[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[Xmca-l] Re: Pete Seeger



I would add my appreciation to all the others. I would not want to overlook the fact that he was a long-time member of a group, the Weavers, who were just as committed to the issues as Seeger and important singers/activists in their own right. Ronnie Gilbert was a champion of woman's/lesbians' rights throughout her lifetime. 

There are several "best of" albums listed at http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=the%20weavers&sprefix=the+weav%2Caps&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Athe%20weavers that are worth the investment for oldtimers and newbies alike. I saw the band several times as a kid and even went backstage once because my dad worked with Saul Hellerman at the National Weather Bureau in Washington, DC; Saul's brother Fred was a Weaver, and invited his brother and guests back after the show. Probably in the late 1950s. 

Interesting thing I learned while looking some things up: The group took its name from a play by Gerhart Hauptmann, Die Weber (The Weavers 1892), a powerful play depicting the uprising of the Silesian weavers in 1844, containing the lines, "I'll stand it no more, come what may".

More, for the curious:
Because of the deepening Red Scare of the early 1950s, their manager, Pete Cameron, advised them not to sing their most explicitly political songs and to avoid performing at "progressive" venues and events. Because of this, some folk song fans criticized them for watering down their beliefs and commercializing their singing style. But the Weavers felt it was worth it to get their songs before the public, and to avoid the explicit type of commitment which had led to the demise of the Almanacs. The new approach proved a success, leading to many bookings and increased demand for the groups recordings.

During the Red Scare, however, Pete Seeger and Lee Hays were identified as Communist Party members by FBI informant Harvey Matusow (who later recanted) and ended up being called up to testify to the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1955. Hays took the Fifth Amendment. Seeger, however, refused to answer, claiming First Amendment grounds, the first to do so after the conviction of the Hollywood Ten in 1950. Seeger was found guilty of contempt and placed under restrictions by the court pending appeal, but in 1961 his conviction was overturned on technical grounds.[1] Because Seeger was among those listed in the entertainment industry blacklist publication, Red Channels, all of the Weavers were placed under FBI surveillance and not allowed to perform on television or radio during the McCarthy era. Decca Records terminated their recording contract and deleted their songs from its catalog in 1953,[2] and their records were denied airplay, which curtailed their income from royalties. Right-wing and anti-Communist groups protested at their performances and harassed promoters. As a result, the group's economic viability diminished rapidly and in 1952 it disbanded. After this, Pete Seeger continued his solo career, although like all of them he continued to suffer from the effects of blacklisting.

In December 1955, the group reunited to play a sold-out concert at Carnegie Hall. The concert was a huge success. A recording of the concert was issued by the independent Vanguard Records, and this led to their signing by that record label. By the late 1950s, folk music was surging in popularity and McCarthyism was fading. Yet the media industry of the time was so timid and conventional that it wasn't until the height of the revolutionary '60s that Seeger was able to end his blacklisting by appearing on a nationally distributed US television show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, in 1968.[3]

When in the late fifties The Weavers agreed to provide the vocals for a TV cigarette commercial, Pete Seeger, opposed to the dangers of tobacco and discouraged by the group's apparent sell-out to commercial interests, decided to resign. He spent his last year with the Weavers honoring his commitments, but described himself as feeling like a prisoner. He left the group on April 1, 1958.
p

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Robert Lake
Sent: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 8:55 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Pete Seeger

Thank-you Leif.
Pete's passing leaves a large chasm in the cultural/historical landscape not only of the U.S.
but the whole world he embraced. The New Times Obituary provides a good overview.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/29/arts/music/pete-seeger-songwriter-and-champion-of-folk-music-dies-at-94.html?emc=edit_na_20140128&_r=0

So long Pete, its been good to know ya!
Robert Lake


On Tue, Jan 28, 2014 at 3:39 AM, Leif Strandberg < leifstrandberg.ab@telia.com> wrote:

> Pete Seeger is dead… but we will remember him and his important 
> cultural activity… we are moved but we know:
>
> "We shall not be moved"
>
> Love to Pete Seeger and his big family all over the world
>
> Leif
> Sweden
>