I thought he’d live forever

Pete Seeger has died. No, I said that wrong — read that amazing obituary, and you realize that Pete Seeger has lived.

Just for the contrast, the NY Times also has an interview with the odious Tom Perkins, who is now equating the 1% with the people who are creative…while flaunting a $300,000+ watch.

I look at Seeger. I look at Perkins. I look at Seeger again.

And I wonder, who is going to kill fascism now?


  1. kreativekaos says

    Wholly fuck! He was one person I’ve had the deepest respect for since I was in my late teens.
    My day just got sadder, and our world emptier.

  2. ludicrous says

    He always got the audience to sing along….. that’s what these blogs are for…..and we could do with more singing along and less sharpshooting at each other. What would Pete Seeger do is a nice test.

  3. David Wilford says

    It’s hard to imagine there being a folk music revival in the early 1960s without Pete Seeger..

  4. gussnarp says

    @ludicrous: I had that exact thought this morning. What would Pete do?

    I don’t think I’ve ever been as saddened by the death of a famous person as I am by Pete’s. I feel like I discovered him too late in life, I never had the chance to see him perform live, and I haven’t listened to nearly enough of his music. But if, in this world with no heaven, the best we can hope for is to live a satisfying life, make as many people as happy as possible, and leave behind a legacy that will continue to make people’s lives better, then no one can be said to have lived as well as Pete Seeger.

  5. says

    My Rainbow Race, by Pete Seeger

    One blue sky above us
    One ocean lapping all our shore
    One earth so green and round
    Who could ask for more
    And because I love you
    I’ll give it one more try
    To show my rainbow race
    It’s too soon to die.

    Some folks want to be like an ostrich,
    Bury their heads in the sand.
    Some hope that plastic dreams
    Can unclench all those greedy hands.
    Some hope to take the easy way:
    Poisons, bombs. They think we need ‘em.
    Don’t you know you can’t kill all the unbelievers?
    There’s no shortcut to freedom.

    (Repeat chorus)

    Go tell, go tell all the little children.
    Tell all the mothers and fathers too.
    Now’s our last chance to learn to share
    What’s been given to me and you.

    (Repeat chorus one and a half times)

  6. says

    Pete Seeger’s legacy will never die. I saw him perform exactly once, and it was mesmerizing. Not only was he the social conscience of the 1960s folk revival, but his work and activism in the decades since have left a mark on the progressive movement that will always lift our spirits and remind us of the power of song and poetry.

    Several years ago I spent a week in Kansas campaigning for pro-science candidates to that state’s Board of Education. My hosts rewarded me with an “honorarium” that is among my proudest possessions. It’s a “Gravity is Just a Theory” bumper sticker, signed by Peter Seeger himself. What could be better?

  7. David Marjanović says

    Huh. I’m very surprised to learn he hadn’t died several decades ago.

    On that “has lived” thing, 17 brings bad luck in Italy, because XVII can be rearranged to VIXI, Latin for “I lived” (perfect tense, meaning it’s over).

  8. Usernames are smart says

    And I wonder, who is going to kill fascism now?

    Dylan. Dylan’s guitar killed fascists.

    Seeger’s banjo loved them to death.

  9. says

    I’ve been listening to wamc.org all morning–they’re airing a (minimum) 2-hour interview with Seeger. I’ve learned so much already. Truly an amazing man. I did know he deliberately made sure the profits from recording “We Shall Overcome” were set aside for a charity to promote African-American music in the south. That’s just one of the things I’ve learned in the past hour or so. Truly an amazing person.

  10. says

    I did not think he would live forever, but I wanted him to. Today morning when I saw the news, I felt so sad, despite the panic I was in with the knowledge that my aging car parked on the street will not start at -22, when I get to it (but it did start after a few rolls). As #10 says, Seeger’s legacy will never die. He is left us plenty to remember him by. He is just gone on a quest… the rainbow quest.

  11. truthspeaker says

    And I wonder, who is going to kill fascism now?

    I think Pete would answer – all of us working together.

