“It’s Kind of Like God has Died”
Like everybody else, I woke up this morning to the news of Pete Seeger’s death. Against all reason, I never really thought this would happen.
After absorbing Pete’s passing for a few minutes, I turned to my wife and said, “It’s kind of like God has died.”
Not being particularly religious, I realize that Pete Seeger’ s life and beliefs have come to represent a set of principles that have helped guide my life – though, to be honest, not very successfully.
From the Almanac Singers to The Weavers to those wonderful concerts in the ‘60’s with everyone singing along, Pete’s musical legacy is rich as any in American music. But the way he lived his life, those fundamental ideals and unwavering political and social principles, I think are what we will all remember.
The beautiful thing is as long as we do remember, Pete is still with us.
I wrote my college admission essay about Pete. The prompt was “Write about someone you admire." Even at that young age, I was probably a little cynical – it was a Quaker college! I got in.
Even back in 1968, there was so much to write about, Pete’s life was already and always amazing. The son of a New England intellectual devoted his life to folk music and support of justice on all fronts. He had already been banned from television for 17 years for his beliefs. Thanks to The Smothers Brothers and Johnny Cash, who we posted earlier, he got back on the air singing his indelible songs, still standing by those beliefs. That wasn’t so long ago. Banning doesn’t happen so much anymore. I think we can give Pete some of the credit.
Since then, there has been work on The Clearwater, a big push toward a cleaner Hudson River, and much more music.
When I met Pete in the ‘90’s, I brought along my 10-inch Folkways copy of The Goofing Off Suite, Pete’s banjo record, for him to sign. Not the kind of worship Pete liked but he was gracious. It now means even more to me.
As personally as I feel this, I don’t own these thoughts about Pete Seeger. He was there for everybody. He wanted us all to sing along, on the streets, on the National mall, in our homes.
Someone should organize a national night where we all sit around campfires and sing "If I Had A Hammer." We could wait for a tweet to tell us to all start together. Singing about justice, singing about freedom. Pete would have liked that.