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Pete Seeger's populist refrain: 'Let them sing something'

By Paul Metsa
MinnPost

Metsa_Blue… I made my way to the rehearsal hall, opened the door, and followed my ears to the sound of someone tuning a banjo. There was Pete Seeger. Now Pete Seeger should be the fifth face on Mount Rushmore, as far as I’m concerned. I took a deep breath, quietly took my guitar from the case, and walked to the corner where John Wesley Harding had joined Pete. I put my cassette player on the windowsill beside us and joined Pete and Wes on “Hobo’s Lullaby.” One verse later Wes and I are weaving a couple of harmonies around Pete’s righteous lead. In between verses, Pete adds long and deliberate clawhammer solos, and by the look on his face I can tell he’s enjoying his own playing. After a couple of verses and choruses, while Wes plays mouth harp and I keep the chords going, Pete tells the story of the song and how everybody thought Woody wrote it, when in fact it was written by a guy named Goebel Reeves.

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