RIP, Pete 1919 - 2014

 

"I'm proud to be a background footnote in this photograph of a great man.

You want to know why Pete Seeger is beaming? He was watching a rocking set from Wanda Jackson. So much for the old folk music versus rock and roll conflict.

I once saw Pete Seeger swinging a big jackhammer at a railroad sleeper spike while singing a work song with his grandson on the stage of Carnegie Hall but cannot imagine him wielding an axe in anger, as he was once alleged to do.

There are many words that could and should be written and spoken about this man, his life and his work but, simply put, he stood up when it mattered, again and again.

A few years ago Pete Seeger and his colleagues in The Weavers received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys, a crowd that seemed long on the right to self expression but short on memory were sadly unable to pause from checking their smartphones or reflections long enough to rouse themselves to a decent ovation, standing or otherwise.

Such beauty contests are probably not the best place to go looking for a well-intentioned salute but then few of us will ever find our names on a blacklist.

One day, I'll show you the picture taken a little later on that Newport afternoon. I have it in photo album.

I'm standing with my pal, Joshua, Rambling Jack Elliot and a man who could put us all to shame for vigour and spirit of life.

In memory of that afternoon meeting, I will hold all those stirring, grave and consequential songs that Pete Seeger sang in my heart and mind and spin "The Foolish Frog" this evening.