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Headlines & Footnotes: A Collection of Topical Songs

Pete Seeger

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Album Review

Like the prior compilation If I Had a Hammer, this focuses a little loosely on topical songs, concentrating on (but not limited to) ones that deal with specific events. At a glance this might seem like a less essential anthology, since If I Had a Hammer contained major songs identified with Seeger like "If I Had a Hammer," "Turn, Turn, Turn," "We Shall Overcome," and "Where Have All the Flowers Gone." It's actually on the same musical and lyrical level, however, and again has versions of some of the most famous tunes written or popularized by Seeger: "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy," "Wimoweh," "Guantanamera," "Wasn't that a Time," Malvina Reynolds' "Little Boxes," "I Come and Stand at Every Door," and "The Bells of Rhymney" (the last two of which were covered by the Byrds in the mid-'60s). About half of these are taken from Folkways Recordings, but about half are previously unreleased live versions or studio outtakes, so from a collector's point of view this disc is pretty interesting as well. Of course with a Seeger recording, the educational and inspirational values are about as important as the musical ones, and the lesser-known songs usually also have something to make one think, whether it's a narrative of the Titanic disaster or the anti-racist "Listen Mr. Bilbo." Almost all performances were recorded in the '50s and '60s; three songs recorded between 1994 and 1999 find Seeger's voice fading and shaky, though his heart's intact.

Biography

Born: 03 May 1919 in New York, NY

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Perhaps no single person in the 20th century did more to preserve, broadcast, and redistribute folk music than Pete Seeger, whose passion for politics, the environment, and humanity earned him both ardent fans and vocal enemies ever since he first began performing in the late '30s. His battle against injustice led to his being blacklisted during the McCarthy era, celebrated during the turbulent '60s, and welcomed at union rallies throughout his life. His tireless efforts regarding global concerns...
Full bio