Quote of the Moment – Pete Seeger: Not singing is a big mistake

January 18, 2016

I don’t have a citation for where Pete Seeger said this, but it’s wholly within his character and mission. Anyone got a cite?

@Area9Handbells said:  Pete Seeger got it right with the exception of one word –

A Tweet from @Area9Handbells: Pete Seeger got it right with the exception of one word – “sing.” We think he meant “ring.”

“The easiest way to avoid wrong notes is to never open your mouth and sing. What a mistake that would be.”

∇ Pete Seeger

I’ve asked for a citation, for accuracy and to keep the anti-plagiarism and accuracy mavens happy, but don’t have one yet. Nor do I know to whom goes credit for the poster and photo. Can you help?


Rosa Parks, Pete Seeger and friends at the Highlander School

December 1, 2014

December 1, 1955, was not an accident of history.  Rosa Parks, often described as “a seamstress,” was college educated, trained as a teacher, and trained in civil rights actions at the Highlander School in New Market, Tennessee.

On this anniversary of Mrs. Parks’s Earth-moving action of civil disobedience, I think back to a photograph taken a couple of years later, at the Highlander School.

It’s a stunning photograph, not for its photographer’s skills, nor the artistic nature of the taking.  It’s a true snapshot.  Five people on a farm in Tennessee, in black and white.  Probably the photographer used a Kodak camera made just for snapshots.

Except, it was 1957.  The farm is the Highlander School.  The five people in the photo include folksinger Pete Seeger, and Rosa Parks, and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Pete Seeger, MLK , and others at Highlander School, 1957

From left, Martin Luther King, Jr., Pete Seeger, Charis Horton, one of the founders of the Highlander School, Rosa Parks, and the Rev. Ralph Abernathy. At a workshop at the Highlander School in Tennessee, circa 1957.

12,346

Who was the photographer?  Perhaps Myles Horton, the director of the school (and Charis’s husband).

In a sort piece filmed at his home in Beacon, New York, for the Highlander’s 75th Anniversary in 2007, Pete described the time and the occasion.

Don’t  you love the cricket singing along with Pete?

More:

Yes, this is mostly an encore post.  Fighting ignorance requires patience.

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.


Typewriter of the moment: Pete Seeger

February 15, 2014

Photo found at the blog of the good Robert Messenger at OzTypewriter:

I can find no identifying information on the photo.  It looks, to me, to have been taken in the 1950s, judging by Pete’s hair and no beard.

Pete Seeger at his typewriter, probably in the 1950s.

Pete Seeger at a typewriter, probably in the 1950s.

It’s an electric typewriter, I think, seeing a cord coming out of the back.  Probably a Royal (I’m not great at identifying typewriters, you know).   Was this taken at Pete’s home in Beacon?  Perhaps.

Can you help in identifying the time and place of this photo?

More:


Tribute to Pete Seeger: Tish Hinojosa, “Festival of Flowers”

February 1, 2014

Somebody put a video collage of Pete together with Tish Hinojosa‘s cut off of a 1998 Pete Seeger tribute album, “Festival of Flowers,” just in the last few days.

Details:

From “Where Have All the Flowers Gone : The Songs of Pete Seeger” 1998
Tish Hinojosa – vocals
Marvin Dykhuis – gitarra de golpe (mariachi guitar)
Chip Dolan – accordion
Amy Ferris Tiven – violin
Glenn Kawamoto – bass
Paul Pearcy – drums

Tish Hinojosa’s voice constantly stuns me with its clarity; I think my first Tish album purchase is 20 years old now.

We should hear her more often.

http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/latest-columns/20140122-wendy-davis-is-being-swift-boated.ece


Appreciating and remembering Pete Seeger

January 28, 2014

Interesting morning.  Is there anyone who does not have a Pete Seeger memory?

The Pete Seeger Appreciation page was set up many months ago — in fact founder Jim Capaldi died last December, with his family carrying it on.  A good place to start, maybe.

