Saturday, August 8, 2009

Folk musician Mike Seeger dies at 75

Mike Seeger died at his home on Friday night at the age of 75, NPR has reported.

An American multi-instrumentalist well known in the folk music community, Seeger once told he did not know who Robert Plant was when he recorded for the album Raising Sand with Plant and Alison Krauss.

On Sept. 25, 2007, he said:
"I don't know if I should really make my ignorance known, but I didn't know who Robert Plant was. I've heard of Led Zeppelin, but I'm so engrossed in traditional music including bluegrass and country-western that I don't know other kinds of music much. ... I did know Alison Krauss. Alison is a wonderful singer and fiddler and bandleader ... and on the strength of her music, and with T Bone [Burnett] producing it, I thought I could help some."
Seeger's sole contribution to Raising Sand was on the closing track, "Your Long Journey." He proclaimed the track to be "one of the most beautiful songs in the genre." Fittingly, its lyrics surround the imminent passing of a loved one.

The version on Plant and Krauss's album bears a prominent autoharp track from Seeger.

When asked why he might have been selected to contribute to the album, Seeger told, "Well, I think it was that I play a fairly traditional-sounding autoharp style, and it fits with the older songs."

"Your Long Journey" is credited to the husband-and-wife duo of Doc and Rosa Lee Watson, who originally recorded it for the 1963 LP Doc Watson & Family (available on CD since 1993 as The Watson Family).

Seeger deserved credit for being awfully open-minded in his musical tastes. He was raised on a steady regimen of recordings his parents often carried back from trips to the Library Congress.

"I'm interested in a lot of sounds," said Seeger. "I was reared on those field recordings and my parents' singing to us and my brother [Pete Seeger]'s music."

Seeger lived in Lexington, Va. NPR reports that Seeger had recently been "working on a video documentary project focusing on current Southern banjo players."

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