Pete Seeger sings 'Forever Young' for 50th anniversary of Bob Dylan's debut
Monday is the 50th anniversary of the release of Bob Dylan’s debut album, and in commemoration the organizers of the recent four-CD Dylan tribute album “Chimes of Freedom” benefiting Amnesty International are releasing a new video of Dylan mentor Pete Seeger singing the Minnesotan's 1974 song “Forever Young.”
At age 92, Seeger is joined on the track, and in the video, by the Rivertown Kids children’s choir, a New York group consisting of 20 children age 9 to 13. The video can be seen here:
Along with the new video, a grassroots campaign has begun to spur download sales of the track in hopes of getting Seeger back into the Billboard Hot 100 chart, which would make him the oldest person ever to appear on the Billboard chart. The effort, dubbed “Forever Pete,” has generated a website, www.foreverpete.com, a Twitter feed, http://twitter.com/ForeverPete and a Facebook page. Proceeds from sales of the track will go to Amnesty International.
As a performer, songwriter, activist, member of the Almanac Singers and the Weavers folk groups and an associate of Woody Guthrie, Seeger played an important role in Dylan’s early career. He mentored the young musician during his watershed performances at the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island in 1963, 1964 and 1965.
From 1950 to 1955, the Weavers charted 11 singles, most of them traditional folk songs the band helped to revive, and as a solo act Seeger appeared on the chart in 1964 with the song “Little Boxes.” His impact was even greater as a songwriter and arranger, contributing “If I Had a Hammer,” which was a charting song for Peter, Paul & Mary and Trini Lopez; the Byrds' hit “Turn! Turn! Turn!”; and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” which charted for several performers.
Arlo Guthrie, at a tour stop in Oklahoma City, Okla., last week on his way to a centennial concert salute to his father, said he had recently invited Seeger, with whom he toured on and off for three decades, to join him for a show, but Seeger declined.
“Pete said, ‘Arlo, I can’t play as well as I used to play, and I can’t sing as well as I used to sing,’ ” Guthrie told the audience. “I said, ‘Pete, have you taken a look at your audience lately? They can’t hear as well as they used to hear!’”
To date, the oldest artists to make the charts with new material (as opposed to reissues) are Tony Bennett in the U.S. at 85, and in the U.K., Doris Day recently scored at hit at 87.
-- Randy Lewis
Photo: Pete Seeger, left, and Bob Dylan at the 1964 Newport Folk Festival. Credit: (c) Jim Marshall Photography LLC.