A Young Pete Seeger Sings a Song from the “New Land of Israel”

The incomparable Pete Seeger passed away, Tuesday. He’s known for his political ideas and protest action, but in the fifties he was part of the four-part folk group known as The Weavers. This group popularized songs like “Goodnight, Irene,” and “On Top of Old Smokey.” (The latter is, now days, mostly forgotten except for the melody which is known to us in the annoying form of, “On top of spagheeeettiiii, all covered with cheeeeeese…”)

Most of their old tunes sound a little antiquated to my ears, but I really enjoy this recording of them singing “Tzena, tzena, tzena.” I found it while cruising through YouTube looking for folk songs a few years ago, and I return to it often because it’s fun and truly unique.  What’s interesting in this video is hearing the bass singer, Lee Hays, introduce it is a song from “the new land of Israel.” It’s hard for someone my age to think about a time when that country was considered “new.” Of course, Israel is an ancient nation, but in the early fifties people were still getting used to the idea of seeing it on a map. Some people still have a hard time with that, but, like Pete always said, there’s still a chance for peace, and that’s true even in the middle east.

Watch the video, get cultured, and don’t miss out on Seeger’s fantastic banjo playing. This is actually a great piece of music.

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