Pete Seeger & Brother Kirk Visit Sesame Street

Pete Seeger

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Pete Seeger & Brother Kirk Visit Sesame Street Review

by William Ruhlmann

In the 1950s, when he was blacklisted and red-baited, Pete Seeger turned to schools and summer camps, where he sang to children, entertaining them and also inculcating his political views. Twenty years later, he turned up on Sesame Street doing much the same thing. On this album, he appears with his associate, Civil Rights activist and singer the Rev. Frederick Douglass Kirkpatrick, billed as "Brother Kirk", and is also joined by Carroll Spinney, the voice of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch of the Muppets, plus a chorus of Sesame Street Kids. Seeger's repertoire is fairly typical of the songs he usually performs for children, including such crowd pleasers as "She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain," complete with sound effects, and "Old Lady Who Swallowed the Fly," a particular favorite of Oscar the Grouch. Naturally, Oscar is also fond of "Garbage," which allows Seeger to inject the issue of environmentalism. He also sings the more political verses of "This Land Is Your Land." Kirkpatrick gets two showcases, starting with "Patty Cake Gorilla," a tribute to a resident of the Central Park Zoo, while a more typical number for him is "The Ballad of Martin Luther King," in which he sings of the bigots of Montgomery, AL, and the bus boycott that brought Dr. King to national recognition. Thus, it's not all light entertainment for young children here, but there are things for kids to learn while they sing along.

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