Does Anyone Really Enjoy Pete Seeger?

So the Los Angeles Times headlined its big story about yesterday pre-inaugural concert at the Lincoln Memorial with this misleading title: "Big stars rock the Lincoln Memorial." Sure, Bruce Springsteen, U2, Beyonce, etc. were all there and are indeed all big rock stars. But so was folk mummy Pete Seeger, who is the musical equivalent of spinach. He's the Jeff Lynne of folk; always somehow in the room but clearly nobody's favorite. (And let's not even get into his questionable reaction to Dylan going electric).

In any case, Seeger, says the Times, engaged "the crowd in a sing-along of Woody Guthrie's iconic folk song 'This Land Is Your Land.'" There's another bad song on its face (does anyone really like it, or do you simply suffer it, like going to church?)—and in its history, too. As Reason's Jesse Walker pointed out a while back:

"Guthrie's unifying message" has already been corrupted quite a bit over the years, given that "This Land Is Your Land" was a Marxist protest song originally written as an answer to "God Bless America." If it's Guthrie's message that moves you, then reflect on two verses that most singers leave out:

As I went rumbling that dusty highway
I saw a sign that said "private property"
But on the other side it didn't say nothing
This side was made for you and me

In the squares of the city, in the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office, I see my people
And some were stumbling and some were wondering
If this land was made for you and me

Hardly anyone sings the last verse anymore. Some performers do include the one before it, but they usually substitute the phrase "no trespassing" for "private property."

More on that here.

And if you need more reasons to dislike Seeger (besides his discography of course), there's his suspiciously timed turnabout regarding U.S. entry into World War II. As part of the Stalinist singing group, the Almanac Singers, Seeger recorded an album lobbying against U.S. involvement in the war while the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany had a peace treaty. Once Hitler invaded Russia, the band pulled their album from the market and issued a pro-war one. More here:

In the "John Doe" album, Mr. Seeger accused FDR of being a warmongering fascist working for J.P. Morgan. He sang, "I hate war, and so does Eleanor, and we won't be safe till everybody's dead." Another song, to the tune of "Cripple Creek" and the sound of Mr. Seeger's galloping banjo, said, "Franklin D., Franklin D., You ain't a-gonna send us across the sea," and "Wendell Willkie and Franklin D., both agree on killing me."

The film does not tell us what happened in 1941, when two months after "John Doe" was released Hitler broke his pact with Stalin and invaded the Soviet Union. As good communists, Mr. Seeger and his Almanac comrades withdrew the album from circulation, and asked those who had bought copies to return them. A little later, the Almanacs released a new album, with Mr. Seeger singing "Dear Mr. President," in which he acknowledges they didn't always agree in the past, but now says he is going to "turn in his banjo for something that makes more noise," i.e., a machine gun. As he says in the film, we had to put aside causes like unionism and civil rights to unite against Hitler.

More here and here.

Update: Below is footage of yesterday's "This Land" performance, which does indeed include the "private property" stanza. And, I think, further underscores my evaluation of Seeger as a musical tool.

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  • BakedPenguin||

    Worse, the song inspired this tripe.

  • sage||

    ...Pete Seeger, who is the musical equivalent of spinach.

    Damn, dude. You should be writing lines for Stephen Colbert.

  • ||

    "does anyone really like it, or do you simply suffer it, like going to church?"

    Just for the record, most of the people (or at the very least, the adults) in church enjoy it. That's why they go.

  • Other Matt||

    Just for the record, most of the people (or at the very least, the adults) in church enjoy it. That's why they go.

    That, and all that "If you don't, you're going to hell!" stuff that the church puts out. A lot of people are motivated out of fear.

  • The Extispicator||

    Pete Seeger is a turd. Not entertaining at all.

    I do like much of Woody Guthrie's stuff, though. The pro-union/commie stuff doesn't bother me if I try to take him in historical context. I see him as pro-freedom, just misguided because of his experiences.

  • ed||

    two verses that most singers leave out

    Let's update it, then, for H&R aficionados:

    As I went surfing that internet highway
    I saw a sign that said "intellectual property"
    But on the other side it didn't say nothing
    This side was made for you and me

    In the streets of China, in the shadow of the Kremlin
    Near the patent office, I see my people
    And some were stealing and some were "sharing"
    This IP was made for you and me.

  • ||

    ed, good trolling, but I think we blew our IP load on Jesse's Friday steam engine thread.

  • Lefiti||

    Pete Seeger is so yesterday, sort of like Market fundamentalism. Cowboy capitalism, the racist southern strategy, anti-science fanaticism-all this will soon be in the rearview mirror along with marxism and the withering away of the state. But, hey, right-wing, market-worshiping "libertarianism" doesn't have to change. Keep the faith! Donate now!

  • ||

    Woody Guthrie on copyright:

    "This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright # 154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin' it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don't give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that's all we wanted to do."

