This Land is Still Your Land: Pete Seeger Dies

Pete Seeger at the Clearwater Festival in 2007.(Photo: Anthony Pepitone/Wikipedia)
Pete Seeger at the Clearwater Festival in 2007.(Photo: Anthony Pepitone/Wikipedia)

There was a time that expressing a love for folk music was not for the cowardly. A little hemp was one thing, but folkies dropped chords, not acid. Their music was meant to be an aural photograph of ‘they way we live now.’

Some people didn’t like the picture. All to the good, because that’s how to affect change.

Folk music is immediately accessible. Anyone can sing it, a child can play folk music. In our time, American folk music was first and foremost the world of Pete Seeger. Mr. Seeger died today at the age of 94.

I don’t claim to be a long time fan. I have always been aware of him and his music, old Lefty that I am. I come from Lexington, Massachusetts, where the American Revolution began in 1775. Seeger came to our battle green to sing and play during the Vietnam era. Many did not welcome him. I was 12 and had to sneak out of the house to attend his free concert. That had more to do with rebellion than a passion for Pete Seeger.

Seeger was on the program for the 1947 Paul Robeson concert in the Catskill Mountains. The concert was raided by the FBI. Robeson and his associates were branded traitors and communists. There were multiple injuries in the crowd.

Peter Seeger survived the House Un-American Activities Committee. “These were people who called themselves patriots and weren’t,” Seeger said. In his later years he would travel by sloop down the Hudson River to appear often for free and rallies and events from gay rights to anti-nukes.

I call this using one’s talents for the common good. I bless Pete Seeger as well for being a founding member of The Weavers. They sang and played and entertained with calls to conscience and the responsibility to enjoy. I don’t think Peter Seeger ever sang a frivolous concert or a careless word.