Mark Ross Remembers Pete Seeger

Pete was a giant. He taught us to sing, play the 5 string banjo, and
12 string guitar, started a movement that cleaned up the Hudson River,
stood up to the witch hunters in Congress, wrote songs that will live
forever, marched with Dr. King, popularized the song WE SHALL
OVERCOME, sang for peace, built his own log cabin, nurtured songsters
and pickers, was blacklisted, damned, picketed by the John Birch
Society, cut his firewood until shortly before he died at the age of
94, was married to a marvelous woman for close to 70 years, rode the
freights with Woody Guthrie, sang on picket lines, just about invented
the profession of modern day folksinger, the list could go on forever.
He was rightly called "America's tuning fork", and he could get all
of us singing together at the drop of a flatpick.  His actions and his
words matched up a thousand percent.

I only spent any time with him on a handful of occasions, Resurrection
City in 1968, when the sloop the Clearwater would come sailing to New
York City. and the last time I saw him was when Utah Phillips invited
me to the Joe Hill Memorial in Salt Lake City in 1990. Pete, Earl
Robinson, Utah, Faith Petric, and Joe Glazer were there. They were
putting everybody up in the Hotel Perry which Utah remembered as a
Skid Road flophouse that he used to haul drunks out of when he was
working with Ammon Hennacy at Joe Hill House. In the ensuing years it
had been gentrified and turned into a posh upscale hostelry. At the
close of the weekend the Committee who had staged this memorial
invited us all down to dinner in the fancy restaurant off the lobby.
We walked in without a reservation of course, and asked for a table
for 18 (could have been more, I don't recall exactly). The staff
immediately starting putting tables together and setting them for this
unexpected influx. There was a large space cleared in the center where
they placed the chairs out of the way while they rearranged everything.
Pete immediately lined up the chairs and started to whistle POP GOES
THE WEASEL leading our dinner party around in a game of musical
chairs, Pete skipping with his hands behind his back.

I have been listening to him since I was 7 years old, and I will be
listening till the day I die.
We will never see his like again.

Folksinger Mark Ross was a 2012 TAAP awardee. He resides in Eugene, OR.

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