“I’d like to be remembered as the sower of seeds. That’s the greatest parable in the Bible as far as I’m concerned. Some seeds fall in the pathway and get stomped on and don’t grow, but some fall on the ground and multiply a thousand fold. So, like most teachers, I’m just a sower of seeds.”-Pete Seeger
On Monday, 27 January 2014, America lost one of its most iconic artists and activists: Pete Seeger. Seeger, surrounded by his family and friends, passed away peacefully in New York’s Presbyterian Hospital at 94 years young. His life had truly been the stuff of legends.
Of the many artists that I’ve had the pleasure to interview and actually get to know, Pete Seeger remains special to me: gentle, modest, humanistic and a gentleman. If I could sum him up in only one word, then that is precisely the word I would choose: gentleman. Always a gentleman.
Known as America’s “Renaissance Man of Music” David Amram became a close friend and deep admirer of Pete Seeger, whose energy never ceased to amaze him. In Seeger’s final years, he and Amram became especially close; sharing the stage at numerous music festivals-such as last year’s Farm Aid-and other events across America. In their respective eighties and nineties, their dynamic energy astounded fellow performers who were less than half their ages…over and over again.
Speaking with David Amram this Tuesday morning, here is what he had to say about his friend, Pete Seeger:
It is not often that many 83 year olds like myself have the chance to have someone older than themselves to look up to and to spend time with , as well to as collaborate with musically. Now I won’t have a chance to play with Pete Seeger any more, but I will still continue to look up to him every day of my life.
I first heard Pete 65 years ago when my mother took me to a Henry Wallace rally in 1948 when I was about to turn 18.All the hundreds of times I have played with him over the years since then have always been a joy as well as an honor.
Ever since he chose his path, he has stayed on it and walked the walk he talked and inspired generations to raise our voices in song, to always think of others, to respect ourselves and all who cross our paths and to share whatever blessings we have with others.
He shared his incredible gifts as an artist with anybody and everybody and set an example to all musicians of what our job is all about…to make a contribution while we are here, to honor young people and to show love and exercise responsibility to our blessed planet earth.
I was fortunate enough to be able to say goodbye to him during the last two hours of his life. As Guy Davis, Pat Humphries and I played some music for him and his family in his hospital room, we could feel his spirit fill our hearts with that endless energy he shared with the world for 94 years.
Now he is gone. We all have to honor his memory, his music and his ideals of bringing the world together the way he brought people together with the power of song.
We must all think of his beautiful family and send them a prayer and offer love in anyway that we can. His voice will remain in the hearts of the millions who have heard him.
It was a blessing to know him.-David Amram