Archive for the ‘birthdays’ category

Happy Birthday, Woody Guthrie

July 14, 2010

Just thinking about Woody’s birthday makes me wish he could have written about Arizona and the new too-bloody-familiar hate on some of the least privileged in our midst.

Ah well:  he’s gone, but the music, and the ideas are still here.

Yes we will.

And the inevitable bonus track:

And hell, why not one more:

And for just one tiny measure of Woody’s ongoing power and influence, this:

Happy Birthday, Dr. Ralph Stanley

February 25, 2010

Born February 25, 1927.

This needs no words from me:

Bonus banjo track:

Happy Birthday Pete Seeger — a Day Late

May 4, 2009

I’m of the age for which Pete Seeger’s voice first served as one of the kindest voices of childhood.  I remember the songs from his Weavers years — think  “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine”and “Wimoweh.”*

It took a while to realize that Seeger was not simply a delightful man with the pick and a voice that made children feel befriended.  I first saw the Clearwater tied up on a decaying quay in Manhattan in the early ’80s.  That was one clue.  I listened with a bit more care to “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy,” written for Vietnam, worth remembering anytime over the last several years.

He was a ’30s Communist, and it took him a long time to acknowledge Stalin’s horrors to complete his break with the Soviet line; his courage was never in question, from his service in World War II (are you listening, Gutless Dick Cheney?), to his willingness to stare down the House Un-American Affairs Committee, at the risk of ten years in jail.  (Convicted of contempt of Congress, Seeger’s indictment was found by the Appeals Court to be flawed, and he was not imprisoned on the charge.)  He was on the right side of just about every politico-moral choice of the last half century, from civil rights to social justice, to the anti Vietnam war movement and much more besides.

And through it all and above all he has made lifetimes of wonderful music, some purely fun (see above), and some able to please the listener whilst moving the times.

So, a day late, but with my thanks:  Happy Birthday, Pete.

*Apologies for this link, to you and to Mr. Seeger.  It just hits my funny bone…