“What a terrible thing to call someone,” Pete Seeger told USA Today around his 90th birthday, on account of hearing that Bob Dylan christened him a ‘saint’, Seeger reeling back, “I’ve made a lot of foolish mistakes over the years.” So goes the humbleness of the iconic musician who bridged the gap between politics and art, coddled the folk revival like his own kid and help launch the careers of virtually everyone with an acoustic guitar and mic in the 60s. Seeger passed away yesterday at 94-years-young, at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, the New York Times reports.
First civil rights, then war, followed by environmentalism, songs of which he wrote co-wrote, from “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” to “Turn, Turn, Turn!” where his lyrical weapons of change, either made immensely popular by Joan Baez or The Byrds, or surrounded by century-old standards he would also champion, as with “We Shall Overcome” and “Michael Row the Boat Ashore.” His cover of Lead Belly‘s “Goodnight Irene” with the Weavers got him blacklisted by the FBI for his progressive political beliefs. While thousands of people were working to sign a petition to earn him a Nobel Peace prize in the years before his death.
If he had a hammer, he would have used it. But he chose the song:
Well I got a hammer and I got a bell
And I got a song to sing all over this land
It’s the hammer of justice, it’s the bell of freedom
It’s a song about love between my brothers and my sisters all over this land