Our Song of the Day is taken from the forthcoming ‘Joy of Living’ – A Tribute To Ewan MacColl. The album, due for release on 30th October via Cooking Vinyl, is a remarkable double cd featuring new interpretations of Ewan MacColl’s songs by the likes of Damien Dempsey, Martin Carthy, The Unthanks, Seth Lakeman, Marry Waterson, Dick Gaughan, Billy Bragg, Steve Earle, Eliza Carthy, Jarvis Cocker, Paul Brady, Norma Waterson, Martin Simpson, Christy Moore, Karine Polwart and Kathryn Williams. This new lyric video has just be unveiled for The Young Birds and sung by Jack Steadman & Ewan’s grandson, Jamie MacColl, both of Bombay Bicycle Club:
‘Joy of Living’ is to be released to mark the centenary year of Ewan MacColl’s birthday. It is produced by MacColl’s sons Calum and Neill and features a host of artists from across the worlds of pop, rock and folk. Rather than trying to be a definitive collection, it provides a testament to the range and influence of this remarkable singer and song-writer.
It seems appropriate that other ‘folk families’ should feature on this release, so ‘Sweet Thames Flow Softly’ is performed by Rufus & Martha Wainwright, The Unthank sisters perform ‘Cannily, Cannily’ and there are several individual contributions by the Waterson-Carthy family.
Neill and Calum will be producing and playing on a Ewan MacColl Tribute tour later this year, along with other family members and folk alumni (see dates below).
Born James Henry Miller in Salford, Lancashire, on January 25 1915, MacColl’s parents were active left-wing socialists and from his earliest days, MacColl was familiar with the cut-and-thrust of political discussion and argument. Equally important in the life of the household were the songs and stories his parents brought from Scotland.
Married three times – to the theatre director Joan Littlewood (with whom he ran a radical theatre company in the 1930s and 40s), to the choreographer Jean Newlove and to the American folk singer Peggy Seeger (interviewed here on Folk Radio UK) – MacColl saw three of his five children follow him into music. Kirsty MacColl (daughter of Jean), an effervescent writer and performer, was tragically killed in a swimming accident in 2000, but Neill and Calum MacColl (sons of Peggy) remain active, gifted musicians, songwriters and producers. Four of MacColl’s grandchildren are also musicians, with two of them appearing on this double album.
MacColl’s contribution to the musical legacy cannot be underestimated. His establishment of the Ballads and Blues club in Soho in 1953 gave birth to a folk revival that remains in vigorous health today, while the ancient and industrial ballads he rediscovered and championed are still being explored.
Joy of Living: A Tribute to Ewan MacColl pays homage to this fearless, uncompromising character whose influence is still felt not only within but far beyond the folk world.
‘BLOOD & ROSES’ UK tour dates
(full line-up to be announced shortly)
Tuesday Nov 3 – Liverpool, Philharmonic
Wednesday Nov 4 – Salford, Lowry Theatre
Thursday Nov 5 – Gateshead, The Sage
Friday Nov 9 – Barbican, London
Joy of Living – A Tribute To Ewan MacColl is due for release on 30th October via Cooking Vinyl