BWW Blog: Remembering Pete Seeger
Pete Seeger died last Monday at age 94. He was and remains a champion of social change.
If you have never viewed his "Rainbow Quest" television series from the mid-1960s, take a moment. See him with Johnny Cash and June Carter, the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, Ramblin' Jack Elliot, and Tom Paxton. You can also see him with Arlo Guthrie,son of Woodrow Wilson Guthrie - an inspiration to Mr. Seeger.
At one time, and for many years, living not far from where he lived in New York and from Alice's Restaurant in Massachusetts, I saw frequent images of the aging Mr. Seeger living in the woods with his beloved wife (who passed last year), chopping firewood, independent, singing what he wanted when he wanted.
He could sing any song, for any audience, but his passion sided with anthems on behalf of the labor, civil rights, and anti-war movements, and of environmental causes.
He got people singing. He insisted upon it in his concerts. You didn't go to a Pete Seeger concert to hear Pete sing. You went to sing along with Pete. He was brilliant at getting children to sing, too. What was his was yours. He was there to get youu enthused, and he gave his creations freely to give to others.
In listening to interviews of his family and friends in the last week, it was clear this was how he lived his life as well. Things passed through him. Emotions. Songs. Money. Belongings. He was a civil servant who wanted no spotlight and distrusted commercialism. Personal awards were meaningless to him.
While his lyrics will be remembered, and rightly and hopefully so, I take away from his passing his apparent joy in his awareness of himself as a small part of something much larger - both before him and after him. His focus was on change, not himself.
"My job," he said, "is to show folks there's a lot of good music in this world, and if used right it may help to save the planet."
Pete Seeger is the model of an artist.