J C
Date: 13 Mar 06 - 04:35 AM

This argument has now become a circular one revolving around whether MacColl did or did not know what was going on under the Stalinist regime in Russia.
Greg Stephens says he did, I say that not only did he not know, but there was no reason for him to know, any more than the rank-and-file New Labour or Republican Party supporters knew the facts behind W.M.D and the Iraqi invasion – just like wives, the electorate are always the last to be told.
If MacColl was guilty of collusion, so were the British citizens who hung their 'good old Uncle Joe' banners after Russia's great wartime victories. So were the electorate of Stephney in East London and in Glasgow who elected Communists into parliament. So was Pete Seeger, Howard Fast, Bertold Brecht, Garcia Lorca, Bert Lloyd and the host of other artists and intellectuals, (many, like Seeger, were prepared to go to McCarthy's prisons for their beliefs), who continued to lend their support to the Soviet Union right up to Kruschev's revelations at the Party Congress. So, strangely enough, were the vast majority of Soviet citizens who adored Stalin right up to his death, despite the fact that his disastrous collectivization policy was the cause of millions of deaths (Stalin's purges were aimed largely at his political opponents (real or perceived), rather than the ordinary man-in-the-street).
I am sure that the British authorities (and MI5) knew exactly what was going on, but, ever cynical, the British people were kept largely in the dark because, after Lenin's death and the power struggle between Stalin and Trotsky, it had been decided in high places to soft-pedal on anti-Sovietism on the basis that Stalin's 'Communism in one country' policy was preferable to Trotsky's 'Permanent Revolution'.
I have enjoyed this discussion (apart from the usual idiot who inevitably raises his empty head), and would be happy to continue it elsewhere, but once again it, like many other red-herrings , has acted as a diversion from discussing MacColl's contribution to traditional singing – shame!
By the way, the voice on 'The Travelling People' interviewing Justice of the Peace Harry Whatton suggesting that Travellers should be exterminated was that of producer Charles Parker. Charles said that the BBC management wanted to cut out that section and his refusal to do so was the cause of there being no more Radio Ballads (I don't count the two that MacColl and Seeger were not involved in as they abandoned the 'no interviewer' policy and reverted to the old interviewer-interviewee technique).


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST,DB
Date: 13 Mar 06 - 03:45 AM

That last post wasn't from me - I suspect that some of my previous posts may have upset a certain Scotophobe Ewan hater - good! Anyway, I'm out of here now.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST,DB
Date: 12 Mar 06 - 06:42 PM

I saw peggy perform too. Then she got dressed and went home - slapper!


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 12 Mar 06 - 06:32 PM

Piano was Peggy's first instrument, and the non-electronic variety are not always available, especially at bluegrass festivals...

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Mar 06 - 01:11 PM

I saw Peggy perform quite recently - just before Xmas - and she was exquisite.

I thought her singing had improved! - in a way not so "whiney". She played concertina, autoharp, guitar and banjo, and electric piano once or possibly twice. She also sang unaccompanied. She sang a mixture of self-penned and unaccompanied American traditional songs. A fairly normal performance I would have said and certainly different from her last tour of the UK in her choice of material.

Let us remember she is 70 years old - 71 shortly June I think. She tours all over the world still.

And she says she has been lucky to meet two wonderful life partners in one lifetime. Seems about right to me.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: akenaton
Date: 12 Mar 06 - 08:51 AM

I think you're on the right track Greg...


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: greg stephens
Date: 12 Mar 06 - 08:44 AM

Sorry Ake, you're a Stalinist apologist, I'm an anarchist. Someone tells me to pull my finger out, I just ram it up.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: akenaton
Date: 12 Mar 06 - 08:29 AM

NORMAL bodily functions will resume shortly..Ake


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: akenaton
Date: 12 Mar 06 - 08:26 AM

Greg....I said REMOVE the finger from arsehole...:0)


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: greg stephens
Date: 12 Mar 06 - 08:22 AM

Akenaton: well, I shall continue to admire MacColl's work, and dislike his politics(luckily his have not caught on too much here, so I am still allowed to criticise him if I wish). Anyway, to emphasise the duality of my feelings, I am following your advice, and have one finger in my ear and one up my arse, while singing the "Ballad of Joe Stalin".


