Record of the day: Pete Seeger, "Pete Seeger in Italy"

Record of the day: Pete Seeger, “Pete Seeger in Italy”

Pete Seeger
Pete Seeger in Italy (Cd Il Manifesto 169)

It is impossible not to love Pete Seeger, America's musical conscience for over sixty years and an example of intellectual honesty and artistic integrity for musicians around the world. He toured the entire planet singing about the injustices of war,
the desire for redemption of those who are oppressed, he was the voice of the weak, the exploited, of the classes forced to live and work in conditions of authentic slavery, he denounced in equal measure the distortions of wild capitalism, the hypocrisies of McCarthyism and dictatorships who cloaked themselves in socialism, always with the firmness of those who know that even a song can help change things.

An artist completely immune to compromise, he managed to record over 100 records without being bribed by record companies;
he was an authentic living encyclopedia of the popular culture of many countries, taking an interest in artists such as Victor Jara, Silvio Rodriguez, Pablo Milanes and Violeta Parra when these names had not yet become common currency in the folk music scene. Seeger also had cordial relations with our country, and he often performed there; this beautiful CD published by Manifesto is a precious testimony of this, fortunately recorded by Dario Toccaceli during two concerts held in Novara and Turin in 1977.

The audio quality is not crystal clear despite the excellent restoration work, but who cares: the music contained in the CD excites with the warmth with which Seeger manages to involve an audience whose language he doesn't even know; after a few songs everyone is singing, clapping their hands, they are in complete osmosis with the artist who drags them, accompanied only by his banjo, through the great book of American popular song and beyond, from “Darlin' Corey” to “John Henry “, from “Viva la Quince Brigada” to “This Land Is Your Land” and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” (there's even an improvised “Tarantella Siciliana” by

Seeger on the flute) singing with emotional participation and creating an atmosphere of authentic celebration that truly makes one feel envious for not having been present on the evening of the concert, especially during the beautiful version of “Guantanamera”, with vocal nuances of powerful expressiveness which unites the voice of the entire audience.

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.