“PETE SEEGER: THE POWER OF SONG”— An Excellent Music Documentary

“Pete Seeger: The Power of Song”

 An Excellent Music Documentary

 Amos Lassen

 What a jewel we have in Pete Seeger. He is a true gentleman, an American patriot, an original who seems to be here to lift our spirits. Director Jim Brown gives us a wonderful look at Seeger in “Pete Seeger: The Power of Song”.  Seeger is one of the finest American singer/songwriter of modern times. Because of him, we had the folk revival of the 60’s and 70’s and he wrote some of America’s most loved songs including “The Hammer Song”, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” and “Turn, Turn, Turn.

       The movie has interviews with the big names of folk music—Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Tom Paxton, and Arlo Guthrie. Most of the film is archival footage from the various stages of the singer’s career and is infused with song. It gives a full picture of Seeger’s life and spends time on the long period that he was blacklisted because of his political views and we see how he refused to yield to the demands of the House Un-American Activities Committee to take a loyalty oath to the American nation. In the film he tells us that he was a card carrying member of the Communist Party until 1948.

       The film has scenes of Seeger (now 80 years old) in the home he built himself and we see his wife, Toshi, and his children. There is footage of performances of the octogenarian with Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, Peter, Paul and Mary and Joan Baez. Seeger also sings with the groups he formed, The Weavers and the Almanac Singers.

       Seeger’s singing is, of course, the highlight but is his politics that are fascinating. He is a true humanist but, above everything is his music and I found myself singing along with Seeger’s reedy voice. His is the voice that influenced a generation and this movie shows how. Perhaps it will influence yet another generation. Seeger is not at all “ticky tacky” and not at all “just the same”.

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