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Abiyoyo and Other Story Songs for Children

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Album Review

Abiyoyo and Other Story Songs for Children is a retitled reissue of Pete Seeger's 1958 children's album Sleep-Time: Songs & Stories. Although the new title emphasizes the prominence of the story-song "Abiyoyo," one of Seeger's best-loved works, it is technically inaccurate, since the album contains only one other story-song; the other tracks are just songs. That other story-song, the leadoff track, is "Sam, the Whaler," a simple if adventurous tale of a boy who goes to sea on a whaling ship, sailing down the Hudson River from Beacon, NY (Seeger's home) and out into the Atlantic, catching some whales, and then returning home. "Abiyoyo," which to some observers has potentially autobiographical import, is the story of a boy with a ukulele and a father with magical powers who, while initially ostracized by their community, later are welcomed back after they charm and dispatch a monster. Side two features child-oriented songs including the add-on number "Green Grass Grows All Around," with its many repetitions, concluding with the lengthy, seemingly improvised a cappella song "One Grain of Sand." The sleep-inducing function of the disc is accentuated by the long, slow fade-outs on each of the two LP sides. "Abiyoyo" gives way to an extended low-volume coda, and "One Grain of Sand" is repetitious and nearly trance-inducing. [The album eventually was reissued as a CD, which, with its continuous play, tends to defeat the fade-out of the first side, as the quietude of the "Abiyoyo" coda is suddenly followed by the louder and more energetic "Sweet Little Baby." For this reason, parents might want to consider programming their CD players to re-sequence the tracks or just stop after "Abiyoyo."]


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...
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Abiyoyo and Other Story Songs for Children, Pete Seeger
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