Seeger was an icon of the folk music genre, the truest form of American music with roots dating back to the 19th century. It was music with a message that told stories about social injustice, and the struggles of the common man. He was born in Patterson, New York in 1919, and become a staple on nationwide radio in the 1940s. He was also a member of the folk group The Weavers in the 1950s.
Seeger wrote some best folk songs recorded, including “If I had a Hammer”, popularized by Peter, Paul and Mary, and Trini Lopez, “Michael Row the Boat Ashore”, recorded by The Highway Men, “Turn, Turn Turn”, a hit for The Byrds, and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone”, made popular by The Kingston Trio.
Seeger is also famous for covering Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land”, and “Little Boxes”, my favorite of all his songs, written by his friend Malvina Reynolds, and used as the theme song for the Showtime series “Weeds”.
I grew up loving folk music, and enjoyed listening to Seeger, and the more mainstream folk singers he paved the way for, such as Bob Dylan and Peter, Paul and Mary. The love of this genre led to my appreciation for many acoustic artists that followed, such as James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Joan Baez, Emmylou Harris, and Dan Fogelberg.
It makes me sad to think this musical icon will no longer be able to introduce folk music to generations to come. Here is perhaps his last performance back in September 2013, at Farm Aid, where he performed “This Land is Your Land” with John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson, Dave Matthews, and Neil Young.
And here’s Seeger version of “Little Boxes”.