The Peggy Seeger Songbook - warts and all: forty years of song making was sometime in the creation but is now in print! The joy of possessing this book is enough to make one (me at least!) cry. The 159 songs plus one poem are arranged chronologically, showing the years in which each was written, 1956 through 1997 - some years only 1 or 2, 16 in 1990. There is a temptation to skip some 30 pages of introduction - don't do it, the songs are enriched by knowing of the family, the life and influences. The book is of course excellently indexed: subject, titles, first lines; there's even a glossary for translating English words to American.
Besides songs, the book is "part autobi- ography, part social and political history." It's not our part to critique individual songs, it's assumed that most folkies have heard some of them - and here they are with information about the writing of each. Let's just say she is a consummate song writer, absolutely one of the very very best.
There are songs of social concerns, love, ecology, women's and men's politics, -- what's to mention? If it's in our lives, Peggy has written a song about it! It seems to me difficult for anything to enhance the words and music but the illustrations by Jacky Fleming manage to do this. They are absolutely delightful!
Order from Peggy Seeger, P O Box 17055, Ashville, NC 28816. $25 includes P&H (They're $29.95 in book stores.)
The Wild Blue Yonder: Songs of the Airforce, Volumes 1 and 2 have just been given to me by song collector C. W. "Bill" Gates, Lt. Colonel, USAF, retired. These are songs sung by airmen during the first world war through the Vietnam war. Most are hilarious, are parodies of popular songs of the times or of traditional songs, and are taken from songbooks of airforce units. "Words of songs often expose the thoughts of men at war - their dreams, disappointments, fears, humor, loneliness, loves, frustrations, and yes, their revulsion at the horrors of war."
Volume 2 is the stag bar edition. The introduction gives a word of warning to those whose tender sensibilities might be offended by some of the language. But there is no apology - they "reflect the manners of men at war, the morals of pilots who drink to forget for an evening the combat mission they must fly in the morning." The author quotes an air force general's comment: "You must have spent an awful lot of time in an awful lot of O-Club bars to have accumulated that many songs!" To which the editor responded, "Yes, sir!" Both books are out of print but will be made available through the SFFMClub library.
It's reported that Matt Honk changed life in saloons of the west. He sold pianos to them and players of ragtime took over. It was, we're told, an allusion to his name that caused such places to be called Honkey Tonks.
Singing Through History is a compilation by Sam Hinton of songs exemplifying events and eras in American history, given in chronological context starting in 1492 with Nancy Schimmel's popular 1492. Besides the songs of history, a categorical list of dates and songs is given along with song sources, addresses and an alphabetical list. And there's a "Folksong Map" of the US, adapted by Sam from an original by Art Thieme.
This is an invaluable tool for anyone using folk songs in teaching. (Research has shown that dates, names, events, etc., of historical material are well remembered through songs rather than through routine memorization.) Sam will send copies of this document to anyone interested for $1.50-paper & postage. ("I have it on the computer and can run it off"). 9420 La Jolla Shores Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037. Email SLHinton17@aol.com. Sam, one of our finest and incredibly knowledge- able folk performers, continues to sing in schools in his area whenever asked, giving some 90 performances the past school year.
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