AN OLD LEFTY TRANSCENDED HIS POLITICS
TO BECAME A TIMELESS TROUBADOUR
My wife and I were traveling home to Michigan after two weeks in Colorado helping with our newly born granddaughter (the first, following two boys), when I picked up a hotel lobby copy of USA Today and learned about the death of Pete Seeger.
It’s a commentary on the fleeting nature of fame — Sic transit gloria mundi, as they say — that later in the afternoon, our car radio tuned to Detroit’s WJR, Mitch Albom was prattling on about why anyone would make a big deal about “a dead, 94-year-old folksinger.”
I’ll refrain from critiquing the lack of taste in that rant, though I hope other listeners weigh in with the station. But I can’t help noting a surprising dearth of awareness in somebody (Albom) for whom chitchat about pop culture is his stock in trade.
Pete Seeger was a figure of enormous influence in that period of the late 1950s-to-mid-1960s when musical tastes intersected with the politics of the so-called New Left: the period of the Urban Folk Revival.