Sun, Feb 04, 2007 - Page 18 News List

'The Essential Pete Seeger'

Pete Seeger was just another legendary US folksinger living out his twilight years until Bruce Springsteen released an album of his songs

By Edward Helmore  /  THE GUARDIAN , LONDON

Last year, Bruce Springsteen — a friend since the 1990s — released an album of songs Seeger had performed over the years. We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions put Seeger back in the spotlight. "I wish he hadn't used my name," says Seeger. "I've managed to survive all these years by keeping a low profile. Now my cover's blown. If I had known, I'd have asked him to mention my name somewhere inside."

While he likes Springsteen's renditions ("They're not my songs, they're old songs, I just happened to sing 'em,"), he says the renewed attention has added to the admin work that falls to his wife of more than 60 years, Toshi. "Most men chain their wives to a sink. Mine is chained to a table covered with correspondence. 'Oh, Mr. Seeger, won't you listen to my record? Read my book, come over here and accept this award . ... '" He refuses almost all such requests.

The business of the mighty river comes first nowadays. He's the enduring, seemingly ageless, folk-singing socialist-ecologist, and a fervent believer in thinking globally and acting locally. And down by the river, after the monthly pot-luck dinner, there's always time to take out the old five-string banjo and sing a song. "The real revolution will come when people realize the danger we're in," he offers in parting. "I'm not as optimistic as people think I am. I think we have a 50-50 chance of there being a human race in 100 years."

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