Pete Seeger at 90...

Without a doubt, Pete Seeger has been a HUGE influence on my understanding of music and ministry. I can remember watching him on Mike Douglass back in the 60s teach middle America about work songs. I watched his PBS TV show religiously in the mid-60s and saw Donovan along with the New Lost City Ramblers, Odetta and Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee. And as a young adult in San Francisco I went to every show Pete shared - paid or free - and dragged my young daughters along with me.

When I was in seminary in NYC it became part of our Thanksgiving feasting to join Pete and Arlo at Carnegie Hall - and we loved that event so much that for 27 years I have been holding Thanksgiving Eve concerts/sing-a-longs wherever ministry has taken me - from Michigan to Arizona. Pete taught me the art of group singing - sometimes he can be a pain in the ass doing it - but he has kept the flame burning for the importance of blending different voices in pursuit of beauty and solidarity. And I am so grateful.

Somebody once said that I was a "Pentecostal Zen Buddhist" in love with Jesus - and part of that comes from Pete Seeger. Not that Pete would ever call himself a believer: God forbid! But think of his greatest tunes from "Turn, Turn, Turn" to "If I Had a Hammer" and the work he did on "We Shall Overcome." Not only is he grounded in biblical imagery, but also a real sense of kingdom living. I learned to play spirituals and the blues by first hearing Pete do them. I learned the art of leading group singing from being a full partner in the music at Pete Seeger concerts all over the country. And I found out about Leadbelly and Woody to say nothing of Buffy St. Marie, Joni Mitchell, Mississippi John Hurt and Jean Ritchie from this grand old daddy.

Last night people gathered in NYC to pay tribute to Pete... and my man, Springsteen, closed the show with a reflection and a few tunes. It is pure grace...

Comments

Black Pete said…
And don't forget his wonderful, haunting setting of Full Fathom Five, the short poetic speech from Shakespeare's The Tempest. A true Renaissance Man.
RJ said…
Oooh yes, a GREAT one. Thanks.

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