Wednesday, September 10, 2008

No singing songs

"If I had a hammer..."

Pete Seeger and Lee Hays

I watched Power of Song the other night on PBS wondered where all the songs had gone. Pete Seeger's a remarkable American who for decades, more than half a century, has melded song, rebellion, activism, self-sufficiency, showing up, and speaking his own mind -- with lots of help from family and friends.

A little juxtaposition. Seeger talked about setting up a national organization of labor singing in the 1940s -- and sang along with Henry Wallace. In the last few weeks there has been lots of political chatter about presidential campaigns and their songs played at rallies, when candidates walk to podium, and in the afterglow of speeches. Beautiful by U2 is a popular aspiration. And then there are campaigns, like John McCain's, that use songs like Baracuda, by Heart, against the band's wishes. I still can't resolve in my sixties soul Bill Clinton and Fleetwood Mac.

So, is singing together still an important aspect of retail, grassroots politics and movements? Most big marches I see in DC have a singer or two thrown onto the never-ending agendas. Not being such an avid group singer myself, I wonder what we have lost.

1 comment:

Ben Murphy said...

I don't know that it's been lost... I think it's moved. There's still a lot of great, politically minded music coming out and perhaps the "singing together" aspect is now all of us at a concert together or knowing that elsewhere someone else is listening to the same song on their iPod as they run... the message is still gotten across and change still happens; but maybe it's more subtle? Perhaps our collectiveness is still there just in a different shape and form? -B