Dylan Thomas & Ralph McTell — “The Boy With A Note”: In Preparation For Cambridge Revels.
by Anura Guruge
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Dylan Thomas, the Welsh poet (who died young at 39), best known for “Under Milk Wood“, is due for a resurgence of fame, at least in New England, because Cambridge ‘Revels’ (the ‘mothership’ as I call them) is doing a “Welsh Celebration” as the theme of their Christmas (Solstice) show — whereas ‘Revels North‘, (Dartmouth as I call them) are doing a ‘”Scottish Bash“. So two very British, very celtic shows by the two NE ‘Revels’ powerhouses. The “Welsh Celebration“, as I immediately knew it would be even before I read the ‘blurb’, invokes Dylan Thomas — since he is BEST known in the States for “A Child’s Christmas In Wales“.
Well Dylan (as well known for his dipsomania as for his classic words) and I have a connection. I know that most of you don’t fully appreciate my Welshness and have no idea that my distinctive accent has very Welsh undertones. Well given this connection I wanted to do a few posts about Dylan ahead of the ‘Revels’.
This magical CD, by Ralph “Streets of London” McTell, was a good place to start. I have had a copy of it for 23 years and still listen to it! It is one of my favorite CDs, and if the truth be known I have two copies since I like to have one in the car.
Watch the above YouTube and you will understand. Ralph McTell is an amazingly gifted musician.
There is also a story as to HOW I ended up with that CD.
In 1992 I was in London doing a seminar. In those days, from 1986 to 1998, I used to go back to the U.K. 2 to 3 times (sometimes more) a year to do seminars. So this was anothre one of those trips. The seminar was at the Holiday Inn, in Swiss Cottage, London — one of my preferred venues for London seminars. As was always the case those days I had a rental car since I liked to drive around my ol’ stomping grounds in the evening. And that is what I was doing one evening, listening to the BBC on the car radio, when I started to hear these songs. I was captivated. Loved them. I wanted that music. But for the world of me the BBC never told me who it was and where the music came from. Aaahhh!
I lucked out. All the UK seminars were invariably done for the UK IBM Consultancy firm called Xephon. Xephon and I went back a long time. My primary contact at Xephon was Mark Lillycrop, a giant of a man in many ways, and not just because he was 6′ 7″ and as such qualified per the British definition for a ‘giant’. I explained my dilemma to Mark. I begged him to find out where the music came from and to get the music for me. Mark did! He contacted the BBC. Tracked down what the program had to have been. Mark is resourceful. Today, via Facebook, where he is a ‘friend’, I thanked him for this AGAIN. He smilingly pointed out that it was NOT easy in 1992 — when there was no Web or Amazon. He is, of course, right.
So that is the story of how I got the CD.
You don’t have to jump through those hoops. You can just order it from Amazon.
Trust me. Great CD. Tells you the whole story of Dylan Thomas, graphically, with music. Basically every other track is a genuine song with short narrations, by Ralph, in between. Listen to “Summer Girls”.
More on Dylan this week.
In the meantime try saying Cwmdonkin Drive. Yes, Cwmdonkin Drive, Uplands, Swansea.