Search This Blog

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Markings

The great Pete Seeger died this morning. His name is been part of the music landscape for as long as I've lived, and for most of a generation before that. He niggled at our nation's conscience with his songs, songs about peace, labor, solidarity, equality, commonsense, and what good fun it is to be alive. He served his country with great honor, and was lied about and calumniated by powerful men without honor. Still, he kept his sense of humor, he kept a song on his lips, and kept coming back for more until his friends, his perseverance, and his inner light restored his good name in this country. 

He brought music front and center to the labor movement, to the peace movement, and to the ecology movement, over the span of seven decades. He was an activist from his youth, but in his heart he was a musician with a song to sing, and the burning conviction that we all belong together, that we are all one, and that we ought to be singing about it. He always seem to be right at the middle of whatever was happening in this country, with the guitar in his hand, a smile on his face, and an invitation to join in the song.

If you haven't seen the documentary, "The Power of Song," about his life and career, then you really ought to take the time to do so. I was so moved by it, that I was moved to transcribe part of what he had to say about participation. I'd like to catch a little spark of that fire. What Pete felt about music, peace, community, and life are part of what I'd like to pass on to the world myself.

I've used that quote as my email signature for years, and I just want to close this little entry in honor of Pete using his own words: "I've never sung anywhere without giving the people listening to me a chance to join in. As a kid, as a lefty, as a man touring the U.S.A. and the world, as an oldster. I guess it's kind of a religion with me. Participation. That's what's going to save the human race."

"Yes, to everything turn, turn, turn, 
There is a season, turn, turn, turn....
A time to be born, the time to die, 
the time of love, a time of hate, 
a time of peace, I swear it's not too late."

Thank you, Pete Seeger, for the music, the inspiration, and the conscience.