Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pete Seeger, 1919- 2014

Folk music, one of the earliest forms of music, was one of the very last musical styles I understood. Not literally, of course. I just wasn't able to actively listen for pleasure the way I would listen to everything else. Then something changed as I got older and once I had the ability and the sense and the understanding, folk music became as important to me as breathing.

If you asked me when I was 18 years old to give a listen to The Weavers or the Kingston Trio or  Woody Guthrie, I might have laughed in your face. Even when I listened to Dylan, it was only electric Dylan. I was more interested in sound than words. It all changed for me when I realized that so many of the artists I had been listening to from The Beatles and Led Zeppelin and Bruce Springsteen, had all been influenced in some form by folk music.

Pete Seeger was a giant. A true hero.

I admit that even now I may reach for a Bruce Springsteen version of a Pete Seeger song before an actual Pete Seeger record. But I became more enriched, wiser, when I finally let artists like Phil Ochs and Judy Collins and Woody and especially Pete Seeger into my life.


Ken D said...

What a mensch. What a life. A word that is much overused but appropriate here: inspiring.

Highly recommended viewing: "Pete Seeger: The Power of Song."

William Repsher said...

He had the purest, best voice of any folk singer: perfectly suited the material in spirit and quality.

Springsteen versions of songs made famous by him felt extremely over-wrought to me, too studied, way too much production. Just a voice and a banjo. If you got it, that's all you need. And he surely got it!

Robin said...

I disagree with William on the Springsteen versions. I love listening to Pete and then Bruce, just lovely counterpoint. I was just watching on You Tube the other day a little video about Pete's participation in the Dylan tribute "Chimes of Freedom". Forever young. Godspeed Peter Seeger.

charlie c. said...

Tireless in his efforts for others. An American saint. Ain't no shame in reaching for the Seeger Sessions! Direct lineage, with a stop off at One Man Revolution . . .

wool said...

an absolute icon of American spirit and heart (which unfortunately is not found much today)...the American Masters show on Pete is really good...I am sure it will be airing over next few weeks and is worth a watch.

A walk in the woods said...

I tend to agree with you about the Bruce versions of Pete songs, William Repsher... in fact I'm finding it hard to stay on the Bruce train these days - it's starting to seem pretty contrived to me. And that sucks, 'cause I'm a HUGE Bruce fan!

Pete was a giant of music, and he put himself in the way of those more powerful, to make a difference. Maybe calling it punk music is more accurate in some ways, than folk.

Rest in peace, mighty Pete.

Anonymous said...

Nicely said Sal, I went through much the same experience with Pete Seeger.

I was very luck too see him a few times in the 1990's, he was wonderful.

Allan R.