About "LIVE IN '65":
Only hermits or long-shipwrecked castaways may be unaware of the resurgence in the public consciousness of one of the 20th Century’s true icons, folk singer Pete Seeger, in this new millennium. In the last decade, Seeger has received just about every humanitarian award he didn’t already earn, performed for an audience of hundreds of thousands at President Obama’s inauguration ceremonies, received a Grammy for his most recent CD (“At 89”) and reached new generations through the musical endorsement of Bruce Springsteen. Now comes “Live in ’65,” a new 2-CD recording of a previously unreleased, sonically updated Seeger concert at Pittsburgh, PA’s Carnegie Music Hall in February 1965 that encapsulates 90-year-old Pete’s lifelong mission to entertain, educate, and galvanize listeners through the power of contemporary and traditional music of all cultures and his own contagious commitment to making a difference.
“Live in ’65” documents a “typical” Seeger show at the midpoint of a tumultuous decade in which civil rights, the Cold War, and generational conflicts were aflame. Seeger uses his inclusive repertoire to unify his audience with the perspective of songs of older but similar conflicts (“Peat Bog Soldiers,” “Los Cuatro Generales,” “The Freedom Come-All Ye”; this is Pete’s only recording of the latter song, which he regards as highly important); folk classics (“Oh Susanna,” “Old Joe Clark,” “Greensleeves”), modestly racy tales of bawdy houses (“Queen Anne’s Front”), conjugal relations (“Never Wed an Old Man,” “Uh, Uh, Uh”), and the socioeconomic value of horse turds (“Manyura Manya”); inspired versions of fellow ex-Weaver Fred Hellerman’s soothing “Healing River,” Bob Dylan’s apocalyptic warning, “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” and Woody Guthrie’s anthemic “This Land is Your Land”; and Seeger’s own portfolio of unforgettable original or adapted songs (“Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” “Guantanamera,” If I Had a Hammer,” “The Bells of Rhymney,” “Turn! Turn! Turn!”).
Performing solo – just vocals and banjo or 12-string guitar – Seeger provides his audience with historical contexts for the songs he sings, teaches lyrics and leads singalongs, and otherwise involves yesteryear’s and today’s listeners in this
spellbinding concert, almost two full hours. Originally recorded on reel-to-reel tape in 1965, the recordings were transferred for this release using the Plangent Process to restore the performance to the proper playing speed and otherwise clean up any tape degradation. The occasional remaining sonic fluctuations are the result of an exuberant Pete bobbing and weaving around the microphones as he sings and exhorts the crowd to join him.
Appleseed Recordings has been a catalyst in Pete’s latest renaissance through its acclaimed trio of multi-artist tributes to his music, starting with 1998’s award-winning “Where Have All the Flowers Gone: The Songs of Pete Seeger Vol. 1,” for which Springsteen was approached to record a track. Springsteen chose to record the Seeger-adapted civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome” and several other tracks that remained unreleased until his 2006 “We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions” CD and subsequent national and international tours. Suddenly Pete was back in the spotlight. One of the lesser known tracks on “Live in ’65,” “He Lies in an American Land,” performed here as a solemn account of a workplace fatality written in Slovakian by a Pittsburgh steel worker, Andrew Kovaly, may actually be more familiar to Springsteen’s fans than Seeger’s – inspired by Seeger’s “folk process” of rendering old songs new, Bruce entirely rewrote the song as “American Land,” a joyous celebration of immigration in America, and has used the song as an encore at more than 130 Seeger Sessions and E Street Band shows.
Never content to rest while there’s an audience to entertain and inform, whether it’s a local grade school class or the delighted crowds at the Newport Folk Festival and the Monterey Jazz Festival this past summer, Pete sees no end in sight to his career of spreading pleasure, historical perspective, and the power of ideas through his music.
