My Old Man

Album: Black and White: The Definitive Collection (1986)
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Songfacts®:

  • Many of Ewan MacColl's political songs have an inherent nastiness about them, but this one is pure charm, being as much personal biography as anti-capitalist polemic. MacColl was born James Miller in Lancashire, 1915. His father was a Scottish foundry worker who had been blacklisted because of his union activity.

    In the song, as in real life, William Miller ends up a broken man, discarded during the Great Depression, though it is not clear if this was due to the rampant unemployment, his union activity, advances in technology, or some permutation thereof. This intricately crafted acoustic song is a fine blend of love, admiration and bitterness. It is a song that will strike a chord with every son or daughter who has been influenced by a strong minded parent, and with everyone who has ever been thrown on the scrapheap for whatever reason.

    The one mistake MacColl makes is that like his father he saw the capitalist system as the enemy, the proverbial "bosses," rather than the bankers, the people who in the words of Steve Knightley a decade after MacColl's death, have dealt themselves a winning hand and loaded every dice. Times were indeed hard during the Great Depression, but every employer, every "capitalist," is subjected to the same inelectable forces as the rest of us further down the food chain. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England

Comments: 3

  • Ckekp from Usa Wow! I’m suprised neither on of you spouted the tried and true “each the rich!”

    And to my friend from the UK, I’m sure you’d agree that Stalin took responsibility for his screwed up agricultural policies that produce a famine that wiped out hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Russians. But they were all kulaks, so the deserved it. Clear socialism and communism have lifted so many people out of poverty that it makes no sense to try to impose it on the world again. Right comrades?!!??!
  • DonLmao at the writer of this songfact trying to defend capitalists
  • Ben from UkMuch as I'd like to believe that the capitalists are in the same boat as the rest of us, that just simply isn't true. Capitalists do all they can to externalise the costs of their folly. When they make a mess, they make damn sure to make the poor pay for it, whether it be today, tomorrow, the economic crisis of 2008, or the Great Depression.
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