Monday, January 14, 2013

Pete Seeger - Vietnam Protest Songs of the 60's and 70's

I planned to write this, for school, with the intent to have it seem all professional.  And then my opinions were changed.  It will continue to be professional; however, there will be some first person in it.  My heart was touched, my passion ignited, and sometimes I just have to write what I feel.  That being said, I’ll get to the essay part.

Originally my song choice was “Bring ‘Em Home” by Pete Seeger.  While I shall still focus on the song, I must also mention more of his post-Vietnam-war life.  He was an activist in every sense of the word - he was an activist for bettering the world.  From his Clearwater project for the Hudson River, to his music, he wanted to improve the whole world.  “Bring ‘Em Home” focuses on saying that the best way to support the 19-year-olds of the Vietnam war is to bring them home and not keep them in Vietnam.

But there’s one thing I must confess (bring ‘em home, bring ‘em home), I’m not really a pacifist, he sings.  He says common beliefs of the era - Vietnam was not the place to be.  However, he was a patriot first and foremost and he would fight for his country if the need arose.  But he wouldn’t support a war that wasn’t for his country.  And Vietnam wasn’t a war for his country.
The House of Un-American Activities committee actually took interest in Pete Seeger because of his songs.  While most called upon the fifth amendment or pleaded guilty, he used the first amendment to aid him.  He brought his banjo and sang.  In turn, he got blacklisted.
Despite this, he continued to sing.  He actually popularized the song “How Can I Keep from Singing?”  It’s a song of inner peace and joy: No storm can shake my inmost calm, while to that rock I'm clinging.  Since love is lord of Heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?
 He lived his life with passion - and in turn found inner peace peace.  He was a journalist, a singer, someone who was ready to improve the world.  He founded a project to clean the Hudson River.  In May 2011, it had been going on for 45 years and is still running today.  It was a project started because of the poetry of an ever-flowing creation.  And it worked - the Hudson river is becoming cleaner even today.
Pete Seeger was a singer, a journalist, and an instrumentalist (A Tribute to Pete Seeger mentions that he became highly skilled with the banjo) who fought to better this world.  How could that not touch a heart, when you realize that since the 1930’s he has been singing and writing for the world’s betterment?  It especially touched my heart because throughout his life he accomplished a great many things.  I can only hope, as a writer and songstress myself, that one day I can do as much as he did.
As Pete Seeger said in Bring ‘Em Home: I may be right, I may be wrong (bring ‘em home, bring ‘em home), But I got a right to sing this song.  Not only did Pete Seeger have a right to sing his songs, he also had a pull to (as exemplified in "How can I keep from Singing?").  He wanted to change the world - and, in a few small ways at least, he did.


<Ruehl, Kim (and commenters). "A Tribute to Pete Seeger on His 92nd Birthday." No Depression Americana and Roots Music. No Depression Americana and Roots Music, 03 May 2011. Web. 12 Jan. 2013.>

<Clearwater Sloop. "The Clearwater Story." Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. Clearwater, n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2013.>

<Capaldi, Jim. "Bring Them Home." Pete Seeger Appreciation Page. Storm King Music, 1996. Web. 12 Jan. 2013.>

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