Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Which Side Are You On?

Pete Seeger was bigger and better than life. I could give you his biography, but perhaps it would be better if you read it yourself. He made music his medium to change the world and I think, for one man with the will and the passion, he succeeded in his own gentle way.  This piece was from 1967 and was the reason the Smothers Brothers Show was cancelled from CBS. I remember seeing it on television in 1968, but the original version was censored immediately. One of the most scathing analogies to the Vietnam War ever recorded, yet, Seeger never mentioned Vietnam or the current Lyndon Johnson administration, but anyone who heard it, got the point. I have so many friends who were involved the American folk music scene and most of them are dead now. This is one gentle giant who never quit. He was Woody Guthrie's buddy and Guthrie, he says, taught him how to busk. "He'd say put the banjo on your back, go into a bar and buy a nickel beer and sip it as slow as you can. Sooner or later, someone will say, 'Kid, can you play that thing?' Don't be too eager, just say, 'Maybe, a little.' Keep on sipping beer. Sooner or later, someone will say, 'Kid, I've got a quarter for you if you pick us a tune.' Then you play your best song." With that advice, Seeger supported himself on his travels. He formed a group with Guthrie, then ended up in the army in WW2. After the war, he formed the Weavers and had some commercial success playing traditional American folk, but traditional American folk was too controversial during the McCarthy Era and he ended up in prison for a year for his political views and his music, but more importantly, because of his integrity. Pete died last night at the age of 94. He never stopped and in tribute, I would like to offer this little gallery of stringed and strummed instruments that have made up the arsenal of ideas as ammunition in the fight against fascism, repression, capitalism and anti humanist ideologies of all sorts!
Woody Guthries Guitar
This Machine Kills Fascists!
Tom Morellos Guitar
Pete Seegers Banjo
This Machine Surrounds Hate
And Forces It To Surrender!

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