It kills me that there are those who will never know the wonderful songs and spirit of Pete Seeger. It seems that each generation is so hell-bent on distancing themselves from the music their parents liked that, before long, the true giants among us become marginalized by time.
Having said that, it's astonishing that it took the arrival of a publication I can't even remember how I came to subscribe to in the first place (the wonderfully informative and quite dependable Tape Op Magazine, for which subscribing is FREE) to hip me to such an inspiring story. Either I'm living under a rock (and so are you), or this story didn't get nearly as much "play" in the media as it deserves.
A quick Google confirms that, yes, this obvious PR slam-dunk, like the single itself, was doomed by people who obviously have no idea what they're doing.
While I was a moderate fan of Richard Barone from his days in The Bongos, his solo career lacked focus and didn't really connect with me. Nonetheless, he is proof that not all second-tier folks are bad for the project, but that perhaps he should have found someone who knew how to effectively promote a story that, as stated, is a slam dunk on so many levels.
First off, you've got the BP oil spill, which had just happened and was the "fuel", if you will, for the entire project. It was, you know, timely and kind of a big story.
Secondly, you've got a legendary folk singer in his nineties ready to step in to write and record a protest song concerning the oil spill and urging us to work a little harder at treating this planet a whole lot better than we have been.
Now, see, right here is enough for me to be able to run to any number of sources for either media coverage, funding, promotion, etc. Considering the names involved, and the cause, the response would have been huge, too.
Thirdly, you're gonna perform and record said song on a boat. While sailing said boat. Said boat is the majestic Sloop, sailing up and down the evocative Hudson River.
How was this not an HBO series yet we're "treated" to such other fine programming as the Foo Fighters recording their "Pro-Tooled beyond recognition" nonsense in a different boring recording studio every week?
|Photo credit: Richard Barone|
Fourthly, when the idea of bringing in a celebrity ringer to help the project is mentioned, it comes from Seeger himself. Names like Springsteen and Billy Bragg are mentioned. Slam-dunk just got a whole lot slam-dunkier!
Sadly, once Billy Bragg has been contacted and has accepted the invitation, Seeger changes his mind.
Sadder still, once this timely protest song is hastily recorded for immediate release, so as to better raise awareness (and money) to benefit those harmed by the oil spill, the finished song languishes on the shelf.
For two bleeping years. That's right, the very song that was recorded in a single take and meant to help assist in the immediate aftermath of the BP oil spill didn't even see release in Seeger's lifetime.
That's not just heartbreaking, that's downright insulting. Sadly, you cannot blame this on a big, bad conglomerate that also dabbles in music, but the small record label (Appleseed Recordings) that, according to Barone's article, had granted Barone the rights to release Seeger's song on HIS OWN label and stood to benefit the most from all of the attention it would bring because, when people go hunting for more Seeger releases to feast their ears upon, they will invariably be led to Appleseed Recordings.
Even so, Richard Barone's re-telling of the experience is humorously frank and I would urge anyone who has read this far to continue to Barone's article in the new issue of Tape Op magazine.
Unfortunately, the powers that be at TapeOp haven't made it available online yet. I guess that's so we subscribers can finish reading our print copy first. I will update this article once it becomes available but could not prevent myself from sharing Pete's wonderful song and all the amazing work that Richard Barone and everyone else involved in the recording and filming did on this project.
NOTE TO WHOMEVER: Is there any label willing to step up and release this song on vinyl, say, at the next Record Store Day? In light of current political events, this would qualify as yet another slam dunk, it would seem.