  • ed||

    we blew our IP load

    Nah, it's the libertarian inconsistency that keeps on giving.

  • phalkor ||

    answer the question
    I do enjoy Pete Seeger
    true really I do

  • robc||

    Other Matt

    That, and all that "If you don't, you're going to hell!" stuff that the church puts out.

    Can you give me a list of christian denominations that say that church attendance is a requirement to avoid hell - Im betting it is pretty short.

    (I say christian, because of use of "church" instead of temple or mosque, but feel free to expand the list with other religions too)

  • Taktix®||

    Does Anyone Really Enjoy Pete Seeger?

    Who?

    Next question...

  • Rob||

    He recorded a lot of great kids music, and his Carnegie Hall Concert CD from 1963 is pretty good. I'm not going to defend his politics, but yes, some people do actually enjoy his music.

  • robc||

    Nah, it's the libertarian inconsistency that keeps on giving.

    Nothing inconsistent about it at all. If I"P" were a part of natural law property, the founding fathers wouldnt have had to make a special exception for it in the constitution, or talk about "limited times". If it was real property, there wouldnt be a limit. Copyright/Patent would last forever and pass from father to child (or whoever they wanted to leave it to).

    Not that the FFs got everything right, but they seemed to hit this one dead on. They realized that IP wasnt really property, but they made a special exception because they thought restricting it might encourage things. Maybe they were right, maybe the exception is a good thing, but that is a utilitarian argument and I aint no utilitarian.

  • ||

    Night Moves has some catchy, if boring, songs, so I guess some people like him.

  • ||

    "Big stars rock the Lincoln Memorial."

    If Springsteen, U2, et al. played, how is that headline inaccurate?

  • Taktix®||

    Can you give me a list of christian denominations that say that church attendance is a requirement to avoid hell - Im betting it is pretty short.

    That would be any religion that follows that pesky 4th Commandment, "Thou shalt keep the Sabbath holy," give or take a phrase.

    So I guess that's, well, all of them.

    Good point though, robc...

  • 冉爽慷||

    Does Anyone Really Enjoy Pete Seeger?

    Surely, he earns some points for Turn! Turn! Turn!, doesn't he?

  • robc||

    Taktix

    Considering church is on Sunday and the sabbath is from sundown friday to sundown saturday, Im not sure how that applies at all.

  • Zac ||

    This post is disappointing. Criticizing Seeger for being a socialist is like criticizing Ayn Rand by saying: "She thinks we should all be selfish." Well, yeah. Duh. Anyone who knows anything about folk music at all knows that it aims to speak for the "everyman." It is left-leaning by nature. You might as well make your post a complaint about folk music in general.

    As for the inauguration, is it really that surprising that he would be one of Obama's picks? You could just as easily rail on Springsteen, or Bono/U2, who, incidentally, recorded their own version of This Land Is Your Land in a Guthrie tribute album years ago.

    I happen to like the song - even as a libertarian. It's secular, for one thing. And, damn it, it IS my land - and yours - in a general way. We, the citizens of this country own America. How democratic. And how appropriate for an inaugeral address.

  • robc||

    Re: my 10:51 post, add in obvious "7th day" denomination exceptions.

  • robc||

    Zac,

    If I own American, how come I cant sell it? That is one of the basic requirements of ownership.

  • Zac ||

    robc,

    Are you a citizen? As a member of a democratic country, you own it as much as anyone else does - if at all.

  • affenkopf||

    ...Pete Seeger, who is the musical equivalent of spinach.

    I like spinach

  • ||

    is it really that surprising that he would be one of Obama's picks

    Yes. To me, at least. I thought he was dead.

  • Taktix®||

    Considering church is on Sunday and the sabbath is from sundown friday to sundown saturday, Im not sure how that applies at all.

    We can quibble over the actual day if you want, but the point remains:

    Most JudeoChristian religions preach that you need to go to Church/Temple/Mosque on one day of the week or you are breaking one of God's laws. They also say if you break God's laws, you're going to hell.

    As an atheist, it all seems a bit silly, but hey, I didn't write the book...

  • Aaron||

    I like Pete - and spinach, too.

  • Fluffy||

    Puff the Magic Dragon can make me get choked up.

    And Wedding Song is OK if you're in the mood for that kind of sentimental thing.

    The thing about folk music is that it's generally good or bad depending on your mood. Unless you're a complete hater. John Denver's music sucks, too, except when it doesn't.

  • ||

    John Denver's music sucks, too, except when it doesn't.

    The stuff he did with The Muppets was good, actually. But The Muppets tended to be the rising tide that lifted all boats.

  • ||

    What's really a riot about this is that Communist Woody Guthrie's son Arlo is a libertarian who endorsed Ron Paul in the last election.

