At age 94, Pete Seeger came to rest on Monday night.
As a child and youth of the 80’s and 90’s, the only Pete Seeger songs I knew well were “Turn, Turn, Turn” and “If I Had a Hammer,” because my mother had some old records with those songs on them. But as an adult, when my music tastes ripened, I began listening to more folk music, finding myself resonating with the lyrics and tunes of more ordinary everyday experiences, and hearing the call to justice live in the melody. I dug into the music of Woody Guthrie and Lead Belly, and their protégé, Pete Seeger.
It was Pete Seeger’s life that inspired me through his music. The commitment to nonviolence, to civil rights, to the environment—it was not only alive in his music but throughout his whole life. From being active in civil rights to protesting the Vietnam War to marching in Occupy Wall Street movements in 2011 when he was 92 years old, Pete not only talked, but sang, walked, marched, and lived the call for social justice. He embodied the movement he was part of throughout his life.
Pete might not have called himself a Christian but acknowledged the influence of Christianity, especially social justice, in his life, and was a member of a Unitarian Universalist congregation. In 2010 he co-wrote “God’s Counting on Me, God’s Counting on You” as a response to the Gulf oil spill.
I wish I could write more, but so much has been written about Pete. Instead, I share this song mentioned above, because of all the songs Pete wrote, of all the things he did, I think this sums up his life and our lives perfectly. Hear the call of the prophet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvnsB_kVNYI