Ewan MacColl

Ewan MacColl

English folk singer, songwriter, playwright, and record producer
English folk singer known for his work with wife Peggy Seeger, and as writer of songs "Dirty Old Town" and "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face."
BornJanuary 25, 1915
HometownBroughton, United Kingdom
SpouseJoan Littlewood (m 1934 - 1950) , Joan Littlewood (m 1934 - 1949) , Peggy Seeger (m 1977 - 1989)
ChildrenKirsty MacColl , Hamish McColl
ParentsWilliam Miller , Betsy Miller
Profile

Top Stories

Peggy Seeger, Cecil Sharp House, review: a masterclass from a folk veteran

  • Peggy Seeger is steeped in the folk tradition. Over a 65-year career, she has released over 70 albums, over half of which were recorded with her late husband, the singer Ewan MacColl. Her father was renowned folklorist Charles Seeger and her mother was composer Ruth Crawford Seeger, her brother was Mike Seeger and her half-brother was If I Had A Hammer icon Pete Seeger. And MacColl’s daughter from a previous marriage was the singer Kirsty MacColl, who died in 2000. So I slightly feared that this concert by Seeger, now 85, in the home of English folk – the imposing Cecil Sharp House in Camden – would be one for the purists: rather serious and slightly austere. But it was nothing of the sort. Seeger, who was born in New York but has largely lived in the UK since the 1950s, imparted her wise and optimistic worldview with joy and a wonderful lightness of touch. This was a masterclass in storytelling through music, as though delivered by a favourite aunt. She was joined on stage in the venue’s wood-panelled Kennedy Hall by her son Calum MacColl, an accomplished musician in his own right. “I’m very glad to half-see you all,” Seeger joked as she looked out at the mask-wearers in the socially-distanced and seated crowd. “One good thing about lockdown is we’ve learnt to smile with our eyes,” she added. The music was packed with life lessons. One of the themes of the evening was ageing and anonymity. ‘The Invisible Woman’ was about how society marginalises its older members, while ‘Nobody Knew She Was There’ was a haunting song penned by her husband about his mother’s night job washing endless floors in an office block. Seeger has said that she “revels” in songs, “tasting their words as I sing”. But she has long been a student of folk’s form and context. During the folk revival of the 1960s, Seeger and MacColl set up The Critics Group, a sort of study circle that educated its members about the genre’s disciplines and history. The goal was to preserve truth and respect tradition. And yet, while Seeger clearly does that, there was a refreshing sense of “dogma be damned” about this show as well.

Albums

Real MacColl
Real MacColl
1993
Scottish Drinking & Pipe Songs
Scottish Drinking & Pipe Songs
1984
Solo Flight
Solo Flight
1972
Travelling People
Travelling People
1968
Fight Game
Fight Game
1967
Singing the Fishing
Singing the Fishing
1966
Ballad of John Axon
Ballad of John Axon
1965
Classic Scots Ballads
Classic Scots Ballads
1961
Blow Boys Blow
Blow Boys Blow
1960
Big Hewer
Big Hewer
1959
Introduction to Ewan MacColl
Introduction to Ewan MacColl
2018
The Jacobite Rebellions
The Jacobite Rebellions
2015
Ballads: Murder Intrigue Love Discord
Ballads: Murder Intrigue Love Discord
2010
Anthology
Anthology
2010
Blow Boys Blow: The Tradition Years
Blow Boys Blow: The Tradition Years
2006
Classic Scots Ballads: Tradition Years
Classic Scots Ballads: Tradition Years
2005
Definitive Collection
Definitive Collection
2003
Song of a Road
Song of a Road
1999
Body Blow
Body Blow
1999
On the Edge [Topic]
On the Edge [Topic]
1999
Chorus from the Gallows
Chorus from the Gallows
1999
Bold Sportsmen All
Bold Sportsmen All
1998
Antiquities
Antiquities
1998