The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

In Memoriam: Pete Seeger (1919-2014)

with 4 comments

Pete Seeger

American music has many diverse strains – from the blues of the Mississippi Delta to the jazz of 52nd Street, and everything in between.  But it’s no exaggeration to state that Pete Seeger is American music.  Though the singer-songwriter-activist died on January 27 at the age of 94, his song – a song filled with honesty, integrity, compassion, conscience and bold simplicity – will continue to be sung by every man, woman and child who picks up an instrument with the belief that music can make the world a better, and more charitable, place in which to live.

Seeger has been frequently described as a folk singer, and he was, indeed, a singer for all folks.  If Pete’s only accomplishment was to have helped popularize and transform the spiritual “We Shall Overcome” into an anthem, his place in culture would have been ensured.  But Seeger’s influence on the entire rock and roll generation – a generation in which youth shared his belief that the establishment could be peacefully challenged – can’t be underestimated.  His composition “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” became a hit for the Kingston Trio and Johnny Rivers, and his “If I Had a Hammer” was indelibly recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary as well as Trini Lopez.  His adaptations of “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There is a Season)” and “The Bells of Rhymney” were adopted by The Byrds, and “Guantanamera” was memorably sung by The Sandpipers.   Such was the power of Pete Seeger’s music to blur lines of genre, age and background.  He also memorably engaged audiences in sing-alongs of the music he loved, sharing the work of Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Phil Ochs and so many others in his performances.  A survivor of the blacklist, Seeger never stopped taking the world’s stages, even throughout the numerous periods when controversy threatened to derail his career.  His spirit proved indomitable as he enthusiastically delivered messages of peace, civil rights and harmony with nature and each other.

To everything, there is a season.  Pete Seeger, the man, might be gone, but his music will continue to resonate for each person who passes on a favorite song – whether of protest or of celebration – to a friend, hoping that it may augur a brighter day to come.

Written by Joe Marchese

January 28, 2014 at 11:06

Posted in News, Pete Seeger

4 Responses

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  1. Wonderful tribute for a decent human being. By his life, Pete personified all that is good about being an American filled with hope, promise, protest, and standing up for what you believe in.


    January 28, 2014 at 11:12

  2. A musical giant with a huge heart who seemed to relish every moment of being alive, and so helped us all appreciate the gift of life as well.


    January 28, 2014 at 12:54

  3. Sorry to hear he’s died – I first heard about his passing on WXRT on their 6 AM news, and saw it later on the LA Times site.

    Bill Janowski

    January 28, 2014 at 13:22

  4. Pete, truly an American original. His ties to Woody and so many others made him so important to American music. I am so glad I got a chance to see him perform at the Clearwater Festival several years ago.

    Loren Lathrop

    January 28, 2014 at 19:42

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