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)