Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Farewell Pete Seeger (1919-2014)

Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan
Yes, some of his politics could get rather annoying sometimes - quite likely that this infamous moment was based on someone else getting annoyed by the politics.  At the same time, however, Pete Seeger's (1919-2014) contribution to the resurgence of American folk music is unparalleled.

He was a major influence on Bob Dylan and Bruce Spingsteen and so many others.  How many of us grew up singing his songs?

He is the one who for years was said to have taken an ax after Bob Dylan plugged in at Newport in 1965 to cut the power cord.  That story took on a life of its own.

Forbes writes of the story:

Seeger is perhaps best remembered for something he (probably) didn’t do. In 1965, the Newport Folk Festival was a traditional affair, with string bands, and earnest songwriters strumming their Martins. Bob Dylan decided to change all that, quietly inviting the Paul Butterfield Blues Band to back up his electrified set. In short, Dylan brought rock and roll to Newport. 
The move was, at least, controversial. The sold-out crowd booed Dylan, hoping that he might switch back to the acoustic artist they had come to expect. One of the notable detractors was Seeger himself. 
The story goes that Seeger, who was one of the founders of the festival, was ready to not only pull the plug on Dylan, but actually cut the cord with a hatchet. Some stories, likely apocryphal, suggest that Seeger actually had a hatchet and had to be restrained from cutting the cable. 
Seeger admits complaining about Dylan’s set and making an idle threat about the hatchet, but he claims that he was complaining not about the music, but about the bad sound from a a PA system that was overwhelmed by the electric instruments. Others suggest that the loud music was upsetting Seeger’s elderly father, Charlie. In any case, Dylan is said to have been deeply hurt by Seeger’s disapproval, and didn’t return to Newport for 37 years.

Here is Pete's side of the story:

And here Pete Seger's Rainbow Quest with the Clancy Brothers circa 1965-66.

1 comment:

JCF said...

"Yes, some of his politics could get rather annoying sometimes"

...said just like Pontius Pilate, midst hand-washing!