Ninety-three year old Pete Seeger isn’t slowing down. This week, he is releasing two discs: Pete Remembers Woody and A More Perfect Union.
The Woody in the first title of course is Woody Guthrie, who is celebrating his centennial year. A More Perfect Union is a collaboration with Seeger’s old friend Lorre Wyatt. Contributors include Bruce Springsteen, Tom Morello, Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris, and Dar Williams.
These are the last moments of the Bruce Springsteen/Paul McCartney concert in Hyde Park, London on Saturday. The concert ended when Live Nation was forced to cut the power due to a local ordinance that demands shows end at 10:30 PM.
The Wall Street Journal story says that the program–which culminated with Twist and Shout –already had gone ten minutes over. Whether or not it was a good decision, it must be acknowledged that takes guts to pull the plug on two legends.
The New York Times offers an interesting article on Woody at 100, a three-CD boxed set from the Smithsonian Institution. The story mentions Guthrie’s best known song, This Land is Your Land (originally This Land), includes the second verse of the song that isn’t often sung. The lyrics aren’t startling by today’s standards, but the stanza isn’t clearly the patriotic crowd-pleaser of the first.
Bruce Springsteen and Pete Seeger sang the song–including that second verse–at President Obama’s inauguration (here it is). It’s a bit ironic. Springsteen’s Born in the USA, like This Land is Your Land, often is mistakenly thought to be a blindly patriotic ode. Both are anything but.
Here is Guthrie’s transcription of This Land, courtesy of Wikipedia Commons:
This is from This Day in Music.com entry for July 10, 1987:
Producer and record company executive John Hammond died. He brought Stevie Ray Vaughan, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Leonard Cohen and Bruce Springsteen to Columbia Records. Hammond also worked as a producer with Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman and Count Basie.
From Bessie Smith to Bruce Springsteen.
There is more, courtesy of Wikipedia. The site says that Hammond also was involved with Charlie Christian, Teddy Wilson, Big Joe Turner, Pete Seeger, Babtunde Olatunji, George Benson, Freddy Green, Arthur Russell and Asha Puthli.
Of course, as a record producer he would have worked with many performers. The breathe of Hammond’s influence and his longevity are amazing, however.
Teddy Wilson plays Avalon in Austria in 1976.
Like Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen has managed to remain relevant as a musician and as a lyricist despite being a superstar. Being a superstar likely leads to an insular life — one that is quite unlike the life that person led before. Maintaining creativity probably is a difficult thing to do.
Like Young, Springsteen has two identities: Folk singer and rocker. Springsteen clearly revels in his links and debts to Leadbelly, Pete Seeger (the clip above is from “The Seeger Sessions”), Dylan, Woody Guthrie and others. He mentions them often.
Perhaps the synergies and tensions between the two overlapping worlds — rock superstar and folk musician with something to say — helps both Springsteen and Young (who recently released an album of folk and traditional songs) remain creative.
Happy Memorial Day. Here are some essential songs, including Grand Funk Railroad’s timeless classic We’re an American Band.
Among songs from folks wearing shirts are Jimi Hendrix’s Star Spangled Banner and Marian Anderson’s historic performance of My Country ‘Tis of Thee at the Lincoln Memorial. Here are two versions of God Bless America: One by composer Irving Berlin and one by Kate Smith, who is most closely associated with the song.
The song above is from the Blue Moon Swamp, which was released in 1997.
Fogerty helped popularize The Midnight Special by Leadbelly. Here is his take on Jambalaya (On the Bayou). The shaky camera settles down nicely. He performed Green River and Fortunate Son on The David Letterman Show and, at the 1993 Rock and Roll Inductions, did Who’ll Stop the Rain with Robbie Robertson and Bruce Springsteen.
NASA, in an effort to make contact with civilizations on other planets, sends a missile into space packed with cultural items and a planetary map showing our location. There are great novels, reproductions of famous artwork, music recordings, histories of mankind, movies and assorted other things on board. A few years later a missile lands on earth. It contains an envelope and, inside, a piece of paper with strange markings on it.
The government pulls together a team of the greatest scientists and linguists to figure out what it says. After six months, the lead researcher calls the president and says they have broken the code. The president says, “Great, what is the message?” The researcher pauses and says, “They want us to send more Chuck Berry.”
The good thing about the joke is that you can plug in any artist. I think of it as a Chuck Berry joke only because that’s how I first heard it.
Above is Maybellene. First of all, it should be a law that all MCs leave the stage like this guy. Berry’s entrance is almost certainly explained by Bruce Springsteen. His little spiel before he starts also seems carefully planned and well rehearsed.