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This Machine Surrounds Hate

February 2, 2014

The just man walketh in his integrity; his children are blessed after him.
– Proverbs 20:7

Pete Seeger passed away last week at the age of 94.  Many went to the Internet to talk about it.  There were excellent biographies and even those who never paid attention to Seeger before had the chance to learn about him.  Perhaps more importantly however, the stories brought to light many of America’s issues, past and present. Seeger cared about and dedicated his life to many of our problems and injustices – war and peace, the environment, poverty, agriculture, energy, misguided and crooked politicians, and the media, to name a few.

photo 2

My first Pete Seeger LP, a 1973 release full of issues to capture a young person’s imagination.

I came across Pete Seeger as a teenager.  I don’t remember how – perhaps from something I read or heard on FM radio.  It was likely his connection to Bob Dylan.  Seeger was a prominent member of the old guard folk music circle when Dylan started playing in New York coffee houses and was an early supporter of the upstart (who didn’t stick around Greenwich Village for long).  Seeger’s music was in a semi-regular rotation into my early twenties.  The issues he sang about – a failed policy in Southeast Asia, the risks of nuclear power, the environment, and such – found the sensibilities of a young person and he gave a point of view that many of us were open to receive.

photo 1

Here are the Pete Seeger LPs I listened to back then.

Over the years, I read about Seeger’s involvement and marveled at the enthusiasm and energy he had to make a better world.   I remember that when I first learned about him, that his father, Charles Seeger, who lived for 93 years, could stand on his head well into his eighties.  Seeger seemed to have the same good genes and health his whole life (he chopped wood as late as three weeks ago) and stay involved with the matters that concerned him.

I haven’t listened to much of his music for decades and paid even less attention to the details of his politics.  I listened to Bruce Springsteen’s tribute, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions a few times before I lost the CD.  Now and again, I’d also hear his songs here and there.  But that’s about it.  Pete Seeger was a good man who believed deeply in democracy and worked hard to bring equity and good things to many, not just those in power.  He cared deeply about America and its future and I am glad that I listened when I did.


“This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender.” – Pete Seeger


From → America, Music

  1. I’ve very much enjoyed reading all of the wonderful columns / newscasts / remembrances about Pete, and have seen that photo a few times. What an incredible guy … one who never wavered in his beliefs and passions,


    • Hi Laurie – he seems to have been an engaged and inspiring person and certainly caught my attention when I started listening to music. The Hudson River owes him a lot.


  2. It was hard not to be touched by Seeger in the 60s and 70s if you became involved in the Civil Rights movement and the anti war movement. “We shall overcome” continues to ring true. Thanks for your blog Bruce. –Curt


    • Hi Curt – Seeger seems to have been very passionate about making things better. I enjoyed reading many of the stories that were told last week. Perhaps my favorite is about the time he played on the Today Show. They didn’t care for his choice of “topical” songs and never invited him back.


  3. We love your essays/posts, Bruce, and especially love how you use them to capture the essence of incredible human beings. Thank you, xo LMA, ps How excellent that you kept your albums, and in such great shape. thank you, again,


    • Thank you for your kind words, LMA. I went through a phase of getting rid of record albums in the early 1980s with the idea that they had become too bulky and heavy to lug around apartment to apartment and such. In order to convince myself I was serious about it, I included some really good albums with the program that I now wished I had. What a silly idea that was. Oh well.


  4. If you love your Uncle Sam…


  5. So glad I got a chance to read this, Bruce. Thank you ever so for sending me the link (!)

    Liked by 1 person

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