Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Joy of Living: A Tribute to Ewan MacColl

Have I mentioned Joy of Living to you at all?

I think it's a truly remarkable CD. It's a tribute to Ewan MacColl the English folk singer song writer who was born in 1915. The double CD includes 21 covers of Ewan MacColl's songs - some iconic and others lesser known - at least to me. But they cover a wide range of his song writing skills. Some songs are political, some social observations, some songs celebrate working people, some autobiographical and others love songs. 

However not only do we have some of the most dynamic and exciting songs written in these islands of the 1960's and 70's, but Calumn and Neil - Ewan MacColl's oldest and youngest sons have brought together an amazing list of contemporary English folk singers - both young and old - to sing. Many of these recordings were made especially for the CD itself. It feels like a labour of love for the family,who also accompany and do the arrangements on some of the songs.

I was just trying to write a list of some of the highlights from the CD but I found myself jotting down from memory almost all of the songs. Each one of these recordings is filled with a spirit of respect for the writer and a genuine love for the music he created. Each singer owns the  song for themselves - it is both their's but still also Ewan MacColl's. 

I am still completely stunned by the music every time I put it on. I continue to be blown away by Seth Lakeman's The Shoals of Herring, Karine Polwart's The Terror Time, Martin Carthy and Martin Simpson, The Unthanks, Dick Gaughan, Eliza Carthy, Billy Bragg, Rufus and Martha Wainwright and Christy Moore. But then there is Chaim Tannenbaun's My Old Man, Steve Earle's Dirty Old Town and Paul Buchanan's brave rendition of The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.

I think what made the present particularly special was that it was given to me at Christmas as I was recovering from a serious medical condition

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