Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

RIP Pete Seeger 1919 - 2014

A truly great American has left us. If there is a Heaven of clouds and angels, the one with the banjo instead of a harp will be Pete (singing songs campaigning for better conditions in Hell, naturally).

I remember when I was small this song used to be on the radio a lot.

I heard more of Pete as I got older and began to hear some of his civil rights songs (they were on the record I bought to get "Little Boxes". Then my brother bought a couple of his albums, one of which ("God Bless The Grass") must have been one of the very first records of songs about environmental issues. I had hoped to find a clip of Seventy Miles, but you'll have to make do with the lyrics. The other album was "Strangers and Cousins" which as I recall was of collaborations around the world. The most memorable track, to me at least, was a performance from Japan of Bob Dylan's "Masters of War" given one line at a time with a Japanese interpreter translating each line immediately after Pete sang it. I think what caught my attention was the great disparity in the lengths of some of the translations: you'd have a line that was rendered in three or four syllables, followed by one that took maybe ten seconds to translate.

Anyway, there it is: the man's dead. A great American has passed on, leaving his country the richer for his passage through it. The end of an era. Here is another of Pete's great songs, this one not a song of struggle but of peace and reconciliation, sung by those other great Americans, the Byrds.

It was Pete's time to die, after making the best possible use of his time to live.


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