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January 30, 2014

Pete Seeger: A Mean-Spirited and Vengeful Recollection

Seeger’s (and Guthrie’s) notion of folk music had less to do with actual American sources than with a Communist-inspired Yankee version of Proletkult.
The highly personalized style of a Robert Johnson and other Delta bluesmen didn’t belong in the organizing handbook of the “folk” exponents who grew up in the Communist Party’s failed efforts to control the trade union movement of the 1940s. Seeger, the son of an academic musicologist and a classical violinist, was no mountain primitive, but a slick commercializer of “folk” themes with a nasty political agenda. His capacity to apologize for the brutalities of Communist regimes — including their repression of their own “folksingers” — remained undiminished with age, - - Spengler

Posted by gerardvanderleun at January 30, 2014 1:24 AM. This is an entry on the sideblog of American Digest: Check it out.

Your Say

Dead on. The whole folk music movement was a total fraud. Everyone of the so-called folk singers was a Stalinist/Maoist fraud.

Posted by: bob sykes at January 30, 2014 4:31 AM

...but enticing.

Posted by: BillH at January 30, 2014 7:30 AM

Seeger and Mandela are gone and I couldn't be more pleased.

Posted by: Jack at January 30, 2014 8:03 AM

Every time I hear "This Land is Your Land" I cant help but adding a verse that I heard decades ago, and which now seems more appropriate than ever.
If this were my land, you'd never know it.
So take your bull s*** and kindly stow it.
Let's get together and overthrow it.
This land's no more for you and me.

Posted by: stuart at January 30, 2014 9:18 AM

But i still love the genre, the sound, of folk/Americana. Just something about one person, one voice, a guitar, telling a story.

Posted by: SteveS. at January 30, 2014 9:40 AM

But i still love the genre, the sound, of folk/Americana. Just something about one person, one voice, a guitar, telling a story.

Posted by: SteveS. at January 30, 2014 9:40 AM

But i still love the genre, the sound, of folk/Americana. Just something about one person, one voice, a guitar, telling a story.

Posted by: SteveS. at January 30, 2014 9:41 AM

Nah, Steve. I think the genre is simplistic and highly repetetive. Like pop Christian music.
And always badly sung.

Posted by: Jewel at January 30, 2014 9:44 AM

There are some folk singers I like, such as Gordon Lightfoot's later work, and Cat Stevens, but most of them were just earnestly awful. If you want what they were going for but failed at, check out bluegrass.

Posted by: Christopher Taylor at January 30, 2014 10:20 AM

"What they were going for but failed at." Christopher Taylor, you got it.

Spengler, having been raised a leftie, still falls prey to the notion that only people trying to act black are "authentic," and misses completely the Appalachian tradition that still lives. Bluegrass and its several permutations have blossomed particularly in the last 50 years, and there are plenty of examples of "just a voice and a guitar telling a story."

People who insist on viewing rocknroll as Stealing From Black People display their ignorance of Bill Monroe's rhythms from the '40s, if nothing else. Soul music for white people, for sure.

Posted by: Rob De Witt at January 30, 2014 11:44 AM

I loved the singer song writer concept and Lightfoot was always a favorite as was the late John Stewart. But, I always considered Cat Stevens to be a homo. Nothwithstanding his only real hit "Morning Has Broken, he sang like one and was oh, so sensitive.

But I freakin' hate socialists and communists and the Seegers, Baezes, Guthries, Farinas', Taj Mahal and all the rest of those marxist oriented jerk offs never proved anything with their vocals or their arranging.

Sat Cong...

Posted by: Jack at January 30, 2014 11:46 AM

Their failed efforts to take over the trade unions, you say? Hornswaggle, says I.

Posted by: Roger Drew Williams at January 30, 2014 11:54 AM

There will come a day, I hope, when Bluegrass is held up by Jazz and Blues as pure American art forms.

The problem with bluegrass in terms of publicity and public acceptance is that its so damn rural. Its country to the core, with values and ideals that urban people are confused and shocked by. Blues at least hits basic themes like loss and love and poverty but bluegrass talks about being glad it snowed because then you could find your little girl's body by her tracks.

Posted by: Christopher Taylor at January 30, 2014 12:38 PM

You don't think bluegrass is about loss and love and poverty?

Go deeper, and keep listening.

