R.I.P. Pete Seeger

What kind of Music Library would we be if we didn’t take today’s post to honor Pete Seeger? One of America’s greatest folk heroes, Seeger passed away yesterday in New York at the age of 94.

Pete Seeger

With a long and full life bordering on an American tall tale, Seeger’s influence has become ubiquitous in American folk music. Seeger helped spur the folk revival of the 1960s when artists such as Marlene Dietrich and Peter, Paul & Mary covered his songs to great acclaim. His songwriting and co-writing credits include “If I Had A Hammer,” “Turn, Turn,  Turn,” and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” and he is also credited for popularizing the current version of “We Shall Overcome.” He will always be treasured for his ability to bring thousands together through folk songs.

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This rare talent of Seeger’s (in addition to his prodigious musical and writing talent) is showcased beautifully on the live album “We Shall Overcome,” a recording of his performance at Carnegie Hall on June 8, 1963. On the expanded CD reissue (which we happen to have at the library), we are treated to his entire 40-song set, peppered with observations and stories from Seeger, giving the entire performance the feel of a conversation between the folk singer and his audience. Seeger’s set reveals his immersion in American folk music, applying his banjo and baritone croon not only to originals but to classic folk tunes by the likes of Lead Belly, Woody Guthrie and Seeger’s own semi-protege, Bob Dylan. Most touching, however, are the songs in which the entire audience joins along with Seeger, a multitude of voices following his simple, beautiful melodies.

So honor Seeger’s memory along with us, and come listen to this historical gem of a live album, or even check it out. Let his memory live on in his song.

A more in-depth post on Seeger’s life and legacy via Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/pete-seeger-legendary-folk-singer-dies-at-94/2014/01/28/36faeec0-c5dc-11df-94e1-c5afa35a9e59_story.html

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