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Pete Seeger - American Folk Songs for Children

Music Giant's First Album for Kids

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Pete Seeger - American Folk Songs for Children
Courtesy Smithsonian Folkways

American Folk Songs for Children was Pete Seeger's first full album of music made specifically for kids. It remains as influential today as it was groundbreaking when it was released almost sixty years ago.

back to Top Five Classic Children's Albums

The Artist

Pete Seeger is one of the most revered musicians and composers of the 20th Century, and is equally respected and admired in the world of children's music. Seeger's passion as a folk song collector and dedication to quality performances make American Folk Songs for Children a timeless treasure.

Originally released in 1953, this album was later combined on CD with Seeger's 1962 Folkways album American Game & Activity Songs for Children.

The Music

On American Folk Songs for Children, Seeger brought tunes back to life that, today, seem naturally ingrained in our nation's psyche. Songs that are familiar to us now, like "Jim Crack Corn," "This Old Man," "Frog Went A-Courting," and "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain," were on the verge of being lost in the shuffle of the post-war prosperity of the 1940s and the New Frontier sheen of the 1950s. Seeger brought them back through a respect for musical and folkloric history, and by sheer dogged determination.

Just listen to Seeger's ringing banjo on "Jim Crack Corn," his unabashed joyfullness on "Clap Your Hands," his giggling at his own lyrical mistake on "There Was a Man and He Was Mad." Only the sourest of sourpusses could discount this great collection of family songs.

American Folk Songs for Children includes sing-alongs ("The Train is A-Coming," "Clap Your Hands," "This Old Man"); story songs ("Frog Went A-Courting," "Billy Barlow"); activity tunes ("Jim Along Josie," "Clap Your Hands"); memory games ("There Was a Man and He Was Mad"), and cumulative songs ("Bought Me a Cat," or, "Fiddle-I-Fee"). And the silly "All Around the Kitchen," was recently made popular again by Dan Zanes on his CD Family Dance, and on his All Around the Kitchen DVD.

The Verdict

American Folk Songs for Children was the first in a long line of kids' classics from Seeger, and he did it with only his voice and banjo. This is a great album for family sing-alongs, for classroom use, and for children's entertainers who need a solid performance catalog.

Originally released 1953, Folkways Records; Rereleased 2000, Smithsonian Folkways

back to Top Five Classic Children's Albums

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