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If I Had a Hammer: Songs of Hope and Struggle

May 19, 1998 | Format: MP3

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Product Details

  • Original Release Date: May 19, 1998
  • Release Date: May 19, 1998
  • Label: Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
  • Copyright: (c) 1998 Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
  • Total Length: 1:11:09
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B000S9CAR4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,119 Paid in Albums (See Top 100 Paid in Albums)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on July 9, 2004
Format: Audio CD
My introduction to Pete Seeger was when he contributed to the cancellation of "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" when he showed up in 1967 and sang "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy," a song which attacked the Vietnam War and President Lyndon Johnson, albeit through a metaphorical narrative. Eventually I learned that Seeger is arguably the key figure in the folk music movement of the 20th century, a living link between Woody Guthrie (Seeger and Guthrie formed the Almanac Singers) and Bob Dylan. But certainly Seeger was more passionate about politics, the environment, and humanity than either of those gigantic figures. The fact that he was blacklisted during the McCarthy era is enough to establish his bona fides, but so is his career, begun in the late 1930s and continuing through several wars, a dozen causes, and thousands of union meetings. Then there are Seeger's Folkways recordings, that were the first sound of authentic American folk music heard by countless children.
"If I Had a Hammer: Songs of Hope & Struggle" is a collection of the best of Seeger's Folkways recordings from the late 1950s and early 1960s. This is the Pete Seeger who was always singing for a cause, and after the original 1956 version of "If I Had a Hammer," written by Seeger and fellow Weaver Lee Hays, you can see how these songs are organized by common themes. First up are songs about the struggle of the American unions and labor movement (tracks 2-9), which offers "Which Side Are You On?", "Casey Jones (The Union Scab)," "Joe Hill," Guthrie's "Union Maid," and, of course, "Solidarity Forever," all sung by Seeger in his clear voice accompanied by the banjo.
Beginning with "Where Have the Flowers Gone?
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 21, 1998
Format: Audio CD
I learned many of the songs on this album (Union Maid, Banks of Marble, Joe Hill, Which Side Are You On, Solidarity Forever,etc.) when I went to Camp Kinderland from 1972 - 75. Unfortunately, I couldn't find recordings of these songs once I went off to college in the 1980s. I did find one or two songs on old scratchy records in my folks' record collection, but that was it. What a joy to listen to these songs! I learned quite a few new tunes from the CD. The newly released songs are quite a hoot. I sang "Step by Step" in a chorus Mr. Seeger organized for a Labor Day celebration this year, and referred to the CD for practice on my own. The liner notes are informative and the choice of songs superb. Pete Seeger is a part of American history and these recordings are precious indeed! This CD has renewed my interest in folk and protest music.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Tad Nastic on January 28, 2005
Format: Audio CD
This is the most conceptually complete Pete Seeger compilation as far as I'm concerned (unfortunately, tho, it lacks some Columbia era comps: "Bells Of Rhymney" "Waist Deep In the Muddy," etc.). However, this collection compiles what are Seeger's forte: rally songs--songs that motivate people to take social stands. The collection also contains his most definitive versions of some of his best known songs (e.g., Where Have All the Flowers Gone, We Shall Overcome), unlike the Columbia "Greatest Hits" version, which limits itself solely to Columbia recordings. This collection, on the other hand, spans over 4 decades. The earliest recordings are from 1955, and the latest 2 songs were recorded in 1998 especially for this collection. Also it has a previously unreleased tape recording of "Turn Turn Turn." Most of the recordings are from the late 50s and early 60s--a period, indeed, that were "a-changin," as a Seeger mentor would go on to say. Beautiful music for those who believe in a good cause or two.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Chris Thompson on April 28, 2008
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Most of the songs are a really nice representation of all the things Seeger supported. It's more tilted toward organized labor than peace. Some of the songs are less than professional versions of the songs for which he is known - I guess it is because the recordings are quite old (nearing 50 years!). If you like folk music, it's a nice buy, but get it at a cheap price because it isn't something you'll listen to over and over again.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 21, 1998
Format: Audio CD
Pete Seeger, the golden throated voice of the peace movement speaks for all of us through this recording. His unrivaled banjo and 12-string guitar ring resound through this recording. Thank God for Pete Seeger!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Alfred Johnson on April 2, 2006
Format: Audio CD
This review is being used to describe several of Pete Seeger's recordings. Although I have listened to most of his songs and recordings these represent those that best represent his life's work.

My musical tastes were formed, as were many of those of the generation of 1968, by `Rock and Roll' music exemplified by the Rolling Stones and Beatles and by the blues revival, both Delta and Chicago style. However, those forms as much as they gave pleasure were only marginally political at best. In short, these were entertainers performing material that spoke to us. In the most general sense that is all one should expect of a performer. Thus, for the most part that music need not be reviewed here. Those who thought that a new musical sensibility laid the foundations for a cultural or political revolution have long ago been proven wrong.

That said, in the early 1960's there nevertheless was another form of musical sensibility that was directly tied to radical political expression- the folk revival. This entailed a search for roots and relevancy in musical expression. While not all forms of folk music lent themselves to radical politics it is hard to see the 1960's cultural rebellion without giving a nod to such figures as Dave Van Ronk, the early Bob Dylan, Utah Phillips, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie and others. Whatever entertainment value these performers provided they also spoke to and prodded our political development. They did have a message and an agenda and we responded as such. That these musicians' respective agendas proved inadequate and/or short-lived does not negate their affect on the times.

As I have noted in my review of Dave Van Ronk's work when I first heard folk music in my youth I felt unsure about whether I liked it or not.
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