Sunday, February 15, 2009

Pete and Woody

Regular readers know I love folk music. The Weavers are special favorites of mine, and I put both Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie right up there.

Watching the Concert for Obama, it was such a moving experience to see Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen leading thousands of folks, all singing Woody's This Land is Your Land.

What can I say? Bliss.

So I was excited when I found a film called Pete Seeger, the Power of Song.

A superb documentary detailing the life, music and lifelong work of this remarkable man, it's a fine experience on many levels. The music, of course, is all you'd expect. But for me, the story of Seeger's life is what shines here. From his early life on the road (RVing friends will love the photos of the senior Seeger's home made travel trailer) to meeting his lifelong love and companion Toshie, to his pairing with Woody Guthrie, the House Un-American Activities, the resurgence of folk music, to his status as the Grand Old Man of American folk music, it's all here.

I read one review that stated that this is a true Profile in Courage and I agree wholeheartedly. I found it on Amazon for just $10.00 and I can't recommend this film highly enough. I would also assume that this may be in your local Library.

In any case, this is a great film that deserves to be seen.

As luck would have it, I also found A PBS production of American Masters: Woody Guthrie. I'm a long time fan of Woody Guthrie the man AND the songwriter/singer/musician; however, until viewing this film, I was quite uneducated about much of his life. Interweaving archival film with music and news clips, it presents both a picture of the man and the time in this country that molded such a talent.

My favorite discovery was that Guthrie wrote This Land is Your Land in response to God Bless America. At that time, Kate Smith's version was all the rage and could be heard daily on virtually every radio station in the country.

Apparently, Woody felt that rather than hoping for help from above, people should take responsibility and ownership of this fine country. It kind of instills a whole new meaning in this song, don't you agree?

While I felt that Pete Seeger the Power of Song was a better made, more emotionally involving film, I can also recommend American Masters: Woody Guthrie.

These films will educate and enlighten you while entertaining you and maybe even bring a catch to your throat and a tear to your eye.

1 comment:

photowannabe said...

Nice thoughts on a man I knew little about. He's certainly a grass roots type of guy.