January 30, 2014

AND HE REJECTED THE IDEA:

Pete Seeger: A Mean-Spirited and Vengeful Recollection (Spengler, January 29th, 2014, PJ Media)

 The notion of folk music he espoused was a put-on from beginning to end.

There is no such thing as an American "folk." We are a people summoned to these shores by an idea, not common ties of blood and culture. There is folk music in America where pockets of ethnicity resisted assimilation: African-American blues, for example, or the English songs frozen in amber in white Appalachia. That is why the best American popular music always came from black sources, performed either by black musicians or white emulators from George Gershwin on down.

Seeger's (and Guthrie's) notion of folk music had less to do with actual American sources than with a Communist-inspired Yankee version of Proletkult. The highly personalized style of a Robert Johnson and other Delta bluesmen didn't belong in the organizing handbook of the "folk" exponents who grew up in the Communist Party's failed efforts to control the trade union movement of the 1940s. The music of the American people grew out of their churches. Their instrument was the piano, not the guitar, and their style was harmonized singing of religious texts rather than the nasal wailing that Guthrie made famous. Seeger, the son of an academic musicologist and a classical violinist, was no mountain primitive, but a slick commercializer of "folk" themes with a nasty political agenda. His capacity to apologize for the brutalities of Communist regimes -- including their repression of their own "folksingers" -- remained undiminished with age, as David Graham reported in the Atlantic.
Posted by at January 30, 2014 2:19 PM
  
blog comments powered by Disqus
« THE RIPENESS OF TIME: | Main | IT NEVER STOOD A CHANCE: »