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Our October Author Interviews--10/4 Wendy Tyson, 10/11 Marilyn Levinson, 10/18 Earl Javorski, 10/25 Linda Lovely. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.


October Saturday Guest Bloggers: 10/7 Mark Bacon, 10/14 Elaine Orr, 10/21 WWK's Margaret S. Hamilton, 10/28 Kait Carson, and E. B. Davis 10/31 to fill out our fifth Tuesday.


WWK’s Carla Damron was one of three finalist for her novel, The Stone Necklace. Go to Carladamron.com for more information. Congratulations, Carla! Look for Carla's blog this month to find out the winner.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Sight Unseen" in Fish Out of Water, Guppie (SinC) anthology, just released, and "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.
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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Remembering Pete Seeger





To every thing, Turn! Turn! Turn; there is a season, Turn! Turn! Turn!
and a time to every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap;
A time to kill, a time to heal; a time to laugh, a time to weep; (refrain)
A time to build up, a time to break down; a time to dance, a time to mourn;
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together. (refrain)
A time of love, a time of hate; a time of war, a time of peace;
A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing. (refrain)
A time to gain, a time to lose; a time to rend, a time to sew,
A time of love, a time of hate,
A time of peace, I swear it’s not too late.
For everything, Turn! Turn! Turn; there is a season, Turn! Turn! Turn!
And a time to every purpose under heaven.
*The song is based on The Book of Ecclesiastes 3-1-8

On the morning of January 28th, I turned on the radio and was saddened to hear Pete Seeger, one of my heroes had died the night before. He was 94 so I wasn’t surprised since his beloved wife Toshi had died a year ago just before the 70th anniversary of their marriage, and from experiences in my own family and reading obituaries I know often when a spouse in a longtime marriage where both are elderly dies, the other spouse will die within a year. Still, I couldn’t help feeling grief for someone I loved and admired not only because I’m a lover of folk music, but  because he stood for so much that I believe in.

Later I went online and read the various articles on him. Jon Pareles of The New York Times wrote Pete Seeger was the singer, folk-song collector and songwriter who spearheaded an American folk revival and spent a long career championing folk music as both a vital heritage and a catalyst for social change. David Browne of Rolling Stone wrote Pete Seeger was a seminal figure in American music who kept folk music alive and influenced generations of musicians from Bob Dylan to Bruce Springsteen.  I couldn’t begin to list all the singers he sang with or who recorded and sang his songs. I spent much of the afternoon listening to him sing alone and with others  in online videos, especially the ones I brought up from Peter Weber’s column “8 songs to remember Pete Seeger by” in THE WEEK. Some he wrote, some he didn’t some he revised. The eight were:  “Whose Side Are You On?” “Goodnight, Irene,” a cleaned up version of Lead Belly’s song. “If I Had a Hammer,” “We Shall Overcome,” Seeger turned the Will to Shall and taught the song to the black Civil Rights organizers in the South. “Wimoweh” was a mishearing of a South African song “Mbube” “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” a popular anti-war song during the Viet Nam War. The title of “Turn! Turn! Turn!” is actually “To Everything There Is a Season,”, but it’s always abbreviated to the 3 words he inserts in the lines from The Book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3. This song also became an anti-war protest song.  “Worried Man Blues” is a folk song passed down through oral tradition. He sang it during an ABC broadcast of a concert in Nashville in 1970 a few years after the TV networks lifted a decade-long blacklisting of Seeger during the McCarthy era. Johnny Cash joined Seeger on stage and sang the song with him.

Not only did Pete Seeger inspire numerous singers throughout his years of performing, but he championed Civil Rights for blacks, union workers and was active in the anti-war protest movement of the 60’s and 70’s. He was also a staunch environmentalist who worked to clean up the Hudson River. He’d bought 17 acres near the river and built a log cabin on his land.

 His career had him singing at labor rallies, college auditoriums, folk festivals and playing at a concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during a concert for Obama’s inauguration in 2008. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. Arlo Guthrie, who paid tribute at the ceremony, mentioned that the Weavers’ hit “Goodnight, Irene” had reached No. 1, only to add, “I can’t think of a single event in Pete’s life that is probably less important to him.” Seeger made no acceptance speech. Instead he led a sing-a-long of “Goodnight Irene,” with others.

Music was important to Pete Seeger, but just as important were the causes he championed; workers, Civil Rights, the environment and peace. In 2011 with two canes, he joined the Occupy Wall Street Movement  and told The Associated Press, “Be wary of great leaders. Hope that there are many, many small leaders.” Much of Pete Seeger’s performances helped causes he believed in and he often donated the money to the cause. I’ve been a fan of his for years so knew a lot about him, but I learned so much more about this amazing man from the articles I’ve been reading since he died. He lived a full life with dedication to what he loved, with humor, and with an unbelievable energy almost to the end. In fact, his grandson said he was chopping wood ten days before he died.

I only saw Pete Seeger live once at Cuyahoga Valley National Park at a Folk Concert. There were different acts, but I only remember Seeger’s and Joan Baez’s.  Seeger was close to 80 then, but he was so energetic and had the crowd singing with him and he even danced a jig.  Baez sang “Amazing Grace” a cappella. On that starry night her voice echoed back from the hills.


I’m going to miss this guitar playing, banjo picking troubadour who sang for causes he believed in and because he loved singing. Even more he loved singing with an audience that joined in. But I’m fortunate that I can still listen to his music on CD’s or You Tube as I have been these last few days, and I’m glad there was a Pete Seeger, who never gave up on the fight for what he believed in; peace, justice and the rights of the little guy.

What singers do you admire and why?




15 comments:

James Montgomery Jackson said...

One of my favorite albums/CDs is a live concert with Pete and Arlo.

