Friday, July 3, 2009

For Your Consideration

As we approach tomorrow's July 4th holiday in the United States, I would like to take a moment to write about a man who I think, among the living, most embodies the American ideal: Pete Seeger.

When Pete Seeger passes, I think one of his enduring legacies will be his insistence that we all sing along with him. A tireless environmentalist, civil rights advocate, supporter of peace and first amendment rights, he and his indelibly American banjo will be most remembered singing songs along with his audience - sometimes to the point where you got tired of his effort, but therein lies the core of the man. Playing the standard "This Land is Your Land," written by his personal friend Woody Guthrie (Seeger's 90, after all), Pete Seeger becomes every American - a creature obsessed with wants and infatuated with the promises that America holds. What's rare about him, perhaps unique among prominent public figures (particularly musicians), is that whereas many Americans in his situation want these things for themselves or their progeny, Seeger wants them for you. That's why he wants you to sing along. In Pete Seeger's world, you're the star of the show.

How fantastic is that? While we fret over the United States of America's slow morph from democratic republic to capitalist oligarchy, Seeger frets on the banjo and helps turn the latter into something for the former. And before you say it, I KNOW, I KNOW, it's much easier in music than it is in practical, everyday life, but if art is a representation for our ideals, well, then, it gives me hope.

Happy 4th of July.

All for now.

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