The Washington Post

Musicians, activists remember folk icon Pete Seeger

UNKNOWN LOCATION – MAY 20: Folk singer Pete Seeger (C) and his Toshi (R), sit during a recording session with Mississippi John Hurt (L) (Photo by Harry Naltchayan/The Washington Post)

Pete Seeger, an activist and folk pioneer who was still marching and playing banjo into his 90s, died Monday night in New York City. His legacy, like his life, was long and varied — and at this point unfamiliar, perhaps, to a younger generation that didn’t grow up with his songs.

But if there’s any doubt that Seeger left a lasting impact on both music and the progressive circles where he traveled, today’s outpouring of tributes from artists, musicians and politicians the world over is a good demonstration of his influence.

Bruce Springsteen, who named an album after Seeger and considered him a major influence on his work, once described Seeger as “a walking, singing reminder of all of America’s history … a living archive of America’s music and conscience, a testament to the power of song and culture to nudge history along, to push American events towards more humane and justified ends.”  In a statement released today, Springsteen said:

We deeply mourn the passing of Pete Seeger. We believe that nobody is truly gone until all those who are touched or influenced by that person are gone from the Earth… So Pete will live on in the hearts and minds of so many for years to come. His vision of peace and justice and equality for all will live on and continue to influence. His music has been used all over the world for social justice. From the Civil Rights movement to the anti-war movements Pete and his songs have been there on the front lines. Like a ripple that keeps going out from a pond Pete’s music will keep going out all over the world spreading the message of non-violence and peace and justice and equality for all. Wherever people are fighting to be free or fighting for equality Pete’s songs and Pete’s vision will be there with them.

Here is what musicians and other notables had to say about Seeger, the man once called the “pied piper of musical dissent.” We’ll continue updating as more tributes come in:

Caitlin Dewey is The Post’s digital culture critic. Follow her on Twitter @caitlindewey or subscribe to her daily newsletter on all things Internet. (



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