    As for the next generation, Arlo's daughter rebelled against her parents by attending college, but father and daughter play together on tours nowadays.

  • ||

    Puff the Magic Dragon was a killing machine.

  • Bob A||

    What's the difference between a banjo and an onion?

    Nobody cries when you chop up a banjo.

  • robc||

    Taktix,

    Your point is wrong for many reasons.

    1. Respecting the sabbath doesnt necessarily mean attendance at some service. I will let anyone who is jewish correct me, but I dont think temple attendance is required as part of their respecting the sabbath. Their are lots of things they cant do (depending on level of adherence) like not pushing elevator buttons.

    Uh, I was going to write a bunch more with many more points but I stopped caring, so anyway here is a quote from the Baptist Faith & Message:

    The first day of the week is the Lord's Day. It is a Christian institution for regular observance. It commemorates the resurrection of Christ from the dead and should include exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private. Activities on the Lord's Day should be commensurate with the Christian's conscience under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

    I in no way (and neither does any Baptist minister I have ever heard) interpret that as "go to church or go to hell". What with that being contradictory to the whole Salvation thru Faith bit.

    Another quote from same source:

    Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. Also, you got to attend church every Sunday

    Oh, I added that bolded part in. It wasnt in the original for some reason.

  • ed||

    Protest music almost always fails because of its didactic nature. The best of that genre succeeds when it is witty or unusually perceptive or, failing that, just plain entertaining. Seeger's music rarely accomplishes any of these. He preaches to a very small but devoted choir. He's the standard go-to lefty when a host or a documentarist requires a Stalinist to round out the guest list.

  • ||

    Nobody cries when you chop up a banjo.

    Hey, Steve Martin did pretty well with it.

    Be pompous, obese, and eat cactus,
    Be dull, and boring, and omnipresent,
    Criticize things you don't know about,
    Be oblong and have your knees removed.

  • Aaron||

    The banjo is a fine American instrument, thank you very much. Actually, it is perhaps the first and only instrument that can be deemed truly American.

  • ||

    Hey man, no fair lumping Jeff Lynne in the same category as pete seeger!

  • Spambot||

    "Actually, it is perhaps the first and only instrument that can be deemed truly American."

    It is actually based on an African instrument, just massively updated.

  • VM||

    "The Muppets tended to be the rising tide that lifted all boats."

    QFT!

    FTW!

    oh yeah! (Muppaphone)

  • Pendulum||

    I in no way (and neither does any Baptist minister I have ever heard) interpret that as "go to church or go to hell". What with that being contradictory to the whole Salvation thru Faith bit.

    Oh come, robc, do you not know the trick? Here, I'll teach you. Here's how it goes:

    If you have "true faith" in Jesus, you're saved.
    If you're saved, you'd obviously want to go to church.
    If you don't want to go to church (barring some legitimate excuse), you prefer serving yourself rather than serving Jesus.
    Thus, if you don't want to go to church, your professed faith can't be "true faith" and you're not saved, just like those who profess faith in Jesus but act in ways that appall him.
    Thus, you don't have "true faith" and are going to hell.
    So, why do you want to serve yourself rather than Jesus, again?

  • ||

    I prefer "This Land is Your Land" to "God Bless America." I hadn't seen the additional verses, but people should include them. You may not agree with Guthrie but don't emasculat him.

    A lot of this post sounds like, "I don't like his politics so his songs suck." It doesn't follow.

    Besides, Guthrie recorded an album of Hannukah songs. (His second wife was Jewish and he recorded them for his daughter.) That's pretty cool.

  • ||

    Can we claim the electric guitar?


    We've got the kazoo, I know that... that's something...

  • ||

    Jesus was right about one thing.

    "Don't be a fucking hypocrite."

    OK, maybe I'm paraphrasing.

  • Shannon Love||

    Anyone who knows anything about folk music at all knows that it aims to speak for the "everyman." It is left-leaning by nature. You might as well make your post a complaint about folk music in general.

    Leftism doesn't speak for the "everyman". Instead, it just seek to replace one group of perceived productive elitist with another group of non-productive political elitist.

    More to the point. Seegar wasn't just a leftist, he was a card carrying member of the Jospeh Stalin fan club. When Stalin was Hitler's ally, Seegar was Hitler's ally and tried to do everything in his power to help Hitler's fortunes along. He turned against Hitler only when Hitler turned against Stalin,

    In this, Seegar was exactly like tens of thousand of other Stalinist who sought to destroy America and who followed the dictates of megacidal maniac but who never the less are well received in polite company without even offering an apology for their actions.

    Seegar is someone who looks at America, and the concept of individual freedom in general, as something that needs to be destroyed.

  • ||

    As for Seeger, well he's been recording since the Weavers in 1947, and their and his biggest hit, Goodnight Irene, came out in 1950. He gets points for sticking to it and gets grandfathered in. Show some respect for your elders, you young whippersnappers.

