We bid a sad farewell to activist/musician Pete Seeger today. He has died at age 94. His songs provided the soundtrack for protest movements over decades, pushing for peace, justice, protection of the environment, equality, and economic opportunity. His songs have been sung and recorded by Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul and Mary, and hundreds of others, including “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)” and “If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song).” He also popularized the songs of legendary performers like Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” and the folk songs of nameless working people who shared their stories and their sorrows in music. Our family used to listen to his albums like Children’s Concert At Town Hall, Folk Songs for Young People and Birds, Beasts, Bugs & Fishes Little & Big: Animal Folk Songs when we drove to school. He was always ready to lend a hand, a voice, and a song to the cause of justice.
NPR paid tribute to Seeger on his 90th birthday with an outstanding appreciation that is well worth a listen. You can find out more about Seeger’s life, music, and work here, which includes this wonderful exchange from an interview.
AMY GOODMAN: And for someone who isn’t so hopeful, who is listening to this right now, trying to find their way, what would you say?
PETE SEEGER: Realize that little things lead to bigger things. That’s what Seeds is all about. And this wonderful parable in the New Testament: the sower scatters seeds. Some seeds fall in the pathway and get stamped on, and they don’t grow. Some fall on the rocks, and they don’t grow. But some seeds fall on fallow ground, and they grow and multiply a thousand fold. Who knows where some good little thing that you’ve done may bring results years later that you never dreamed of?
May his memory be a blessing and an inspiration and may his songs be sung forever.