Classic Pete Seeger photo -- from the 1950s?  This and more at the Pete Seeger Appreciation Page, at PeteSeeger.net

Classic Pete Seeger photo — from the 1950s? This and more at the Pete Seeger Appreciation Page, at PeteSeeger.net

Read his biography, perhaps?

Learn to play the banjo:

This is the one that made me shed tears:

What great tributes have you seen to Pete today?  Give us a link in comments, share the good stuff.


Pete Seeger and the Highlander School

January 28, 2014

It’s a stunning photograph, not for its photgrapher’s skills, nor the artistic nature of the taking.  It’s a true snapshot.  Five people on a farm in Kentucky, in black and white.  Probably the photographer used a Kodak camera made just for snapshots.

Except, it was 1957.  The farm is the Highlander School.  The five people in the photo include folksinger Pete Seeger, and Rosa Parks, and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Pete Seeger, MLK , and others at Highlander School, 1957

From left, Martin Luther King, Jr., Pete Seeger, Charis Horton, one of the founders of the Highlander School, Rosa Parks, and the Rev. Ralph Abernathy. At a workshop at the Highlander School in Kentucky, circa 1957.

12,346

Who was the photographer?  Perhaps Myles Horton, the director of the school (and Charis’s husband).

In a sort piece filmed at his home in Beacon, New York, for the Highlander’s 75th Anniversary in 2007, Pete described the time and the occasion.

Don’t  you love the cricket singing along with Pete?

More:


Farewell, Pete Seeger

January 28, 2014

Just got the news that Pete Seeger died.  He was 94.

Such a loss for American music, to American music, and to history and art.

New York Times story here.

Pete Seeger at the Beacon Sloop Club in Beacon, N.Y., in 2010. Andrew Sullivan for The New York Times

Pete Seeger at the Beacon Sloop Club in Beacon, N.Y., in 2010. Andrew Sullivan for The New York Times

I love the Andrew Sullivan photo the New York Times used — it reminds me of the best way to hear Pete, in the out-of-doors, near the Hudson, in the summer, with a small audience who could be coerced to sing along.

Pete was an alumnus of Camp Rising Sun (of the L. A. Jonas Foundation) near Rhinebeck, New York, from the very early days.  In 1974, between concerts at large venues with Arlo Guthrie, and on his way back home to Beacon, Pete stopped and spent a day with us at the camp.  He was , as always, wonderfully gracious, other than outward appearances indistinguishable from the 14- and 15-year boys in excitement to be having fun, exploring nature, and then leading us all in songs.

My unfinished master’s thesis was to explore Pete’s use of different rhetorical devices to get his messages across, and make them popular.   (One of my everlasting regrets.)

But despite his down-home-everybody-welcome demeanor, Seeger drove great movements, and pushed the arcs of history in wonderful directions throughout his life.

