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On the Edge 1962

In The Beginning
Ewan MacColl 1915 - 1989
Peggy Seeger 1935 -
Charles Parker 1919-1980
The Original Ballads
The Ballad of John Axon 1957
Song of a Road 1958
Singing the Fishing 1959
The Big Hewer 1960
The Body Blow 1961
On the Edge 1962
The Fight Game 1963
The Travelling People 1964
The New Radio Ballads
John Tams
The Song Of Steel
The Enemy That Lives Within
The Horn of the Hunter
Swings and Roundabouts
Thirty Years of Conflict
Ballad of the Big Ships

On The Edge
Topic TSCD 806

On The Edge, the radio ballad about teenagers in England and Scotland

The sixth Radio Ballad, On the Edge, deals with young people on the cusp of childhood and adulthood. The youngsters embraced the field recording techniques now perfected by the team and, contrary to expectations that young people would refuse to talk freely about their hopes and fears to adults, held nothing back. MacColl noted that "the problem was not to get them talking, but to stop them."

In the summer of 1962, conversing in coffee bars and dance halls, youth clubs and college rooms plastered with pin-ups, teenagers expressed their hopes and fears, dreams and observations with a stark honesty that reveals much about growing up in the 1960s. The team watched the youngsters sense their budding powers of articulation and become, as Parker observed, "truly self-aware and almost, it sometimes seemed to us, adult before our eyes as we sat and listened".

Boldly, for such a subject in such an era, MacColl deliberately used the quest ballad, an ancient form of traditional music, for his musical direction. He understood that the traditional folk style used throughout the series was perfectly valid for these young people, who spoke so honestly of their feelings in their own language, uninfluenced by their pop idols and the contemporary concerns of adolescence in the 1960s. Praise from the press was fulsome though MacColl thought it unmerited, saying that "the team had allowed itself to be overcome by the richness of the actuality". Nevertheless, the broadcast was followed by hundreds of requests for copies from teachers and those concerned with the welfare of teenagers.

1. I've Always Kept A Diary
2. The Tale Of The Children Of A Troubled World
3. What Is It Like, The World Outside
4. I Find It Very Difficult To Talk To My Parents
5. Where Is The Child Who Would Climb On My Knee
6. Yes Sir, No Sir, Goodbye
7. What Have You Got To Worry About?
8. I Get Me Tight Black Jeans
9. The World That I Know, It Has Vanished And Gone
10. I've Had Thoughts
11. Why Should You Be Lonely
12. It Actually Gives Me A Thrill
13. Frankly, The Idea Of Intercourse And Sex Revolts Me
14. I Think We Should Be Getting Married
15. In A World Like This, Everything Changes So Rapidly
16. The Tale Of The Children Of The Troubled World
17. Life Has Got Everything To Offer

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