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Tag: Folk Music

January 28, 2014: A special tribute to Pete Seeger…

When I went to bed last night, a rumor was circulating on Facebook that Pete Seeger had died. I went where I usually go, out to the larger Internet, to substantiate the rumor, and I couldn’t find anything to prove it was true, so I went to sleep. This morning, Morning Edition confirmed what a sizeable chunk of my FB Friends now know is true.

Pete Seeger, Songwriter and Champion of Folk Music, Dies at 94

My father is largely responsible for my introduction to folk music. Without his reel to reel tape recorder, I wouldn’t have known about Pete, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Phil Ochs, Peter, Paul and Mary, Woody Guthrie or any of the other musicians who made up the fabric of my early childhood.

search for Pete Seeger on You Tube generates hundreds, if not thousands of links to his work. For me, a visit to the Hudson Valley as a young child (in Woodstock, after THE concert) landed my closest association with the man as I recall sitting on his lap. I also remember watching his series Rainbow Quest on PBS, when they broadcast the series in 1967-68.

[Full movie requires rental from YouTube or other site.]

Last year, I made a point of attending the Clearwater Great Hudson River Revival and I got to thank him again, in person. Didn’t have enough time to say it more than once, but I noticed he was all over that festival. I saw Toshi, once, while we were waiting for the Richie Havens memorial to begin, and I knew then that she was quite ill, but I also saw that he stayed with her until that concert started. Their devotion to each other, for just shy of 70 years, was inspirational.

He remained active right up through this year, but was too ill to attend a parade he helped organize:

Seeger’s dream for King comes true in Beacon; activist had to cancel appearance

So, in the spirit of Twofer Tuesday, in this special edition, have a second cut, with Buffy Sainte-Marie, who I also saw last summer at the festival. Explore the clips on YouTube. And take comfort that the folk movement isn’t dead so long as we pass our values on to the generations to come. After all, that’s how the music remains with us. Pass it on.

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November 13: Woody and Arlo Guthrie ~ This Land Is Your Land

Not only does this video highlight a grand-daddy of the Folk movement, it’s a who’s who of singers, including Arlo Guthrie, Judy Collins, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger and more.

Music from the last Great Depression brought to you by a member of a community built during that era, living in the current Great Recession (because they don’t have the guts to call it what it truly is, the Second Great Depression).

This land is your land, this land is my land.

Seeing Pete Seeger in performance as well as Judy Collins just about made my weekend at the Revival. I just wish more people would pay attention to these old songs. They still mean something, decades and decades later.

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November 12: Pete Seeger ~ Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

I almost posted this video yesterday for Veteran’s Day, but Pete Seeger’s classic talks more about the senselessness of being a soldier and that isn’t what Veteran’s Day is about. I know too many who have served proudly. Even if I think war is wrong (and if you haven’t learned that about me yet, you really are missing my point), I also try to keep my opinions clear.

This song isn’t about soldiers so much as the government that sends them away. We could make other choices. Sadly, the war machine is dug in again and the damage this time will take much, much longer to heal. Worse, some of us promote fierce patriotism but do nothing when our soldiers return, health damaged beyond repair.

Many of our battle-scarred men and women are homeless, mentally ill, living in poverty, unable to work, and these same people are part of the “takers” the Tea Party and GOP blame for costing our country so much. Veterans are high among those living on food stamps and they are the ones being hurt by a GOP that cares most about big business and the bottom line.

The irony would be laughable if it wasn’t so sick.

Peter, Paul and Mary made Pete Seeger’s song famous, but they weren’t the only ones who covered it. You can check YouTube yourself for alternative versions by Joan Baez, the Kingston Trio, and more.

Fortunately, I’ve seen Pete Seeger sing more than once: As a child and again last summer at the the Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival. I also watched his music program Rainbow Quest (some of which has been released on DVD). His music provided a soundtrack to my life.

This section of the blog developed from my experience last summer, and evolves into recalling some of my favorite songs. They are part of who I am and why I feel the way I do.

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