Monday, January 19, 2009

Have "We" come full circle . . .

(Note: This evening, I have edited this blog, making more clear in my mind a few of the comments I made.)

I have often shared, private and publically, that I am very fond of, and admire, Peter Seeger.

Some will disagree with me . . . and have . . . and their arguments have merit perhaps, that some things in his past are not to be admired or emulated.

There are things in my past I do not want anyone to admire or emulate either.

My admiration for Pete is mostly centered in regards to his music.  I was about 19 when I first became of aware of the sings Pete had written, and those he was performing.  How Pete leads singing . . . so greatly influenced how I do it where and when I am privileged to sing.

Pete is in his 90's now, and his voice is failing somewhat. He still performs when he is able, with his grandson, Tao Rodriquez, at this side.

Yesterday, during pre-inauguration concerts held in Washington DC . . . Pete and Tao joined with Bruce Springsteen, and sang Woodie Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land!" Their version included a particular verse that is not often sung, or found in children's song books . . . about people standing outside a relief station . . .

I began to consider, as Eric Folkerth shared in his blog today . . . if Pete was wondering if how the song was sung yesterday in Washington DC, was the way Woodie intended for it to be sung. People of different ethnic origins and skin color . . . . singing about unitey, about working together for a common goal . . . hope for all!

Granted, they may also have been very happy about the election victories of the political candidates they supported . . . one cannot rule that possibility out.

Yet, I wonder about things coming full circle.  I remember as a young man of 18, watching a program where Pete lead the singing of "This Land is Your Land."  Yesterday, in his 90's, he sang it again.

In the 70's we were embroiled in Viet Nam and the civil rights movement was still a key issue in front of all Americans.    This week, in 2009, many in our country say that we are uniting more than ever, as we prepare to face the toughest period for our country in some years.

And in all the years between now and then . . . people have been singing, "This Land is Your Land."

I perhaps am a bit sentimental . . . too emotionally driven . . . in my way of thinking, hope is a central tenant of my faith, of my being . . . hope is what motivates me to face the future, instead of fleeing from it in terror of the unknown.   

Without hope . . . (in my opinion) the world becomes a dark and vile place, a place of chaos and darkness.   Hope is hearing "Let there be Light!" or even "Tomorrow is a new day!"  or even . . . "Yes, We Can!"

As we prepare for tomorrows inauguration of Barak Obama as President of the United States, I find myself praying for a man I did not vote for . . . but who tomorrow will be my President. I pray for him, his family, for he faces a most diffucult task ahead. I pray for him to have wisdom, and the ability to continually cast his vision of hope, or a people, and for a nation.

Listen . . . and sing along if you like.

By the way, this is (in my humble opinion) the greatest folk song ever written.


Eric Follkerth said...

Right there with you, Rick.

I'm still dying to hear an interview with Pete about what he thinks of all this. One of the other parts of his activism was in sewing seeds in the Civil Rights seeds.

Pete is one of the major influences behind the song "We Shall Overcome." If not for him, many in the movement concede, it might have never become the Civil Rights anthem that it did.

So, it's not just the anti-war songs, but also the poverty and Civil Rights songs that he sang for so long....would love to know what's happening inside his brain tonight!

Rick said...

I am impressed that he "ran" off the stage.

I am 51, and I can't run at all without great pain.


I did not know about the "We Shall Overcome" story.

I appreciate you Eric.

Dale Schultz said...

It's one of those songs that I don't remember not knowing. I'm not sure why it echoes through me as it does. In these years of life, I hear and sing it more with a sense of 'ownership' than I used to, hopeful in the potential of our shared citizenship that transcends political party lines as well as the blueness or redness of our respective states.

Rick said...

Dale, that is a great comment. I to, cannot remember not knowing "This Land Is Your Land."