Peggy Seeger | Three Score and Ten

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Ewan MacColl Norma Waterson Pete Seeger

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Folk: Traditional Folk Folk: Political Moods: Type: Live Recordings
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Three Score and Ten

by Peggy Seeger

A key figure in Anglo-American traditional and topical music celebrates her 70th birthday onstage in London with her brothers Pete and Mike Seeger, her children, friends Martin and Eliza Carthy, Billy Bragg, Norma Waterson, and more on this historic
Genre: Folk: Traditional Folk
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Introduction (spoken)
2:11 album only
2. Hangman
4:33 album only
3. Fiddling Soldier
4:30 album only
4. Logan County Jail
4:37 album only
5. Che Guevara
3:58 album only
6. Lowlands of Holland
5:27 album only
7. Different Therefore Equal
3:39 album only
8. Cavemen
4:48 album only
9. Humours of Bandon
2:46 album only
10. Home Sweet Home
5:47 album only
11. Darling Annie
5:21 album only
12. If You Want a Better Life
2:59 album only
13. Poem for Ewan (spoken)
1:05 album only
14. First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
3:48 album only
15. I am Ill with Love (spoken poem)
0:54 album only
16. So Long Since I Been Home
6:14 album only
17. My Mother is Younger than Me (spoken poem)
3:55 album only
18. When First Unto This Country
3:10 album only
19. Soldier's Farewell
4:03 album only
20. Quill Ditty (featuring Mike Seeger)
3:11 album only
21. Cindy (featuring Peggy, Pete and Mike Seeger)
4:21 album only
22. English is Cuh-ray-zee (featuring Pete Seeger)
4:06 album only
23. Take It from Dr. King (featuring Pete Seeger)
5:10 album only
24. Where Have All the Flowers Gone (featuring Pete Seeger)
5:19 album only
25. Gonna Be an Engineer
7:13 album only
26. Careless Love
4:45 album only
27. Sing About These Hard Times
4:26 album only
28. Love Call Me Home
5:16 album only


Album Notes
Some of the greatest figures in US and UK traditional and sociopolitical music joined one of their own – Peggy Seeger – onstage at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall on May 29, 2005, in a concert celebrating Peggy’s 70th birthday and her half-century professional career. A member of America’s legendary musical Seeger family who married one of Great Britain’s leading folksingers and activists, Ewan MacColl, singer/songwriter/folklorist/ teacher Peggy is a crucial link between both countries’ traditional and topical music and its practitioners.

“Three Score and Ten” is a joyous and historic 2-CD document of Peggy’s birthday concert, which was arranged by her three children – Neill and Calum MacColl, both professional producers and musicians, and their sister Kitty, a graphic designer and sometime backing vocalist on her mother’s recordings. Originally broadcast in abridged form by the BBC, the concert’s two full sets feature Peggy (vocals, guitar, banjo, concertina, piano, autoharp) on traditional and original favorites (including her proto-feminist anthem “Gonna Be an Engineer”), new compositions (the post-911 political reflections “Cavemen” and “Home Sweet Home”), and three spoken poems (dedicated to her mother, her late husband, and her partner Irene Pyper-Scott, one of the evening’s musical participants on vocals and spoons). She also performs the classic “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” the song her future husband MacColl would write about their first meeting (and later a Grammy-winner and #1 US chart single for Roberta Flack in 1972.)

In this family event, presented several weeks prior to Peggy’s actual June 17 birth date, she shares the stage with her half-brother Pete Seeger, the international folk/activism icon, and brother Mike (solo artist, old-time music expert and New Lost City Ramblers member) in one of their rare appearances together and the first-ever recording of all three together. Pete is also featured on three solo numbers, including “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” while Mike performs a solo “Quill Ditty.”

The contingent of British guests, aside from Peggy’s children and Pyper-Scott, includes the legendary folksinger and multi-instrumentalist Martin Carthy, his wife and performance partner Norma Waterson (also a member of the traditionally oriented Watersons), and their daughter, singer/fiddler Eliza Carthy, a solo artist in her own right. Contemporary singer/songwriter/activist Billy Bragg, a spiritual descendant of the Seeger/MacColl agit-folk tradition, duets with Peggy on a delightfully spontaneous “Darling Annie” and fronts the ensemble on “If You Want a Better Life.” Also on hand to lend instrumental support are accordionist Graham Henderson and percussionist James McNally (a latter-day member of The Pogues).

With folk music as one of the strongest ties that bind cultures, families and history, “Three Score and Ten” is an indelible, frequently rollicking and often moving testament to the living legacy of a great creative artist and that of her fellow musicians, family, friends and the traditions they celebrate and extend.

It’s enough to make one believe in predestination – or genetics. Peggy Seeger was born in New York in 1935 to ethnomusicologist/inventor/composer/teacher Charles Seeger and his second wife, Ruth Crawford Seeger, a composer, arranger, pianist, teacher and the first woman awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for Music. Her half-brother Pete, older by 16 years, and brother Mike, two years her senior, would become beacons of folk music’s traditions and modern applications.

Peggy began playing piano by age 7 and by 11 was transcribing music and learning about counterpoint and harmony. In the years to follow, Peggy became proficient on guitar, 5-string banjo, autoharp, dulcimer and concertina but, “much to the relief of anyone within earshot,” abandoned her attempts at fiddle-playing.