  • Pete was an anchor for Woody Guthrie in New York, and sometimes a rival.  As Pete told it, everybody loved Woody and always came to a performance to hear Woody sing.  It was often Pete who pushed Woody out front; no mistake that Woody’s famous New Year’s resolutions from 1942 included “Love Pete” among them.
  • Having learned from the Lomaxes at the Library of Congress, Pete recorded history in songs, preserving old tunes, making foreign tunes popular, and re-arranging verses here and there.  Pete revealed, discovered, or pushed the music of a family domestic (“500 Miles”), Cuban revolutionary poets (“Guantanamera”), his engineer sister (“Going to be an Engineer”), and hymn books.
  • Pete taught a song to seminar attendees at the Highlands School in Kentucky, people who went on to do great things with that song.  The song was “We Shall Overcome,” and photos show that those Pete taught to sing included both Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Blacklisted after refusing to give in to the civil liberties assault by the U.S. House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC), Pete created a series of records to teach how to play a guitar, a banjo, and a twelve-string.  One of the kids who learned some twelve-string licks included a guy who went on to play strings for the folk group, the Chad Mitchell Trio, and their new tenor, a guy named John Denver.  Roger McGuinn electrified that twelve-string, and leading the Byrds, turned some of Pete’s songs into rock and roll hits — like “Turn, Turn, Turn.”
  • I asked Pete about getting him to Salt Lake City for a concert in the 1970s — he demurred, saying he needed to spend some time locally.  He told a story about showing up at a PTA meeting in Beacon to talk on some issue, and some local guy told Pete that Beacon didn’t need outsiders telling them what to do.  This hurt Pete, since he’d been living in Beacon at that time for more than 30 years, in the house he built by hand.   Pete told me that he realized a world reputation doesn’t count for much if you can’t use it to make things better in your home town.The “local project?” He said he wanted to get an old sloop, and sail the Hudson River signing to get people to clean it up.  At the time, the Hudson was very much a sewer from Albany to New York City.  A short time later the Sloop Clearwater was refitted, and Pete started music festivals up and down the river.  The Hudson, Pete’s local river, runs much cleaner today for his work.
  • I saw Pete and Arlo in concert at Wolf Trap, the performance park near Washington, D.C., a couple of times; and some other venues — but nothing ever beat that open air concert at Rising Sun.
  • Bruce Springsteen did us all a favor with his album of Seeger tunes; I chafed at Ronald Reagan’s choices of performers at his inaugurals, and at many other choices over the years.  I often thought Pete Seeger’s music, and voice, would be a better choice.  Springsteen’s pre-inauguration concert in 2008, from the Lincoln Memorial, had my full attention.  The only thing more perfect, I told Kathryn, would be Pete singing his own tunes from those steps (I heard him tell the stories of King’s and Marian Anderson’s performances there more than once).  Within a few minutes, Springsteen pulled Pete out onstage, and at the age of 90 he led the crowd singing Woody’s “This Land is Your Land.”  A perfect capstone, I thought.

If  you would, pull out your collection of Pete Seeger music today, and give it a spin.  It will raise your spirits, I guarantee.

What wonderful gifts Pete left us!

So long, Pete, one of the best American citizens we’ll ever know.

Maybe we should just say, “So long! It’s Been Good to Know Ya!”

More:


Two portraits of Pete Seeger (with Judy Collins)

July 2, 2013

A couple of photos I stumbled on recently.

The Seeger family in 1921; the youngest one is Pete, in his father’s lap:

Seeger family, 1921

The Seeger Family, 1921 Pete Seeger, the now-93 year-old folk singer, is sitting on his father’s lap.  Pete’s father was musicologist Charles Louis Seeger, Jr.; his mother was the violinist Constance de Clyver Edson.  The other two children are probably Pete’s older brothers Charles, III, and John.  This photo probably was taken while Charles and Constance toured the American south to teach music, after his having to leave UCLA because of his pacifist stance during World War I.

And 92 years later, with Judy Collins:

Judy Collins and Pete Seeger, photo by David Rocco, at the Clearwater Festival in Hudson, New York, June 15, 2013.

Judy Collins and Pete Seeger, photo by the preservationist David Rocco, at the Clearwater Festival in Hudson, New York, June 15, 2013. (We think that’s Pete’s wife, Toshi, on the far right edge of the photo.)

More:

 


Where have all the flowers gone? A bunch to Pete Seeger on his 94th birthday today

May 3, 2013

Pete Seeger was born on May 3, 1919.  He turns 94 today.

Pete is an alumnus of the Louis August Jonas Foundation‘s Camp Rising Sun, a little nugget that appealed to me when I signed up as a counselor at the Rhinebeck campus in 19#&.  Pete and Arlo Guthrie teamed up for a series of concerts at East Coast venues that summer, including Wolftrap, Saratoga, Tanglewood and others.  Pete lives just down the river from Rhinebeck, near Beacon — but driving home from one of those venues was just a bit too far.  Pete stopped off at his childhood haunts and spent a day with us.

I hoped to invite him to Salt Lake City.  Pete said he might make such a trip, but it was unlikely — and impressed me with his reasoning and dedication to principle.  He explained that he was sticking closer to home as he approached 65, because there was work to do there.  He said he’d attended a local school board or PTA meeting to voice an opinion on some issue in Beacon.  One of the local newspapers complained he was “an outside agitator.”  That stung, he said — he’d been a resident in the town for more than 30 years.

