Monday, February 10, 2014

Remembering Pete- Part 7

Some final thoughts:
Perhaps the work that Pete did with Arlo Guthrie and friends was the most visible of his musical work these past 30 years. From two albums together and countless concerts, they have brought folk music full circle and brought it to new listeners. I have been a big fan of Arlo Guthrie since he began. To have him united with Pete is a folk music gift to the world. Here are some of the videos that have touched me from their collaboration.

First, from a video that talked about Woody's heritage, a song that Woody and Pete often sang. Here it's with Arlo:

Pete and Arlo's concerts were an international affair. One of Pete's most favorite songs was the Cuban poem set to music- Guantanamara. Pete took the words and set them to the tune as a peace song during the Cuban missle crisis. Pete continued to sing it and his passion for the song never seemed to dampen. Here he sings with his grandson Tao Rodriguez-Seeger.

One more with Arlo, old and young, reaching back in musical time and bringing it forward.

The day Pete died, Arlo Guthrie had one of his truly remarkable spiritual-based posts on Facebook. Who better than Arlo to say this:
I usually do a little meditation and prayer every night before I go to sleep - Just part of the routine. Last night, I decided to go visit Pete Seeger for a while, just to spend a little time together, it was around 9 PM. So I was sitting in my home in Florida, having a lovely chat with Pete, who was in a hospital in New York City. That's the great thing about thoughts and prayers- You can go or be anywhere.

I simply wanted him to know that I loved him dearly, like a father in some ways, a mentor in others and just as a dear friend a lot of the time. I'd grown up that way - loving the Seegers - Pete & Toshi and all their family.

I let him know I was having trouble writing his obituary (as I'd been asked) but it seemed just so silly and I couldn't think of anything that didn't sound trite or plain stupid. "They'll say something appropriate in the news," we agreed. We laughed, we talked, and I took my leave about 9:30 last night.

"Arlo" he said, sounding just like the man I've known all of my life, "I guess I'll see ya later." I've always loved the rising and falling inflections in his voice. "Pete," I said. "I guess we will."

I turned off the light and closed my eyes and fell asleep until very early this morning, about 3 AM when the texts and phone calls started coming in from friends telling me Pete had passed away.

"Well, of course he passed away!" I'm telling everyone this morning. "But that doesn't mean he's gone."

I was originally going to end here with the old standard, "So Long, It's Been Good to Know Yuh." But I decided instead to pay attention to Arlo's words. Pete's not gone. In this world of communications and videos and who knows what else, Pete Seeger will continue to touch many. His words will live.

So I end with words of his that first struck me in 1971 when the album of the same name first came out. It was a time of war and a time of awakening ecology. We were becoming more and more aware of the dangers to our world from more than just the scourge of hatred and war. We were poisoning ourselves with the destruction of our planet to support a lifestyle of greed and conflict, fed by hatred and discrimination.

Over these 40 years we have learned a lot, but we still need to relearn. We are reminded by this song of Pete's from 1971 that  we must pass this on to the next generation or we may not have much to pass on at all.

Tell the children, tell everyone, it may be our last to chance to share.

Give it one more try
To show my rainbow race
It's too soon to die

One blue sky above us
One ocean lapping on  our shore
One earth so green and brown
Who could ask for more.

Pete- thanks.

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