8 thoughts on “Pete Seeger Dies: Where Have All the Folk Legends Gone? – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. Beautiful article Richard. Pete Seeger was indeed a great man and musician and your article was a fine tribute. Thank you.

    Tarak Kauff
    Board of Directors
    Veterans For Peace

    “You can build walls all the way to the sky and I will find a way to fly above them. You can try to pin me down with a hundred thousand arms, but I will find a way to resist.” – Lauren Oliver

  2. Todah rabbah, thanks for this tribute to a prophetic giant of peace on the scale of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.

  3. I grew up with the Weavers “Live at Carnegie Hall” album impressed on my musical mind. Certainly, this music (the 1950’s) was an immediate presaged Dylan and that New York scene, circa 1962-63, Bob Gibson, Bob Camp. Fred Neil etc. Pete was the only long neck banjo player I ever heard — but it’s the tunes he did that made it special, and the attitude he adopted. Listen to him in front of HUAC.

    I don’t think authentic originators would mind being stuck in obscurity it they had some bucks for their efforts. Unfortunately, that often is the not the case, as many were (at least in blues and rock) exploited by record companies and managers.

    Thanks Richard.

  4. Seeger was a great champion of progressive causes, but a knave as far as history.

    Consider this exchange, shortly after the 1967 War.

    ““… Now, in many ways I agree with them that after 2000 years of never being allowed to be a first class citizen, anywhere! Not in Spain, not in France, not in Germany, not in Russia, not in Poland, not in England … not in America! The , Jews had a right to wanna find one little spot on this Earth where they could be first class citizens …”

    A bit more sympathy to the Jews. Then:

    “At the same time, not to realize that there were one million people there, I think was very foolish. Why didn’t they insist that every new settler learn the Arab language? Why didn’t they?

    First off, by1967, millions of refugee Mizrahi Jews were residents of Israel and did speak Arabic.
    For all their efforts to assimilate within their host country’s Arab culture, Mizrahi Jews still were treated like second class citizens by the Arabs. Can I say the ‘D’ word?

    Why didn’t the early Zionists learn the Arab language? Some did, but most chose to learn Hebrew, the universal language of the Jews. That choice was an early exercize in self determination.

    Why didn’t they learn the langugae

    1. @ Shoshana: You don’t even have the right to shine Pete’s shoes, let alone call him a “knave.” The sheer effrontery of it!

      You know, or should know that Seeger was speaking of the Ashkenazi majority when he decried their ignorance of Arabic.

      As for Mizrahi Jews, that is OFF-TOPIC. Read the comment rules & stay on topic.

      Hebrew, the universal language of the Jews.

      Ah, take that Mendeleh (Yiddish)! Take that Rambam (Judeo-Arabic)! Take that Ibn Ezra (Ladino)! You might want to amend that ignorant statement. Hebrew isn’t the “universal language of the Jews” because there isn’t such a language. But in 1967 it had even less of a claim to be so.

  5. The Year Pete Seeger Didn’t Sing in Hebrew by J.J. Goldberg

    (The Forward) – In the spring of 1998, Pete Seeger headlined a free concert in Central Park celebrating Israel’s 50th birthday, sponsored by the Cantors’ Assembly. The event prompted a critical press release from the Zionist Organization of America, protesting the Cantors’ Assembly’s giving a platform to a harsh critic of Israel.

    The evidence for the prosecution was an ad to which Pete had added his name in 1982 or ’83, protesting Israeli actions in Lebanon. They could have come up with worse stuff if they’d known where to look (more on that later). But there was a flip side to Seeger’s record, and it was a lot longer and deeper. His 1950 recording with The Weavers of the Israeli folk tune “Tzena, Tzena” was the first and still the only Israeli song ever to hit the American pop charts, coming in at No. 2. For years afterward, he made a habit of performing and teaching at least one Israeli song at every one of his sing-along concerts. He may have done more than anyone besides Leon Uris to teach Americans to love Israel in its early years.

    I do remember my shock in the fall of 1968 …

  6. Perhaps the greatest tribute we can pay to Pete Seeger is to pass on the music he and others sang. Our history is in the music that is sung. This year being 100 years since the war to end all wars started we find songs such as “Christmas in the Trenches” or Davey Archer’s “The Green Fields of France” or “Galiopoli” showing up. So the music doesn’t die.

    Maybe our schools should teach history through music. There is a whole CD of Joe Hill songs “there is a man shot dead in
    Utah with a paper heart pinned on him” and Robeson’s “Songs of Free Men” along with Seeger, and Crazy Joe
    and all the others. And not just our singers. The protests against war and injustice are universal themes.
    Ireland has been oppressed and divided fro 650 years and has a rich tradition of protest music.

    So it is a great loss and we can honor him by playing his music and passing on not just his music but all music
    that comes out of the heart.

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