Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger at Carnegie Hall

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Recorded at Carnegie Hall on June 8, 1963, this album is one of Pete Seeger's most famous. 1963 was a tumultuous year pivotal in the civil rights movement, and Seeger uses the bully pulpit of his high-profile concert to the fullest, filling the set list with pointed topical songs like "If You Miss Me at the Back of the Bus" and Tom Paxton's withering "What Did You Learn in School Today?" as well as the spirituals "Keep Your Eyes on the Prize" and, of course, "We Shall Overcome." Unfortunately, Seeger goes, as one says nowadays, off point in the middle of the set, with a three-song stretch of "Little Boxes," "Who Killed Norma Jean?," and one of Bob Dylan's absolute worst songs, "Who Killed Davey Moore?," tunes that sound like petulant little trifles in comparison. (Gee, suburbia is conformist, Hollywood is soul-deadening, and boxing is corrupt and violent? Who knew?) In the surroundings of the highly charged and deeply emotional tunes surrounding them, these songs simply sound trite. Seeger does right things with an impassioned performance of Dylan's "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall," however, and the second half of the concert, climaxing in the definitive version of "Guantanamera," is protest folk at its finest. Pete Seeger at Carnegie Hall is a valuable snapshot of its era.

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