Ding Dong Dollar

Stewart Black

‘Ding Dong Dollar’ (DDD) was a Scottish songwriting project of the early 1960s, focusing on opposition to Polaris nuclear weapons.  It is regarded as one of the high-points of political songwriting in Scotland and Britain; and one song, ‘The Freedom Come All Ye’, is widely considered as the single best new song of the Scottish folk music revival. There is also a strong connection with Edinburgh University, in that one member of the team behind the project was Hamish Henderson, of the School of Scottish Studies, where he was based from the early 1950s to the late 1980s. 

Around 5-6 of the DDD songs, including the ‘title’ song, were translated into Russian by the eminent Russian translator, Samuil Marshak, published in the newspaper Izvestia in Autumn 1961, and performed by the children of a Moscow school.  It is not known who passed the DDD songs to Marshak. There are three possibilities: Morris Blythman (a teacher and poet/songwriter, who also co-ordinated the DDD project), Emrys Hughes (a friend of Marshak’s, at whose house he stayed during his January 1955 visit to Scotland for the Robert Burns Festival), and Hamish Henderson (who was not only a member of the DDD team, but appears to have been involved in the work of the Scotland-USSR Friendship Society and the coordination of arrangements for the 1955 visit).

One of the other members of the DDD team, Josh MacRae, a singer/guitarist, was invited to perform DDD songs in Moscow in July 1962, at the World Congress For General Disarmament And Peace. He wrote about his experiences during the visit, including meeting Yuri Gagarin and recording a song for him while in Moscow.

In 1962, when the poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko visited Britain, he met Hamish Henderson, who gave him a copy of the record album of DDD songs released earlier that year in the US by the Folkways record company. 

Ding Dong Dollar album at Folkways Recordings