RIP Peter Seeger

I awoke this morning, and as per tradition, went to The New York Times to read the headlines only to discover that famed folk singer and social activist Pete Seeger had passed away yesterday at the ripe old age of 94 (b. 1919).  As I wrote on Facebook upon learning the news, I am both sad that he is gone but grateful that he had lived and done so much with his life.  I know, that through his songs, he will not soon be forgotten.

I fell in love with Pete Seeger at a young age even though I didn’t realize it until much later.  As a child I loved watching Reading Rainbow and once Pete Seeger was a guest and played his banjo and did a reading of the story Abiyoyo.  I fell in love with the story and song.  My parents quickly bought me the picture book.  I would remember it for years to come.

Flash forward many years to my college days.  In college I worked hard to expand my musical repertoire beyond just classic rock (The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, etc.). In one direction I exposed myself to more contemporary music and styles, but in the other direction I sought out the roots of so much of the music I loved. I delved into a lot of jazz and the blues and invariable I found myself listening to a lot o folk and bluegrass music.  Seeger was in that mix.

Around the same time, Bruce Springsteen, that staple of good ol’ American rock-n-roll, released an album called “We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions” in which he, and several other artists, played versions of many songs that, while not original to him, had been made more well known and famous by Mr. Pete Seeger.  I loved these songs so much, especially the poignant and sadly always timely “Mrs. McGrath,” a solemn anti-war ballad.  This really kindled my Pete Seeger love and from there on out he has been a staple of my music listening.

Pete Seeger was a good and caring person in an often cruel and uncaring world. He worked to change some of that, even if just a bit, through his songs and his willingness to take a stand for those who couldn’t always stand for themselves. His lovely voice and beautiful banjo picking will continue to move and make a difference even though the man is now gone.

Thank you Pete . . . for everything.

~ by Nathaniel on January 28, 2014.

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