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Mar 06 - 08:04 AM

and a traitor to boot!


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 12 Mar 06 - 06:44 AM

I think some people are getting confused with the song "Stick yer finger in yer ear, and go tingalingaloo!"

Some years ago, I was doing theatre workshop - we were workshoping a play over a fortnight. the director would then take any useful ideas and then work with his professional theatre groups to put the play on at a major theatre.

It was a scene in a nameless Shakespearan comedy, in which a buch of drunken fools (see typecast again!) were singing a drunken song. I just cupped my hand ove my ear to find my voice in amongst all the others, and the director shouted out "Keep that! Looks Good!"... I'm sorry...


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: akenaton
Date: 12 Mar 06 - 06:43 AM

I have adopted the "finger in the ear" technique lately

It was during the recent "Daughters of Albion" concert. I also found that the beneficial effect was enhanced by putting a finger in each ear.

I'm sure Ewan MacColl would strongly agree with this improvement to his style.

The critics of MacColl on this forum, would probably find that *removing* their finger's from their arsehole's would improve brain function...Ake


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST,J C
Date: 12 Mar 06 - 04:22 AM

Finger- in-ear has become a term of abuse for anybody who takes traditional song seriously.
The act of cupping the hand over the ear to allow the singer to hear his or her voice more clearly is not a new phenomenon. There are nineteenth century woodcuts of street ballad sellers using the technique. I have a record of Bengali temple singers with their hands cupped over their ears. It is a common device throughout the world with traditional singers and has been for centuries.
Perhaps those who sneer at it can't stand the sound of their own singing - maybe some audiences should adopt it!
Joe - Peggy has changed her act over recent years. While she has always sung contemporary songs, there seems to be an imbalance in her performances nowadays, and the electric piano tends to give the impression of a cabaret performer. I have a recording of a wonderful lecture she gave many years ago on accompaniment; perhaps she might want to re-listen to it sometime.
As far as I am concerned her sexuality is her own business.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: greg stephens
Date: 12 Mar 06 - 02:45 AM

GUEST two posts previously: I was waiting for someone to point out, perfectly correctly, that the Great Man did not actually sing with his finger in his ear. But statues in city squares, after all, represent myth rather than reality: and let's face it, Ewan MacColl was the definitive "finger in the ear folkie". The phrase has passed into common usage, so that is how I would wish the monumental statues to be.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: Joe Richman
Date: 11 Mar 06 - 10:52 PM

I never saw MacColl sing. The only time I ever saw his widow Peggy sing was at an old time fiddler's convention, where she was the mid- day "name" act. Her choice of instrumentation and material was hardly traditional.   She accompanied herself for many of her numbers on an electric piano. I wasn't particularly impressed.

She has moved on since her days with Ewan, and, she told us, she is living with someone decidedly not like Ewan now (sexually I mean, not politically). OK......

But back to who is monitoring whom. Both Capitalist and Communist governments (but not necessarily exclusively those two types) seem to spend a lot of time collecting information for files on people.   I wonder if the KGB had a file on Ewan MacColl? Or on me? Naww.....


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Mar 06 - 07:33 PM

of a man with his finger in his ear

Id like to try and get rid of this idea that MacColl put his finger in his ear. He didnt. He cupped his hand behind his ear...........lots of singers do it....Mike Waterson being another well known example. Take a look at the frontpage cover of "Journeyman". no finger in ear.

Some people find it helps them hear themselves - especially when singing harmonies. A " finger in the ear" is about as useful as an ear plug when singing (IMHO)

See here.....


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: ifor
Date: 11 Mar 06 - 04:07 PM

reply to Greg
Well it is true that there were many opponents of Sharpeville,Vietnam and the mistreatment of gypsies.It is also true that those who opposed Apartheid,the Vietnam war and the mistreatment of gypsies usually came from well outside the ranks of the powerful.
.
Years after Vietnam and Apartheid it is easy to forget that the banks,big business and mainstream political parties were only to willing to support the war and racism in South Africa.

In the UK it was usually the students,left wing parties,radical church people,South African exiles and trade unions who were the back bone of the anti apartheid movement.

