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By now two generation of radicals have fed off Pete Seeger's music, his folksy wisdom, dogged optimism and ingenuous simplicity. The Johnny Appleseed of American folkmusic, Seeger told the TV generation about Woody Guthrie, the I.W.W., Apartheid in South Africa, the Warsaw ghetto, the House UnAmerican Activities Committee, the heroic days of labor unions, the poetry and protest in the worksongs of lumberjacks, sharecroppers, railroad men and miners. His store of topical broadsides, sermons and campfire yarns seemed, and still seems, inexhaustible. Thus it is a pleasure to report that Schwartz has gathered together a goodly sample of the aphorisms, the anecdotes, the tunes and the stories -- tall and otherwise. Most of the material has appeared before -- in the pages of Sing Out, on record liners, in obscure periodicals -- but Seeger has an unerring instinct for Americana that wears well, be it Carl Sandburg's 11th Commandment Thou shalt not commit nincompoopery or his own hopeful, McLuhanesque notion that whereas it used to be said that the pen is mightier than the sword perhaps now ""the guitar could be mightier than the Bomb."" Of course the printed word is a poor substitute for Seeger in concert but happily his prose style is as direct and colloquial as his onstage asides. And something of the fortitude and tenderness of the man comes through whether he's reminiscing about the lean days with the Almanac Singers or sharing his round-the-world song swapping experiences. With guitar and banjo instructions, photographs, doodles and many, many old and new songs interspersed, this is a nice supplement to his homemade harmonies.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1972
Publisher: Simon & Schuster