This was posted today on Portside. I don't know the author, but I thought you'd
The Parable of Pete Seeger at the Inauguration Concert
The image was striking: Bruce Springsteen (The Seeger
Sessions) made the introduction. Bruce and Tao
Rodriguez (Seeger's grandson) provided lead vocals,
backed by a multiracial children's chorus. And Pete,
premier folk musician, flung his arms to the heavens
like an ecstatic prophet, providing the lyrics to
Woodie Guthrie's unofficial national anthem -- This
Land Is Your Land. It may have been the biggest sing-
along in history. The crowd knew, for sure, that their
organizing and marching and singing were just a day
away from bringing a few walls a-tumblin' down.
For the occasion, Pete brought out some verses that
haven't always been included. Hard time verses:
In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?
The thumb-your-nose at private property verse:
There was a big high wall there that tried to stop
Sign was painted, it said private property;
But on the back side it didn't say nothing;
That side was made for you and me.
The defiance and sublime confidence in the face of any
Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.
And here's what makes Pete's appearance a parable. HBO,
which broadcast the concert, apparently didn't catch
the lyrics. Or maybe they just don't agree with Woody's
declaration that anyone who sings his songs without his
permission ... is surely a friend of his. So anyone who
went to watch Pete and Co. on Youtube, more than a few
minutes after the video was posted, was greeted with a
message that it had been taken down because HBO had
protested a copyright violation. No sense of irony over
there at HBO.
Worse, a whole lot of people who then tried to watch
the concert on HBO's website found it so overwhelmed
by the demand that it couldn't deliver it to anyone.
(Psst, HBO, ever heard of Bittorrent?)
Fortunately, German TV also broadcast the Inauguration
Concert, and they're not demanding that Youtube take it
January 18, 2009
Rock on, Pete.
Singers -- keep on organizing.
Organizers -- keep on singing.
There's no wrong way except silence. Mumbling
is OK; belting is better. (The president elect looked
to not be a confident singer, but he sure was in the
spirit.) Share the link. Walls gonna keep a-tumblin'