But the ranks of the monied classes were usually solidly behind the apartheid regime and their investment portfolios in that country.Barclays Bank's involvement in South Africs springs to mind.

Likewise with Vietnam ,a million died in that slaughterhouse and they were mainly nameless Vietnamese.The British Communist Party for all its faults was heavily involved in all these issues.Take for example the Medical Aid for Vietnam Committee which is still at work today...set up by CP members.It is still raising funds to helpmaimed Vietnamese while the US has walked away from its legacy of agent orange and mines etc.
Ewan McColl was on the side of humanity.What a great artist,and yet a common everyman.
ifor


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: greg stephens
Date: 11 Mar 06 - 10:32 AM

I agree with 99% of GUEST JC's analysis, but I have to say that his exoneration of MacColl's Stalinism as an "error of judgement" seems a bit gentle. Their were many many opponents of Sharpeville, of the Vietnam war, the treatment of Gypsies etc etc. Thevast majoriy came from a politcal viewpoint diametrically opposed to Stalinism. There is no need to support(or even condone) Stalinism in order to admire and share in "The Shoals of Herring", "Thirty Foot Trailer", "Dirty Old Town", "John Axon", "First Time Ever I saw Your Face" etc. The man was a giant.I believe that, but it's not going to make me start executing my political opponents, or even start wanting to.
    It wpould have been intriguing if his politics had won, and Ewan MacColl became First Secretary of The Party in the People's Republic of Britain. The sight of all our cities having a Peoples' Revolutionary Square in their centre with a thirty foot high statue of a man with his finger in his ear would have been amazing.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST,DB
Date: 11 Mar 06 - 05:17 AM

Well said, 'GUEST JC'. Although some of MacColl's political views may be open to criticism there is no doubt that he championed many worthy causes during his lifetime and was not afraid to be outspoken or to fight against the concensus.
Nevertheless, I am convinced that most of those who seek to criticise MacColl don't really give a toss about his politics or his name change (as JC so rightly points out no-one ever criticises Robert Zimmerman for changing his name)- they hate him because HE DID NOT ENDORSE THEIR MUSICAL TASTES; it's as simple as that. Again, as JC points out, MacColl believed that folk song was a serious art form, in its own right, and should not be mindlessly colonised by the latest fads in contemporary commercial popular music. For the record I believe that he was absolutely correct in this respect.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST,Folkiedave in Spain (cookieless)
Date: 11 Mar 06 - 04:55 AM

Thanks for that JC. I was listening to the story of the travellers who were moved from a site in Leeds. It would have been cheaper to buy them a patch of land of thier own - but no they had to be moved on.

All I could hear was the "Moving on Song" - from 30 years ago.

Go to the BBC website and listen to that brilliant piece of social commentary when the Brimingham councillor says Travellers should be exterminated Ewan says (I think the only time he spoke in the whole series) "Isn�t that too strong a word" and the man says "No".

And as I write this just above me is a mudcat message that says

Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: woodsie
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 10:04 PM

The man was a plonker.


I should be such a plonker.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: GUEST,J C
Date: 11 Mar 06 - 03:59 AM

