Monday, January 19, 2009

Seeger brings 'This Land Is Your Land' full circle

We have long thought three things: Pete Seeger is a national treasure; Bruce Springsteen understands America and puts it to music; and "This Land Is Your Land," at least the first three verses, would make a better national anthem than "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Those three things made a perfect platform yesterday at the fabulous inaugural concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and it did us good to see this photo (by Mandel Ngan /AFP/Getty Images) of Springsteen and Seeger singing the song by Woody Guthrie, who was a good friend of Seeger, now 89.

We also got a kick out of learning that Seeger (who was banned from TV in the 1950s and helped get the Smothers Brothers knocked off in the '60s by signing "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy," leaving no mistake that "the big fool" pushing on was Lyndon Johnson) "restored the verses that have been censored from ['This Land Is Your Land"] over the years to make it less political," Tommy Stevenson of The Tuscaloosa News writes for Truthout, a liberal news service. To read those, and watch a video of the performance, click here.

UPDATE, May 4: Seeger, who lives in rural upstate New York, celebrated his 90th birthday in New York City, with a concert featuring big musical stars. Here's a heartwarming story by Josh Getlin of the Los Angeles Times.

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