Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pete Seeger 1919 - 2014

I suppose the day eventually had to come.

It's that kind of feeling we get with family pets, or maybe human family members. We always know it'll happen, yet we're still bummed when it does. That was a spiritual anchor, that knowledge that they were there. An anchor that kept us well-grounded and out of danger from floating unprotected in erratic waters. Suddenly, we need to know that we can swim — that we've gotten in some practice along the way. That anchor helped give us our swimming lessons.

I don't usually comment on celebrity deaths these days, or even most musician deaths that take a healthy bite of my 'Book feed, but I did want to acknowledge this one, some way, somehow.

"Social music" seems to have evolved into a completely different meaning from what it once was. Do we sing along in harmony at live shows much anymore? Maybe we all just sing to ourselves as we stream via cyberspace....? Sometimes I do. Not always. I can't remember clearly whether or not I was singing along when I spun "Viva la Quince Brigada", from "We Shall Overcome: The Complete Carnegie Hall Concert, June 8, 1963", for my 15k-point spin on Turntable.fm (itself a bygone trailblazer of sorts). I totally sang along with whatever I could at Psych Fest this past Friday, but even I couldn't hear me when I did, the bands and records were loud. Or maybe I just have a weak voice. I don't know. I have original songs — one man with one acoustic guitar; maybe you can tell me. I totally need to play open mics. I may not be sung along with — those really aren't the kind of songs I write — but at least there'll be a sort of gathering around. There's an open mic in town by me happening about now, as it's done every Tuesday for some years. At least, I think they still do it; I haven't gone to one in about two and a half years.....

I never came at all close to meeting the man in person. (What else is new?) I only sometimes tune in to true "folk" vibes amidst the psychedelic, the experimental, the smooth pop, the classical-style epics, and all the wondrous and absurd choices available to us in this age. But I know where we came from. I know where the "pop" in "pop(ular) music" is rooted. And I know one name and voice that was supreme in uniting the populace in harmony in every sense. In that way, we have gotten to know him, even if we didn't meet him personally.

I've been typing this up for a little while now this evening. As I was scrolling earlier, I saw Scott E. post a quote: “My job,” he said in 2009, “is to show folks there’s a lot of good music in this world, and if used right it may help to save the planet.” (from the New York Times) Seeger used his machine to surround hate and force it to surrender. We have this particularly global and powerful machine, or network of machines, at our command. How do we use it? What, or who, is surrendering in surround sound?

My copy of "We Shall Overcome" has inexplicably vanished, but my father's vinyl of 1979's "Circles and Seasons" remains. Here's an all-too contemporarily relevant song from that album (not my upload).

Peace and love for the man whose idea it was to change "I" to "We". *We* shall overcome. Some day.

(This was originally posted to Facebook. Minor edits brought it here.)

(Also, I'm including this song, which was suggested by a friend.)

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