[Pete Seeger singing Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” with children. This is one of my favorite videos of this music legend and activist.]
At word of his death yesterday, I thought of the influence of Pete Seeger on our society and on the world. I was sad to hear that so many people didn’t know who he was, but I was not surprised because Pete Seeger seemed to be a man who sought no recognition for himself. He seemed happy to promote other’s music as he wrote his own. He was influenced by Woody Guthrie and he, in turn, influenced the likes of Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. Arlo Guthrie, Woody’s son, was a good friend.
From starting out with the “Weaver’s” in the 1950’s and having a #1 hit to being called before Joseph McCarthy’s Committee on Un-American Activity and blacklisted to leading protests in the 1960’s, Pete Seeger led an interesting life. He introduced Martin Luther King to the song, “We Will Overcome” and they changed the lyrics slightly to “We Shall Overcome” because Pete felt it “sung better.” He was at many protests against the Vietnam War and his song “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” became the anthem for the war protesters.
We are indebted to him and his fearless life achievements. A simple man, not seeking the spotlight, spread the word of peace and equality in his humble music, using his banjo that read “This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender.” Rest in peace, Pete Seeger, and thank you for your poetic tunes.