And what a man he was!
Foto by Phil Jacobs
Pete Seeger passed away yesterday evening at 94. I just linked the New York Times article that pretty much tells his story so I don’t need to list his accomplishments here myself. That said, he was a great man and a noble human being. Pete figures in my story as a musician and an artist. In the early fifties, my Dad took me to see Pete at either Constitution Hall or Lisner Auditorium, I forget which. I think Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee might have been on the bill too, but it was a long time ago and I’m not going to bet the farm on it. In any case, did his thing. He Played banjo, six string guitar, 12 string guitar… he sang… he told stories.
I was mesmerized.
At that age, I was unaware of his forthright bravery and honesty in the face of political oppression. I just knew I loved what he did! I was lost in the amazing world of plucked notes and songs. Now I don’t think I was even playing the guitar yet… or if I was my skills were not even nascent. I knew that I had to meet the man. Against his will, my Dad took me backstage. Pete shook my hand… he let me touch his finger picks and his guitar. I felt as if the hand of G_d had just been run through my hair… it was that much of a blessing.
Years later I was on a benefit show at the old Lone Star in downtown Manhattan. I told Pete about our little meeting so long ago. he was gracious but nowhere near as excited about the intersection as I was. That’s OK… I got it and the honor was mine to be able to tell him how much he meant to me.
In 1996 when Jefferson Airplane was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Pete Seeger was one of our co-inductees. It was a highlight that I will remember all of my life that i was among those able to play Goodnight Irene on stage with him.
He was one of those larger than life figures to me that seemed like he would live forever. Of course this is not to be for any of us. Pete now belongs to the ages and he and Toshi will be dwelling on another mountaintop. Rest in peace brother and sister… rest in peace. May your guitar always be sweetly in tune and always at hand. May your song always be strong… Rest in peace…
Fair winds and following seas…