Thursday, November 1, 2007

NYTimes Movie Review of "Pete Seeger: The Power of Song"

Hammering Out Songs of Freedom (and Nuance)
By A. O. SCOTT, New York Times, October 26, 2007

As he ambles through his 80s, Pete Seeger has been collecting his share of tributes: honors at the Kennedy Center from President Bill Clinton; a paean from a fictional colleague in John Updike’s short story “Licks of Love”; a lively CD of folk songs from Bruce Springsteen and a gaggle of talented session players; a rousing song on Steve Earle’s latest album. Not that Mr. Seeger is one to sit around and bask in approbation. As the latest tribute — Jim Brown’s loving documentary, “Pete Seeger: The Power of Song” — makes clear, he’s still busy, still angry, still hopeful, still singing.

Mr. Seeger does not perform as much as he used to, and his reedy tenor has lost some of its force, but he still chops wood outside his home in the Hudson Valley, protests against war and plays the banjo about as well as anyone ever has. Those of us who grew up on his songs sometimes take him for granted, as our youthful enthusiasm for his versions of “Abiyoyo” and “Froggy Went a-Courtin’” give way to more sophisticated pleasures, like Mr. Springsteen or Mr. Earle. But Mr. Brown’s documentary reminds us, with admirable thoroughness, why we shouldn’t take Pete Seeger for granted.

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