  • BDB||

    The guy is nearly 90 years old, still lives by himself, isn't senile, and chops wood every day on his farm. And came come out for a concert in the freezing cold. Regardless of his political views that's pretty awesome.

  • ||

    Jesus was right about one thing.

    Dennis: I wanna stay nice and lean and tight. I wanna get that Jesus on the cross look. You know what I mean?

    Dee: I see what you're saying. I think that crucifixion must have been really good for your core because...

    Dennis: Oh, absolutely. Jesus had, like, the best abs. He had the right idea. Hey, he knew: no pain, no gain.

    Dee: He had good messages.

    Dennis: I'm sure he started that.

  • Syd||

    When Stalin was Hitler's ally, Seegar was Hitler's ally and tried to do everything in his power to help Hitler's fortunes along. He turned against Hitler only when Hitler turned against Stalin,

    Make that great-grandfathered in. Maybe even great-great-grandfathered.

  • ||

    The kazoo was invented by an American, but it comes from a similar instrument or instruments from Africa. How do we offially qualify something as "American" in derivation. What are the criteria.

    It reminds me of when I was in 8th grade, my history teacher was teaching us the derivation of state names, and that only one was American. Guesses came from all angles, but he eventually said Washington is the only state name that is American in derivation. We all thought he was on crack...and he might have been...because to us, Washington was an English word and that just because it was named after an American born president, didn't change the fact. We all agreed, much to his indignance, that no state name has an American derivation. I bet he's still pissed about this 17 years later.

  • BDB||

    Idaho is American in derivation, because that word was totally made up because it "sounded" Indian.

  • Bev Bevan||

    What's wrong with Jeff Lynne? He saved George Harrison's career!

  • ||

    Epi,

    You can be right without being first.

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    What's the difference between a banjo and a trampoline?
    .
    .
    .
    You take your shoes off to jump on a trampoline.

  • The Bearded Hobbit||

    OK, now let's unload on Phil Ochs.

    .. Hobbit

  • ||

    OK, now let's unload on Phil Ochs.

    No, Gordon Lightfoot!

  • Jesse Walker||

    The chief difference between Seegar and Guthrie is that Guthrie had a lot more talent.

  • ||

    "Idaho is American in derivation, because that word was totally made up because it "sounded" Indian."

    English speakers NEVER misinterpret or mispronounce the words of native people.

  • Bev Bevan||

    Pete cleaned up the Hudson River single handed. Who knows? Maybe if he hadn't then the plane landing the other day might have hit some debris and all would not have turned out as well as it did! Sail on Pete my friend! Sail on!

  • Johnny Canuck||

    No, Gordon Lightfoot!

    You're backwards.

    "The Ballad of the Gordon Lightfoot" was the song about a boat in Lake Superior, sung by Edmund Fitzgerald

  • Shannon Love||

    Syd,

    Care to guess how many people who supported Hitler directly got "grandfarthered" in?

    The rule are simple:

    Support the megacidal, totalitarian, war waging Hitler and you're damned forever.

    Support the megacidal, totalitarian war waging Stalin and you're forgiven assuming anyone even brings it up.

  • Paul McCartney||

    Jeff did a nice job on my album as well!

  • ||

    He lost me with the "mummy" line. It's an ageist, asshole comment. Grow up.

  • Joe the Plummer||

    If I had a hammer I'd hammer in the morning

    I'd hammer in the evening all over this land

    I'd hammer out danger, I'd hammer out a warning

    I'd hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters

    All over this land



    If I had a bell I'd ring it in the morning

    I'd ring it in the evening all over this land

    I'd ring out danger, I'd ring out a warning

    I'd ring out love between my brothers and my sisters

    All over this land



    If I had a song I'd sing it in the morning

    I'd sing it in the evening all over this land

    I'd sing out danger, I'd sing out a warning

    I'd sing out love between my brothers and my sisters

    All over this land



    Well I got a hammer and I got a bell

    And I got a song to sing all over this land

    It's the hammer of Justice, it's the bell of Freedom

    It's the song about Love between my brothers and my sisters

    All over this land!

  • Joe the Florist||

    Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing?
    Where have all the flowers gone, long time ago?
    Where have all the flowers gone?
    Young girls picked them, ev'ry one.
    When will they ever learn? Oh, when will they ever learn?

    Where have all the young girls gone, long time passing?
    Where have all the young girls gone, long time ago?
    Where have all the young girls gone?
    Gone to the young men, ev'ry one.
    When will they ever learn? Oh, when will they ever learn?

    Where have all the young men gone, long time passing?
    Where have all the young men gone, long time ago?
    Where have all the young men gone?
    Gone for soldiers, ev'ry one.
    When will they ever learn? Oh, when will they ever learn?

