Remembering Pete Seeger

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By Aidin Vaziri | Pete Seeger spent most of his 94 years making music and making change. His musical legacy is exceeded only by his legacy as a tireless activist for peace and justice.

Mr. Seeger, who died Monday in New York, championed folk music as a vital part of America’s heritage – and a big part of that heritage was advocating for various causes through music.

He sang songs by Woody Guthrie (“This Land Is Your Land”), Lead Belly (“Good Night Irene”), Malvina Reynolds (“Little Boxes”), he adapted the old spiritual “We Shall Overcome” to become the anthem of the Civil Rights movement, and he eloquently captured the truth of war in the heartbreaking simplicity of his song, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone.”

Mr. Seeger’s death sent a wave of grief through the nation, but especially in the Bay Area, where his evocative songs and calls for social activism had a special resonance.

“We all got our politics from Pete Seeger,” said the singer Linda Ronstadt, whose earliest musical memories were of listening to records by Mr. Seeger’s folk revival outfit The Weavers. “He woke up my consciousness to the power of music to make people aware. People tried to discredit him. They tried to put him out of the limelight. They tried to say he was a communist. But while we would wring our hands, Pete Seeger would go out and change things. He set such a brilliant example for us at every age.”

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