- 11 Feb 14
The death of Pete Seeger coincided with the 30th anniversary of one of Ireland's greatest ever singers, Luke Kelly. Banjo players both, their music remains an inspiration to millions...
The feeding frenzy that descended on the French president Francois Hollande in recent weeks over his relationship with actress Julie Gayet obscured a significant change of position on Hollande’s part: he now describes himself as a social democrat and not as a socialist. That one who spent his life in the French Socialist party feels that he needs to be seen to move himself towards the centre is telling. It is another victory for proponents of economic libertarianism.
And if few now proudly describe themselves as socialists, what of those who would describe themselves as communists? Yet that’s exactly what two great, and now sadly late, banjo-playing giants of folk music called themselves: Luke Kelly, the 30th anniversary of whose death has just passed, and Pete Seeger who died within the last two weeks. Seeger was 94 when he died. His biography is rich in encounters and collaborations with a pantheon of American musicians, in three great waves.
The first was when he met and travelled with Woody Guthrie meeting Cisco Houston, Leadbelly, Alan Lomax and others along the way, becoming himself an active agent in leftist agitation, union activities and finding and singing the songs and stories of ordinary Americans. His group The Weavers made Guthrie’s ‘This Land is Your Land’ an anthem of the working people.