    Where have all the soldiers gone, long time passing?
    Where have all the soldiers gone, long time ago?
    Where have all the soldiers gone?
    Gone to grave yards, ev'ry one.
    When will they ever learn? Oh, when will they ever learn?

    Where have all the grave yards gone, long time passing?
    Where have all the grave yards gone, long time ago?
    Where have all the grave yards gone?
    Gone to flowers, ev'ry one.
    When will they ever learn? Oh, when will they ever learn?

  • Otis Wilbury||

    Nick Gillespie obviously has a case of JLDS (Jeff Lynne Derangement Syndrome).

  • Xeones||

    No, Gordon Lightfoot!

    Incorrect. Gordon Lightfoot kicks ass.

  • Naked Raygun||

    Broken dreams and promises
    These are the things they have and hold
    A country that even...
    Persecuted the Weavers
    Did you ever see the Weavers?

    Home of the Brave

  • Salvius||

    If I had a hammer, there'd be no more folk singers.

  • Franklin Harris||

    Sure, Bruce Springsteen, U2, Beyonce, etc. were all there and are indeed all big rock stars. But so was folk mummy Pete Seeger...



    Meh. They all suck equally.

  • Hank Aaron||

    I had a hammer.

  • Kevin B. O\'Reilly||

    Nick, to answer your questions:
    * Yes, I like Pete Seeger. He's not my favorite folkie, but he's responsible for writing or popularizing a pretty good batch of songs with the Almanacs, Weavers and solo, and in his heyday could conduct a sing-along like nobody's business. See his fantastic performance of "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy" on the Smothers Brothers show here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXnJVkEX8O4

    * Yes, I like "This Land is Your Land." The fact that it is so universally known and stripped of its radicalism doesn't make it any less of a song. Listen to Bob Dylan's 1961 world-weary take on the song here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxzACCu2evQ

  • ||

    Political considerations aside, my husband and I are with BDB, who wrote:
    The guy is nearly 90 years old, still lives by himself, isn't senile, and chops wood every day on his farm. And came come out for a concert in the freezing cold. Regardless of his political views that's pretty awesome.

    What WE noticed is that the man jogged off the stage! He's 89 and he can still sing and play banjo and JOG! Just for longevity and proving that one can hold differing opinions in the land of the free and SURVIVE, he gets major props. If you can't ENJOY that, then just go home. :)

  • Mack||

    It's funny how people who make disparaging remarks about Jeff Lynne have never heard his body of work. And yes, it's painfully obvious you never have.

  • Kevin B. O\'Reilly||

    To address your update, Nick: Jeepers creepers, the guy's 90 years old. Give him a break. I'm sure your favorite black leather jacket will be a shadow of its former self by the time you're a nonagenarian.

  • ||

    Shannon Love: Hear, hear.

    Jeff Lynne wrote the great "Do Ya" when he was in The Move, so he'll get no criticism from me.

  • Franklin Harris||

    Listen to Bob Dylan's 1961 world-weary take on the song here...



    I'd really rather not.

  • Lefiti||

    Gee, the crowd seems to love the song. I'll bet most Americans will take Pete Seeger and his music over you and your market-worshiping cult any day, Nick, Go fuck yourself.

  • Geoff Nathan||

    Can't help commenting on the post about 'American names'. Can't imagine what is meant by that. Originally there was nobody on the continent. Then assorted Native Americans moved here from Asia. They named most things first, and we still use many of their names (Dakota, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Utah...). Then French, English and Spanish folk moved here, and we use many of their names too (New York, Santa Barbara, Illinois--actually a French version of a Native American name) etc. What would count as American that was not Mohawk, Cree, Onondaga, Ute, French, English, Spanish...? Ain't nothing left.

  • ||

    Absolutely love Pete Seeger. Admire him as a man and a musician. Cheered, yelled, and sang along with him yesterday. Yeah, he sang better years ago and in fact used to sound a lot like his grandson does now, with a clear, strong tenor. You have to be into singalongs to really "get" Pete, I think. I came up through all the standard musical training, and Pete's delight in getting everybody on earth to sing really broke the jinx for me. If I were dying, I'd want to hear him sing, "Oh, the ship is sailing around the bend... bye bye my Rosieanna..." with a room full of drunk sailors. Nothing finer.

  • ||

    Martha Hagood @ 1:38pm

    That gets my vote for Best Trolling.

  • ||

    I guess Gillespie never frequents Irish pubs where the musicians play those old (and not so old) rebel/Republican songs. I'm sure he never sings along either.

    I do, but that hardly means I give a shit about the IRA.

  • ||

    I enjoy "Clancy Lowered The Boom," but that doesn't mean I advocate beating up people for little or no reason.

  • The Bearded Hobbit||

    What would count as American that was not Mohawk, Cree, Onondaga, Ute, French, English, Spanish...? Ain't nothing left.


    Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

    .. Hobbit

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Puff the Magic Dragon can make me get choked up."

    The first thing I think of whenever I hear that song is the C-47 gunships that were used in Vietnam that were given the nickmane "Puff".

  • Lefiti||

    Pete Singer is a talented performer who gets paid for what he does. Nick Gillespie is a pathetic guru to a tiny cult of true believers he has to keep begging donations from.

  • ||

    Hey, what's wrong with Jeff Lynne? Sheesh...

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Pete Singer?

    Does he get paid to build sewing machines?

  • ||

    What's with all the banjo bashing? Banjos rock! And if you break off the necks, they roll too!

  • The Democratic Republican||

    Weird...I just listened to Guthrie again yesterday and was thinking the exact same thing about how nobody ever mentions that last verse.

  • Kolohe||

    Gillespie's criticisms are a bit overwrought, although it is undeniable that Seeger gets some benefit of the doubt, that say, Prussian Blue does not.

    The ironic thing I find of the celebration of the 'lost verses' of this land is your land, is that it is in the context of vast swaths of public property being made off limits to all but select bunch of private citizens. And then only if they follow very specific rules.

  • BakedPenguin||

    "The Muppets tended to be the rising tide that lifted all boats."

    QFT! FTW! oh yeah! (Muppaphone)


    Moose - also this.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Since the thread is about folk, here are the same guys doing a Peter, Paul & Mary / John Denver song and a Bob Dylan song.

  • robc||

    Does he get paid to build sewing machines?

    That was Isaac Singer. No, the other one.

  • robc||

    The Singer fortune indirectly funded the Baseball Hall of Fame.

  • Andrew ||

    You're right about all of Seeger's pinko/lefty stuff. But he did do one important thing: For the Library of Congress, he recorded -- and got others to record -- hundreds of folk songs of this great land. If he did not do this, a lot of America's rich musical heritage would have been lost forever.

  • ||

    I don't know who you are, Nick, but you are incredibly stupid and ignorant. (I'm an old folkie, and I know my IQ - - it's high.)

    I agree with everything that Martha Hagood said. Pete Seeger is one of my biggest heroes and an American icon. Whether you realize it or not, he has made an incredible contribution to American music, which is why he has won a number of national awards. And, yes, he was/is sort of uptight about the introduction of electronic music at Newport (and I knew some of the people involved in that concert), but Dylan himself acknowledges his debt to Pete. And do you fault Springsteen for his tribute album.

    My gosh, the man is 89 years old! He knows he can't sing much any more, and certainly he doesn't play as well as he used to. But that's why he's now accompanied by his grandson. But as Martha said, he still is great at getting audiences involved and singing along, as he did yesterday. Along with Beyonce, that was a very fitting finale to the concert.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "More to the point. Seegar wasn't just a leftist, he was a card carrying member of the Jospeh Stalin fan club."

    Yeah - and a steadfast denier of all the mass murder that was going on the Soviet Union.

  • highnumber||

    I don't know who you are, Nick, but you are incredibly stupid and ignorant. (I'm an old folkie, and I know my IQ - - it's high.)

    What about your social IQ? Has it been drinking?

  • s.m. koppelman||

    The guy's done so much to keep folk songs alive and keep them vital as a participatory form, in no small part through his enthusiasm for singalongs. If it's part of what makes him uncool and didactic, fine. So are a lot of very good first-grade teachers.

    Now here, he made a point of trotting out not one but both of the rarely-sung, openly leftist verses the omission of which Mr. Gillespie enjoyed a good sneer over. Oh, wait.

    For good measure, he had Messrs. Springsteen and Vox singing them, along with a big choir, an attentive crowd, and blanket TV coverage.

    Sure, he's a corny guy, but if only 1% of the people who caught that performance were blindsided by the seldom-sung verses, that's tens of thousands of people who will never think of the song the same way again. A small thing, maybe, but I think that's pretty nifty.

    I look forward to the inauguration of a Libertarian president in 2016 and the super-cool performance on the National Mall by Rush, 'cuz, y'know, Neil Peart's a freaking poet.

  • ||

    "This Land Is Your Land" is a great song that gets me choked up in the right context. I love it.

    As for the "private property" verse, while I believe wholeheartedly that the right to private property is a vital part of free society, I have found that people who post "private property" signs are, by and large, dicks. You know, the kind of people who get pissed off because you want to take a little shortcut over their lawn to get to school. I support your right to kick me off, but I have the right to think you're a dick for it.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    I wish I'd been here earlier to defend Jeff Lynne. Yeah, I've got "Armchair theatre" on my iPhone. Suck it, Gillespie!

  • ||

    Lefiti | January 19, 2009, 2:46pm | #

    Pete Singer is a talented performer who gets paid for what he does. Nick Gillespie is a pathetic guru to a tiny cult of true believers he has to keep begging donations from.


