Saturday, February 1, 2014

Pete Seeger Died Did He.

My heart is breaking. Pete Seeger died this week.

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night

Alive as you or me.
Says I, "But Joe, you're ten years dead."
"I never died," says he,
"I never died," says he

I never realized until he was gone how much he was woven
into the fabric of my life and this countries.
Pete Seeger was America's musical heart and it has stopped beating.
His music was there for the struggles of the unions and civil rights.
His "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy" was hurled at
America's warmongering old white men that sent young men 
to die in the swamps of Vietnam. These are the same old men
that beat their chests in patriotic fury from the 
safety of their marble chambers,
but who would shrivel up in cowardly horror 
if dumped into those very same swamps.

First Pete Seeger was an artist, a lyrical singer, songwriter and master banjo player.

His music moved people, it was the weft and the woof of America's life in my lifetime.
No other American artist, visual or otherwise has achieved that. Norman Rockwell for the most part reassured us but Pete Seeger appealed to our better selves.

Few visual artists have had this transformative and universal quality- certainly no contemporary ones.

Only ( in my opinion) did Goya Los Caprichos,
 K├Ąthe Kollwitz's searing depictions of the  tragedy of war 
and Picasso's Geurnica 
achieved this without sentimentality and bathos.

Our artists don't have this power. They have become self centered promotion machines like Cindy Sherman who only celebrates herself. Kara Walker, Jeff Koons, and the painted pornography of John Currin are the same writ large. They do not have ability to connect with either beauty or the heartfelt quality of honest rage- they only produce anemic neurotic 'look at me's' for our guilt ridden capitalists who like to pay big money for visual sadomasochism. Contemporary music is even more execrable.

This is a tragedy because it is the arts that reach the finer elements of ourselves.  We need this more than ever as our country is sinking deeper and deeper into the clutches of the Koch brothers and unfettered Capitalism that sees no problem in ruining the country (or the planet) for profit.
Pete transformed the Hudson River from a industrial sewer with his music and the Clearwater project, a singing sailing ship.

I am to say the least, overwhelmed by this loss. I see no one like him on the horizon. We are losing the battle in America.

"Where have all the Flowers Gone"

Rest in Peace Pete Seeger.

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