Bassist Bill Crow writes “The Band Room” column in Allegro, the monthly journal of the New York chapter of the American Federation of Musicians. Now and then, Bill allows Rifftides to borrow one of his anecdotes. This one is too good not to share:
Richard Chamberlain posted the following story on Facebook.
In the 1970s the fascist Franco government was still in power in Spain. A pro-democracy movement in Barcelona was gaining strength, and they invited Pete Seeger, America’s best known freedom singer, to perform there. Thousands of people were in the stadium. Rock bands had played all day, but the crowd had come for Seeger.
As Pete prepared to go on, government officials handed him a list of songs he was not allowed to sing. Pete studied it, saying it looked a lot like his set list. But they insisted that the must not sing any of those songs.
Pete took the list and strolled on stage. He held it up and said, “I’ve been told that I’m not allowed to sing these songs.” He grinned and said, “So I’ll just play the chords. Maybe you know the words. They didn’t say anything about you singing them.”
He strummed the banjo to one song after another, and the people all sang the songs they knew and had been singing in secret circles for years.
Thanks to Bill Crow for permission to use the best freedom story we’ve heard in a long time.