Pete Seeger, 1919-2014

I never met the man, but you can spot him at whatever age. Whether you’re watching the Weavers videos from 1951 or the concerts before the first Obama inauguration in January of 2009, Pete led with his grin. You can see immediately that it’s the same guy because he’s lifting his chin and grinning in the same way. With so many 94-year-olds, you’d say, well, he had a good run, or, I guess he was about done, it was time for a rest. But with Pete, no; with Pete there was still so much to do. There was always so much to do.

Because Pete Seeger was one of those people who appeared to honestly and truly believe in improving the world. All the way through. He was blacklisted and shut out for so many years after the HUAC testimony, and he kept on singing about making the world a better place, and he kept on making the world a better place. I’m a Gen Xer, the young end of Gen X; grunge and cynicism are my coming-of-age music. Also I am not a fan of the banjo. But in college I discovered Pete Seeger, and I just couldn’t resist. Fell in love with the Peteness right away. And when you hear him in person, as we did in 2011, when you hear him sing “We Shall Overcome”–not only do you believe for a minute that we shall, but for a minute you can even believe in we. Even if you’re a congenitally grumpy Xer. Because Pete.

Just last week, Timprov and I were driving home with four new tires and zero new photos (…long story), and I asked what he wanted on the CD player. And he said, “I don’t care…wait, have we got More Together Again?” And we did, so we put it in: Pete with his grandson Tao and Arlo Guthrie and other musicians they know and like. And we sang along all the way home, “Midnight Special” and “Abiyoyo” and “Guantanamera” and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” and “This Land Is Your Land,” all of it, all of it, through the dark night home with Pete.

Edited to add: I realized the obvious thing to link. Here, have Precious Friend.

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