People’s Music: Songs About Real Life Experiences that Real People Enjoyed Singing Together
After more than a quarter of a century, the long wait is over! From the creators of the beloved songbook Rise Up Singing, comes its much-anticipated companion Rise Again: A Group Singing Songbook, with preface by Pete Seeger and foreword by Billy Bragg.
Conceived, developed, and edited by western Massachusetts based folk singers Peter Blood and Annie Patterson under the guiding hand of the late Pete Seeger, Rise Again is a treasure trove of lyrics and chords to 1,200 well-loved songs spanning genres as diverse as British Invasion, blues, country, jazz, Motown, composed folk, traditional ballads, gospel, Broadway, early rock ‘n’ roll, alternative/indie artists, “pub songs” and much more, arranged in 39 themed chapters, with commentary on the songs, cross-reference listings at the end of each chapter, and Artists, Cultures, and Titles indexes.
Pete Seeger played a central role in the development of both Rise Up Singing and Rise Again. Following the publication of Rise Up Singing in 1988, Pete Seeger urged the creation of a second songbook with the same format as Rise Up Singing but with even more inclusion of genres that were not heavily represented in the original book. Until his death in 2014, he regularly sent Annie Patterson and Peter Blood suggestions for songs to include in the second volume, lobbying for a balance of song genres and subjects, and for the songs to reflect a message of empowerment and positive change through community music making.
Every page of Rise Again: A Group Singing Songbook reflects the vision of Pete Seeger, who did not believe in artificial boundaries like “folk music”‘ and constantly encouraged Patterson and Blood to center their work on songs he referred to as “people’s music”– songs about real life experiences that real people enjoyed singing together.
Pete Seeger also wanted Rise Again to reflect all the arts. To that end, almost every available space in the book is filled with delightfully imaginative and extemporaneous drawings by artists Annie Patterson, Meghan Merker, and Mona Shiber, with beautiful cover art by Mary Azarian.
Like Rise Up Singing, Rise Again contains no written melodies for most of the songs, but the editors have created a YouTube channel with chapter playlists of videos for most of the songs in that chapter. They will also soon launch an online database on their website with direct links to YouTube videos for most of the songs in the book.
Annie Patterson & Peter Blood have, for many years, been advocates of group singing as a way to build community and promote peace and justice throughout the world. Thirty years ago they approached Sing Out!, a folk song magazine founded by Pete Seeger, about publishing a unique kind of songbook. The idea was to create a book with words, chords, and sources (but no music) to 1,200 well-known songs for use by lay musicians and in group singing. Pete and Toshi Seeger persuaded Sing Out! to take on this project, and Seeger’s manager helped secure the song licenses from major publishers. Over 200 musicians, including Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Judy Collins, James Taylor, and Bruce Springsteen, donated the use of their songs for the book.
Rise Up Singing quickly became an underground best-seller, selling well over half a million copies by word of mouth. Pete Seeger declared, “It is making a qualitative difference in music in America.” Well-known musicians, from Canadian folk singer Eric Anderson to English folk rocker Billy Bragg began to carry the book with them when they toured. Rise Up Singing has helped to spur a renaissance of group singing, with hundreds of groups holding monthly or even weekly singalongs and song circles in churches, synagogues, libraries and pubs across North America.
In admiration of Peter Blood’s work on Rise Up Singing, Pete Seeger asked Blood to edit his musical autobiography, Where Have All the Flowers Gone: A Singalong Memoir.
Peter Blood and Annie Patterson are currently touring the nation, presenting singalong concerts in celebration of the release of Rise Again. Joining Blood and Patterson for one or more of these concerts is a wonderful group of performers who have songs in Rise Again, including Tom Chapin, emma’s revolution, Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer, Bev Grant, Bill Harley, Kim & Reggie Harris, Joe Jencks, Charlie King, Magpie, John McCutcheon, Carrie Newcomer, The Nields, Sarah Pirtle, Sally Rogers, and many more.
A portion of the proceeds from almost all of the Rise Again concerts will benefit the new Carry It On Fund, supporting organizations such as Sing Out! and Clearwater that are carrying on the work of Pete and Toshi Seeger.
– Submitted by Elizabeth Waldman Frazier