- He is my town's local celebrity and performs at important town events, like the Strawberry Festival, the Corn Festival, and the Pumpkin Festival;
- He's participated in peace movements for many of his 88 years;
- He's had a big role in the fight to clean up the Hudson River, and I've enjoyed going sailing on Beacon Sloop Club's sailboat, the Woody Guthrie;
- I'm way into banjos (and harmonicas, which are less relevant here); and
- My mother has been belting out the song "Good Night, Irene" for as long as I can remember.
I do believe that art, music, dance, and poetry are necessary. But for some reason, I've always felt guilty about wanting to spend time making objects meant just for looking. It seems like wasted time. I feel I should be growing food, making tools, something functional, necessary to every day. I have dreams where my trade is fashioning hinges and latches. Then I read Muriel Rukeyser's writing about the role of poetry in getting to the essence of one's life, in remembering. Or Richard Shelton's writing about the psychologically freeing impact of creative writing programs in prisons. These accounts, like the story of Pete Seeger's life, make me know that the value of art is true.
So here's another reason to be interested in Pete Seeger: He reminds me of the power of song, of dance, of beauty. It always has a function.