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We Give Thanks for Pete Seeger – a Man Who Participated in the Song of Love That Goes on Forever

January 28, 2014

Pete Seeger died yesterday at the age of 94. His songs, and the commitment to justice and peace to which his wonderfully long life bore witness, have touched my heart and elevated my spirit, as they have for countless multitudes. Truly Pete Seeger is a man who left the world a better place than he found it.

In a written statement today, President Obama said:
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.

The NY Times Obituary for Pete Seeger can be accessed by clicking here.


Like Nelson Mandela, who died a little less than two months earlier and one year older, Pete Seeger spoke eloquently about justice, peace, and life for all. Embedded below are some of his quotes.

“I like to say I’m more conservative than Goldwater. He just wanted to turn the clock back to when there was no income tax. I want to turn the clock back to when people lived in small villages and took care of each other.”

“I still call myself a communist, because communism is no more what Russia made of it than Christianity is what the churches make of it. But if by some freak of history communism had caught up with this country, I would have been one of the first people thrown in jail.”

“If it can’t be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled or composted, then it should be restricted, redesigned or removed from production.”

“The world would never amount to a hill of beans if people didn’t use their imaginations to think of the impossible.”

“The key to the future of the world is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known.”

“Singing with children in the schools has been the most rewarding experience of my life.”

“Once upon a time, wasn’t singing a part of everyday life as much as talking, physical exercise, and religion? Our distant ancestors, wherever they were in this world, sang while pounding grain, paddling canoes, or walking long journeys. Can we begin to make our lives once more all of a piece? Finding the right songs and singing them over and over is a way to start. And when one person taps out a beat, while another leads into the melody, or when three people discover a harmony they never knew existed, or a crowd joins in on a chorus as though to raise the ceiling a few feet higher, then they also know there is hope for the world.”


Pete Seeger was the best song leader I’ve ever heard. He loved to have the hearts of the crowds at his concerts strengthened and stirred as they participated in singing along with him. In fact, he said, “Participation. That’s what’s going to save the human race.”

Embedded below are three examples of his leading people in participating in three of his best-known songs in concert.


Embedded below are a video of “in studio” recordings of many of Pete Seeger’s songs, and the 2007 PBS Documentary, “The Power of Song.”


We give thanks for the gift of Pete Seeger’s life, and commit him into the arms of the One in whose everlasting love song all of us participate.

Rest eternal grant to Peter, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon him. Amen.


doveShortly after I put up this posting, I read an email from my Dad, who’s the one who introduced me to Pete Seeger’s music when I was a child. He shared with me as an attachment the Pete Seeger song embedded below, which as my Dad pointed out, has words that are so appropriate, and true in a number of different ways and on a number of different levels:
Little birdie, little birdie,
what makes you fly so high?
It’s because I am
a true little bird,
and I do not fear to die.

May we all fulfill our true nature to soar, free from fear, and forever sing together the song of love.

From → All Posts, Music, Quotes

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