Wednesday, 29 January 2014

If I had a hammer...

The flowers have all  gone

For as far as I can remember, Peter Seeger has always been there: not in the spotlight but, rather, discreetly in the background encouraging new artists (including some Bob Dylan), promoting and pioneering causes (environmentalism), defending worker's and minorities rights (Civil Rights Movement), and ensuring that music remained connected to people as an authentic form of expression.And yet, as his recent death has proved, his influence amongst fellow musicians and fans was huge. As the cliché goes, with him an era also goes: that of the troubadour  popularising and revitalising  people's music whose authenticity credentials were unmatched.

Seeger's music, it seems to me, would be a fitting music background for Steinbeck's novels; it would accompany the Joad's odyssey in their desperate search for a better life in California, and it would be played as Lennie and George sought their (mis)fortunes among the dispossessed.But as most great artists, his music was understood and felt beyond his native America and the country's working clasess; Seeger's voice sang international causes too, from Cuba to the Spanish Civil War and the rise of totalitarianism in the Soviet Union (though he would remained a communist).
Peter Seeger represents, perhaps like no other, the example of a musician whose music became the soundtrack to people's struggles, accompanying endless fights for those who found themselves on the wrong side of History; the voiceless found one grave and clear voice in someone who was, above all, a symbol of integrity and bonhomie.
Let the future generations discover and cherish his legacy; if we make sure that this happens, then we will know that there will always someone with 'a hammer of justice... and a bell of love, all over this land'.
And that will be the best tribute to Peter Seeger.