    Oh, SNAP!

    Lefiti, I'm never going to read your comments the same again.

    That was freaking sweet.

  • ||

    When Stalin was Hitler's ally, Seegar was Hitler's ally and tried to do everything in his power to help Hitler's fortunes along.

    I'd like to point out that the phrase "help Hitler's fortunes along" in this sentence means "not launch an offensive war against Germany before the United States or any of it allies were attacked."

    Same old Shannon Love, with his "objectively-pro" bullshit.

  • John Kindley||

    As a convinced Georgist, I do have to appreciate these hippy lyrics, while recognizing that Pete Seeger is indeed a commie tool:

    And the sign said anybody caught trespassing would be shot on sight
    So I jumped on the fence and yelled at the house, Hey! what gives you the right
    To put up a fence to keep me out or to keep mother nature in
    If God was here, he'd tell you to your face, man you're some kinda sinner

  • B||

    "That would be any religion that follows that pesky 4th Commandment, "Thou shalt keep the Sabbath holy," give or take a phrase."

    Well in all my years I have been to quite a few churches, and not a single one took the view that not going to church condemned one to hell. So, not surprisingly, you are wrong.

  • B||

    "Anyone who knows anything about folk music at all knows that it aims to speak for the "everyman." It is left-leaning by nature. You might as well make your post a complaint about folk music in general."

    Man you really told him. And here I thought we should be criticizing a man who thought one of the greatest mass-murderers of all time was swell.

  • No Fan||

    Pete Seeger is one of my biggest heroes and an American icon. Whether you realize it or not, he has made an incredible contribution to American music, which is why he has won a number of national awards. And, yes, he was/is sort of uptight about the introduction of electronic music at Newport (and I knew some of the people involved in that concert), but Dylan himself acknowledges his debt to Pete. And do you fault Springsteen for his tribute album.

    ROTFLMAO!!! Seeger, Springsteen and Dylan. Three lefty no-talents that between them couldn't carry a tune in a wheel-barrow and whose instrumental prowess is reminiscent of spastic flailing on a trash-can.

    No question they've achieved status as musical icons in a country whose primary musical contribution to the world has been booty music.

    America may never produce a Bach or a Beethoven, but it will apparently never exhaust it's supply of three-chord lefty no-talents assaulting us with their banal gestures towards significance and insipid tales of woe, tunelessly enunciated in a retard's whine.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    And now I can't get "Can't Get it Out of My Head" out of my head.

  • ||

    Pete Seeger is living proof that America works!!!
    I love this country. I was raised on Pete Seeger's music. Freedom of thought and expression is a wonderful thing.
    Thank you Pete Seeger
    Thank you America
    God has so blessed America and I hope Pete Seeger is around many more years.
    Susan

  • B||

    "What WE noticed is that the man jogged off the stage! He's 89 and he can still sing and play banjo and JOG."

    Jack LaLanne can still kick his ass.

  • B||

    "Pete Seeger is living proof that America works!!!
    I love this country. I was raised on Pete Seeger's music. Freedom of thought and expression is a wonderful thing.
    Thank you Pete Seeger
    Thank you America
    God has so blessed America and I hope Pete Seeger is around many more years.
    Susan"

    Indeed, because if he ever lived in the country run by the dictator he so loved and tried to sing a "protest song" they would have sent his sorry ass to the gulag a long time ago.

  • ||

    ...as Pete Seeger himself would tell you, having renounced Communism years ago.

  • ..||

    Bev Bevan | January 19, 2009, 11:57am | #

    What's wrong with Jeff Lynne?


    Nothing at all. I enjoy his efforts to this day.

    Some of us admire his talent and success.

  • bfalk||

    thanks for the video. if your heart doesn't move listening to and watching this, best of luck to you friend. spread goodness and hope, not negativity if you want to really make a difference. this is a fantastic moment for this tired nation.

  • Bev Bevan||

    It's good to see you have taste and an open mind! Jeff wrote half the music for Xanadu for god sakes! What has Gillespie done for the literary world?

    As for Pete Seeger, the man was involved with music that will transcend all our lives.

    I think Nick Gillespie is to opinion pieces as Harold Robbins is to literature! We know who they are, but no one will read their work fifty years from now!

  • Kathryn McDonald||

    Here's another answer. I love Pete Seeger. I love his music and love the man and all he has stood for.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    "Jeff wrote half the music for Xanadu, for gods sake"

    I don't know if I'm supposed to laugh or cry.

  • yosi||

    Nick Gillespie's silly rant above is yet one more reminder of why right-wing whining was so fundamentally rejected this November.

    Really Nick, haven't you anything better to do than to trash an 89 year old national treasure of American folk music?

    Pathetic.

