In death as in life, Pete Seeger brought Americans together, then divided them into warring ideological camps. To oversimplify, one can lump the political reactions to Seeger’s death on Monday at 94 into two groups. There are those, generally on the center-left, who praise Seeger heartily, accenting his stand against the House Un-American Activities Committee, while quietly—if at all—acknowledging his disturbingly durable devotion to Communism. And there are those, mostly on the right, who acknowledge Seeger’s importance and praise his less political songs while arguing, in essence, that his politics sadly tainted the rest of his career.
Both approaches offer serious problems. Seeger’s political record—as a whole, not taken selectively—is exactly the point.
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I’ve spent the last week collecting my thoughts about this but I have to spread some love for Pete Seeger. I’ve never actually been emotionally jarred by the death of a “celebrity” but the emotional attachment that I have to Pete Seeger’s music and aura is genuine. I can honestly say that his music and words have been an inspiration and changed my outlook on how music should be made and distributed. I cannot think of another artist that has influenced my tastes and thoughts about music. The time in my life that I was first listening to his music was one when I was most vulnerable to new ideas so it has a special place in my heart. Big ups.
If the world is about stories, no one deserves to have their story told more than a goat who truly loved grindcore.