Tuesday, January 28, 2014

long time passing

I like folk music. One of my first record albums was Burl Ives singing "Big Rock Candy Mountain" and other old tunes. In high school, I heard Judy Collins sing at a local Denver coffee house. [Her father hosted a morning radio show that my parents regularly listened to.] In college, I lived across the street from the club where Joan Baez performed in her early years. I even went to the Newport Folk Festival and joined in the singing of "The Times They are a-changing"-- before Dylan went electric.

So I want to reflect on the passing of Pete Seeger, a Harvard drop-out who did good things and gave memorable music to several generations of fans like me. The New York Times has a lengthy obituary. He was naive about the communist party but devoted to the rights of workers. He served in World War II and later wrote some powerful antiwar songs. He sparked the environmental movement that has done much to clean up the Hudson River. He lived a full life of 94 years.

There's a good recent book by John Shaw examining the patriotic music heritage in America by comparing and contrasting two of our iconic songs, Irving Berlin's "God Bless America" and Woody Guthrie's "This land is your land." Sing out!

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