on July 23, 2012
I highly recommend this book for any and all Seeger fans, and anyone else interested in folk music, politics in the 20th century, and so much else. The editors have gathered a wide range of Pete's writings, many previously unpublished, and have included numerous explanatory notes. The photos are also most helpful. Pete has written and published so much during his long lifetime, and this is one more addition to the list.
on September 5, 2012
It's best to just come out and say it; this is at once a profoundly important and endlessly fascinating document. The Rosenthals have done us all a great service in putting together in one volume the thoughts and utterances of a true genius covering 80 years (13-year old Pete's request to his mother to allow him to buy a banjo with his allowance money is priceless.) Here are Pete's comments and musings on philosophy, history, literature, politics, and of course music. There are letters to family members, to Woody Guthrie, Bill Clinton, Bob Dylan, and scores of others.
Whether it be ideas about public performance, voting, civil rights, the role of the family or any of dozens of other topics, literally every page bubbles with riveting revelations or insights. Throughout, one gets a real sense of a man who is arguably among the greatest musicians - not to mention human beings - this country has ever produced.
I cannot recommend this book strongly enough... and that includes to "non-folkies" as well.
on December 5, 2012
What a treasure. Pete Seeger has been and continues to be an authentic man fighting to keep the music of the world alive and well and to leave the world a better place. The best way to review it is to quote some of his writings in the book.
1965 "And remember the aim of civilized man: to bring order and harmony - to simplify life. Any fool can get complicated. We are born in simplicity but die of complications. You may decide that you prefer to sing some of these songs with no accompaniment at all (as I do). In any case, the decision is up to you, and you are the next link in the chain."
1968 "Down with all hardliners. They say politics make for strange bedfellows. What the hell's wrong with strange bedfellows? Mother Earth is one big bed. We better all learn to share it."
2006 "They did an especially good job on the famous 200-year-old hymn, "Amazing Grace", which I learned from Lee Hays 60 years ago. And when I sing it I usually remind audiences that the words were written by a man who had for ten years been captain of a slave ship, but in his thirties he quit and became a preacher in his home in the south of England, and he started the antislavery movement in England. 'He turned his life around, and gave us hope that we can turn our country around.'"
2008 "Maybe there's room to retell my parable of the Teaspoon Brigade. Imagine a big seesaw. One end is on the ground, held down by a bushel basket half full of rocks. The other end of the seesaw is up in the air with a bushel basket on it one-quarter full of sand. Some of us have teaspoons and are trying to fill it. Most people are scoffing. 'It's leaking out as fast as you put it in.'
But we say, 'No'. We're watching closely, and it's a little more full than it was. And we're getting more and more people with teaspoons. One of these days that whole seesaw will go ZOOP! in the opposite direction. People will say, 'Gee, how did it happen so suddenly?'
Us and all our little teaspoons over thousands of years.
Keep in mind that we have to keep using our teaspoons, because the basket does leak. Are you in the teaspoon brigade?"
on September 3, 2012
Most interesting to read his own words, get an idea of his inner thinking. What a marvellous man he is. Still fighting for equal rights, peace and a clean environment.
Read this book, every word gets to my heart.
on October 22, 2012
For me, this book is a rare look at a musician and his times. Where a biography or memoir can sculpt a story, Rob and Sam Rosenthal comb through more than 60 years of correspondence to create a mosaic portrait of Pete. You gotta admire a man who throughout the peaks and valleys of life remains true to his craft: sharing music of the people, by the people and for the people.
on October 17, 2012
This is a wonderful collection of Pete Seeger's words.. It's so great to have it all in one volume. It is a very valuable tribute to a man who has been an activist as well as a musician all his life. I may purchase copies for other Pete Seeger admirers in my family.
on September 19, 2012
Pete's view is honest and forthright, almost to a fault it seems. He was both instigator and witness to some pretty notable parts of 20th century history. How could this book not be fascinating? If you have any interest in Pete Seeger whatsoever (and I hope you do), you'll find this book fascinating.
on December 2, 2012
It is great to read and see how Pete has changed but remains true to his principles. The editors have done an excellent job at selecting his writings for this book.
on January 17, 2013
It's a blend of letters/articles/notes from periods long past and more recent. Interesting to see the take on the controversial items from the time they were happening, and then hearing about them from a wiser/older Pete.
It is odd to hear so much about Communism in this book, but I think that Pete's version of communism isn't what most would think of. Regardless of political perspectives, this man has lived through a lot of musical history. Hearing the parts about entertainers getting blackballed because of communist viewpoints is extremely eye opening. His views on the environment and music are also quite interesting.
Some might not like the disjointed letter/article type history, but for me, it's great because you can read what Pete's thoughts were at the time, and it makes a great "pick it up and read a chapter" book. I also recommend viewing the documentary to get a perspective on Mr. Seeger prior to reading the book. It's a phenomenal film.
on September 11, 2014
My father passed away at 83 in 2013. Both he and my mother were in the Pete Seeger era and enjoyed his music and philosophies. I ordered her this book this year for her 84th bday and she has immensley enjoyed it, speaking to my sister and myself quite highly of Mr. Seeger's involvement of its development including his personal papers. I would think, knowing my mom as I do, that if anyone has an affection for Pete Seeger, then this would be a welcome gift or at least read.