The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #100487 Message #2048432
Posted By: Don Firth
10-May-07 - 05:32 PM
Thread Name: Pete Seeger: Nobel Peace -Updated-deadline Feb1!
Subject: RE: Pete Seeger: Nomination for Nobel Peace
The Weavers first came into existence in 1947, and by 1949 they had several hit songs—songs that are now considered "standard folk favorites." Not only could one make a strong case for their being the primary ignition of the "folk boom" of the late 50s and 60s, one would be hard pressed to deny it and subsequently be taken seriously. They set the pace for the Gateway Singers, the Kingston Trio, and the plethora of other groups that followed. The two most prominent voices in the Weavers at the time were Pete Seeger and Ronnie Gilbert.
I first heard Pete Seeger live in fall of 1954, after the Weavers had been blacklisted and temporarily broke up. The Pacific Northwest Folklore Society, of which I was a charter member, sponsored a concert by Pete Seeger as our initial event. There was nothing political about our choice to sponsor Pete. We had heard him on records, both with the Weavers and on his own Folkways "Daring Corey" album. Our choice was strictly musical, and Pete was available.
The concert was an incredible two hours. There were a couple of old labor songs in his program, but the bulk of it was just a full run of mostly American songs and ballads, and, of course, within about twenty minutes he had the whole audience singing in parts like a trained choir.
Pete was agreeable to a bit of a bash after the concert. It finally ended at about four in the morning with about a half-dozen of us, including Pete, sitting on the living room floor passing a guitar back and forth and swapping songs and guitar licks.
Pete is very knowledgeable about folk music (after all, as a teen-ager, he worked with Alan Lomax at the Archive of American Folk Music at the Library of Congress) and his enthusiasm for it is genuine and highly contagious. He may not be the best singer in the world and he may not be the world's best banjo player or guitarist, but he was a very good singer and he definitely had a flair for any instrument he turned his hand to. And if they gave Olympic gold medals for song leading, he'd have a whole drawer full of them.
His early interest in communism sprang from his humanitarianism. A lot of people who were deeply concerned with the human condition and the inequities of the world made that same "mistake." Once they realized that communism as it was manifesting itself was abandoning human values for totalitarianism, they, in turn, abandoned communism.
There is an old saying: He who is not a communist in his early twenties has no heart. He who is still a communist in his forties has no brain.
Those who delight in bad-mouthing Pete Seeger don't know what the hell they're talking about.