Athene Numphe (athene) wrote,
Athene Numphe

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Pete Seegar, R.I.P.

Early this morning, while trying to check and see if schools were delayed or closed I saw on Twitter, via Boing Boing, that Pete Seeger had died. When I got in the shower, with Union Maid, If I Had a Hammer, and This Land Is Your Land all playing simultaneously in my head, I broke down and started sobbing.

Being the child of 60's hippy/activists and coming from a long tradition of protesters, I was raised on Pete Seeger, the Almanac Singers, the Weavers, Woody Guthrie, etc.

Of all his amazing songs, the one that is the most important to me is Union Maid.

By the time I was two I had the song memorized. My mother tells the story of when I was about that age and we visited my Great-Great Tante Bessie. She and my Great-Grandmother struck for the unions back before there even were unions in this country. When my mother went to her first Vietnam War protest, there they were in the front row. Anyway, we were visiting her house and somehow she and I sung Union Maid together. I have no memory of this other than the story, but apparently I brought tears to her eyes.

Another time when I was around the same age (maybe a bit older), my parents took me to see Joe Glazer in concert. When he sang Union Maid, I apparently stood up and sang the whole song with him. I'm pretty sure I sung Joe Hill with him too.

In my hippy school in hippyville (aka Ithaca, NY), I remember that we'd end assemblies by holding hands and singing We Shall Overcome. We'd also sing This Land Is Your Land a lot. Or at least I remember singing it at least once.

We had two tapes of I think it was the Weavers that I used to listed to all the time. I don't know where the tapes went or what they were called, but I remember they had songs like Erie Canal, Boll Weevil, and On Top of Old Smokey on them. I wish I could remember what they were.

While my musical tasted evolved and changed and grew over time, I never lost my roots or my love of Pete Seeger and his music. When a documentary came out about him on tv I watched it with artemis42. I remember being crazy excited when during grad school I ran across the Smithsonian Folkways site because I could buy the Almanac Singers album that I loved so much as a child.

Pete Seeger was an inspiration to so many people. He collected American folk songs, songs that are part of our heritage that I'm worried we are slowly forgetting. He stood up to the House Un-American Activities Committee in a fantastic way.

Since my son was born, I have played him the songs from my childhood. The songs of Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie and others. I know I will play them for him today.
Tags: childhood, death, music

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