On today’s show we honor Pete Seeger on his 90th birthday. Pete Seeger is a man who in his person has been an incredible force in American music and social movements, both as a performer and as an organizer and well spring of good ideas. He has been literally everywhere for so many many years, singing, playing and inspiring people around this country and around the world to sing, play guitars and banjos and take part in the social struggles that define their history. Pete has an off the charts level of talent as a singer, song leader, banjo and guitar player, performer, songwriter, song adapter and folk music popularizer. He’s also probably the oldest person to ever make a comeback, having won a grammy and played at the Obama inauguration concert. Pete Seeger is impossible to keep down, I was talking with some people recently and we were recalling that even when Pete was blacklisted in the 50’s the upshot of that was that he started playing for kids at schools and summer camps and thereby played a large part in inspiring the folk music boom of the 1960’s when those kids grew up. I was at a reunion of people who used to gather to play folk music in Washington Square park back in the 50’s and 60’s here in New York City and I recorded a bunch of short interviews with these folk musicians remembering encounters with Pete Seeger. So many musicians and lovers of folk music from that generation remember encounters with Pete Seeger that changed their lives. So on today’s show we’ll hear a bunch of my favorite Pete Seeger songs along with a selection of interviews with people that Pete inspired.
Also included here are the A sides of two obscure Pete Seeger albums available at Smithsonian Global Sound .
Click the 2nd play button above and you will hear:
Studs Terkel’s Weekly Almanac: Radio Programme, No. 4: Folk Music and Blues featuring Pete Seeger and Big Bill Broonzy, 1956. 170
Love You Baby/Hush-A-Bye /Crawdad Song / John Henry/ Bach, J.S. – Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring /Lonesome Valley/You Got To Stand in Judgement /The Midnight Special
Pete Seeger Sings and Answers Questions, 1968.
Opinions and Social Justice / Backgrounds to Social Songs in Europe and the USA / Social Songs from the Colonial Times to Today / Songs of the Immigrants
The 3rd play button in this post: Carly Nix interviews Eleanor Walden, organizer of a grassroots campaign to get Pete Seeger nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize via an online petition. This is the first grassroots attempts to get someone nominated for the Nobel Prize. Walden also talks about her personal experiences with the Greenwich Village sings, the People’s Songs Collective and the Folk Revival scene and social activism.
Here’s a film, “To Hear Your Banjo Play” from 1947, produced by Alan Lomax and featuring a young Pete Seeger as the narrator.