As the years go by, I’m more-and-more convinced that at heart, when it comes to music, I’m a real ‘folkie’.
I’m glad about that. It’s people like Pete Seeger who passed away yesterday aged 94, who contributed to this closet folkie in me. In fact, not so closet really. In the last few years, I’ve really warmed to the ‘folk’ side of Bruce Springsteen’s music. When in the States last year, I bought this wonderful PBS documentary of the contribution of Peter, Paul and Mary. I listen to early (and even some recent) Jackson Browne, and it’s the folkie stuff that really grabs me. Heard Emmylou Harris two years ago – not surprised she started out as a folk-singer. The best songs in my expansive John Denver collection are the folk ones. Heard Billy Bragg on the ABC’s Q&A program last year – folk music still cuts it.
Pete Seeger, along with the group he came out of - the Weavers, Woody Guthrie, Dylan and so on … they used music to convey truth, to speak/sing out for justice, to build community, to strengthen resolve, to work for peace.
I would have loved to have heard Pete Seeger live in concert. A friend of mine did some years back, and tells me it was wonderful. I watched the Grammy’s a few days back – sorry, but some of the music was absolute rubbish. Where have all the flowers gone? Where have all the great songs gone?
Well, they will have gone nowhere, as long as you and me continue to play and sing the likes of:
We shall overcome
If I had a hammer
This land is your land
Where have all the flowers gone
Turn, turn, turn … all of these written or if not written by, popularised by Pete Seeger.
Yes, as Ecclesiastes reminds us, there is indeed a time for every purpose and every season under heaven. It’s just a bit sad, when a wonderful contributor to the music and fabric of life moves on. Vale Pete Seeger.