Thursday, April 20, 2006

Seeger Sessions


No doubt many of you know of the upcoming Springsteen release containing versions of many great folk songs by or made popular by the legendary Pete Seeger. A friend of mine asked me to devote a blog entry to Seeger himself, knowing that I know a bit about folk music. As with most things these days, the topic is already well documented and readily available on-line, so there's really no sense for me to restate it here. At the end of this post there are few links that provide all the necessary biographical bits.

Simply stated, Seeger is at the root of the American folk music tree. His musical roots can be traced back as early as 1940 when he met and began a collaboration with Woody Guthrie. Seeger was a political activist with clear leftist leanings, including a brief association with the Communist Party. His musical success with the Weavers was stymied by the blacklisting efforts of the McCarthy era. To his credit, he was one of only a few to refuse to answer McCarthy's questions.

Seeger is the author of many well known folk 'anthems', including If I Had A Hammer, Turn, Turn, Turn, and Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

In the 60's Seeger recognized the potential of Bob Dylan, seeing him as a way to bring folk and protest music out of the coffeehouses and Chautauqua tents and into the mainstream. Of course, Dylan had bigger plans that could not be bound by the limitations of folk music. Legend has it that Seeger tried to extinguish the electric Bob at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965. As Dylan proceeded to change popular music on stage, Seeger threatened to cut the power with an ax.

For a concise bio of Seeger: the Wikipedia Seeger
For a Seeger Discography:Pete's Records

One new site that is just amazing is Songs of the Seeger Sessions If you want to know the recorded history of each song Bruce has selected for this release, you have got to check this out. The site was created by a guy named Matt Orel in about a month. Unbelievable.

Finally, here's Dylan's version of Froggie Went A-Courtin', an ancient song that has been around in many versions for 450 years, according to Matt. [Note: due to a change at yousendit.com, it will only be around for three days here].

I think it's great that Bruce is carrying on the tradition of performing and passing on these folk songs. Looking forward to the release on April 25th.


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