Memories of Pete Seeger
One of the first things I saw this morning when checking my Facebook account was the announcement of Pete Seeger’s passing. He was 94.
All day today folks have been sharing their memories of Pete on social media. A few of those memories included me, like this one from Corinna Makris (used with permission). Corinna and I volunteered together at the Great Hudson River Revival one year.
“And then right before me was Pete, picking up garbage. No entourage, no security. I approached him, nervous because omg PETE SEEGER and I asked, "Pete, how come you're picking up garbage? Shouldn't you be in the VIP tent?" Pete laughed and said, "Toshi won't let me. Says I'll get a swelled head!"
That story is so quintessentially Pete Seeger. Though I met him many times, I didn’t know him personally. Each time I saw him he had an air of gentle conviction, humor and integrity about him.
I was fifteen when I first met Pete Seeger and saw him play. It was in a folk music coffee house in a church basement in Hartford, CT, called “The Sounding Board.”
My father loved Pete Seeger, and identified with him. They were of the same generation, and of the same spirit. Pete’s music was a bridge between my father and me at a time when a bridge was badly needed.
I saw Pete play many times after that first time; with Arlo on a revolving stage, in small theatres, and of course, each year at the Great Hudson River Revival.
The last Revival I attended was many years ago; my now-adult son was only two. It was the first time I attended as a patron rather than a volunteer. To my young son, Pete was not an activist or a champion of civil rights. Pete was the man who sang “Froggy Went A’Courting” and “She’ll be Comin’ Round the Mountain.”
A few years later, I found myself in charge of a creating a skit for a group of children in a talent show. I turned Pete Seeger’s Foolish Frog into a blockbuster.
It’s easy to count the ways Pete Seeger’s music touched my life. It is hard to count the ways Pete Seeger’s message shaped my life. Maybe, more than anything, he taught me the power of music, and the power of laughter.
Photo: Pete Seeger at age 88 photographed on 6-16-07 at the Clearwater Festival 2007 by Anthony Pepitone