Posts Tagged ‘Byrds’

‘You’re Never Too Old To Change The World . . .’

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Pete Seeger passed away yesterday. His story is well told in today’s edition of the New York Times (and told in great detail at Wikipedia), and I thought that instead of trying (and failing) to tell the whole story this morning, I’d just share a few moments of Seeger’s musical life and heritage.

Seeger was a founding member of the Weavers, the early 1950s folk group that had a No. 1 hit with Lead Belly’s “Goodnight, Irene” and was blacklisted for its liberal leanings during the 1950s Red Scare. This is the Weavers’ 1950 recording of “If I Had A Hammer (The Hammer Song),” written by Seeger and fellow Weaver Lee Hayes.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Seeger was considered by many to be a dangerous man. As Wikipedia relates, “In 1960, the San Diego school board told him that he could not play a scheduled concert at a high school unless he signed an oath pledging that the concert would not be used to promote a communist agenda or an overthrow of the government. Seeger refused, and the American Civil Liberties Union obtained an injunction against the school district, allowing the concert to go on as scheduled. In February 2009, the San Diego School District officially extended an apology to Seeger for the actions of their predecessors.”

Seeger’s songs and music were without doubt popular and important far beyond the reach of radio and pop music. Still, in the 1960s, a few of his songs provided hits. “If I Had A Hammer” was a hit for both Trini Lopez (No. 3, 1963) and Peter, Paul & Mary (No. 10, 1962). (It’s likely, for what it may matter, that Lopez’ version of the song is the first Pete Seeger song I ever heard, as a copy of Lopez’ single came home with my sister one day in one of those record store grab bags of ten singles for a dollar. I still have the single, with “Unchain My Heart” on the flipside.) The Byrds (No. 1, 1965) and Judy Collins (No. 69, 1969) reached the charts with “Turn! Turn! Turn!” And “Where Have All The Flowers Gone” was a hit for the Kingston Trio (No. 21, 1962) and Johnny Rivers (No. 26, 1965), while a version by guitarist Wes Montgomery bubbled under the chart (No. 119, 1969).

Perhaps the greatest attention Seeger got in the 1960s was when he was scheduled to perform his Vietnam allegory, “Waist Deep In The Big Muddy” on the CBS television show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, in September 1967. Wikipedia notes, “Although the performance was cut from the September 1967 show, after wide publicity it was broadcast when Seeger appeared again on the Smothers’ Brothers show in the following January.” Here’s that January 1968 performance:

This morning, after I heard the news of Seeger’s passing, I dug around at YouTube for something different to post at Facebook. I came across a mini-documentary detailing how Seeger came to recite Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” for the 2012 collection Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International. It’s a piece that tells as much about Seeger as it does about the recording he was invited to make. I was especially moved at the end of the piece when one of the Rivertown Kids, the Seeger-organized choir of young people involved in the recording, seemed to sum up Seeger’s life about as well as can be done: “You’re never too old the change the world.”

Saturday Single No. 284

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

One of the gifts I received last Christmas from the Texas Gal was a year-long membership in a beer club. Around the third week of every month, I’m supposed to receive twelve bottles of beer, three each of four separate brews from craft brewers around the country.

It’s been a lot of fun: In January, I tried beers from Maine and Georgia, and February brought me beers from Pennsylvania and from Granite City Brewery, a chain of restaurants that started right here in St. Cloud. I’d had Granite City’s brews before, of course, and I got a chuckle out of my beer club shipping me stuff that I could have found just across town. And as this last week of March began, I wondered where my March shipment was, so I called the club. My beer would arrive this week, I was told. Good enough.

Yesterday was Friday, and my beer was still absent. I have a standing lunch date on Fridays with my mom, who’s now ninety. She loves the navy bean and ham soup served at the Ace Bar & Grill here on the East Side, and this spring, that soup has been on the menu on Fridays. So I wouldn’t be home for a portion of the day, which meant I might miss the UPS guy. I shrugged. Life happens.

After finishing some writing work in the morning, I looked at the clock. It was just about eleven. I hadn’t slept well Thursday evening, so I decided to sneak in a twenty-minute nap before heading off to pick up Mom. About fifteen minutes in, I heard a “thump-thump-thump-thump-thump!” I rolled over and wondered which cat was up to what, and then I realized I was hearing the sound of knuckles on the back door. I lurched out of bed, pulled on my jeans and made my way downstairs in my stocking feet.

A quick look out the back door—where deliveries usually come – showed me nothing, so I ran to the front door, and I saw the UPS truck parked at the curb. I went out on the step and called out: “Hello? Hello?” No answer. So I ran back through the house to the back door and, this time, I saw a note stuck to the outside of the window, telling me of a failed delivery attempt. The driver would be back Monday. I ran once more to the front door, and as I got out onto the step, I saw the UPS truck driving away down Thirteenth Avenue.

Annoyed by the missed connection, I went to Mom’s and we headed on to the Ace. She had soup and I tried a grilled chicken breast with blue cheese garnish and buffalo sauce on the side. (I wasn’t pleased; next week, it’s back to the lunch-size serving of either prime rib or barbecued ribs.) As we talked, I mentioned my missed connection with the UPS driver and my beer. Then, done with lunch and still having a few minor errands to take care of, we headed back to the car, parked in the lot that the Ace shares with the Knotty Pine Liquor store.

As I began to back the car out of my space, I had to stop for a UPS truck coming into the lot, heading for the Knotty Pine. “I bet he’s got my beer,” I said. I backed out, did a U-turn and found a parking place a few spots down from the brown truck, and then I went to the truck and waited until the driver came out of the Knotty Pine.

“I think we missed connections a little while ago over on Thirteenth Street,” I told him. I explained why I was slow getting to the door, and he laughed and nodded and then told me that as he was waiting at the back door, he’d moved back down the sidewalk – out of easy view from the door – to fill out his note. “I thought I heard something from around front,” he said. “But I thought it might have been a cat, and by the time I came around to the front of the house, I didn’t see anything.”

He climbed into his truck, opened the cargo door and picked up my box of beer. “You want to see my ID?” I asked.

“Nah,” he said. “I recognize you. Besides, who else is going to stop me and know the address for a missed delivery?” I signed my name on his electronic gizmo, and he gave me my beer. I put it in the back of the car and, laughing a little at the absurdity of the world, got in and took Mom on her errands.

This month’s beers turned out to be Irresistible Amber Ale and Salmon Fly Honey Rye from the Madison River Brewing Co. of Belgrade, Montana, and Patriot Pale and Bald Eagle Brown from RJ Rockers Brewing of Spartanburg, South Carolina. I had a hard time choosing one last evening, but the Texas Gal told me to have one of the Amber Ales, and it was pretty good.

On the flip side, this morning’s tune was easy to choose. Here are the Byrds with “Nothing Was Delivered” from the classic album Sweetheart of the Rodeo, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.