Truly sad news about Pete Seeger, one of the true greats. Given that he was 94, it’s not unexpected, but I’d still rather hoped he was secretly immortal.
He made many mistakes in his life, not least his defence of Stalinism (at a time when almost all left-wing intellectuals did the same thing, with the noble exception of Orwell), but he always tried to fight on the side of justice and humanity, against oppression.
Most of the battles he fought have been won, but as he put it himself:
To fight, perchance to win, aye, there’s the rub
For victory brings power and prestige
And the children of the children of the fighters
Take all for granted, and, in turn, oppress.
But with those battles won, it’s the music he’ll be remembered for more than anything else. And what a musician he was — one of the greats on the banjo, and with one of the warmest, friendliest, voices you’ll ever hear.
Long after all the political fights he was in have become as incomprehensible to our descendants as the theological arguments over whether homoiousios or homoousios should be the word used are to most today, Seeger’s music will still be listened to.