Friday, May 3, 2019

Pete Seeger would have been 100 today

Musician and activist Pete Seeger died in 2014, but if he had lived a little longer, he would have been 100 years old today.

Besides hearing him play at festivals in the Hudson Valley, another way we got to know Pete Seeger was through our tattered copy of his songbook, a collection of classics like "Clementine" and "If I Had a Hammer" that we often sang together at home in the evenings. In 1991, when my son Dan was a four-year-old budding accordion player, he wrote Pete a fan letter, and Pete wrote back on a postcard drawn by Ed Sorel showing Pete with his banjo trying to outrun the Horsemen of Time. At his concerts, Pete made every person feel that they had a good enough voice and that it was worth joining in. And he made everyone believe that the dream of a peaceful world is possible, not just by dreaming about it, but by singing about it or painting a picture of it.


Pierre Fontaine said...

Pete Seeger was an amazing person. Frankly, I wasn't always in agreement with his politics but admired and appreciated his ability to fight for what he felt was right using his wonderful personality and through the power of song and protest. Of course, here in the Hudson Valley we can thank him for all the hard work he did to try and clean up the Hudson River and through the yearly Clearwater Festival. What an amazing life and he was certain a person with an enormous amount of integrity.

Steve said...

Pete was one of humanity’s great humans. In 1972 I bought a copy of Pete’s book “How to Play Five-String Banjo” and a $75 banjo to go with it. Four years later, teaching my first 3rd grade class, Pete’s example, instruction, and inspiration resulted in many songs sung in that classroom. He left a rich legacy.

Timothy Bollenbaugh said...


Re "Pete made every person feel that they had a good enough voice and that it was worth joining in."

From what I've witnessed in your posts, books, and all the leave people knowing they are good enough to try improving and developing and it's worth it to continue in artistic endeavors...even if they aren't accordion players and published artists.

Not to mention making matters clear.

You don't announce it, maybe even think of it as such, but that is a profound undercurrent and effect. Unique and genuine.

Pardon the accolades, but it's not flattery. Rather, it's worth saying, and well deserved.

Patricia Wafer said...

Thanks for recognizing a great American activist and musician who never gave up fighting for our planet and all sorts of human injustice. He is greatly missed but his music and legacy live on.

doug goodale said...

Bravo Timothy Bollenbaugh, thanks for expressing these sentiments so well. Mr. Gurney contributes greatly to us all and we certainly appreciate it.