  • ||

    "America may never produce a Bach or a Beethoven, but it will apparently never exhaust it's supply of three-chord lefty no-talents "

    Bono: "all i need is three chords, a guitar, and the truth".

    Springsteen and Seeger got the first two right at least!

  • Doug Treible||

    What an idiot to trash a nearly 90 year old man. If this is the most important use of your space then your column has far outlived any usefulness.

  • ||

    While I didn't care for Nick's critique this invasion of hippies is giving me the willies. What left-wing/folkie blog linked to this?

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "ROTFLMAO!!! Seeger, Springsteen and Dylan. Three lefty no-talents that between them couldn't carry a tune in a wheel-barrow and whose instrumental prowess is reminiscent of spastic flailing on a trash-can."

    LOL

    You're certainly right about Dylan.

    His nasal, monotone whining is simply headache inducing.

    As opposed to somebody like Joan Baez - a lefty type who actually has musical talent.

  • ||

    You're funny -- ranting against a going-on-90-year-old man, even to the point where you forget to mention that he's also a WW2 veteran.

    So, to answer your question: I've been going to sing with Pete for most of my life (with maybe 30-40 Pete concerts under by "belt") and there is no more wonderful performer and person. And, yes, I love "This Land" (and hate GBA).

    You're right about one thing -- he is a lot like spinach -- versatile, perfect in its own way, fitting into every cuisine the world offers, welcoming, feeding the soul.

  • ||

    i cant believe of this post!!!

    please visit your the youtube page that you have posted and read the comments (or for that matter comments under your own post) to get the answer to your delusional questions

  • ||

    Pete Seeger was the only white singer who didn't try to sound like an imitation Black and "This Land is Your Land" was one of the very few pieces of real music amidst all of that trash that was served up to us. The Kennedys invited Pablo Casals. Now we have U2, Usher, etc. Low, low, low culture.

  • ||

    I guess you guys like corporate welfare?

    This website is a joke!!!

  • sasob||

    If I had a hammer...

    I'd rather be a hammer than a nail - yes, I would.

  • Captain Hammer||

    "The hammer is my penis."

  • B||

    " ranting against a going-on-90-year-old man, even to the point where you forget to mention that he's also a WW2 veteran."

    So fucking what. So was George Lincoln Rockwell, and I wouldn't have bought an album he released.

  • B||

    "...as Pete Seeger himself would tell you, having renounced Communism years ago."

    Bullshit. He only just recently stated that supporting Stalin may have been a bad idea. He even fucking equivocated on that.

  • B||

    "Nick Gillespie's silly rant above is yet one more reminder of why right-wing whining was so fundamentally rejected this November."

    Hahahahahahahaha, yeah that's what did it, because as we all khow, the left is whine-free.

  • B||

    "As for Pete Seeger, the man was involved with music that will transcend all our lives."


    Hahahahahahahahahaha, I think it's time you took Pete Seeger's balls of your chin.

  • B||

    While I am no fan of Nick Gillespie, I think it is hilarious that we have people, Bev Bevan is the perfect example, coming on here criticizing him on his body of work, yet they have probably read a grand total of one of his writings, and that is this piece he wrote on Pete "if I had a hammer, I would have built a monument to Joseph Stalin" Seeger.

    And how is the fact he is 90 relevant? Gillespie is not getting the guy in a fucking headlock, he is criticizing his performances and his well-cocumented love of Joseph Stalin. If the guy can get up on stage and sing, then he can withstand some criticism regarding that "singing".

  • ||

    Life would be less fun without people like B.

    Hey, I think there's somebody in California wearing a Che tee-shirt!

  • Bev Bevan||

    I have read The Collected Works of Nick Gillespie and found them to be nothing more than mediocre tripe!

  • ||

    ... and not a comment that I see about Seeger in the mid/late 1950s standing up to HUAC on First Amendment Rights of Association, eschewing the easier road of Fifth Amendment refusal, that was what HUAC was all about, knowing that, as a father with a young family, he risked prison for the stand taken.

    Libertarians have a problem with that?

  • daveednyc||

    "Folk mummy" is one of the funniest expressions I've ever read...

    There's a campaign to get Seeger a Nobel Peace Prize:

    http://nobelprize4pete.org/

  • ||

    You Pete Seeger haters are hopeless cultureless bilge overpopulating a perfectly good country. I've seen the man perform and believe what his banjo says. The power of music is more real than the power of your imaginary friends.

  • ||

    You deride and critisise the likes of Pete Seeger yet you leave a geriatric Bob Dylan alone when he records excruciating versions of Christmas carols and gets a company to issue them. Seeger has stuck to his guns believing in free speech whereas people like Dylan followed the Rock music Empire trying to be king, in fact Dylan failed in that genre and has got away with bad repetoire and singing. Give me "Turn Turn Turn " rather than Dylans "Times a changin" which turn out to be as fake as his early Guthrie facade and accent!

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