Pete Seeger 1919-2014: The Guitar Was His Hammer - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

Pete Seeger 1919-2014: The Guitar Was His Hammer

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I first picked up a guitar in 7th grade.  It belonged to a friend,  who asked me if I wanted to learn how to play.  The first song he taught me was "If I Had a Hammer," by Pete Seeger.  I was 12 and, although I knew the song,  I had no idea what a titan of music and social change Seeger was.

"The Hammer Song," written along with Lee Hays, was penned for the Progressive Movement in the late 1940's,  and became one of the anthems of the Civil Rights Movement in the 50's and 60's. 

It was Seeger ,as well, who adapted an old Negro Spiritual into "We Shall Overcome":  the refrain sung at virtually every civil rights march back then, and even now.

I can't begin to chronicle the importance of Pete Seeger here, nor am I the historian to do him justice.  I just want to tell him, thank you.

After I learned "The Hammer Song," I played and sang  "Where Have All the Flowers Gone," and "Turn ,Turn, Turn," all wonderful and wonderfully simple, both musically and in their message.  They are songs that helped change a country, and songs that encouraged kids with limited talent to pick up guitars, opening a new world of music to countless youngsters.

Because of what Pete Seeger's music did for me, I played the guitar and sang to all three of my children nightly.  My two sons now play the guitar, as well and,  I have a feeling  that when they have children, they may feel the urge to do the same for them.

The songs may change,  but I hope a little Seeger will be in there,  because every generation needs to be encouraged to "...hammer out love between my brother and my sister, all over this land."

 

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