For many modern musicians, folk hero Pete Seeger, who died this week of natural causes at age 94, was a musical and cultural inspiration – his songs and devotion to his beliefs became the modern blueprint for socially conscious artists. One of his devotees, Dave Matthews, recalls how the icon inspired him in a touching statement:
A Pete Seeger concert was the first concert I ever saw. My parents took my brother, my sisters and me. I will never forget it. I was little. Dancing in a field in upstate New York while the grown-ups sat on the grass. My parents and family raised me on music of all sorts and Pete Seeger was a big part.
I met Pete Seeger more than 30 years after I first saw him play and having listened to his music over those years it was somewhat awe inspiring. We had lunch. He was so funny and charming, humble and brilliant, all at once. Full of hope but disappointed in our wasteful ways.
He was almost 90 when we met and after lunch he slid down the bannister because stairs were hard on his knees. He slowed himself gracefully at the bottom and hopped lightly off his perch. His wife, Toshi complained about his recklessness through her laughter.
He made me want to be a better person. Why don’t we lend our ears to the greatest among us. Pete Seeger fought for the working people and he fought against greed, and corruption, and war, and pollution, until the end of his life. Even though he was frail he came and performed at FarmAid just a few months ago.
Thank goodness for Pete Seeger.