I have so many topics running through my mind: Justin Bieber, The Grammys, the State of the Union, Kanye West, Same Sex Marriage, Racism, Misogyny, Justin Bieber ….
The truth is, I really feel the need to write something important tonight, and all this unimportant crap is going through my head instead. Not that Justin Bieber isn’t culturally significant …
A great man died last night: Pete Seeger. No, not the one with the Silver Bullet Band. The banjo-slinging Pete Seeger of Folk Music fame. The one who’s banjo displayed the slogan, “This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender”.
I never knew the man. In fact, I grew up fairly ignorant of the huge musical footprint he made. I have come to realize, however, that his influence can be felt throughout a wide spectrum of the music I am familiar with.
I may not agree with him on politics, and I may not be familiar with his repertoire, but Pete Seeger is truly a musical hero.
From what I can tell, the man himself believed that music and love could change the world. He put his heart and soul into saving that world, and as he did so, he energized a genre of music that had been consigned to the dustbin of history. Protest songs. Labor songs. Hell, he even made the banjo look cool.
Throughout the 94 years of his life, he made and shared music with anyone who had ears to listen. The tunes may have changed over the decades, but his tune never did. A fierce fighter in the battle for justice and equality, love and peace. His weapons were his voice, his banjo, and his timeless songs.
So, while Justin Bieber may be languishing in jail, Kanye West may be ranting about Racism, and the Grammys may be celebrating mass same-sex marriages, let’s take a moment to remember one of the true heroes who has graced several generations with his timeless music.
Rest in Peace, Pete Seeger. We will miss you, but your music remains. Stronger than ever.