Instead of complaining, though, he started thinking.  He said he’s traveled the world and worked for causes for other people in other towns; and he said he realized that one’s life’s work might be dedicated to making life better where one lives.  So he’d decided to campaign to clean up his local river, the Hudson . . . you’ve heard of the Sloop Clearwater?

Pete’s dedication to making things better, with local action where one may make a huge difference, stuck with me, and it should stick with all of us.

Last month I was doodling around Twitter, and discovered Pete had signed up for a Twitter account — years ago.  He tweets regularly.

He’s an encouragement to all of us.  He boasts that there is no group he has ever refused to sing for, and in his typical humility, he claims that he can get any group to join, so they do all the heavy lifting.  During the pre-inaugural festivities for President Obama’s first inauguration I was happy to see Bruce Springsteen singing some of Pete’s work — highly appropriate for any president’s inauguration — and I thought it would be more fitting only if Pete was singing himself.  Then Springsteen brought Pete out on stage to close out.

Pete keeps up a schedule of concerts, most for causes.  He sails with the Clearwater, campaigning for clean water on the Hudson River (much accomplished) and community efforts to change things for the better.  As you will see below, he pulls his own when raising the sails.    He cuts his own wood to heat the house he built.

Considering his age, 94, we might wonder why he keeps going, doing so much all the time.

Why does he keep on going?  He might be telling us, from this 2012 recording.

More:  

English: This graphic was used for the cover o...

Cover of Pete Seeger’s single release (same photo on an album). The banjo features Pete’s traditional “This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender,” a twist on a sticker famously seen on his old friend Woody Guthrie’s guitar. Wikipedia image

Some material in this post is recycled from an earlier post.

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Over 65? Why go on? Pete Seeger shows us

April 2, 2013

Intrigued to learn our old friend Pete Seeger signed up for a Twitter account — years ago.  Pete tweets regularly.

He’s an encouragement to all of us.  He boasts that there is no group he has ever refused to sing for, and in his typical humility, he claims that he can get any group to join, so they do all the heavy lifting.

Pete keeps up a schedule of concerts, most for causes.  He sails with the sloop Clearwater, campaigning for clean water on the Hudson River (much accomplished) and community efforts to change things for the better.  As you will see below, he pulls his own when raising the sails.    He cuts his own wood to heat the house he built.

Pete will be 94 on May 3, 2013.

Why does he keep on going?  He might be telling us, from this 2012 recording.

More:  

English: This graphic was used for the cover o...

Cover of Pete Seeger’s single release (same photo on an album). The banjo features Pete’s traditional “This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender,” a twist on a sticker famously seen on his old friend Woody Guthrie’s guitar. Wikipedia image


Pete Seeger: STILL standing taller than his critics

September 6, 2011

(This is almost completely an encore post — one that should get more circulation.  From four years ago, in 2007.  I have not updated years or ages — sharpen your math skills, and do it as you go.)

Some people can’t let go of the past, and like the greedy chimpanzee who grasps the rice in the jar, and then is trapped when he cannot pull out his fist nor will he give up his prize to save his freedom, they trap themselves out of a good life.

  • Cover to Pete Seeger album

    Cover of 1996 album of songs, "Pete." Seeger, born May 3, 1919, is 88 years old now.

Like this fellow, whose father’s dislike of an old political position of Pete Seeger kept them both from a good concert. He appears to agree with his father, though, thinking that somehow Seeger is responsible for the evils of Stalinism, and complaining that Seeger was tardy in making note of the fact that Stalin was evil. And Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds agrees, profanely, and inaccurately, as I’ll explain below the fold. But heed this warning: I’m explaining at length.

Get a life, people! Pete Seeger did.

Read the rest of this entry »


Pete Seeger → banjo → Steve Martin

November 17, 2007

Comedian Steve Martin has a couple of new books out, and the New York Times tracked him down for an interview. One may learn a lot from these interviews. In this case, we learn how far is the reach of Pete Seeger’s banjo, and the reach of instruction:

His [Steve Martin’s] early acts were a hodgepodge — some juggling, some magic, some balloon tricks, some banjo-playing — and to a great extent his style remained eclectic, with the crucial addition of irony; the act became in some ways the parody of an act, with no punch lines, and audiences found it even funnier.