Posted by: Rob De Witt at January 30, 2014 2:02 PM

Isn't Bill Monroe in the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame as some kind of original influence?

My mp3 collection is mostly Bluegrass and Blues or Gospel with a smattering of Southern Rock. The thing I get from Bluegrass is the country boy's longing for his home back in the hills. I can imagine the Stanley brothers working on the assembly line in Detroit and daydreaming about Momma's cornbread back in Virginia.

Then there is the whole boy-loves-girl, boy-kills-girl, boy-ends-up-on-death-row subgenre. A recent example is "If It Hadn't Been For Love" by the Steeldrivers that some chubby English girl covered.

Posted by: mushroom at January 30, 2014 2:21 PM

Sure Rob, its that too, but there's so much more. I didn't mean to think there's only one kind of influence, I meant that its much broader and deals with issues blues does not. Blues is from very rural roots but resonates well with urban people because of its basic themes. Bluegrass takes it further because a lot of its songs are very, very old.

Posted by: Christopher Taylor at January 30, 2014 2:27 PM

Those of you wistfully remembering the sound of Seeger can only be old hippies who long for the good-fellowship of 1960's days gone by. As a 70's child, I abso-f@#$king-lutely hated every time my elementary school teachers made us sing "This Land is My Land, This Land is Your Land". As for me, my land is my land and your land is your land ... and stay the hell off my land or I'll shoot.

Good riddance to an old homofilic commie bastard!

As for bluegrass, well I could speak to that all day and all night. Bluegrass, my friends, goes back and beyond time across the mighty waters to the lush green hills and foggy moors of me ancestors. You can hear it in them fiddles, boys.

Let me tell you about a man named A.P. and his family Carter. Were it not for him, we'd have lost many a fine tune in the mists and hollows of those Appalachian mountains. There's nothing better than to hear them singing "Will the Circle be Unbroken" and feel the pain of my own mother dying as a boy.

Buddy Holly loved the Carters, and Elvis loved Buddy, and the Beatles loved both Elvis and Buddy. The "folk music" of Seeger was manufactured by commie intellectuals out of Columbia U, recently arrived from the Frankfort School because Hitler didn't like Social Marxists any more than he like the Political Marxists who fled to Moscow. The intelligentsia promoted it all at Newport in 1950, but they invited the Bluegrass boys to add legitimacy. The fact remains, Bluegrass and folk are two very different genres. One deserves a bullet to the head and the other has thrived in the shadows for years. The time is at hand when you'll hear modern versions of Bluegrass on the radio and you'll smile when you hear it because you'll know the good guys won.

Maybe it's already started. Here's a great example of what I'm talking about. The tune changes a little, but the spirit of the song remains the same ... Listen to what follows and tell me I'm wrong.

Carter Family - Will you Miss Me When I'm Gone

Stanley Brothers - Will you Miss Me When I'm Gone

Lulu and the Lampshades - When I'm Gone

Anna Kendrick - When I'm Gone, Pitch Perfect (the Movie)

Wikipedia: Cups (song"
"Cups" (also known as "Cups (Pitch Perfect's When I'm Gone)" or just "Cups (When I'm Gone)" or "When I'm Gone (Cups)") or (The Cup Song) is a song popularized by American actress Anna Kendrick from the film Pitch Perfect. The basic song "When I'm Gone" was written by A.P. Carter,

Posted by: edaddy at January 30, 2014 6:06 PM

But i still love the genre, the sound, of folk/Americana. Just something about one person, one voice, a guitar, telling a story.

Posted by SteveS. at January 30, 2014 9:40 AM

That weren't me.

Posted by: SteveS at January 30, 2014 8:13 PM

Can't overgeneralize. Good and bad in all genres.
Kingston Trio, Peter Paul and Mary, Bob Dylan (early years) showed what folk music could do. As a beginning guitarist I learned all the folk songs, very easy for a beginning musician. Then I progressed and found rock/roll to offer more diversity for my instrument. Jazz / blues then became the next road to travel. I have found things beautiful in gospel music, bluegrass, c/w, rock/roll, blues, folk, and alternative along with sub genres in all types of music.

Seeger always seemed to me to be a mean spirited individual with little capacity for those who did not follow doctrinaire socialist lines. I will not however denigrate the dead, just to say he wasn't my cup of tea.

Posted by: tripletap at January 31, 2014 6:32 AM

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