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5.0 out of 5 starsA lively, mesmerizing and intimate memoir of a great folk artist
Reviewed in the United States on January 8, 2019
I've been a fan of Peggy Seeger's all my life (full disclosure - in recent years a friend, too) but there was so much in this wonderfully-written book that surprised, amazed, amused and occasionally baffled me. She shares intimacies with abandon (at times a little TMI) but the overall take is of a highly talented, smart, creative, searching soul who has had an amazingly eventful 84 years (and counting). It's about music - mainly but not exclusively folk - and about the joys, travels, politics, adventures, loves and sorrows of a full, rich life. Recommended highly.
5.0 out of 5 starsFascinating woman and a spellbinding autobiography
Reviewed in the United States on November 11, 2017
First Time Ever is Peggy Seeger's autobiography and is, I think, a wonderful example of what an autobiography can be. A fascinating life, with many professional and personal ups and downs.
One aspect of a good autobiography (or biography for that matter) is that the life examined has been full of peaks and valleys, even more interesting when many of the names are recognizable. Seeger's life absolutely qualifies in this respect and she provides many wonderful stories in the process of telling her larger overarching story. Some passages were simply stunning in both the writing and the reflective insight.
What I think sets this autobiography above so many others is Seeger's willingness to expose her own blemishes as well as her positives. Many readers may decide they don't care for aspects of her personality or some decisions and actions she made during her life. The fact Seeger herself is the one who presented the insight to allow such a view of her is, I believe, a positive about the book itself, aside from what one may think of her personally.
I would highly recommend this not only to folk music fans and music historians but also to readers who enjoy autobiographies, biographies, and memoirs. The work goes beyond just being a chronological retelling of her life into the realm of reflection. Like all of us I think Seeger is less than 100% critical of herself when reflecting but, the part with which I am impressed, she is honest and frank enough to allow readers to make their own conclusions about her life and her actions. Far too many autobiographies gloss over things that would elicit any negative response, Seeger did not do that to her readers.
Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
1.0 out of 5 starsbook is not as fascinating as its author
Reviewed in the United States on July 5, 2018
I am a huge folk music fan, admire Peggy Seeger and believe she has had a most remarkable life. I want to know more about it! Nevertheless, I found this book a tough slog. It hopscotched around way too much for my taste, jumbling events and time periods unnecessarily, so I found myself constantly saying “huh?” And going back to figure out how/where this segment fit into the whole picture. There were moments when her songwriter’s skill revealed itself in a beautiful phrase or a particularly significant insight, but those moments were not enough to compel me to keep reading. I picked up and finished several other books while this one sat at my bedside, guilting me like an unfulfilled duty. My curiosity about her amazing life eventually drew me back, but i am sorry to say, it just wasn’t a very enjoyable read.
5.0 out of 5 starsI thoroughly enjoyed this memoir by Peggy Seeger
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 29, 2017
I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir by Peggy Seeger. I bought it chiefly because I knew her in the late 1960s, and was involved in folk singing with one of her colleagues, radio producer Charles Parker. I also came into contact with the redoubtable and sometimes scary Ewan McColl! However, as I began to read, the book opened a far wider window for me than just the little that I knew about Peggy. It covers the flowing tide of music that began with Peggy's early introduction to the stars of the blues and American folk music in the home of her musician parents. Then follows the transformation of a rather serious but innocent young Peggy into a rising star on the British folk scene, also a fascinating insight, revealing her tempestuous early relationship with Ewan while he was still married, plus subjects that even today are somewhat taboo, such as a marriage of convenience to enter Britain, several abortions, and a struggle to be both a good mother and to follow her calling as a performer. As a writer myself (Cherry Gilchrist) I would like to praise the lively and original style of the book, writing that sounds so spontaneous but is highly accomplished - something very hard to achieve. Well done, Peggy, and it's been a huge pleasure re-connecting with you this way!
The indomitable Peggy Seeger - still performing in her 80s - has lost none of her passion for either music or politics. The values in both spheres that she learned in her childhood, adolescence and twenties have held steady, and are arguably even more valid today, and she holds them just as tenaciously and intelligently. She is as straightforward - warts and all - on the increasing ailments of old age as she is on her long relationship with the great Ewan MacColl, while still resenting the common view that he was the dominant partner. In many ways, she was the more musically skilled and the more capable organiser. But she still gives him his due, as songwriter, political inspiration and lover. The book is not organised chronologically. It skips back and forth between periods, seemingly as memories occur to her while writing. It's perhaps not as comprehensive or in depth on some matters as fans might like. She refers to music often, of course, especially the power of folk song and its continuing relevance, and (in second place to that) her own compositions - but no technical details (which would be of interest to musicians) are given, and only the occasional verse of lyrics from one or two songs. But there are plenty of entertaining anecdotes about touring around British folk clubs - the good and the bad - and international experiences (including a trip to Russia in the 1950s) This is - rightly - a personal story, at least as much about her family (parents, brothers, sisters, her own children, as well as MacColl) as it is about her music.
5.0 out of 5 starsBeautifully written. I'd recommend it to anyone.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 16, 2018
I've never heard any music by Peggy Seeger, though I had heard of her. I do like folk music, both American and British, and I thought that her very close links to giants of both the US & UK folk scene would give her a unique perspective. I read the "try before you buy" excerpt that they give you and the writing style was lovely, so I bought the kindle version. And the book has that unique perspective. But it has far more than that. It dips in and out of other areas and flits back and forth from the 1950s to the present day, but it all fits together. Beautifully written. I'd recommend it to anyone.
5.0 out of 5 starsI enjoyed so much that I also bought the discs of ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 27, 2018
I knew Peggy slightly from way back at the time of the Singers Club. I had known little about her early family life, which I found very interesting to read about, and I was really interested in the song collecting and the discussions about this around the time of the peak of the Singers Club. I enjoyed so much that I also bought the discs of her and Ewan McColl's songs.
5.0 out of 5 starsThoroughly enjoyed it. So engrossed I was able to spend ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 30, 2018
My partner couldn't be prised away from reading this book over the Christmas period. He doesn't usually read non fiction but this was exceptional. Thoroughly enjoyed it. So engrossed I was able to spend hours doing a jigsaw puzzle!