It’s so outrageous that it’s almost beyond outrage.
A TV commercial for the tax-return outfit Jackson-Hewitt features a soundtrack of “I’ve Been Workin’ on the Railroad” — sung by the late, great Pete Seeger.
It’s an old-late 1950/early 1960s Smithsonian Folkway, recording so I’m assuming that Pete’s family has no control over how it’s used. And his performance is from the late 1950/early 1960s vintage Smithsonian Folkways recordings, so perhaps those recordings are now also beyond the reach of copyright protections. .
Doesn’t matter. Pete Seeger would never, ever allow his voice to be used for a TV commercial unless it was to promote a cause.
I hope the Seeger family will demand that Jackson-Hewitt pull the commercial — or at least change the soundtrack. And I’d suggest asking — or demanding — that the tax-preparation firm makes a big donation to Pete’s beloved Clearwater Foundation.
Before he performed solo, of course, Pete Seeger was a member of the legendary group The Weavers. Before that, Pete — along with his pal Woody Guthrie — was a member of the Almanac Singers. Here they are singing an appropriate song: