My grandfather Mac Lyman died at the age of 36 and I never met him. My Aunt Ruth, Mac's sister, was my closest connection to him. They used to sing at different hole-in-the-wall joints around Brian Head and Parowan. Aunt Ruth sang cowboy songs, told semi raunchy cowboy jokes, yodelled and painted with oils. She ran off with a cowboy at the age of 16 and later, because of her connections to Southwestern cowboy culture, learned "The Sierry Petes AKA Knot in the Devil's Tail" directly from Gail Gardner. I think she actually lived with her husband on his ranch for a while. She was proud to know all the original lyrics to the song, not the bastardized Michael Martin Murphey version. I once asker her what songs she liked to sing, and she replied "Country Western". I asked if she played songs by people like Hank Williams. She looked me straight in the eye and said emphatically: "No. I play Country Western" as if to say even Hank Williams was no match for Gail Gardner.
She was dying of cancer in this video and passed away a few months after this brief two song serenade. For all I know, it was the last time she played guitar and sang for anyone.
"At some point, Pete Seeger decided he’d be a walking, singing reminder of all of America’s history. He’d be a living archive of America’s music and conscience, a testament of the power of song and culture to nudge history along, to push American events towards more humane and justified ends. He would have the audacity and the courage to sing in the voice of the people, and despite Pete’s somewhat benign, grandfatherly appearance, he is a creature of a stubborn, defiant and nasty optimism. Inside him he carries a steely toughness that belies that grandfatherly facade and it won’t let him take a step back from the things he believes in. At 90, he remains a stealth dagger through the heart of our country’s illusions about itself. Pete Seeger still sings all the verses all the time, and he reminds us of our immense failures as well as shining a light toward our better angels and the horizon where the country we’ve imagined and hold dear we hope awaits us." —Bruce Springsteen