One of Pete's many amazing abilities was to be ever optimistic that he and we could change things for the better. Singing was his way to bring people together to build strength (Many of his union songs and We Shall Overcome fit that category) and to remember what happens if the people let it (again many union songs and antiwar songs).

The environmental songs he taught from the Sloop Clearwater as it sailed up and down the Hudson River helped bring knowledge and focus to the necessity of cleaning our polluted rivers.

People may or may not have agreed with his political stands, but I am unaware of anyone who didn't acknowledge the conviction of the man to stand by his beliefs and witness them through action.

There aren't too many we can say that about.

~ Jim

Gloria Alden said...

Jim, I so agree with you about that. I don't have the CD album you have, but I'd like to get it. I've seen Arlo Guthrie in concert and so many other big names like Judy Collins and Tom Paxton, who followed Pete's philosophies, too, but maybe not quite as much.

Have you heard of John McCutcheon? I've been to many of his concerts. He's a singer, songwriter, activist for the same things Pete Seeger's always been for, and some other things like his song "Closing the Bookstore" which resonates with Warren's blog yesterday. He does a lot of sing-a-longs at his concerts like Seeger always did.

Northeast Ohio has long been known for it's support of folk music. Until last year, folk music was on WKSU every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night and classical the other nights. Then the powers that be changed it to one hour on one night and switched to almost all talk radio. I switched my station to WYSU which at least had Sunday evenings of folk music and jazz one other night and classical music the other nights. No talk radio after 8:00.

E. B. Davis said...

My sister and I were talking about how progressive Pete Seeger's thinking was during his life. We were amazed to discover that he was two years older than our father. Almost inconceivable that he was of our father's generation. I knew he was older than the baby boomers but not older than our father. How people think is not necessarily indicative of their time and orientation. He was an original and progressive thinker who possessed courage to face down those in authority who opposed him. Someone to admire and emulate. Another good soul gone.

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

I grew up singing Pete Seeger's songs and had heard him sing long before he formed the Weavers. He was shortlisted more than once for the Nobel Peace Prize, and he would have both deserved it and not cared that he got it. A friend who performed with him many times in recent years told me Pete hated compliments, even being told how much his music had meant to an admirer. I saw that up close a couple of years ago, when he performed at an event for the Archives of the Lincoln Brigade (Americans who fought in the Spanish Civil War). And one thing about him as a musician: he could make any song a sing-along, and he had an inimitable gift for reciting the words of a line for the audience and then singing the line without missing a beat of the song. Try it yourself--betcha can't do it like Pete.

Warren Bull said...

I was a fan of folk music and, of course, of Pete. He influenced more than one generation with his protest songs and his unfailing faith that things could get better.

Kaye George said...

I saw him live in Chicago a long, long time ago, on a date with a guy I broke up with. One reason I was reluctant to break up with him was the dates he took me on. I'm not proud of that, but am happy I saw him in person. I'm not sure exactly where it was, but it wasn't a large venue, as we were pretty close to the stage.

Gloria Alden said...

E.B., he was progressive. It's what got him in a lot of trouble, but thankfully he didn't back down. I think he deserves a lot of credit for the changes made in Civil Rights and other forward thinking policies.

Liz, I used to play the guitar, too, and sang a lot of his songs. Unlike you, though, I never sang for anyone but myself and my kids, who were never impressed. Can't say that I blame him. I had more enthusiasm than skill.

Warren, nice to hear from another fan. I'm an eclectic music lover, but folk music is still my favorite. I still go to a lot of folk concerts.

Kaye, when I go to folk concerts, I always want to sit as close as possible to the stage. One of the things I love about folk musicians is their willingness to mingle with everyone during breaks and after the concert.

Marilyn Levinson said...

I grew up listening to Pete Seeger's music and messages. He was a part of the country's history. I'd seen the PBS American Masters' documentary they'd made of his life. Watched part of it again last night.

Michele Drier said...

Loved Pete Seeger and all the folk and blues singers. But to hear Joan Baez sing Amazing Grace in the quiet of the night...that would be a slice of heaven!

KM said...

I think we were all influenced by Pete Seeger and his dedication to his principles and his music. He made a major contribution to ourpopular culture.

Gloria Alden said...

Marilyn, I didn't see that special. I'll have to watch it. I know I would really enjoy it.

Michele, it's nice to hear from so many who loved him, It was a bit of Heaven to hear Joan Baez that night.

Nancy Adams said...

I, too, grew up hearing Pete Seeger and love both his music and the causes he espoused. I didn't know about his buying up land along the Hudson River to help clean it up: what a wonderful, practical idea!

E.B., you made me realize how exceptional he was for his time. Until you mentioned it, I didn't really think about how close to my parents' generation he was. That makes him even more amazing.

Thanks, Gloria, for this tribute to such a special human being.

Gloria Alden said...

I'm glad you stopped by, Nancy. He was a special human being in more ways than one.

jan godown annino said...

This essay makes me want to sing the songs Pete Seeger wrote & those he popularized. It's a beautiful tribute.

Shortly after his death I watched a YouTube video snippet posted by author George Ella Lyon, who wrote the book for children WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON? about the creation of that labor song. In that clip, PS says (said) we should all get back to singing, the way people once did much more often. The way children do, naturally.

For names of some Florida singers,
my friend, Velma Frye
Abraham, Martin & John creator, Dion DiMucci (lives in FL today)
acttivist Dale Crider

A lovely post/interesting comments.


Lovely, lovely post here.

Gloria Alden said...

Thank you, Jan, for stopping by and leaving a comment. He's right, we should do more singing. That's why I love going to folk concerts - they almost always include some singing along, although never as much as Pete Seeger did.