Tuesday, January 28, 2014
RIP Pete Seeger
An advocate for peace and civil rights, Pete Seeger (and the Weavers) helped spark the folk music revival with his five-string banjo and songs calling for justice.
A veteran of the labor, peace and civil rights movements, Seeger remained relevant as an activist into his 90s. He was equally musician and revolutionary, playing a major role in the folk music revival that began in the late 1950s while helping to craft the soundtrack of 1960s protests through his music. I can't think of these songs without remembering the marches, the hope, the struggle, the idealism.
"Turn! Turn! Turn!," which is adapted from a passage from chapter three of the Book of Ecclesiastes. The song includes the lines: "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven." Seeger said he had remained an optimistic person throughout his life, saying in 1994, "The key to the future of the world is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known.”
His politics remained controversial right up to the end of his life. But what I - and millions of others saw - was not some hard nosed Stalinist - but a gentle, compassionate man who used his music to educate people about injustice.
In 1982 Seeger performed at a benefit concert for Poland's Solidarity resistance movement. His biographer David Dunaway considers this the first public manifestation of Seeger's decades-long personal dislike of communism in its Soviet form. In the late 1980s Seeger also expressed disapproval of violent revolutions, remarking to an interviewer that he was really in favor of incremental change and that "the most lasting revolutions are those that take place over a period of time."
WE SHALL OVERCOME
WAIST DEEP IN THE BIG MUDDY
IF I HAD A HAMMER (THE HAMMER SONG)
OH, I HAD A GOLDEN THREAD
WHERE HAVE ALL THE FLOWERS GONE?
BRING 'EM HOME
KISSES SWEETER THAN WINE
TURN! TURN! TURN!
“The key to the future of the world,” he said in 1994, “is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known.”