Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Pete Seeger passed away yesterday. Depending on your upbringing and your age, his name might not mean a thing. He was an American treasure, in the most pure, gloss free sense, the archetype of the American folk singer, the missing link between Woody Guthrie, Dylan, and the Occupy movement (which, contrary to common thought, still exists). Even if you know a few songs that he wrote, adapted from the writings of others, or dragged out of obscure American folk history and reintroduced to a music world hell bent on churning out one pop star after another, you may not have heard his music. Songs like "We Shall Overcome", "Turn, Turn, Turn", "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" may all seem quaint to your ears, but if one person sings those songs, and others, for over sixty years, the meaning behind them sinks in to a few people.

There was a great quote today from a fan, who said of Seeger "He believed in the power of community, to stand up for what’s right, speak out against what’s wrong, and move this country closer to the America he knew we could be, Over the years, Pete used his voice, and his hammer, to strike blows for worker’s rights and civil rights; world peace and environmental conservation. And he always invited us to sing along." That quote is pretty dead on. The fan was Barack Obama.

If Seeger could dedicate his entire life fighting for ordinary folks like you and me, making the world a better place, and at the same time preserving America's musical history, I think we can take a day off from rock 'n' roll, soul, funk, reggae, rockabilly and what not. We are lucky that he lived a full active life up to the end. In October 21, 2011, at the age of 92, he joined the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators on a 36 block trek to Columbus Circle in NYC, and he did it walking with two canes. Just ten days before his death at age 94, do you know what he was doing? Chopping wood. Seeger was the real deal. Beyond hip, beyond cool. He was hardworking and humble. That, friends, is what baddass is.

Pete Seeger - Little Boxes mp3 at ATumblr (?)
Pete Seeger - We Shall Overcome mp3 at RichardSilverstein.com
Pete Seeger - Which Side Are You On? mp3 at NB Books
Pete Seeger - Where Have All the Flowers Gone? at Portuguese US Law History (?)
Pete Seeger on the Johnny Cash show at YouTube 1970
Pete Seeger - Turn, Turn, Turn (live) at YouTube  Nov 2012, five added verses
Pete Seeger - A Tribute at Smithsonian Folkways Lengthy and good.
Pete Seeger Remembers Guthrie, Hopping Trains And Sharing Songs at NPR Excellent audio interview.
Pete Seeger at Wikipedia

1 comment:

Tom G. said...

Stop the presses: An excellent Seeger post at Beware of the Blog: