In memory of Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger, 1919-2014.  Photo by wfuv, Creative Commons

Pete Seeger 1919-2014. Photo by wfuv, Creative Commons

“The key to the future of the world is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known.” – Pete Seeger, 1994

I was fortunate enough to hear Pete when he dropped by to play several informal concerts at the high school I attended during my sophomore and junior years.  Not even really “concerts” – they were too informal and intimate for that.  He sat on a folding chair with his banjo and sang, talked, joked and got us to sing along.  It should be clear to those who read this blog that I am not the sing along type, but it was different with Pete Seeger.

He had a presence, an authenticity, a naturalness that won us over.  He was instantly “one of us,” and this in an era when we said, and really believed, “Never trust anyone over 30.”  We had seen betrayal.  We knew what it looked like and felt like.  But Pete was one of us.  “We’re all in this together,” he seemed to say, “as brothers and sisters.”  You wanted to sing along, be part of a moment like that.

Just “small events” that I’ve never forgotten.  The memory jumped to mind when I heard that Pete has moved on from this world.  Our good fortune is that he gave us so many anthems to remind us that we are still in this together.

Happy 94th birthday to Pete Seeger!

Pete Seeger, June 2007, by Anthony Pepitone.  CC-by-SA-3.0

Pete Seeger, June 2007, by Anthony Pepitone. CC-by-SA-3.0

I was lucky enough to hear Pete Seeger in a small, intimate venue when I was in my teens, and I was impressed by his humor, talent, and humility.  How wonderful that he just keeps going and going and going!

Here’s a nice five minute interview he did in 1994 with Bill Moyers, “Pete Seeger on What it Takes to Change the World.”

And here, just for the fun of it, is Bruce Springsteen and the band he formed to record,”The Seeger Sessions,” a tribute to Pete and one of my favorite albums. The song is “Mrs. McGrath,” an Irish anti-war song published in 1815 that Pete Seeger popularized and Springsteen set to rock-jazz-celtic rhythms. Enjoy!