When I went to bed last night, a rumor was circulating on Facebook that Pete Seeger had died. I went where I usually go, out to the larger Internet, to substantiate the rumor, and I couldn’t find anything to prove it was true, so I went to sleep. This morning, Morning Edition confirmed what a sizeable chunk of my FB Friends now know is true.
My father is largely responsible for my introduction to folk music. Without his reel to reel tape recorder, I wouldn’t have known about Pete, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Phil Ochs, Peter, Paul and Mary, Woody Guthrie or any of the other musicians who made up the fabric of my early childhood.
A search for Pete Seeger on You Tube generates hundreds, if not thousands of links to his work. For me, a visit to the Hudson Valley as a young child (in Woodstock, after THE concert) landed my closest association with the man as I recall sitting on his lap. I also remember watching his series Rainbow Quest on PBS, when they broadcast the series in 1967-68.
[Full movie requires rental from YouTube or other site.]
Last year, I made a point of attending the Clearwater Great Hudson River Revival and I got to thank him again, in person. Didn’t have enough time to say it more than once, but I noticed he was all over that festival. I saw Toshi, once, while we were waiting for the Richie Havens memorial to begin, and I knew then that she was quite ill, but I also saw that he stayed with her until that concert started. Their devotion to each other, for just shy of 70 years, was inspirational.
He remained active right up through this year, but was too ill to attend a parade he helped organize:
So, in the spirit of Twofer Tuesday, in this special edition, have a second cut, with Buffy Sainte-Marie, who I also saw last summer at the festival. Explore the clips on YouTube. And take comfort that the folk movement isn’t dead so long as we pass our values on to the generations to come. After all, that’s how the music remains with us. Pass it on.