As an ethnomusicological nerd, I was alerted by the American Folklife Center’s facebook page that today is Pete Seeger’s birthday. What a great excuse to highlight some of Seeger’s amazing music!
Born in 1919, Seeger is a national fixture. Early on with The Weavers, he recorded Leadbelly‘s tune, “Goodnight, Irene” (Leadbelly of course was discovered earlier in a Louisiana Prison by Alan Lomax). This clip talks about Leadbelly as a folk singer and friend to The Weavers, a “rememberer of folk songs”, and how this tune was his “theme song”:
Later, he soared through the sixties protest movement by writing/co-writing/recording some of my favorite folk tunes, which were later covered by artists such as Peter, Paul, & Mary and The Byrds (among others). I tried to get good clips here. The second is a clip of “I Had a Hammer” live in Australia (1963). The last two also showcase Seeger’s participatory audience folk singing style (call & response). The “Turn! Turn! Turn!” clip here was recorded/performed in NY, April 2010, and shows that although Seeger’s getting up there in age, he’s still “got it!”
As a little lagniappe for you, here’s a three-minute interview clip of Seeger discussing his thoughts on The Byrds and their version of “Turn! Turn! Turn!”.
“…Now when I sing it, most people have learned the song from The Byrds record, so I sing their version of it…”
I could spend days writing this post and still not include all of Seeger’s best tunes, and I think that alone says enough about his career. One of my favorite songs ever is “Little Boxes” (you may know it as the theme song from the show “Weeds”) so I have to include this clip:
Happy Birthday, Pete!
- Pete Seeger & Mark Ruffalo at the State Capitol in Albany (dave-lucas.blogspot.com)
- Famous and Celebrity Birthdays for May 3, 2011 (blippitt.com)
- Pete Seeger – Still Growing Strong – Boycott Israel (czardonic.wordpress.com)
- Folk Music Legend Seeger Praises Wis. Protesters (abcnews.go.com)