I awoke this morning to discover that one of my favorite singer songwriters; a timeless icon who some might say, had his heyday in the 1960′s had passed. Joining his wife, Toshi who died last year, Pete Seeger. who lived a full, rich 94 years, is now likely doing his banjo strumming and vocalizing on the Other Side. Known for his social and political activism and his approachable nature, his physical presence will be missed and his legacy will live on. He and his grandson Tao Rodriguez -Seeger performed together at a concert for President Obama’s second inauguration.
My experiences with him began in 6th grade when in my rather unique classroom setting, we had Friday ‘hootenannies’ during which two of our classmates played guitar and we sang along with enthusiasm; pieces like If I Had A Hammer, Where Have All The Flowers Gone? and Turn, Turn, Turn. They may have very well been some of the seeds that were planted that have blossomed into my socially conscious sensibilities.
Many years later, as co-publisher of Visions Magazine, I had the opportunity to meet and interview Pete. We were backstage at a high school in Philadelphia at which he was performing with an ensemble cast of younger musicians. He was wearing jeans and a red, short sleeve shirt. Wiry and trim, he was doing pull ups on the bars of the scaffolding. I smile in remembrance of this, at the time, septuagenarian getting himself ready to perform. I was most impressed by watching him on stage, as he would sometimes step back and allow the newer performers have their moment in the spotlight. I sense that was just his way. A heritage artist, creating space for others to shine.
After I interviewed him, there arrived in the mail, a postcard, with a leaf glued to it. A line drawing caricature of Pete playing the banjo was on one side and a sweet note thanking me for the article was on the other. The leaf has long since crumbled away, but the memory lives on, as will Pete and his beloved music.
http://youtu.be/q7pzic4mf7o Turn, Turn, Turn
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXqTf8DU6a0&list=AL94UKMTqg-9BErVghzNetF_L6bOqQyzjH&feature=share&index=4 Where Have All The Flowers Gone
http://youtu.be/VKHeWxPvpkE De Colores
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLvk-qsKonQ&feature=share&list=AL94UKMTqg-9BErVghzNetF_L6bOqQyzjH&index=24 Irene Goodnight with The Weavers