"All music is folk music. I ain't never heard a horse sing a song." ~ Louie Armstrong
"My dad, the old professor, used to say, 'Never get into an argument about what's folk music and what isn't.' " ~ Pete Seeger
"This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender." ~ Quote on Pete Seeger's banjo, which was a take off on a quote Woody Guthrie had on his guitar that said, "This machine kills fascism."
Pete Seeger dropped out of Harvard University in 1938 to ride a bicycle across the country. He's one of us.
Bruce Springsteen persuaded Pete Seeger to sing "This Land Is Your Land" with him at President Obama's inaugural concert in frigid temperatures on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. "He was so happy that day," Springsteen said later. "It was like, 'Pete, you outlasted the bastards, man.' It was so nice."
Pete Seeger is, in my mind, perhaps one of the greatest people of the 20th century, with an influence so global, I'm not certain anyone else has had the same impact on generations as he did. From my youngest memories listening to music, there was Pete Seeger. In my high school and college days, there was Pete Seeger. In my early adulthood up to now, there was Pete Seeger. His touch was broad. Racism. Environmentalism. Anti-War. Peace. Fairness. Unions. Making things right with people. The list goes on...
True, other people and other musicians have impacted the world, yet not in the same expansive manner. Pete seemed to be everywhere...from helping to save the old music to introducing it to new, younger generations from Sesame Street to the local schools, colleges, coffee houses, people's homes. There was Pete. He came from a privileged background, going to a private school, accepted at Harvard, but he reached out to all the people. Yes, he made his share of mistakes and misjudgments, but don't we all?
Most of the time, when I hear of some entertainer dying, I think about it, but am rarely moved by it as I am by the death of Pete Seeger. A thread throughout my lifetime, I will miss him and his way of approaching the world. His songs and his singing have helped shape me, as no other has. Yes, others have changed the direction of music, but Pete changed the direction of the world and how people view it. I am sad about his passing. God speed, friend. I never saw him perform live, but his influence lives beyond his life. It'll be a long time coming before he or his songs are forgotten.
Of course, some tunes to close this post with ...