Ewan MacColl cutting to the core of industrial Britain

Ewan MacColl

Dirty Old Town

Major Minor

Release Date: February 3rd, 1949

Words by: Nick Bornholt
March 2nd, 1965


'We'll chop you down like an old dead tree…' sings MacColl. And indeed, both he and Peggy Seeger do just that with this haunting and much covered song.

Originally penned by MacColl, this eerie hymn to industrial England is both gritty and raw. But like its namesake, the song holds a beauty that defies explanation unless you're taking an in-depth look at the exceptional lyricism that lies beneath the surface.

Ewan MacColl cutting to the core of industrial Britain

The backing music provided by Alan Lomax and the Ramblers walks with a subtle beauty in the way it frames this almost a cappella ballad; that is until the poignant jazziness of a clarinet whispers through the speakers just before the final verse.

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