Craig Carothers, The Card
Available from Dwight Rabbit Records

This is not a new CD, but I’m reviewing it because we all need a laugh and Craig has a very twisted sense of humor. Craig often appears at the Freight when Steve Seskin is there. They write songs together. Craig collected some of his more offbeat material on this CD. “Too Many Holes In Her Head” is about a girl friend who has taken body piercing to the extreme. “BFD” is a very clever song that manages to build a tale of love around initials as in “One night I ordered pizza for some RNR with the NFL…” “More for Me” starts out like an appeal for restraint in consumption. But the payoff that the singer gets is “…give up what you’ve got and there’ll be a lot more for me.” “All Your Marbles Are Gone” is an upbeat steel drum tune but the lyric is about someone whose elevator no longer goes to top floor. “It’s all right, you look good in white.” “What Part of Over Don’t You Understand” begins after love is over and the guy just doesn’t get it. There are many other entertaining cuts on the CD but Carothers’ signature is “Plastic Rose.” A real loser gets a dear-John candygram from his ex. His focus becomes a plastic rose. If the audience doesn’t get on board right away with the concept, they wake up when they hear, “I’m too drunk to drive, I’m glad I drove.”

—Roy Trumbull

The Essential Ewan MacColl Songbook: Sixty Years of Songmaking compiled and annotated by Peggy Seeger; editing and layout by Irene Pyper-Scott.
First published in 2001 by Oak Publications, reissued in 2009 by Camsco Music—Loomis House Press, Northfield, Minnesota; 418 pp.

As the sub-title of this extraordinary volume says, Sixty Years of Songmaking, this is a collection of 193 songs by one of the most extraordinary songmakers who ever lived. To list the accomplishments, plaudits and accolades of the man known as Ewan MacColl, born Jimmy Miller, would take forever and a day. His theatrical, radio, and musical work and careers is beyond legendary. Peggy Seeger, his musical and life partner for thirty-five years, has produced more than a labor of love and a verbal tribute to the MacColl legacy. This is much more than a book of songs; it is a book of poetry, music, verbal images, and reflections on a life that did and will affect the British folk music scene for many decades to come.

From Pete Seeger’s foreword to Peggy’s “In Memoriam” for Ewan’s daughter Kirsty, this is a book that takes us on a musical journey that lasted well over half a century. Many subjects are covered: MacColl’s work in the theater, his involvement with Charles Parker and the Radio Ballads, the formation of both the Singers’ Club and the Critics Group, and MacColl’s lifelong love of British traditional music and the use of music in social and political activist causes too numerous to mention. The songs themselves are grouped under twenty categories, including war, the sea, work and no work, role models, love and laughter, technology and ideology, history and philosophy, and so much more besides. In addition, there is a quartet of appendices that include a media history of MacColl’s life, a glossary of unfamiliar words and terms found in his songs, a discography of all the songs included, and a full list of resources and sites for further information on the MacColl life and legacy. Many of the most familiar and beloved MacColl songs are included here, as well as numerous songs of a lesser-known nature. This volume is an absolute must for any serious student or devotee of the British folk music scene and the life and musical history of MacColl himself. This volume is a musical treasure beyond price and value. They say in Turkey that the only thing better than finding a treasure is to share it with others. Celebrate the MacColl legacy by continuing to sing his songs and they will continue to live on and endure for a very, very long time to come. As Peggy Seeger says in her own words, this was her last and most enduring gift to Ewan, and the world is so much the better place with this volume: no brag, just fact.

—Robert Rodriquez

Edited by Phyllis Jardine, Reviews