Pete Seeger: “You Stick Together ‘Til It’s Won”
Book Review: Gleaned from letters, essays, and articles, “Pete Seeger: In His Own Words” reveals how the celebrated folk singer has considered, at every turn, what it means to sing out in a world where the din of injustice is deafening.
by Kim Ruehl
posted Dec 04, 2012
When a pair of writers expressed interest in publishing Pete Seeger: In His Own Words, one of Seeger’s first requests was “Don’t make me out to be a saint.”
Banjo in hand, Seeger has championed causes from labor to civil rights to the environment, revived our oldest folk songs, and co-authored new folk classics like “If I Had a Hammer,” so the impulse to portray him as saintly is understandable. But to do so would be a misunderstanding of his message: It doesn’t take a saint to make the world a better place. Real, flawed people do it all the time.
“When I sing (‘Amazing Grace’),” he writes, “I usually remind audiences that the words were written by a man who had for ten years been captain of a slave ship, but in his thirties he quit and … started the antislavery movement in England. He turned his life around and gave us hope that we can turn our country around.”
Seeger is no more a superman than he is a saint. As his letters attest, he has long battled fear, loneliness, and the fear of failure that stems from an overwhelming sense of duty—to his family, his community, his country. He has considered, at every turn, what it means to sing out in a world where the din of injustice is often deafening. But his songs assert that to sing is to recognize the power of one’s own voice, to declare and defend its worth. ...................(more)
Pete is a good friend. He lives near here in Beacon, NY, and is still active.
I can tell you, for a fact, that he really cannot stand it when people raise him up on a pedestal, and treat him like god, which many do. He'd rather be treated as just another guy.
I'll have to read the article, and then see if "grandpa" has read it.