Sunday, May 03, 2009

The Machine That Surrounds Hate: Pete Seeger's Banjo

"This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender."
May 3rd was Pete Seeger's 90th birthday. I met Pete at the 1989 Vancouver Folk Fest where he led a workshop in the warm summer rain. He sat down in the middle of the stage, big bright toothy smile on his face, and urged us to stay and sing our hearts out. We did.

His banjo and voice live on everywhere people are struggling to be free, as Tom Joad said:
I'll be aroun' in the dark. I'll be ever'where--wherever you look. Wherever they's a fight so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever they's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there. I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad an'--I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry an' they know supper's ready. An' when our folks eat the stuff they raise an' live in the houses they build--why, I'll be there. See?"
Here's the great Irish folksinger, Andy Irvine, singing Woody Guthrie's "The Ballad of Tom Joad:"

I've been playing guitar for almost 30 years and writing songs for almost as long...Pete & Woody taught me what it means to write songs of social justice with love and compassion.

Thanks for the tunes - Happy Birthday Pete!

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