Another great one has left us. Considered to be one of the pioneers of contemporary folk music, with songs including Where Have All the Flowers Gone, Turn, Turn, Turn, and If I Had a Hammer, the legendary Pete Seeger died this week at the age of 94. He also popularized several songs written by others, including Little Boxes (about the houses in Daly City), We Shall Overcome and This Land Is Your Land.
Seeger was a musician but he was also an activist, and it is impossible to separate the two. He spoke out for justice and against war and against the death penalty. Although his career began way back in the 40s, it wasn't until the 50s that he began to be recognized and his activism cost him a big piece of that career. That really didn't slow him down though. Even though he was banned from network television for 17 years he still continued to record and make concert appearances and he continued to speak out. I remember hearing him on the radio and I recall television appearances. Oh and I remember his banjo. I was fascinated by that!
The last time I saw him perform I think was on the Late Show with David Letterman, a few years ago where he sang Take It From Dr King. He still looked and sounded as good as when I first saw him back when I was a kid.
Commenting on his death, President Barack Obama said this morning, “Once called 'America’s tuning fork,' Pete Seeger believed deeply in the power of song. But more importantly, he believed in the power of community – to stand up for what’s right, speak out against what’s wrong, and move this country closer to the America he knew we could be.” Indeed.
Every single morning I write something here about the power of community of being a part of society of giving back. Pete Seeger was one of those who indeed gave back. His best known song, If I Had a Hammer, will continue to be sung forever because "It's the song about Love between my brothers and my sisters, All over this land."