song of a road | A radio-ballad about the building of the M1 motorway.

A few days ago I stumbled across Dorian Lynskey's music underground map. I didn't read the blurb, went straight to the PDF. Thought it would be anthropological, so I went straight to New Cross, which is Ewan MacColl. This didn't make sense until I read the key, and then, just like a 40-something out of touch professional, I thought 'wow, there's something I know nothing about, British folk music, let's go find.' My tesco garage is the LCC loan department, where I found this:

It's fun to listen to on a Saturday afternoon. And also quite informative, I don't know much about surveying and hydraulics. Or the plight of men without their machines: "I didn't have a machine for days and you saw what it did to me! You couldn't do anything with me!"

Don't think the makers were so happy with it though:
"We fumbled the opportunity. We found ourselves asking questions about road-building, about running a concrete-batching plant, about prefabrication techniques. Worse, we found ourselves incorporating the answers in the programme itself. In short, we were behaving as though our intention was to create a programme which would inform the listeners how to build their own motorway. It's an uneasy compromise between a typical feature programme and a radio-ballad and a not particularly good example of either."

Ultimately, it was made in 1959. It makes the words "hot asphalt" sound quaint. Having not been near a ballad or a radio or the M1 for a while, it's good.


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