The Joy of Living

My old friend Simon Smith has embarked on a project to curate his favourite songs in a daily blog, Simon365, throughout the year. This piece is my homage to his effort — I’m in awe of his encyclopaedic music sensibility.

Yesterday evening members of the SongWave Community Choir, led by Kate Howard, were engaged in learning the song, The Joy of Living, that Ewan MacColl left the world before he died. It’s not easy to write about joy, and especially when the author is close to the darkness, any attempt to do so risks descending into maudlin grief. Somehow Ewan MacColl’s lyrics and music transcend the sadness and offer an anthem for life.

But it is a farewell. And yet, in saying goodbye Ewan manages to exalt the natural world, to offer kindly advice to his children, to hold his beloved companion in. his arms, and to encourage us to look for the joys of life at every turn.

Rather than continuing with my own words, why not spend a few minutes listening to Ewan MacColl with Peggy Seeger in the 1986 recording of this song? The accompanying video sequence on YouTube helps to exemplify the northern hills of these British Isles, bringing the lived experience that much closer.

And then the very best thing we all can do is to go out today and experience afresh the joy of living.

3 responses to “The Joy of Living”

  1. Fiona Bernhoeft Avatar
    Fiona Bernhoeft

    Thank you for inviting me to pause my day and breathe again the beauty of Ewan Macoll’s ‘ Joy of Living’. Oh, to be a part of the curlew’s cry and the gentle wind. The pain and the joy and the poetry of living. No more words of appreciation from me. The song and the voice says it all.

    Have a good day.
    ‘May your wings be sprung’.


  2. I like the music. If going through my LPs* I find that my tastes have been ecletic. Steppenwolf to Rod McKuen, Kingston Trio to the Doors or Jimi Hendrix to Eugene Ormandy & Philadelphia Orchestra. I see that Joy is being posted more frequently. Does that mean that you are feeling at home in Scotland? Aye laddie. Write on.


    1. Aye, you’re right Henry, the joys are trickling in at an increased rate again, and yes, we feel that we are settling in to our new lives here. Lots of writing to be doing, which is great fun, and in particular the consolidations that I’m embarking upon. I’m awaking with writing projects in mind to be getting on with, which is good, on the whole I think.



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