Pete Seeger - American Favorite Ballads #1

My familiarity with Pete Seeger comes mostly from our friend Julia, who makes CD’s for the kids every birthday party, and always has at least one or two Seeger numbers on it. But he is much bigger than that in terms of influencing American music. He was one of the key players in the folk revival in the middle of the last century, and recorded hundreds of songs people had been singing for a century, before they vanished beneath a wave of newfangled radio one hit wonders. He was a political figure as well, way left of mainstream and with communist ties, which he later regretted and renounced. But none of that cancels out his love for America, its people, its history, and true concern for his fellow man.

Anyway, my daughter Avery and I have been listening to “American Favorite Ballads #1? (there’s five in all, I hope to get my hands on the others!) which has all kinds of old folk and campfire and cowboy and union and gospel songs on it, some of which were popular before the civil war. You’ve got patriotic favorites like “Yankee Doodle”, folk hymns like “John Brown’s Body” and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”, songs of the working man like “John Henry”, westerns like “Home on the Range”.

I don’t know if Avery (4 years old) will ever hear some of these songs any other way, and it is a good springboard to talk about history and so on. I also really appreciate the liner notes, which has a few paragraphs of history about each song. I love learning history this way, through the lens of something specific.

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