Folk singer and social activist Pete Seeger died Monday night in New York City hospital at age 94, according to various media outlets.
We’ll let the Los Angeles Times and other newspapers report about Seeger’s impact on music and America in general, his triumphs and his controversies. One should remember that in addition to writing the songs “Turn! Turn! Turn!,” “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” and “We Shall Overcome,” he became a one-man preservation group of American songs.
As detailed in the excellent but brief 2010 book “The Protest Singer,” Seeger went to hobo camps, music festivals and union rallies all over the country, heard an unfamiliar song and promptly would ask its performer to teach the song to him. He did this for decades and finally would commit those tunes to vinyl when he got a recording contract. He probably did as much honest work in preserving American music as Alan Lomax did (in fact, he assisted Lomax in such endeavors). For that alone, Seeger deserves gratitude.
Also, Seeger co-wrote “66 Highway Blues” with another titan of folk music, Woody Guthrie. You can listen to a latter-day version of the tune with Woody’s son, Arlo Guthrie, on Spotify. You can download the tune for 99 cents here.
(Image of Pete Seeger at the 2009 Newport Folk Festival by DoKwan via Flickr)