36 Songs, 1 Hour 53 Minutes

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Ratings and Reviews

4.6 out of 5
14 Ratings
14 Ratings
TBrough ,

An Excellant Overview of an American Icon

At 36 tracks, "The Essential Pete Seeger" pretty much invalidates other, older compilations and sum up his time on Columbia Records. While Seeger was still recording albums into his 80's, this takes the prime period of his recordings and spreaqds it out.

Pete Seeger was an icon for all the best reasons. Picking up a banjo and guitar to makes statements about the nature of the times took courage then as it does now (quick, name on popular artist who uses his recorded output for challenging statements...could you?) and even got him blacklisted. Songs like "Talking Union" or the anti-Vietnam protest "Waist Deep In The Big Muddy," he not only found himself surrounded by controversy but actively courting it. He was the rare artist to put his beliefs before his career, even as it threatened his livelihood and even though he would ultimately be vindicated.

You'll also find the songs that Pete wrote or adapted that became hits for others, such as "Turn Turn Turn" (The Byrds), "If I Had a Hammer" (Peter, Paul and Mary), and "Guantanamera" (Trini Lopez). With both the adaptations of "Guantanamera" and "Wimoweh," a strong argument can be made the Seeger was one of the earliest purveyors of what everyone now calls "World Music," as he had the forethought to include them in he live concerts (and are both here as live versions).

Even with those convictions, Pete Seeger also approached his music with a wit and sense of humor. "Little Boxes" is a stinging indictment of class conformity, yet it's actually a pretty funny song. Same with "Talking Union." But there's no escaping the anger that underscores "Which Side are You On?" What will remain his lasting legacy encompasses songs like these, but the gentle heart that could deliver a searing protest of war ("Where Have All The Flowers Gone") along side the civil rights anthem of peace in "We Shall Overcome."

I was fortunate enough to see Seeger live at the 50th Anniversary of The Newport Festival. Even at his advanced age, his body may have been frail but his voice was a force of nature. Like all his best work, he was the conduit for the music and the audience, leading call and response verses and choruses till the throngs of people that filled the field sang in unison. Even typing this now brings back chills. Few artists can lay claim to making culture bend in their direction, and Pete Seeger is such a man. While even two discs of music is incomplete (no "Good Night Irene"?) but this set is as easy an instant collection for a man whose greatness will remain an influence not just on artists still taking cues from him today, but those who will come along.

fitman30 ,

The Essential Pete Seeger

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