In the mid-seventies, the publishing company – Weidenfield and Nicholson of London – published Max’s first book suitably titled ‘I WAS THERE!’ – A collection of his songs, poems and stories. It was Illustrated by his old friend ‘Gren’, the cartoonist for the South Wales Echo.
There is inevitably a serious side to anyone who deals in humour and comedy. Max is no exception. In fact, many people would argue that Max’s serious songs are amongst his finest work. This has been recognised by the National Folk Museum of Wales who have collected some of his songs, recognising them as “songs of the people” – The essence of the contemporary folk song. They are songs of the working man much in the same vein as Ewan McColls ‘Shoals of Herring’ and Pete Seagers ‘Songs of the Dust Bowl’.
His coal mining and Industrial ballads serve as a reminder of a particular time and place, and are deserving of permanence. His Miners Strike songs like ‘Did You Understand?’ and a ‘Winter Too Late’ bear testimony to his experience of working underground for ten years after leaving school. It was with this insight and understanding that he was able to write the evocative ‘Rhondda Grey’ and heartfelt ‘Duw! It’s Hard’.
They would capture the bittersweet, love/hate relationship of a people who spent their working lives! “Emptying the hills to warm the world”.