Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Remembering Pete

A Lincoln Memorial concert in 2009 ended with legendary folk singer Pete Seeger singing Woody Guthrie’s song “This Land Is Your Land.” He was joined by Bruce Springsteen and Pete’s grandson Tao Rodriguez-Seeger. They sang the song complete with the rarely performed verse "I came to a sign that said 'Private Property,' but on the other side it didn’t say nothing. That side was made for you and me!"

Judy and I last night watched the Democracy Now! tribute to Pete Seeger. One of our heroes. Really beautiful program about a great man. See & hear at We're remembering a few years ago at the annual Ft Benning demonstration he did a concert, saying he couldn't sing but he did, and as always got us thousands to sing with him. And to get up and dance, in place and around and around the hall. Judy regrets not following up with Pete, must have been around '95, at a People's Music Network gathering people were trying to get Pete to go to Savannah during the Atlanta Olympics, and she said to him how about coming to Atlanta instead, we'll get network people together and sing peace songs at Marta stations, and he said "You get it organized and I will come." But she didn't get it organized. I recall at a demonstration in DC in ’85 his being there and being surprisingly friendly and accessible, I got close enough to speak to him, probably said something like, “Thanks for being here, Pete.” And he smiled and nodded.

Judy has jotted down what she could remember of the last things Pete said in the last live interview he did with Amy Goodman:

—Children know—you can’t live without love,
            You can’t live without laughter and play
            You can’t live without friends. . . .
And, on the Amy Goodman show about 4 months ago—Oct. 2013?—he also saluted teachers of children; women and children will help men know it’s not about seeking power or making money. . . .

Harvey Wasserman at EcoWatch has a very moving story about Pete and Toshi:
Excerpt, about a visit with Pete & Toshi at their home on the Hudson:

They chopped wood and made preserves and it was all so comfortably grounded. Toshi had a deeply affecting grace, an irresistible combination of firm direction and gentle wisdom. And those sparkling eyes. What a glorious partnership!
But I had an agenda. I wanted a song for Solartopia, a vision of a green-powered Earth. And who was a pischer like me to ask?
Pete’s response was instant, warm, enthusiastic. He whipped out that legendary banjo of his and within five minutes he had a song. A good one.
He asked me to write some verses, then gently informed me that as a songwriter, I should keep my day job (which would’ve been great if I had one!).
So he handed me a set of envelopes carefully addressed to various lyricists. We kicked the thing around for a year or so.  
Then his wonderful colleague David Bernz came up with verses Pete liked. Joined by Dar Williams and a chorus of “Rivertown Kids,” they recorded it in a single take, and it found its way on to an album that won a Grammy.
Something only Pete Seeger could have done. Because for all the catalogue of his political battles, his unshakable integrity and his giving nature, this was a guy with an astonishing talent.

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