Pete Seeger

Birds, Beasts, Bugs & Bigger Fishes

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Birds, Beasts, Bugs & Bigger Fishes is a companion to Pete Seeger's album Birds, Beasts, Bugs & Little Fishes, and it isn't so much that the fishes are bigger (in fact, there aren't really any fish mentioned in the songs, or any bugs, for that matter), it's that the music is intended for slightly bigger children than those on the other disc. How old? Well, there is a little boy of eight who is the lead character in the story-song "Bear Hunt," and that sounds about right. Seeger has drawn many of the songs from the books of his stepmother Ruth Crawford Seeger, American Folk Songs for Children and American Animal Songs for Children, based on field recordings from the Library of Congress she transcribed. Often, they are not so much children's songs as songs of rural life prominently featuring animals, with appearances by a bull, a bat, a doe, a ram, a fox, ducks, geese, a turtle dove, horses (including one named Old Paint), an elephant, a frog, and a dog named Old Blue. Those animals are sometimes slaughtered or eaten by other animals, so the tone isn't always welcoming to children. But when Seeger comes to "The Foolish Frog," a song and tall tale he first heard told by his father, the musicologist Charles Seeger, who took it from a 19th century vaudeville act by May Irwin, children and adults are likely to be delighted with the results.

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