The Vinyl Records: Arlo Guthrie/Pete Seeger, Precious Friend

Artist: Arlo Guthrie and Pete Seeger, with Shenandoah
Album: Precious Friend
Label: Warner Bros. Records, Inc.
Year: ca. 1982
Cat.: 2BSK 3644

Back when I was a young lad of… I’d say around 8… I had two tapes that I listened to on stay-home-sick days. At least, I remember it happening as a regular thing (as in, as regularly as I was home sick). The first tape was the soundtrack to Local Hero, which I have to say is a really good album by Mark Knopfler (and a great movie in general). The second was a dubbed version of Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie singing together in some kind of concert setting.

This album, titled Precious Friend, was evocative to my young impressionable imagination. When Guthrie invites the crowd to join him on stage and everyone cheers, I imagine them all getting up and actually fitting under the tent. Or whatever sort of stage set-up is involved in this concert. When Seeger sings about compost (“In dead earnest”) my mind was blown. In fact, I might trace my current job as an organic agronomist to that song’s lyrics. Guthrie’s ruminations on the “un-neutron bomb” were hilarious in a vaguely pre-pubescent sort of way.

So, to my surprise a copy of this double LP appeared at my local record store and I snapped it up right away. Took a listen to it this morning, and here is what I have to report:

  1. Arlo Guthrie is better when he’s yakking between tunes than when he’s actually playing the songs – especially when it’s a sort of rag-timey kind of instrumental number using an electrical honkey-tonk piano.
  2. Pete Seeger can just about do no wrong.
  3. Old Time Religion is a funny song when it’s about all the “old time religions” other than the one we all think of when it comes to Spiritual music.

The thing has stood up to the test of time. I enjoyed it now as much (I think) as I enjoyed it as a child. Good job Arlo and Pete!