A Review of the CD
"If I Had a Song: The Songs of Pete Seeger"

"If I Had a Song: The Songs of Pete Seeger"

Copyright 2001
Appleseed Recordings APR CD 1055
P.O. Box 2593
West Chester, PA 19380

This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 10/01
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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Think of this as a musical party for Pete Seeger, a tribute to display and applaud his bountiful contributions to both the music world and the world in general. The guest performer list features many artists from the 'A' ranks of the folk music universe. Sixteen songs are included, many by performers who re-invent the songs, a very enjoyable element to this release.

A musician and social activist (although he might insist on this description being re-prioritized or claim they are intertwined), Seeger has enjoyed a fruitful career as both a solo performer and group member. His music talks of activism to make the world better and his life walks the talk. We recently enjoyed the Bob Dylan salute, "A Nod To Bob." This is Pete's turn.

The highlights:

Billy Bragg's in-your-face accented vocals, re-invent the old standard "If I Had A Hammer." Eliza Carthy's harmonies and violin also dress up this tune.

Who else but Steve Earle should sing "Walking Down Death Row"? Well known for his work in seeking the abolishment of capital punishment, Earle wraps an emotional intensity around this song, the most moving cut on the release.

How appropriate it is to team up Seeger with Arlo Guthrie on "66 Highway Blues." Co-written by Woody Guthrie and Seeger and previously unrecorded, this offering, as the liner notes so eloquently state, "closes the circle."

"Talking Union" teams John McCutcheon and Corey Harris, with Seeger vocally popping in every now and then. Creatively re-designed and performed as a rap and funk music tune, this stylization dusts off and breathes new life into this old chestnut from the 40s.

Eric Andersen performs a quiet but forceful rendition of "Snow, Snow." Malvina Reynolds' "Little Boxes" gets a twist: the McGarrigles perform it in French. "You'll Sing to Me Too" is beautifully performed in both English and Spanish by the sister and brother duo Guardabarranco.

The Joel Rafael Band performs a haunting version of "Last Train to Nuremberg." Calling on us all to choose the path of the higher moral ground rather than succumbing to the pressures of social convention, Seeger takes on the My Lai perpetrators, General Custer, Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, among others, but also critiques all who allow atrocities to continue through indifference, inaction and ignorance.

Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer offer the soul-searching cut "The Emperor is Naked Today-0." These two add their delicate touch to a song that could easily have come from the pen of Dave Carter.

The verdict:

Take a bow Pete.

Track List:

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