Pete Seeger, God Bless the Grass

Dave Marsh

By Dave Marsh

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Seeger got involved with ecological issues very early, and in 1966 recorded this song cycle about "conservation," as environmentalism was then called. The liner notes are by Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, making odder the choice of opening song: Phil Ochs 'beautifully strident "The Power and the Glory," a critical portrayal of American might. Several songs were written by Malvina Reynolds (whose "Little Boxes" was a hit single for Pete in 1964!), including the title track. Some material wanders rather far from the theme (does "Barbara Allen" appear because of the rose and the briar at the end?) but, for instance, Peter LaFarge's Native American-oriented "Coyote, My Little Brother" is way ahead of its time. "My Dirty Stream (The Hudson River Song)," a Seeger original, proved prophetic after he helped create the Clearwater, a Hudson River sloop that became the symbol of the successful campaign to restore the waters of the river that runs right by Pete's front door.