Pete Seeger (1919 – 2014)

Pete Seeger has died. It is amazing to me that he lived 94 years. This would make him old enough to have been my great-grandfather.  I wish I had been able to meet him, shake his hand, have a conversation with him. Maybe we still will.

This piece from October 2012 is the latest thing about Pete Seeger that really left me awestruck. Even in his nineties he would regularly be found splitting wood behind his house, writing songs about it, putting on free concerts and showing up at elementary schools to teach children about music and tell stories. A poet friend of mine who lived  during the 60s emailed me to tell me Pete died – in the email he said that, to him, Pete always seemed indestructible. I get that. It did seem like, after all he experienced in his life and the incredible music and visionary inspiration he brought to millions, he might simply never die.

But as all things must pass, all things must also come to an end. His body lies in repose, but his music lives on, not just in his dozens of recordings, but in the spirit of the folk revival we’re seeing today, in Bruce Springsteen’s later-career turn to folk and historic American ballads, in the anti-war community (albeit dwindling), and in the desire to be simple, to be free, and, like his famous “machine,” to surround hate and force it to surrender.

Rest in Peace, Pete.

“I would really rather put a song on people’s lips than in their ears.” – Pete Seeger


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