Pete Seeger [1919–2014] is probably the greatest influence on my musical development as a folksinger. Collins has taught me how to sing but Seeger has taught me how to be [if that makes sense].
He was the first folksinger I ever heard — I was 5 — seems a long time ago now. I came home from school and asked my Dad if he knew “To Everything” [“Turn Turn Turn”]. He took out an LP of Seeger’s 1963 album, “The Bitter and the Sweet”. I was in love immediately. The record had Abiyoyo on it as well. I loved Seeger’s animation, his way with kids, the way he includes everybody in his concerts.
I try to emulate him. “If I can make you laugh that’s great,” I tell my audiences, “But if I can make you sing…that’s even better!”
The dream so many people talk about, the woodstock dream is here, an aspiration still. On a1985 collaboration between Ronnie Gilbert, Holly Near, Arlo Guthrie and Pete,“HARP: A Time to Sing” Arlo Guthrie says that the dream is doing stuff in your own hometown. “That’s where the dream is!” And I believe that. And that is what Pete stood for. He made that dream become reality as best he could with his environmentalism and other activism.
And so it must be, it’s up to us young folks now. We will only have the luminaries for so long — their time is finite. And here at the bottom of the world I shall try to learn as much as I can and you can too wherever you are.
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