Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pete Seeger, Legacy, and the Thread of Memory

When I was a young boy - in my mid single digits - I met Pete Seeger on his Clearwater sloop in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The event still sticks in my mind, though not really because of meeting a famous singer/activist or anything like that.

What I remember about the event is that the sloop was late. Our family waited for hours - my parents were big Pete Seeger fans, and I certainly was, too, in that son-ly way... so we waited - but eventually we had to return home because there was no sloop in sight.

My dad, though, went back to be there when the boat arrived in the wee morning hours. It was that big a deal for him... and that's why, I'm sure, it was for me, too.

Our whole family returned to the sloop the next day, and I remember being on the boat, but that's really about it. My mom tells me there's a picture of me and Pete Seeger on the sloop somewhere at home, and I hope to find it next time I'm back there. But I remember the day even if not the specifics.

The boat moved on, of course, as did our lives. I never saw Pete Seeger in concert, though I've certainly sung his songs (and songs he popularized) my whole life. My own kids have heard his music... and sung it at school, too, I'm pleased to say. That brief meeting didn't change my life in any way. And yet...

When I read that Pete Seeger had passed away last night, the meeting on the Clearwater was the first thing I thought of. And that made me think of my dad, also gone from this world.

That memory - of a boat, of two men (one who could carry a tune and one who didn't care if he could or not but was gonna sing regardless), my whole family, the importance of song, and the power of speaking your mind - is a thread within me sewing together much more than I think I'd fully realized until today.

And I'd say that's part of Pete Seeger's legacy, too, just on a smaller scale than the front page news. 


Kurt Cyrus said...

Nicely written, Greg.

Linda B said...

My family and I had the pleasure of seeing Pete Seeger at a small venue years ago-special time & like you, I still remember! I'm glad you shared this memory!