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Friday, May 01, 2009

Pete Seeger with Bruce Springsteen and Obama - unlikely folksinging trio

Here's some uplifting paras from the newspaper this morning. Buy The Australian today for the full story, or go to

PETE Seeger is unlikely to have thought he'd find himself serenading a US president-elect. After all, whenever he found himself in the vicinity of the White House through the decades, it was invariably to picket or protest.

Yet on the day before Barack Obama's inauguration last January, just as the We Are One concert at the Lincoln Memorial was drawing to a close, Bruce Springsteen invited a white-bearded figure in a knitted woollen cap to step out from the shadows. "Lead us, Pete," he implored.

And lead Pete did, in a manner familiar to all who have seen or heard him perform, turning the celebration into an uplifting singalong of Woody Guthrie's This Land is Your Land, a song that became well known despite "never being played on radio or sold", Seeger says. It found its way into school repertoires, but without its most potent verses. "How wonderful to rhyme 'tried to stop me' with 'private property'," he says. "Only Woody could have thought of that." Anyhow, "nobody said you couldn't sing them" at the Lincoln Memorial, so he did.

Obama sang along. Later, while greeting the performers, he told Seeger he had been listening to his songs since he was four.

What were your thoughts while you were up there on stage, I ask Seeger. An official function of any nature, after all, must have been a novel experience for a perennial dissident. "I was thinking about remembering the next verse," he says.


genevieve said...

I can't wait till the DVD of that performance comes out. That was one hell of a concert.

olsonflash said...

Pete Seeger stood up and paid a price in the Mcarthy era. He truly believes in something and stands for something. People such as dylan and Baez and other also deserve respect for carrying on the tradition. But bruce springsteen who sang the hymns to Reaganomics, surely does not have the right to bask in the light cast by these significant others. Springteen is truely "MR. HUGHS STANDING IN DYLAN'S SHOES".

popomo said...

"Sang the hymns to Reagonomics?" Are you really that ignorant? Or are you one of those people who heard the chorus to Born in the U.S.a. and never paid any attention to the actual lyrics? If so, the first verse might be an eye-opener:

Born down in a dead-man's town
The first kick I took was when I hit the ground
End up like a dog that's been beat to much
Till you spend half your life just covering up
Born in the U.S.A. is the story of a Vietnam war vet who comes home to find his brother dead, no job prospects, and no support from the people who sent him to the war in the first place. The theme and story fit right in with Springsteen's entire career, and the stories he tells of everyday Americans and their struggle to survive. How that can be construed as supporting Reagonomics is beyond me.

But then, Reagan made the same mistake. Springsteen's reaction? "Quit playing my song at your political rallies."