Pete remembers Woody.

Please don’t say “Pete who?” or “Woody who?” I hope you know who the title refers to.

The original version of this wonderful memorial came out nearly seven years ago as an LP; the CD version was released nine years ago. I am calling it an audiobook, even though it is listed as an audio CD—or an album of two audio CDs. Somehow it escaped my attention all those years ago, so I recently checked it out of the library and listened to it ASAP. (Sorry about all those initials.)

“What’s the difference?” you ask. “Audio CD? Audiobook?”

The difference is that the “audio CD” designation suggests that what you’re listening to is a collection of songs—but that’s not really what this is. Yes, it does have plenty of songs, but it’s really an audiobook, with 48 chapters spread across two CDs. Some chapters are songs—various Woody Guthrie numbers performed by various artists—but they mostly alternate with text in which Pete remembers Woody, from the time they first met until Woody’s untimely death from Huntington’s Disease. The result is a moving tribute by a late, great folk singer and activist to his mentor, another late, great folk singer and activist. The whole package was brilliantly produced by David Bernz. It feels like a unified book—hence my calling it an audiobook—not like a collection of songs.

The main thing is that it’s more than a tribute, as it gives you a well-rounded picture of Woody Guthrie (and it may also round out your picture of Pete Seeger). I was particularly struck by the information that Woody was such a voracious reader from a young age. I also realized that somehow I have always thought of him as belong to the generation previous to Pete’s, even though they were born only seven years apart—probably because I have been to many Pete Seeger concerts but Woody had to stop performing (because of his disease) when I was a young kid, even though he lived until 1967.

Anyway, whether you call this an audiobook or an album, give it an attentive listen!

Categories: Books, Life