28 January 2014

Seeger

Farewell to Pete Seeger who died yesterday at the ripe old age of ninety four. The picture shows him doing what he did best - working with other people - communicating his love of music - especially songs that spoke of ordinary folk and of our eternal quest for freedom and justice. He was an organiser, a peacemaker, a promoter, a lover, a father, a teacher, an historian, an activist and a giant in the world of American folk music. 

In 1955, he was brought before the noxious House of Un-American Activities Committee but when quizzed accusingly, he replied: "I am not going to answer any questions as to my association, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this."

Though Pete Seeger self-penned many songs, there were many others that he resurrected, re-arranged or developed. His ego was small in comparison with many other musical artistes. It was the song that mattered, what it meant - not who wrote it. But he has left us "If I Had a Hammer", "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine", "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?", "Hush Little Baby", "Turn! Turn! Turn!", "Guantaemera" and the dream he lived his life by - a dream of a better world, a fairer world in which the rich no longer get richer and the poor no longer get poorer. Where there is food on the table, water in the well and the cruelty and killing and warfare have been shrunken right down. Pete loved his fellow earthlings.

He didn't actually create "We Shall Overcome". It had its origins in an old slave song, but Pete Seeger heard it anew, nurtured it, changed it and made it the song we know today - a song of hope for the masses:-
Rest in Peace Pete Seeger (1919 -2014)

16 comments:

  1. A fine tribute to a gentleman..

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  2. There was a beautiful thread that ran through my life that has now broken. That shimmering thread taught me to think and helped to guide me into action. I relied on that thread when I first began to sing folk songs and play music on my guitar at the age of 15. That cheerful thread kept me together when I protested war and government killing and racism. In my 20's. And, many years later when I asked for and received permission to use his words about his dirty Hudson river when I myself was writing words about the horrific Summitville Mine site in Colorado. In my 50's.

    That strong, beautiful thread that was Pete Seeger finally broke, but will never be forgotten in my life. Or in the lives of so many. Go in peace and love, Pete.

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    1. Somehow I just knew that you'd feel much the same way about Pete Seeger's passing - though it's clear he probably meant even more to you MT. Are there any YouTube clips of you performing songs?

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  3. Oh, wow! A room full of my favorite musicians, singing my all-time favorite song. Tears in my coffee this morning remembering being an anti-war teenager and singing this song with a huge group of people who were all as passionate as I about the cause. I never saw Pete Seeger in person, but Joan Baez and Arlo Guthrie were there. Life now is pretty dull in comparison, or maybe the passion just dims as you get older.

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    1. Back then, young people seemed to have ideals and dreams that went beyond their own personal horizons. Now they tap out message on Facebook or sit zombie-like watching reality TV. Where is the rebellion?

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  4. The wikipedia landing page is my starting page when I open my browser, and I had seen Peter Seeger's name this morning under "recent deaths" without knowing who he was, until I have read your post just now.
    I had no idea he wrote all those great songs, and did so much for music, and was so strong in what he believed in.

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    1. I am pleased that I am partly responsible for enlightening you about Pete Seeger.

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  5. Pete Seeger was one of my favorites. You have written a beautiful tribute to him.

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    1. Red - if you had a white goatee, a baseball cap and a banjo you'd look a lot like Pete Seeger.

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  6. Thanks YP, a grand post for a grand man. I "discovered" Seeger relatively late, through the likes of Bruce Springsteen or Billy Bragg - but thanks to the wonders of internet I've tried to make up for lost time trawling through youtube videos.

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    1. Brian - I sometimes forget that you are so young. Is it time for bed?

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    2. Almost .... I was born in the Summer of Love and so really entered the world of music in the 80s, when it wasn't cool (in Barnsley) to be into folk singers and the like! I've always liked "old stuff", particularly 60s pop and rock, but Bob Dylan and Neil Young were probably the closest I got to a "folk singer", until much later. Probably first heard about Seeger in 2006 with Bruce Springsteen's LP of cover versions.

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  7. Thank you for your eloquent post about Pete Seeger. That man changed my life when I was in high school, and for the next 50 years brought me innumerable moments of joy, beauty, and truth. Goodbye, Pete.

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    1. Kenneth - Thanks for dropping by this humble blog. I am very pleased that my words about Pete Seeger really meant something to you. Peace and love man. Peace and love.

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  9. It is good to see that Pete Seeger's ideals continue to live on in the hearts of those who know social justice is a cause worth striving for, despite what meager gains we have made when judged relative to the immensity of this man's spirit. Although we were separated by a distance of six decades, I have always felt more of a kinship to figures like Pete Seeger far more than those around me. But then, I suppose that's what we are all here for: to at last find the community denied us by the world. Add my voice to the chorus thanking you for this heartfelt eulogy.

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