  12. stevem says

    Me sad ;-( I can only add some more sadness by recalling the “furious battle” twixt Colbert vs. Seeger (and other ‘word-speakers’) for the 2014 Grammy for “Best Spoken Word Album”. Last night Colbert announced his win of that Grammy, defeating Crystal, Sederis, Burnett, and Seeger. For all his bluster, I am sure Colbert is equally saddened by defeating Seeger’s last award before Seeger shuffled off his mortal coil. I never really liked Seeger singing his own songs, but greatly loved others rendering the songs he wrote. One of my favorite “Boss” (i.e. Springsteen) CD’s (2 versions exist, and I own both) is his cover of Seeger songs, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions
    Truly am sad to hear Seeger has passed ;-( Long live Seeger!!!

  13. ChasCPeterson says

    “My job,” he said in 2009, “is to show folks there’s a lot of good music in this world, and if used right it may help to save the planet.”

    Music of the people, by the people, and for the people.
    He was an exemplary citizen of the world.

  14. nutella says

    “Perkins, who is now equating the 1% with the people who are creative”

    Perkins and most of the 1% are financiers who engage in creative accounting. “Creative” is not a good thing when applied to accounting.

    As far as I know the only thing Perkins has ever created is an investment company that is now running as fast as it can from any association with Perkins.

  15. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    I used to have “THIS MACHINE MILDLY ANNOYS FASCISTS” written on my bass strap.

  16. blf says


  17. timberwoof says

    My favorite Pete Seeger story came from a PBS documentary about his life. He had been suspected of being a Communist. Since he refused to go along with the various Senate and House commissions, he ended up black-listed. The FBI would only permit him to perform for schoolchildren … who grew up to become folkies.

    Then there was his 1960s trip up and down the Hudson River in a sailboat to hold free concerts in riverside parks. People noticed that the river was a shit-hole, and started writing their congresscritters to do something about it.

    For all of us, he’s better off in our music collections, memories, and aspirations than in heaven.

  18. says

    Then there was his 1960s trip up and down the Hudson River in a sailboat to hold free concerts in riverside parks.

    Not just the trip–he was instrumental in getting the Clearwater, the sloop that became the vessel of and symbol for the effort to clean up the Hudson, built in the first place.

    He was also the one who popularized the version of We Shall Overcome that became the anthem of the civil rights movement. Then he took the profits from the recording of his version of it and used it to found a charitable organization devoted to promoting southern African-American folk music.

  19. unclefrogy says

    I listening right now to http://www.kpfk.org/ they have a lot of Pete’s stuff some live in their studio
    I goin’a have to stop written cause I ‘m havin’ trouble see the keyboard

    uncle frogy

  20. AMM says

    truthspeaker @19:

    And I wonder, who is going to kill fascism now?

    I think Pete would answer – all of us working together.

    Agreed, except that it has always been so. Pete was only one man. What he did, and did very well, was to awaken people’s awareness of their power. To break through the usual “I’m only one person, what can I do?”

    This may only be my impression, but what I always liked about him was that he seemed to think that most anyone could do what he did, if they just set their mind to it. That he was more interested in freeing other people to act than in being the star.

  21. anuran says

    When rich, powerful, influential men were called up in front of HUAC they folded. They recanted. They turned on their friends. Pete Seeger was just about the only one who said “No”. He did it politely. He did it poetically. But he refused to give in to evil under threat of ruin and prison.

    People like him are why the highest honorific for the departed in Judaism is זכרונו\ה\ם\ן לברכה “Of blessed memory”

  22. leszekuk says

    Pete Seeger, Ronnie Gilbert, Lee Hays and Fred Hellerman… the Weavers were one of my introductions to American folk music. His hammer will live forever, just lke his song.

  23. Gvlgeologist, FCD says

    Coming late to this, but I second all that has been said above. The Weavers introduced me to music with meaning. Pete is part of the reason that I now play banjo and recorder. He was a musician, teacher, activist, environmentalist, and so much more. He was one of the few remaining people who I could consider influential my entire life.

    I was privileged to have met him (a a child) on board the Clearwater, and the Arlo and Pete concert my wife and I saw in Carnegie Hall in 2009 is one of the highlights of my life.

    His death leaves our world a lesser place. How can we live up to the standard that he set? But we must try.