About PETE SEEGER:
How can one summarize a life and career that have touched so many people for so long? That question has been tackled by a spate of recent Pete Seeger biographies and documentaries, and Pete’s updated autobiography/songbook, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone: A Singalong Memoir,” is due in late November 2009. But here are the basics…
For nearly 70 years as a performer, Pete Seeger has embodied the ideals of folk music – communication, entertainment, social comment, historical continuity, inclusiveness. The songs he has written, and those he has discovered and shared, have helped preserve our cultural heritage, imprinting adults and children with the sounds, traditions and values of our global past and present. A fearless warrior for social justice and the environment, Pete’s political activism – from the Civil Rights movement and anti-McCarthyism to resistance to fascism and the wars in Vietnam and the Middle East – has become the template for subsequent generations of musicians and ordinary citizens with something to say about the world.
Born in 1919 to musicologist Dr. Charles Seeger and concert violinist Constance Edson Seeger, Pete, while in his teens, developed an interest in music and journalism, crafts he would intertwine throughout his career. A Harvard University dropout (he was in the same class as John F. Kennedy), Seeger met, traveled and performed with the great topical folksong writer Woody Guthrie in 1940, inspiring Pete to start writing his own songs. Dedicating himself to “the music of the people,” Seeger formed the politically oriented Almanac Singers in 1941 with Guthrie and other musicians before Seeger was drafted into the Army in 1942 and sent to the Pacific.
After the war, Seeger resumed his career as performer and song collector, helping to found the still-existent Sing Out! magazine. In 1948, Seeger formed The Weavers with Lee Hays, Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman, and within three years the group had sold four million records. It embedded Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” in American culture, and its version of Leadbelly’s “Goodnight, Irene” topped the charts for six months. Blacklisted during the McCarthy era, the group disbanded in 1953 (although they reunited from 1955 to 1963). Pete left The Weavers in 1958 but continued to record and perform throughout, despite being informally banned from most TV and radio shows and many concert stages for the next 17 years. When the “folk boom” of the early 1960s exploded, performers such as the Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul and Mary and the Limelighters all had hits with Seeger-written songs “If I Had a Hammer” and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone.” As folk turned to rock in the mid-’60s, The Byrds brought Seeger to a young, electrified audience with their versions of his “Turn! Turn! Turn!” and “Bells of Rhymney.”
Meanwhile, Seeger continued to travel the campus and international circuit. From the civil rights marches in Selma, Alabama, and Washington, DC, with Dr. Martin Luther King to anti-war demonstrations around the country, Pete and his banjo have been at the forefront of many social justice causes here and abroad. He has written songs for and participated in the labor and environmental movements and founded the Clearwater organization to call attention to the pollution of New York’s Hudson River and other American waterways.
“Pete, or his music, has been there through almost every major social movement in the last 50 years,” says Jim Musselman, founder and president of Appleseed Recordings, the independent label that has helped keep Seeger’s music alive and fresh for new generations through a trilogy of CD celebrations that feature close to 100 recordings of songs Pete wrote or adapted as performed by a galaxy of contemporary musical stars and other politically outspoken public figures, from Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne and Steve Earle to actor/vocalist Tim Robbins and journalist Studs Terkel.
Springsteen’s 2006 “We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions” CD, subsequent tours, DVD and live album were originally sparked by a 1998 request from Appleseed for a Bruce rendition of a Seeger-related song. Bruce recorded “We Shall Overcome” for Appleseed’s first Seeger tribute, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone: The Songs of Pete Seeger” (1998). Almost a decade later, Seeger and Springsteen collaborated for the first time, recording several songs for the label’s “Sowing the Seeds – The 10th Anniversary” sampler and its fund-raising charity CD to benefit the homeless, Give US Your Poor, their only recordings together. Pete’s Grammy-winning 2008 CD for Appleseed, “At 89,” followed 2003’s Grammy-nominated “Seeds: The Songs of Pete Seeger, Vol. 3” 2-CD set, which included a disc of new Seeger recordings.
In addition to Seeger’s careers as musician and activist, he’s an author as well. Pete has written close to three dozen songbooks, instructional instrumental handbooks, children’s stories and other delightful works of fact and fiction.
Seeger and his wife of 60 years, Toshi Ohta Seeger, still live on a wooded hillside overlooking their beloved Hudson
River in New York State where they long ago built a cabin using instructions from library books.