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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

PETE SEEGER

There was a time, before Starbucks and Iphones and Ipads and iPods, and texting and email, when stories were told by folk singers. For those of you hyper-caffeinated twenty something PDs and ASAs who march into the courthouse with one hand on a cafe latte and your head buried in your smartphone, you know who we mean- those of you who never stayed up all night banging out a term paper on a typewriter- the idea that a simple man could move a world through song without a twitter account or youtube videos might seem unbelievable.  And yet Pete Seeger did just that. 

After starting a radical newspaper, Seeger dropped out of Harvard (leaving behind a classmate named John Fitzgerald Kennedy), and then hitchhiked across the United States. Along the way he met and sang with legends like Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter- an Ex-con from Louisiana- and Woody Guthrie, an Okie minstrel. 

Pete Seeger helped write and arrange such classics as  the depression era "If I had a Hammer", the Vietnam protest song "Where Have All The Flowers Gone", and the civil rights anthem "We Shall Overcome."

HUAC- the House Un-American Activities Committee that ruined the lives of countless good Americans during the "Red Scare" of the 1950's, thought that the words like  "Freedom" and "people" in Seeger's songs were "code words" designed to help Communists infiltrate American Society. Called to testify before the Committee, Seeger heroically declined to invoke his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent: "I've sang for hobos and I've sang for the Rockefellers  and I am proud that I have never refused to sing for anybody" Seeger told the committee. Asked to name names about people who may have attended suspected Communist meetings where Seeger sang, Seeger, who offered to sing for the Committee, refused to testify: "I think these are very improper questions for Americans to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this" he told the committee.  Seeger, who had sold millions of records before he testified, was convicted of contempt of Congress, sentenced to a year in jail, and saw all of his record sales and concert bookings evaporate. In 1962 Seeger's conviction was overturned on a technicality. A resurgence of folk music in the 1960's saw his career revived. 

He sang for presidents, with Bruce Springsteen, 
with homeless hobos, with young people protesting the Vietnam war and with countless leaders of the civil rights movement. Singing at Moscow's Tchaikovsky Concert Hall, he led an audience of 10,000 Russians through "Michael, Row the Boat Ashore". He was unique, an American through and through. 

Here is Pete Seeger-age 89- with the Boss, in 2009, at a concert on the Lincoln Memorial during the pre-inaugural festivities for President Obama. So make some room on your phone or iPod, erase a Jay-Z song if you have to, and download some Pete Seeger.




11 comments:

CAPTAIN JUSTICE said...

RIP Mr. Seeger. From the Redwood Forest to the Gulfstream Waters, this land was made for you and me.

Cap Out .....

Anonymous said...

Rest in peace.
For those who might like something a little more contemporary to get their introduction to Seeger, "We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions" by Springsteen is one of the best tribute albums out there. If you get a chance, take a listen.

Anonymous said...

I met him once and got to attend a show he put on for about 250 people. The show was pure magic and afterwards he sat around and talked and answered questions for about 2 hours. His stories were incredible. An American treasure.

Anonymous said...

Good post,

The idea of a troubador creating change (which has happened, especially with Dylan and Guthrie) does seem unfathomable in today's connected world.

More music, less gossip and ridicule

CAPTAIN JUSTICE said...


The Captain Reports:

Juveniles & Life Sentences ....

I believe that there was a spirited debate on this BLOG in the past couple of months about the issue of juvies and life sentences.

A related opinion was issued by the 2nd DCA last week. Here is the DBR's take on the matter:

TOYE V. STATE OF FLORIDA

Case No.: 2D12-5605

Date: Jan. 22, 2014

Case type: Eighth Amendment

Court: Second District Court of Appeal

Author of opinion: Per curiam

Lawyer for petitioner: Stuart M. Pepper, Law Offices of Stuart M. Pepper, Cape Coral

Lawyers for respondent: Pamela Jo Bondi, attorney general, Tallahassee; Jonathan P. Hurley, assistant attorney general, Tampa

Panel: Judges Edward C. LaRose, Craig C. Villanti and Chris W. Altenbernd

Originating court: Lee Circuit Court

Ashley Toye, 25, has served seven years of a sentence with no end for her second-string role in a gruesome, gang-related slaying of two Cape Coral teens in 2006 when she was a pregnant 17-year-old. Now her lawyer is set to convince a trial judge that Toye shouldn't spend the rest of her life in prison.

A panel of the Second District Court of Appeal on Wednesday became the first Florida appellate court to rule that a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court landmark decision in juvenile justice must be applied retroactively to cases like Toye's.

In Miller v. Alabama, the high court decided that the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment "forbids a sentencing scheme that mandates life in prison without possibility of parole for juvenile offenders."

The question is: Does that precept apply to the 266 juvenile homicide offenders in Florida prisons who were convicted before Miller's case was decided?

Because the district courts are split on establishing the Miller time frame, a conflict has been certified to the Florida Supreme Court. The justices already have accepted review in Falcon v. State from the First District Court of Appeal.


Read more: http://www.dailybusinessreview.com/id=1202640149491/Appeals-Court-Orders-New-Sentencing-For-Juvenile-Serving-Life-Term#ixzz2riTG975u

Cap Out .....

Anonymous said...

A truly great American, in every sense of the word

DS said...

R.I.P.

I'd Hammer out Justice all over this land

DS

Anonymous said...

Pete Seeger was a Marxist/communist. He was good buddies with the worst of the worst in the world--Fidel, Che Guevara, to name a couple. He ripped songs off and took them as his own. No tears shed here.

South Florida Lawyers said...

Here here. Sing on Mr. P.

Anonymous said...

For all you Young'uns Pete Seeger also wrote Little Boxes, the theme song used in the Series Weeds

Anonymous said...

"As the encomiums threaten to overwhelm, it’s important to remember that Seeger, once an avowed Stalinist, was a political singer once devoted to a sinister political system–a position he held long after the Soviet experiment drenched itself in blood and collapsed in ignominy."