Today marks a sad day in America as legendary folk musician Pete Seeger passed away at the age of 94.
The loss doesn’t just affect the music community. Seeger’s death affects generations of Americans, whether many people know that or not. Clearly at the tender of 94, he lived to see a few of them.
Seeger was a friend a former bandmate of folk legend Woody Guthrie. Guthrie rose to notoriety in the 1930’s as the voice of millions of Americans during the Dust Bowl crisis throughout the South Central United States. His guitars were always adorned with the saying “This Machine Kills Fascists.”
The two met and formed a folk group in New York City, a radical idea back then, and began to sing for social change. While some called them communists during World War II, whom they were affiliated with early in their careers, others believed their music to be Nazi propaganda. He was later blacklisted in the McCarthy era of the 1950’s.
While Guthrie passed many years ago at only 55 years of age in 1967, Seeger continued to perform and operate with the same ideologies as Guthrie. His banjo read “This Machine Surrounds Hate and Forces it to Surrender.”
Seeger was a vocal activist on many subjects during his time, including but limited to civil rights, environmentalism, international disarmament and the Vietnam War.
My mom remembers seeing Seeger numerous times at rallies in the Los Angeles area and at UCLA in protest to the turmoil in the US in those times.
To millions of baby boomers, Seeger was a voice of reason during a very troublesome time in American history.
His exploits will not earn him a national monument or a day in his honor most likely, but his warm ability to bring people together through music and create a united voice that could not be silenced will always be in the hearts of those who lived to see those days.