I decided to put a planned post (on a different subject) on hold after the death last week of Studs Terkel. But I didn't feel that I ever could or wanted to compete with the massive posting of Terkel interviews and shows - I do have some of his interviews, including an early '60's show with Bob Dylan, a 1985 show with a gaggle of folk luminaries, and a show from the end of his radio days in which he interviews Rev. Michael Yasutake (who I knew for decades at my church), but I didn't have the time to track down those tapes, let alone digitize them.
So instead, I thought I'd post a few rare tracks from one of the performers who both inspired and was inspired by Studs: Pete Seeger. In fact, the only times I saw Studs Terkel in person were the times that I was lucky enough to see Pete in concert here in the Chicago area - Studs was invariably the MC. Today's tracks would all appear to track with Studs Terkel's politics, as well. Three are by Seeger, and the fourth is the flip side to one of the Seeger's earliest records. There's never a bad time for Seeger records - I consider him not only one of the most important people of the 20th century, but also the greatest singer I've ever heard - and this moment seemed a particularly good one to share these.
These tracks all go back to the mid to late 1940's. First, we have Pete with a group of friends (including Lee Hays, who I suspect is the rollicking pianist, as well), with a broadside well aimed at Senator Theodore Bilbo, a year or so before Bilbo's death. This is a great reworking of the tune to the chorus to "The Blue Tail Fly", and it's echoed through my head many times since the first time I heard it.
Then a real rarity, a 78 on the ultra lefty children's label Young People's Records. Titled "Let's All Join In", it's mostly a series of American folk songs, with some well placed and subtle liberal indoctrination for the kids along the way.
Finally, both sides of a Charter 78 from around the time of the 1948 presidential election. Pete sings a reworked hobo song as "Travelin'", with some equal rights-flavored text. I'm not much of a fan of the style of the duo heard on the B-side of the 78, Goodson and Vale, but I included it here because it's relevent in an election season and because, again, I think this record has a message Studs Terkel would have liked, in 1948.
Sadly, my copy of "Travelin'" and "The Elephant and the Ass" suffered a fatal accident some time after I recorded it, as you'll see in the scan of its label.