After studying music for two years at Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Mass., and beginning to sing professionally, Peggy headed overseas in 1955, the same year Folkways issued her first recording, the 10-inch "Songs of Courting and Complaint." She subsequently studied Russian (in Holland, in the Dutch language) and backpacked across Europe, Russia, and China before arriving in England where, she recounts, “at the age of nearly 21, on March 25, 1956, at 10:30 in the morning, I entered a basement room in Chelsea, London, and sealed my fate. Ewan MacColl was sitting on the other side of the room. Twenty years my senior, he was a singer and songwriter par excellence. . . . We were together 24 hours a day for three decades, two people rolled compatibly into one.” MacColl immortalized that first meeting in his song “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” a future Grammy winner and #1 single for Robert Flack in 1972.

After becoming a British subject in 1959 and settling in London, Peggy moved, with MacColl, to the forefront of the British folk revival, singing and lecturing about the place of folk songs in modern life and emphasizing the connections between traditional song forms and political activism. The highlight of their musical collaboration was the development, with BBC producer Charles Parker, of the innovative Radio Ballad form, a mosaic of spoken-word field recordings, instrumentation, sound effects, and new songs written in the folk idiom. For seven years, Seeger and MacColl ran the controversial London Critics Group and produced a yearly political theatrical presentation, “The Festival of Fools.” The couple also ran and performed at one of England’s best known folk venues, The Singers Club, and formed their own record label, Blackthorne. Somehow Peggy found time to raise her three children by MacColl, to write music for and perform in films, television programs and radio plays, to establish and edit a magazine of contemporary songs, "The New City Songster," throughout its existence (1965-85), and to collaborate on anthologies of folk songs with MacColl, Alan Lomax and Edith Fowke. In 1971, she was the subject of a Granada Television documentary, and in 1995 BBC Radio 2 broadcast an award-winning five-part series about her life, with subsequent episodes presented in 1996 and ’97.

In 1983, Peggy began to sing occasionally with Irish traditional vocalist Irene Pyper-Scott, with whom, after MacColl’s death in 1989, she formed a professional and personal relationship. The duo recorded and performed for several years as No Spring Chickens. In 1994, Peggy moved back to the States with Irene, settling in Asheville, NC, where they resided until moving to Boston last year to enable Peggy to teach at Northeastern University. In December 2006, Peggy and Irene entered into a civil union partnership in England.

Considered one of the finest interpreters of Anglo-American folk songs, Peggy has written several hundred original songs, chiefly dealing with political, feminist and ecological concerns. Among her most famous compositions are “The Ballad of Springhill,” about a Canadian mining disaster, and “Gonna Be an Engineer,” which is now one of the anthems of the women’s movement. One hundred and forty-nine of Peggy’s best pre-1998 compositions are published in her "Peggy Seeger Songbook, Warts and All." Aside from "Three Score and Ten," Peggy has released 21 solo albums, including three for Appleseed, issued three informal CDs of topical songs in her “Timely” series, and participated in more than 100 other recordings. Bring Me Home, the final volume in her “Home Trilogy” – new recordings of traditional US favorites interspersed with one or two originals – which so far consists of Volume 1, "Heading for Home" (2003) and Volume 2, "Love Call Me Home" (2005), will soon be released by Appleseed. Further information and entertainment may be found on Peggy’s website,



to write a review


Absolutely wonderful CD!
I have loved Peggy Seeger and the whole Seeger/MacColl clan for decades, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was this live recording with all of them on it. I have not been able to listen to the whole thing yet, but what I have heard is absolutely stellar. The quality of the recording is superb and the song selection and everything is wonderful. Any fan of political folk, English and American folk, or just good singing and playing should add this CD to their collection. I can't say enough good about the Seegers and this CD.

Jeff Peterson WBSD

A rare family event. The Best of American and British folk forces together to c
With a group of Seegers; Watersons; Carthys how can you go wrong? The range of music and poetry on this disk is incredible. I was at this show and felt priveleged

Mahir Ali

A delight from beginning to end
When I interviewed Peggy Seeger in early 2006, she wasn't sure whether a recording of this historic concert would make it on to CD. When it did, I was particularly keen to hear the Waterson:Carthy-enhanced version of "Che Guevara". It turned out to be an adorably ramshackle affair, not a patch on the inspirational recording by Peggy and Ewan MacColl. All the same, I wouldn't have missed it for anything. The rest of the album is much more "together". Peggy's poems are touching, as are her performances with her brothers Pete and Mike. The Waterson-Carthys are generally superb. Peggy's duet with Billy Bragg is an unadulterated delight. Any coming together of the first families of folk from both sides of the Atlantic would inevitably have been a special event, but in this case it is enhanced by the fact that the focus is on the person who enriched our culture with "Gonna be an Engineer" and "Different therefore Equal".

Anthony Singleton

Brilliant! Next best thing having missed the concert.
Sadly I missed the concert in London and then forgot to tune in to Folk on 2 with Mike Harding. The recording captured the atmosphere of what was a marvellous occasion, bringing together on one stage so much wonderful musical talent. The CD, having been played many times over, is going to wear out!

Margaret Carr

Almost as wonderful as the concert itself
I'll confess I originally booked seats at this concert to see Pete, not Peggy. But the concert convinced me to buy her CDs and now this two-CD set of the show. It's excellent. The between-song comments and stories are included and the warmth, love and musicianship shines through. This CD is now on top of my fridge -- high-rotate, because that's next to the CD player. Buy it. You won't be sorry.