“That Was Not A Compliment”: The Smothers Brothers

 

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In 1969, CBS television fired the Smothers Brothers from their high-rated comedy variety show for being too outspoken against the Vietnam War. Among other things, they had on blacklisted guest Pete Seeger who sang “Waist Deep In The Big Muddy,” an anti-war song about a captain who orders his men into a bog despite the obvious senselessness of the command.

You can read more about that incident here:

https://portside.org/2018-03-02/recalling-pete-seegers-controversial-performance-smothers-brothers-show-50-years-ago

and I’ll post video of Pete’s remarkable performance in the comments.

Twenty years later, however, things had changed somewhat and the Brothers were invited to do a 20th anniversary special for CBS. Click on the video above to see how they opened the show.

Thanks to YouTuber Kehlog Albran

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

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Monday morning, the lion awakens. In addition to this recording by The Tokens, Pete Seeger and the Weavers had a version called “Wimoweh” based on Solomon Linda’s “Mbube,” and the song was used in Disney’s The Lion King. A lawsuit was brought by the Linda family to recover their royalties from the various versions of the song.

I can remember as a boy trying to wail those high notes the way those Brooklyn Tokens did, but even my pre-adolescent voice could not reach those glorious heights.

 

This Machine Surrounds Hate And Forces It To Surrender…

pete

(Click to enlarge)

…was the inscription on Pete Seeger’s banjo. I took this picture at one of Pete’s last performances during August 2013, at the Ashokan Folk Festival in Ashokan, NY. He was 94 years old. He died five months later.

Pete’s appearance at the festival was touching: his wife of many years, Toshi had recently died, and one of the outdoor stages was named after her. Pete was contemplative and sang a few songs that spoke of the circle of life. The most charming was the version of “Turn, Turn, Turn” to which Toshi had written words for her children.

Here are Dan Zanes and Elizabeth Mitchell, who were also at that festival, singing “Toshi’s Turn”

Toshi’s Turn, Turn, Turn

(Chorus:) To everything, Turn, turn, turn,

There is a season, turn, turn, turn,

And a time for every purpose

Under heaven.

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A time for work, A time for play,

A time for night, A time for day,

A time for sleep, A time to wake

A time for candles, blow out the cake.

(Chorus)

A time to dress, A time to eat

A time to sit and rest your feet,

A time to teach, A time to learn

A time for all to take their turn.

(Chorus)

A time to cry, A time to make a fuss

A time to leave and catch the bus

A time for quiet, A time for talk

A time to run, A time to walk.

(Chorus)

A time to get, A time to give,

A time to remember, A time to forgive,

A time to hug, A time to kiss

A time to close your eyes and wish.

(Chorus)

A time for dirt, A time for soap,

A time for tears, A time for hope,

A time for fall, A time for spring,

A time to hear the robin sing.

(Chorus)