I coulda been a Pip. No, not really

While writing my post reviewing the film 20 Feet From Stardom about the anonymous backup singers to the famous singers, I recalled that I used to think that for someone with limited musical ability like myself but yet thought that it would be fun to perform, the role of backup singer seemed ideal. It seemed like all it required was the ability to sway and clap while occasionally singing something. A cushy gig, it looked like. [Read more…]

Pete Seeger and the blacklist

In reading about Pete Seeger on the web yesterday, I came across his testimony when he was hauled up before the House Un-American Affairs Committee in August 1955. This was the infamous Congressional committee that would order people to appear before them and quiz them about their political affiliations. If the people were willing to ‘prove their loyalty’ by renouncing their prior beliefs and associations and naming other people as being either Communists or fellow travellers or sympathizers, they would get lenient treatment. But if they did not, they would be accused of being pro-Communist. The committee targeted members of the entertainment industry, seeing them as being influential in shaping public opinion. Pete Seeger and his group The Weavers were blacklisted in the early 1950s. [Read more…]

Pete Seeger and Johnny Cash

The internet has been full of tributes to the great Pete Seeger who died earlier today. Here is one clip that I particularly liked where he appears with another of my favorite singers Johnny Cash. Together they sing a rousing version of It takes a worried man, getting the audience to join in, which is something that Seeger loved to do. He realized the power of music to bring people together and raise consciousness and that music was something you did, not just listened to. [Read more…]

Pete Seeger, 1919-2014

Pete Seeger died today. He was an American treasure, a powerful voice for justice and peace all throughout his long and colorful life, whose musical and political influence extended well beyond the borders of the USA. I had heard of Seeger and knew his songs growing up in Sri Lanka. This entry in Wikipedia captures the strength and consistency of the principles that drove him and his refusal to back down when asked to compromise those principles, even if it meant going to jail. [Read more…]