Celebrating Pete Seeger’s Extraordinary Life

 

“My job is to show folks there’s a lot of good music in this world, and if used right it may help save the planet.” – Pete Seeger

Clearwater has lost a dear friend. Pete Seeger, legendary folk singer-songwriter and activist, founder of the modern environmental and Hudson River Sloop Clearwater founder, passed away on January 27, at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City surrounded his family. Seeger, whose name is synonymous with cause music and a major figure in American Folk music, was age 94. Clearwater extends its deepest condolences to the Seeger Family. Pete’s contributions to the Hudson Valley and to the world are manifold and he will be dearly missed.

More than ever, Clearwater affirms its commitment to the principles and ideals that Pete Seeger set forth when establishing the organization: environmental protection of the Hudson River and the valley, diversity and empowerment of people of all colors, types and incomes, and an understanding that music and the sloop are vehicles that spread those ideals far and wide.

And so we keep on while we live
Until we have no, no more to give
And when these fingers can strum no longer
Hand the old banjo to young ones stronger
And when these fingers can strum no longer
Hand the old banjo to young ones stronger
– from the song, “Quite Early Morning,” by Pete Seeger

We are all changed forever by the music, words, and deeds of this extraordinary man. Pete gave us so much – inspiration, humor, empowerment, and a vision for cleaning up the Hudson River. It is our honor to carry on his legacy. …Read More

 


Watch as Judy Collins joins Pete as a guest on the television show, “Rainbow Quest”;  Pete harmonized as Judy took the lead to perform “Turn, Turn, Turn.”


You are invited to please share your comments and reflections about Pete here in the comments section or on the Clearwater Facebook page or the Clearwater Festival Facebook page.

COMMENTS

Joan Baez:

When I was 15 years old, my aunt took me to a Pete Seeger concert. If her intention was to expose me to a more illuminating environment than that of a high school campus in a small town in Southern California, she succeeded.

The concert took, like a good vaccine.

From that moment forward, Pete helped shape my life both musically and politically.

I believe that courage is the most vital of human qualities, and that taking risks is essential to making serious social change. Pete courageously took the risks and paid the price. He remained a moral compass for this society through fiercely challenging times, with his music, his songs, and with enthusiastic perseverance.

He transformed his sword and shield into a banjo, and with it and his music, brought us as close to freedom as we may ever come.

“We’ll walk hand in hand,  Black and white together,  We shall live in peace,  We are not afraid,  We shall overcome, someday,  We shall overcome, someday.”

Now Pete can do what he never did much of in his lifetime. Put aside the banjo and rest with Toshi, down by the riverside.

 


President Barrack Obama:

Once called “America’s tuning fork,” Pete Seeger believed deeply in the power of song.  But more importantly, he believed in the power of community – to stand up for what’s right, speak out against what’s wrong, and move this country closer to the America he knew we could be.  Over the years, Pete used his voice – and his hammer – to strike blows for worker’s rights and civil rights; world  peace and environmental conservation.  And he always invited us to sing along.  For reminding us where we come from and showing us where we need to go, we will always be grateful to Pete Seeger.  Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to Pete’s family and all those who loved him.

 


Senator Kirsten Gillibrand:

One of #NY’s greats–and one of America’s musical icons, Pete Seeger, has died. He will truly be missed, but his music will live on.

 


Arlo Guthrie:

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.”

 


Buffy Saint Marie:

Pete Seeger is on his journey to the Spirit world, and I’m all good tears, thinking about how much this songwriter musician has done for the world of people he reached. Justice and humanitarian issues, kindness, effectiveness and humility, all wrapped around a banjo. He was a real angel on earth.

 


Santiago Vilanova, President of One Earth:

Nuestras asociaciones ecologistas Una Sola Terra (Only One Earth) y Els Verds-Alternativa Verda manifiestan a todo el equipo de Clearwater nuestro sentimiento de solidaridad y afecto ante el tránsito a una nueva vida del gran artista Pete Seeger. Recordamos con cariño las actuaciones que hizo Pete en Catalunya. Una abrazo fraternal.

(Our environmental associations One Earth (Only One Earth) and Els-Alternativa Verda EBRDs manifest to the whole team of Clearwater our sense of solidarity and affection before the transition to a new life of the great artist Pete Seeger. We remember fondly the performances that made Pete in Catalunya. A fraternal embrace.)

 


David Amram:

It is not often that many 83 year olds like myself have the chance to have someone older than themselves to look up to and to spend time with , as well to as collaborate with musically. Now I won’t have a chance to play with Pete Seeger any more but i will still continue to look up to him every day of my life..

I first heard Pete 65 years ago when my mother took me to a Henry Wallace rally in 1948 when I was about to turn 18.

All the hundreds of times I have played with him over the years since then have always been a joy as well as an honor,

Ever since he chose his path, he has stayed on it and walked the walk he talked and inspired generations to raise our voices in song, to always think of others, to respect ourselves and all who cross our paths and to share whatever blessings we have with others.

He shared his incredible gifts as an artist with anybody and everybody and set an example to all musicians of what our job is all about…to make a contribution while we are here, to honor young people and to show love and exercise responsibility to our blessed planet earth.

I was fortunate enough to be able to say goodbye to him during the last two hours of his life. As Guy Davis, Pat Humphries and I played some music for him and his family in his hospital room, we could feel his spirit fill our hearts with that endless energy he shared with the world for 94 years.

Now he is gone. We all have to honor his memory, his music and his ideals of bringing the world together the way he brought people together with the power of song.

We must all think of his beautiful family and send them a prayer and offer love in anyway that we can.

His voice will remain in the hearts of the millions who have heard him.

 It was a blessing to know him.

 


Guy Davis:

Life moves onward – thinking of my dear old friend Pete Seeger. He meant so much to me, I miss him already. But while his 94 year old body has failed him, it’s up to us to carry his spirit now.

 


Tom Chapin:

Thanks Pete… for a lifetime spent making and sharing music, being a citizen of America & the world, acting locally and thinking globally, teaching us how to sing together, work together, dream together of a better, sustainable planet.

I feel blessed to have had so many chances to connect with Pete – a hero of mine since childhood – and always, it seems, for a good cause.

The last time was in November, 2013, at the Towne Crier Café in Beacon, NY, to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the creation of the Weavers.

As my friend Scott Ainslie posted: “Mandela & Seeger.  My oh my. Heaven is in for it.”

 


Travis Jeffrey, former Clearwater captain and Seeger family friend:

Alas! The time has come for our old lover Thick-gloved hands  swinging the double bit axe with precision each blow lending  to the inevitable Countless steps marched the daring song the tattered friends the gentle souls the mighty vision Weary from time perhaps not from the struggle not from the fear Swinging the trusty banjo surrounding hate the untrained voices cry as one- “surrender!” And hate falls Suddenly I start I think I hear him playing “Coal Creek March” one more time But no The time has come for our old lover

This entry was posted in Latest News. Bookmark the permalink.