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Arlo Gutherie and Pete Seeger at Carnegie Hall




One of my goals has been to see Pete Seeger live.  The man is 93 and I assumed I missed my goal last summer, since I read that he retired from performing.  Not the case.  Last night he played with Arlo Guthrie and family at Carnegie Hall for the annual thanksgiving concert.  I headed into the city and parked the car around the corner from the historic venue, made my way up the sidewalks in the dark and cold gusty winds, under the scaffolding and past two women begging, past the tour bus – which I assume is Mr. Guthrie’s and inside the lobby.   Before I checked in an older woman asked if I had an extra ticket.  I was surprised she was as bold as to ask me.  No, I am sorry.  I went in and had a beer in the lounge and then up to my seat.  I had a seat in the first tier which is the first section above the stage.  Typically I sit in God’s seats, high and far back from the stage, removed to a distance that it’s difficult to distinguish who is performing.  Not from the seat I had last night.  This could have been the first and last time I saw Mr.  Seeger.  I paid more for the ticket, but it was worth it.  In this prestigious section, you can check into your seat through a door, can hang your jacket on hooks and feel eerily like Lincoln must have felt that night at Ford’s theater before the fatal shot.  I was not sure what to expect.  Would Mr. Seeger come out in the middle of the performance for a couple of songs?  Perhaps an acoustic guitar and banjo set?  Not at all, he was there from the beginning and right to the end when they sang Good Night Irene.  One of the highlights for me was his stories, reminiscing when he wrote, Turn Turn Turn, and how there were some additional verses not recorded that were for his children.  The crowd sang along when Pete extended his hands to the audience, and like a teacher he called out what the verses were, and we sang and the songs filled the auditorium.  It was a beautiful experience and one I have not shared before.  I felt we were at a camp fire.  Mr. Gutherie commented that this year his father would have turned 100 years old and for the majority of the set they played Woody Guthrie songs, 1913 Massacre which he always has to play when he is in Michigan, This Land is Your Land, and many others.  The stage was shared between the American legends as well as the audience.  Recently Mr. Guthrie lost his wife Jackie to cancer and he reminisced when he saw her for the first time, he had just moved to California to stay with Rambling Jack Eliot and he saw her riding a horse in a local radio. She didn’t notice him that night and Jack gave him something to drink away the loss.  The next day he wrote the song and happened to meet her a couple of years later.  It was a beautiful song.  After the song was over, Arlo was stoic on his stool with his guitar in his lap.  I watched his daughters walk back to their positions on the stage while wiping tears from their eyes.                                                                                                                                         

Comments

  1. I enjoyed this report. Thanks much. Pete is an old friend (in more ways than one). All the best, - Ed Renehan

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