“It was a great discovery,” Mr. Martin said. “There I was making fun of what I was doing, and yet I was still getting to do it.”

The only relic Mr. Martin keeps from those days is his banjo, which he taught himself to play as a teenager from a Pete Seeger instruction book, practicing alone in his car with windows rolled up even on hot summer nights. Waiting for the knock on the trailer door, and the summons to don his epaulets and marry again, he picked up the banjo and played a bluegrass song he had been learning. “When I play music, it’s like an alternate form of living,” he said.


Pete Seeger: Standing taller than his critics

September 10, 2007

Some people can’t let go of the past, and like the greedy chimpanzee who grasps the rice in the jar, and then is trapped when he cannot pull out his fist nor will he give up his prize to save his freedom, they trap themselves out of a good life.

Like this fellow, whose father’s dislike of an old political position of Pete Seeger kept them both from a good concert. He appears to agree with his father, though, thinking that somehow Seeger is responsible for the evils of Stalinism, and complaining that Seeger was tardy in making note of the fact that Stalin was evil. And Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds agrees, profanely, and inaccurately, as I’ll explain below the fold. But heed this warning: I’m explaining at length.

Get a life, people! Pete Seeger did.

Read the rest of this entry »


A song for our times: Arlo and Pete sing Woody

July 20, 2010

In the late 1960s and the 1970s, conservatives made big displays of singing this song.  The Mormon Tabernacle Choir recorded one very popular version of it; it showed up often.  In those occasional complaints about the difficulty of singing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” this song’s suitability for national anthem status was always raised.

Today?  I haven’t heard it at a Republican gathering in long, long time.  I’m not saying that it’s completely disappeared from the conservative song book — among other things, I don’t attend Republican conventions as often as I once did, but I don’t think I’d hear it if I did.  I am saying that people finally started listening to the song, and it’s been largely dropped from conservative sing alongs for political reasons.

And that tells us a lot.

It would be good to hear this song a lot more; it would be good if more people sang it.

Arlo Guthrie and Pete Seeger leading the congregation in singing Woody Guthrie’s “The Land Is Your Land,” from a 1993 concert at Wolf Trap Farm Park in Virginia (one of my favorite venues for any music):

(Arlo’s got a new release this year, featuring this tune.)

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Update on Seeger: Critics dig deeper holes

September 12, 2007

It’s not exactly breaking news, but I probably should have caught it earlier — that Ron Radosh article in the New York Sun in which he noted Pete Seeger had condemned Stalin, ‘finally, after all these years?’ The article that made Instapundit exclaim it’s about time?

The New York Times noted that Seeger had made the confession in his book in 1993. Pete was probably too polite to embarrass his former banjo student, Radosh, with Radosh’s being at least a decade behind the times. But of course, the harpy right wing pundits can’t resist taking a swipe at Seeger anyway. I have to wonder whether earlier examples can be found.

Sour grapes articles were expectorated at NewsBusters, by P. J. Gladnick, Hard Country (which inexplicably extolls the virtue of Pete’s music and offers links to several videos of Pete’s performances), Andrew Sullivan (who even more inexplicably links to the NY Times article pointing out Seeger did it at least a decade ago), Dean’s World, Classically Liberal, Assistant Village Idiot (bucking for promotion?), Moonbattery, Mona Charen at NRO (who confesses to having it wrong in the 1970s, too), Dictators of the World, Jim-Rose.com, Synthstuff — whew! Here’s a pre-Radosh column sour grapes swipe from David Boaz in The Guardian.

See also The Philadelphia Inquirer, Walter Weiss, and the AP story in the Miami Herald. And this: The Peekskill riots?

To get the bad taste out of your mouth, see what Marketing Begins at Home has to say, and see the photos. And see this piece on the Highlander School.


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