Monday, May 4, 2009

Happy 90th Birthday Pete Seeger

Several years ago, I was lucky enough to have attended a concert featuring Pete Seeger and his sister Peggy Seeger. That was some of the most fun I've ever had. On May 3rd, Pete Seeger turned 90 years old and there was a sold-out concert in his honor in New York's Madison Square Garden. Proceeds from the event went to Clearwater, an organization that is helping to preserve and protect the Hudson River.

Musicians performing at the concert included Arlo Guthrie, Steve Earle, Billy Bragg, Kris Kristofferson and Joan Baez, Kate and Anna McGarrigle (NaCl) and Bruce Springsteen.

Pete Seeger sang with The Weavers, you may remember their 1950 version of Goodnight, Irene. He's probably best known for songs such as Turn, Turn, Turn, If I Had a Hammer, This Land Is Your Land and We Shall Overcome. His recordings with Arlo Guthrie are priceless and some of our personal favorites. It would take forever to list resources for his music and biography. He's featured in the Smithsonian Folkways series which is definitely worth checking out.

In 1955, Seeger was convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to discuss past membership in the Communist Party. The conviction was overturned on appeal in 1961, but his blacklisting lasted from 1950 to 1967. Even then, CBS censored his anti-Vietnam War allegory, Waist Deep in the Big Muddy on The Smothers Brothers program.

Pete Seeger was profiled on PBS' American Masters series. He's had a fascinating life and if you're unfamiliar with him, he's well worth a look and a listen. He's done a lot of good for the planet and a lot of people.

Peggy Seeger, by the way, has some wonderful songs, such as Little Girl Child, Gonna be an Engineer and Talking Wheelchair Blues.

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