We woke up this morning to the news that Pete Seeger had died.
My (Robert’s) first memory of Pete was seeing him and the rest of the Weavers at Carnegie Hall just before Christmas in 1955. I was eight years old. My parents, Abel and Anne Meeropol, who knew the Seegers, took me to visit them at their home in the Hudson River Valley of New York the following year.
I remember that visit. Pete had a way of engaging children. He asked me to get his long neck banjo out of its case in the bedroom and bring it to him. I proudly held it against my chest with its long neck projecting above my head as I marched back to the living room. That’s why I banged the top of it on the door jam. I was mortified, but he didn’t seem to mind. I found out only last year, when talking with one of his grandchildren at Toshi’s memorial, that Pete hadn’t built the doorway high enough, and my accident merely provided further proof.
Not surprisingly, I (Jenn) grew up listening to and singing Pete Seeger's songs. My favorite early Pete memory is meeting him for the first time with my younger sister when she was about 3 or 4. She took one look at him and whispered “garbage, garbage, garbage” (part of the chorus of her favorite Pete song) before hiding behind our mom. He smiled at her and sang the rest of the chorus.
Pete was the headliner at the kick-off benefit concert for the Rosenberg Fund for Children in 1990, and in 1997 performed in another RFC benefit. He and his wife Toshi were original members of our Advisory Board.
We could count on Pete to come to our aid. He joined us again in 2001, when he and his grandson Tao helped us celebrate the RFC’s 10th anniversary. When, in 2003, pneumonia prevented him from joining the RFC’s 50th anniversary commemoration of Ethel and Julius’ executions, he sent a heartfelt, but unnecessary, apology. We knew the only reason he didn’t make it was because it was physically impossible.
Pete was always there for us, our family and our projects. And perhaps the most remarkable thing about him is that this was no exception. For the last 75 years he was there for almost every progressive undertaking you could imagine. There simply was no one else like him.
Robert and Jenn Meeropol
Thank you so much for post, Jenn and Robby. Pete's voice is the soundtrack of our lives; his tireless work for peace and justice inspired us; his spirit guides us still.
I remember being taken by my father to a sunny field in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, to hear Pete sing. My father explained that because of his views supporting the working class, it was difficult for Pete's followers to be able to hear him. The day has stayed with me for my entire life and I am over 70. Pete never strayed from working for peace, justice, and equality. What an American hero. Thank you, Pete, for being there for us.
Thank you also to Robert Meeropol for your personal recollections of Pete Seeger. My earliest political act was to accompany my mother door to door around my New York neighborhood with a petition protesting the refusal by New York school boards to allow Pete Seeger to perform. (We were unable to overturn that ban.)
Later as a high-schooler I was fortunate enough to attend early Clearwater concerts, with Pete and Arlo Guthrie, Roberta Flack, Don MacLean and others, at South Street Seaport and Rosyln Harbor.
He inspired so many people with his music and his spirit of resistance. I was sorry to hear that he attended and performed at the inauguration of the present chief union-hater and warmaker. But he forthrightly opposed the brutalities of the U.S. government for many years and for that he should be remembered.
There will never be another Pete Seeger. He was a special person and his banjo playing, singing and engaging the audience was inspiring. We will all miss him. We are thankful for having him in our lives.
What a perfect song for today! Thank you so much for posting it.
With grandchildren too young to have been to a Pete Seeger concert, I listened to Abiyoyo today and remembered the concert when the children were invited to sit on the stage with Pete. One little boy, now a middle aged activist, grabbed Pete around
the leg and wouldn't let go. He was already on the right track.
He was one of a kind -- the "real deal" -- and there won't be another one like him for a long, long time. Maybe ever. I met him a few times and went to more of his concerts than I can count. He always made me know that no matter how bad things got, he'd be there. Alas. He will be missed -- by me and by millions (billions? trillions?) of others. RIP, Pete Seeger
And thank you, Pete, for years and years of listening pleasure. (I actually said these very words to him one day years and years ago, when I was in Grand Central Station. I looked across and there was this beanpole of a man carrying a banjo. So, I went up to him and said these very words. He turned beet red and thanked me! I loved him so; still do, and always will.)
