Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Farewell to a Great American

"I am not going to answer any questions as to my association, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this."
-- Pete Seeger HUAC Statement
Pete Seeger, the father of modern American folklore, has died at the age of 94. My heart is sad today at his passing.

A WW II Army veteran who served in the Pacific, he was blacklisted during the red scare of the 1950's, a most egregious burst of un-Americanism launched by fanatics in our government. But in typical Pete Seeger style, he took it with a smile, not caring much for commercial success anyway. He turned his attention to activist causes, performing in small venues, and writing and singing for children, bringing our original American music to subsequent generations.

Here are some other facts about this ‘dangerous’, ‘un-American’ communist:

He quit the popular folk group The Weavers in 1958 because he disagreed with their decision to do cigarette commercials.

He was married to the same woman, Toshi-Aline Ohta, for 70 years, with whom he built the log cabin in the woods they and their children lived in.

He taught America's songs, our folk music, to generations of children, literally passing on our musical heritage and keeping it alive.

He wrote the song Turn, Turn, Turn, based upon Ecclesiastes and made popular by the Byrds.

Pete Seeger was a man of great joy and erudition, a talented and innovative musician, a living embodiment of American folk music, and a shining exemplar of the joy of live music shared with others. Youtube any of his live performances, and you will see what others have noted, that his concerts were not so much personal performances as they were joyous sing-alongs where he happily urged the audience to join in.

Here he his displaying his artistic mastery of the 12-string.  I love it when he starts frailing it like a banjo...

So long, Pete. It's been good to know you...

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