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    Tuesday
    Aug112009

    Mike Seeger: Further Thoughts

    This weekend I wrote a few words in memory of Mike Seeger, who died on Friday at the age of 75. I wrote it -- quickly, probably too quickly -- from the perspective of a listener, not a musician, with an attempt to place him in the broad context on children's music. Elizabeth Mitchell took issue with my description of his influence on children's music:

    "I have to disagree with you though about his contribution to children's music. For me, personally, his work is enormously significant. The two collections that he made along with his family are definitive and essential. They bring Ruth Crawford Seeger's [his mother's] exquisite arrangements to life in extraordinary ways."
    And what I've noticed since then is that the strongest, most moving words from folks in the wake of his passing have come from musicians. Witness Bob Dylan's comments -- written in 2004:
    "Sometimes you know things have to change... Somebody holds the mirror up, unlocks the door, and your head has to go into a different place. Mike Seeger had that effect on me. He played on all the various planes, the full index of the old-time styles, [and] he played these songs as good as it was possible to play them. What I had to work at, Mike already had in his genes."
    And now Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer have weighed in with their own thoughts:
    "In the past ten or so years, our casual friendship through folk festivals and jam sessions became a deeper one. Longer visits, longer talks, more music. Mike introduced Marcy to the cello banjo of the 1910’s and it was a life-changer. He enjoyed hearing her take the old instrument to new places that honor tradition and stretch it as far as it will go. He gave credibility to our Old Time Banjo Festival with brilliant performances, all the while, listening to and appreciating every note and song played by the other musicians."
    What's clear is that while casual fans might have appreciated him, it's the musicians who revered him the most, regardless of whether they play for 2-year-olds or 82-year-olds (or occasionally both simultaneously).

    Once again, my condolences to his family and wide circle of friends...

    Mike Seeger, Cathy Fink, Marcy Marxer & Adam Hurt - "Aint Gonna Work Tomorrow" [YouTube]

    Reader Comments (1)

    Thanks Stefan. Thank you for shining a stronger light on the passing of a musical legend, one whom I knew way too little about during his lifetime.
    August 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJeff

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