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Pete Seeger - 1919 - 2014

  by Nick Dent-Robinson

published: 29 / 1 / 2014

Pete Seeger - 1919 - 2014


Nick Dent-Robinson reflects on the life of folk singer and political activist Pete Seeger, who died on January 27th at the age of 94

Just over a year ago I was fortunate to interview the talented musician, singer and writer Peggy Seeger, younger sister of the iconic Pete Seeger. And, as I mentioned to Peggy then, back in the 1960s, I had been lucky enough to see her big brother Pete perform on two occasions. Both were hugely memorable. Initially, as a child, I saw him in London at a big gathering of folk singers not very long after John F Kennedy was assassinated. Pete Seeger was the star attraction and his songs were eloquent...stressing the importance of not allowing Kennedy's murder to crush the hopes and idealism of the Western World. People of all ages were sobbing with the raw emotion and power of Pete Seeger's performance. Then, at the end of the decade, I saw him again when I was a student in Belfast at a time when the political storm clouds were gathering there and when there was much despondency about America's role in Vietnam. Again, although Pete Seeger was no longer as fashionable a protest singer as many younger performers...Bob Dylan to name but one, there was something undeniably impressive and massively charismatic about him. And it was a very exciting evening, full of hope. Almost five decades on, Pete Seeger with Bruce Springsteen took the audience by storm on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial the night before the first inauguration of Barack Obama. Their passionate performance of This Land is Your Land set pulses racing all over the world. It was another amazing moment...as history was being made. Pete Seeger devoted his life to singing and talking about making America (and the wider western world) a better place. Frequently he was denounced as a communist and a traitor to his country for his efforts - though his ideas and beliefs hardly seem radical now. How thrilled he would have been back in the dark unenlightened days of the 1950s and early 1960s if he had known that he would live long enough to sing 'This Land is Your Land' on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial as America inaugurated a black man as President of the United States. Pete Seeger has died at the age of 94. But how good it is that he saw so many of his dreams he come true.

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