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It's not often a legend reaches the end of his days on earth.  I knew Pete Seeger was elderly already when I first became aware of him and the effects he had on the Union, Folk Music and Political landscapes in America.  When I got to meet him (sort of) at a Hudson River Revival Festival around 1971 or so, I had no trouble realizing he was the real deal.  After playing the final set of music for the day he admonished us all to leave this beautiful place as clean as when we had arrived there (in Tarrytown?).  To make his point clear, he picked up a garbage bag and was soon wandering among the concert goers picking up cans and paper and bottles and cigarette butts.  I was elbow to elbow with a legend and when I saw him up close and thanked him for being such an inspiration I could already see the wisdom of ages in his cracked face and gaunt  frame.  He didn't smile or play humble foole but simply reached down and scooped up some more junk and made sure I too had a bag to fill.  Arlo signed my camera case (Kodak Instamatic) and Bromberg brought the hottest licks I'd ever heard, but Pete was Mr Inspiration.  

When I went home that night I wrote a tribute song to Pete who, it appeared to my 21 year old myopic eyes had to be nearing the last round-up.  He looked to be 100 years old already.  I guess he was 54, about 9 years younger than I am now.  You didn't evaluate Pete based on his hair or bank account or record sales.  He sang of being waist deep in the big muddy to LBJ and that if you loved your Uncle Sugar (sorry couldn't help but use that currently abused reference) you'd want to bring 'em home.  And he got to sing at the inauguration of the first black President and to the  Farm Aiders (above) about Fracking at an age when his living peers are mostly bed-bound, in wheelchairs or demented.  I'm a bit embarrassed that I wrote his eulogy 43  years too early and that I will now have to dig through my ancient scribblings to see if a yellow sheet of paper with my none-too-prescient ramblings on it still even survives.  Pete's banjo like Woody's guitar fought fascists and entertained every continent.  This land was made to be frack-free.

Originally posted to pholkiephred on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 03:10 PM PST.

Also republished by Protest Music.

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