Thanks so much for sharing your memories Robert and Jenn,
They are comforting to read today as I, like so many, feel this terrible sadness and loss with Pete Seeger's passing. For me, too, Pete's music was a big part of my growing up experience. I think I saw him perform more often on the slopes of the Washington Monument or the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at anti-war or civil rights protests than I did on the concert stage. He was my hero, my role model. Through my tears today, I listened to and smiled at his great music and feel so grateful that we have him as our true national treasure (the kind of treasure we can feel really good about).
Thanks so much for your work!
And now I'm in tears again. Pete was one of the pillars of my life, for all that he did and was and his inclusive music. This morning on WNYC I heard a piece of an interview between Pete & Brian Lehrer from a few years back. Pete mentioned that the closest expression he had as his life's motto was (& I paraphrase): Love globally, work locally. Pete, you will always be in my heart, but I shall miss you deeply.
Lucinda Smith Hughey-Wiley
love has no beginning-no end- it's a circle we come from and go to. the song never dies just the singer-someday we'll all be back within that circle of truth/love.Like buffalo springfield says- "Paranoia runs deep-" So many great musicians like the weavers , innocent folks like- the rosenburgs-+actors etc. attacked, killed, by the paranoia of ignorance about truthful words-obviously never reading the dictionary- ignoring facts-replaced with personal fears.A Bully is always a Coward.BUT"True Love Casts out Fear"a grey eagle
I remember meeting him when he played at the Unitarian Centre in Minneapolis, near where my friend (family friend) Meridel LeSeur lived and not far from our house. He came over after the concert and it was a special memory for me to have him there, in my (parents) living room, sitting on our couch and talking to all of us, including me. I want to say that he also was frequently mentioned at meetings of the Rosenberg committee which usually met at our house and the 'mailing room' for it was our dining room table for much of my childhood.
Thank you, Jenn and Rob, for your posting, the memories, the music, all interwoven so movingly. Peter will never be far away, for he'll always live in Lenny and my hearts.
You may appreciate our son, Zak's, Facebook messages, that appeared yesterday morning.
We were so privileged to share this time on Earth with Pete Seeger. His spirit lives as long as men and women remain true to their humanity. Bravo for such a courageously led life.
Ed and Rina Weingold
Thank you for this opportunity to feel connected to some many people who loved Pete as much as i did. He was a light in this world that was like a bedrock for all of us who will carry on after him. His personal generosity, and his political and ethical integrity is inspiring. I loved his songs. I loved his ability and dedication to drawing us all into the songs. I loved his commitment to our planet and his love of all people and especially his continued belief that we could learn to love and respect one another. I will miss his presence on this earth terribly.
I saw Pete at a benefit concert at the Beacon Theater back in the '70's. I was already a pretty jaded New Yorker by then. I'd seen many performers, having previously worked for a record company, a talent agency and Lincoln Center.
However, I had never seen a presence like him. I was going to sit politely and listen. That wouldn't do for Mr. Seeger. He always got audience members to sing along. Resistance was futile. Sure enough, I was soon with the choir. I'll never forget the experience.
Mr. Seeger had those rare traits of fortitude, courage of his convictions and personal integrity that were tested sorely by Sen. McCarthy and the HUAC.
He taught us all something about standing up for what is right, not what's convenient or expedient. Thank you, Pete.
From the time I was 5 or 6 I listened to his recordings and sang his songs to the best of my ability. Thanks to him, I learned songs in at least a dozen languages. My voice was never good enough to put me on stage, but it did bring pleasure to my children and a love of folk music to them as well.
Pete, for all you did for all the world, you will always be remembered.
With much love,
There will never be another giant of a man. Pete was one of a kind. The world
is saddened by his death. He was always there.
I met Pete up in Goldens Bridge where he gave a concewrt. That was in the early 50's. He has always been the voice and song that warmed my heart. He should have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prtize. Let's push for it again.
The comments of the Esther above say most of what I would say.
I missed the blog its first time around, so this post is so late. Pete was one of my heroes from my seventh and/or eighth year when he performed at Camp Woodland (New York State). From my teens on, I attended at many of the Hootenanies as I could and all the Weavers concerts I could. There was no one like Pete Seeger. His memory will go on.