While I hesitate to disagree with somebody with as Scots a sounding name as Douglas, as far as I have been informed by in-laws and friends, Scotch was once a term commonly used by English and Scots alike for those coming from Scotland but nowadays it is not favoured by them. My dictionary gives as part of the definition "Scotchman/woman are forms sometimes heard outside Scotland, but many people find them mildly offensive. Scottish is the generally acceptable collective term". It could be argued that terms like Nigger and Yid are contractions of Nigerian and Yiddish and, while I would agree that there is a difference between the level of offence intended and taken by these terms, all give offence to one degree or another and are best avoided, just like the term 'snobbish' when applied by an individual to a large number of people (in which case the similarly offensive term 'arrogant' springs to mind). I understand from Scots friends that the term Scotch has Socio-Historical connotations rather than Malcolm's somewhat simplistic and dismissive analysis.
Back to MacColl;
I have followed this thread with some fascination.
When I came to traditional song back at the end of the fifties the pro-anti MacColl battle was being waged fiercely even then – and many of the arguments used then are still being aired – little has changed, (except MacColl has now been dead for over fifteen years).
I picked my sides back then on the strength of what I heard. I was immediately sucked into the serious side of the revival by the Topic sea albums of Ewan, Bert Lloyd and Harry H Corbett. I became a life-long ballad devotee on the strength of the Riverside albums of MacColl and Lloyd, described by Betrand Bronson as "the most important event in the field since the publication of Sharp and Karpeles' Southern Appalachian collection."
Theme albums like 'Chorus From The Gallows', 'Shuttle And Cage' and 'Bold Sportsmen All' helped make me aware of the broad scope of traditional song, and the still unsurpassed 'Song Carriers' deepened my interest and understanding. The Radio Ballads helped place the language of traditional song into a social context. The few times I met MacColl back then, I was impressed by someone who regarded folk song as an art form which deserved to be treated just as seriously as any other art form.
Down the years I have heard MacColl and Seeger give varying qualities of performance, but I can never remember hearing them sing badly, come unprepared to a club evening, or, as I have heard elsewhere, treat the songs, or the audience with contempt - (I did once see one of the 'stars' of the revival at a club in Manchester, stagger onto the stage drunk and vomit over someone in the front row. I've lost count of the number of times I've heard performers of traditional songs take the piss out of them as being quaint and risible).
While most of these 'stars' were getting on with their own careers, MacColl was running a weekly workshop for less experienced singers. The work of this workshop was helping broaden our understanding of traditional song through its researches into the London repertoire, the Waterloo – Peterloo project and the club feature evenings they were putting on combining song, poetry and prose readings.   
I found that MacColl's politics broadly coincided with my own. In the early days he was lending his support to the peace movement and the trades unions. When Apartheid thugs massacred unarmed Africans, MacColl responded by pointing the finger with his 'Ballad of Sharpville. He was one of the prime movers in the 'Folksingers For Freedom in Vietnam' campaign and helped draw attention to the atrocities that were taking place in that country. Throughout the Thatcher period when she and her government were tearing Britain in half and teaching the workers their place in society, it was MacColl's outpourings that gave many of us a boost and when she used the British police force as a private army against striking miners his support for those strikers was unwavering. How politically effective in changing the political situation is debatable, but as far as those of us who were involved were concerned they certainly helped keep us going.
That MacColl's and my father's generation were guilty of errors of judgment is of course true; as Barrie Roberts rightly suggests, isn't everybody capable of being wrong? An excellent history of the British Communist Party was published about ten years ago which deals fairly comprehensively with who knew what and when about Stalin.
On Thursday night I watched a film based on the experiences of three British Asian in Guantanamo and yesterday morning I woke up wondering why there weren't thousands of people on the streets of Britain and America protesting at the atrocities that are being committed in their name. Not too far from here there are weekly flights landing at an airport carrying torturers and their victims to countries where these activities can be continued with impunity, yet, as I write, the greatest visible response is that four people are on trial for the heinous crime of unfurling a banner in the departure lounge of that airport.
Each day in the national press we are regaled with yet another account of children being abused by paedophile priests – the main reaction – a constant stream of letters complaining about the ordeal these priests are being put through by these revelations.
A deafening silence hangs over the systematic ethnic cleansing that is being carried out on our Traveller population. With very few exceptions, those who don't actively support the policy pass by on the other side.
I have no idea why such things happen in our 'enlightened' society; but one thing I am certain of; I know exactly where MacColl would have stood on these issues.
There was a song dating back to the 1930s Harlan County mining wars which was popular in the early days of the revival – 'Which Side Are you On?'. Anybody who ever met MacColl was left in no doubt as to which side he was on.
If, as has been suggested by one 'highly articulate' individual, MacColl was a "total wanker", it seems to me that what the world (and traditional music) needs now is a few more "total wankers" like him.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: greg stephens
Date: 10 Mar 06 - 05:34 PM

And Alan Bennet, a pretty dangerous revolutionary character too.


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Subject: RE: MI5 monitored Ewan MacColl
From: shepherdlass
Date: 10 Mar 06 - 02:54 PM

In the arts and media, I'd suspect they keep a subtle eye on all those who've quite openly refused OBE/MBEs like Ben Zephaniah and Yasmin Alibai-Brown.


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