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If I Had a Hammer: Songs of Hope & Struggle

Pete Seeger

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Album Review

Pete Seeger's repertoire was not limited to songs with specific sociopolitical goals, and the most familiar versions of his most popular tunes were done for Columbia. Still, it's hard to imagine doing better than this compilation of Folkways recordings (most from the late '50s and '60s) if you want evidence of Seeger's importance and skills as a spokesperson for worthy causes. Dividing into segments addressing "unions and labor," "peace," "civil rights," and "hope," this has the original 1956 versions of "If I Had a Hammer" and "Where Have All the Flowers Gone," along with other tunes identified with Seeger like "We Shall Overcome" and "Turn! Turn! Turn!" (the last from an unreleased tape of unspecified vintage). The liner notes explain the origins of each song, as well as how their structures have evolved over the years; a couple of 1998 tracks show his spirit intact, but his voice (as he himself admits) losing strength.

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