Some time ago, a Tinker dad moved to Cold Spring, NY and told me that Pete Seeger lived there. He worked with the community and somehow acquired the actual phone number of Pete Seeger. He passed it on to me, and said I should invite him to join in our Great Green Playdate, “he’s into the whole fighting fracking thing,” he encouraged. “Call him!”
But I didn’t call.
I was too shy. Who am I to call up Pete Seeger? I am sure that activists and teachers call him all the time, and he’s 90-something, and he’s not going to be available. He’s doing Farm Aid and The Colbert Report.
So I didn’t call.
I would have gushed- like I did when I met Peter Yarrow, tell him how “If I Had a Hammer,” is an anthem for my life since I was tiny, how I sung it with my stepson at my baby’s dedication, how I sing it all the time at my daycare. How ‘Birds, Beast, Bugs and Fishes,” was so helpful to me in my early teaching. I probably would have teared up. I would say all the things that I am SURE he’s heard a million times.
I would tell him how I love the quote on his banjo: “This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender,” and how he was one of my first teachers in the fight for peace, before I knew that I was a fighter for peace. I would want to tell him about how cute it is when my little students sing “We Shall Overcome,” and “This Land is Your Land.” I would have gone on and on about how much my dad loved “Turn, Turn, Turn,” and that “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” and that these songs reminded a too-young to know little girl about the sadnesses of war, loss, and to learn, learn, learn that is not too late for peace. It’s never too late.
But it is too late now to meet my hero. At least in person.
I wish I called. Even if it was to say “Thank you for writing and singing and playing such an amazing instrument.” “Thank you for using celebrity to bring attention to fracking,” and “thank you for teaching me about music as more than something to sing to pass the time, but as a history lesson, a humanities lesson, a civics lesson, and a peace lesson. Your songs help us to be brave, focused and calm.”
Spring is coming and I am planning the next Great Green Playdate, and this hero will be there- in spirit…and I think he knows how much he meant to me.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mr. Seeger. Rest in peace.