Niagara Gazette

Opinion

January 30, 2014

GLYNN: Pete Seeger made surprise visit to Buffalo in 2013

Niagara Gazette — Pete Seeger, the legendary singer and songwriter who sparked a revival in folk music in the U.S. during the 1950s and 1960s and spent decades championing social change made a surprise side visit to Buffalo in November. That was just two months before his death Monday at a New York City hospital.

Seeger, 94, virtually stole the spotlight last Nov. 9 when he dropped into the Great Lakes-Midwest Council of the American Newspaper Guild meeting at the Hampton Inn. He was in the Queen City for a performance to benefit the Western New York Peace Center.

Some 40 participants at the guild event were thrilled when he walked into that conference room and climbed onto a chair to sing — without any accompaniment — the satirical “Newspapermen Meet Such Interesting People.” Later, he talked with the delegates about his early interests in pursuing a career in journalism.

With the famous Weavers, he sang such hits as “Goodnight, Irene” — it soared to No. 1 on the charts — and “If I Had a Hammer,” which he wrote with Lee Hays, another member of the Weavers. Perhaps one of his most famous songs was “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?,” an anti-war number. Many people will recall that Seeger performed Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land,” at President Obama’s inaugural in 2009. On Seeger’s 90th birthday celebrated at Madison Square Garden, Bruce Springsteen introduced him as “a living archive of America’s music and conscience, a testament of the power of song and culture to nudge history along.”

As the news spread about Seeger’s death, countless Americans were recalling his incredible contributions to music. The New York Post, however, was quick to point out that during the McCarthy era, Seeger was blacklisted in the entertainment industry for his Communist Party membership in the 1940s. He later was indicted for contempt of Congress.

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