Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Play On Brother!

By Jon Dunnemann

We must not forget our heroes or the song masters of our past. They have brought to us richness in values that have become engrained in our hearts forever.

As a matter of fact, I can still remember singing Pete Seeger's songs on the bus ride home from an overnight camping trip with my classmates while then living in Caldwell, NJ. If you don't recall the lyrics to Pete Seeger's songs then you may not be an American. His themes made us one people who together knew exactly where we needed to go to fulfill the dreams and aspirations of the many not just the privileged few. In fact, Pete Seeger's songs were proof positive that you were firmly standing on the side of what was right in the world.

Nearly ten years ago, I learned that Pete Seeger and my father, William Keith were good personal friends. As some of you know my father was not someone who had been prominently featured in my life. However, learning that as an artist and visual poet my father found himself in the company of an activist as special and as iconic in American popular culture as Pete Seeger left me with a good feeling.

Months after my father's passing while visiting my twin brothers in upstate Beacon, NY who do you suppose I see walking up the street towards us? Pete Seeger. My brother Antar acknowledged him by his first name and then introduced me to Mr. Seeger. His response was, "I can tell that you are his son because you look like a younger version of Bill". He also took the time to tell me that my father was a good man and a very talented poet. He then instructed my brother to please let him know the next time that I would be in town. I never had the good fortunate of spending additional time with Mr. Seeger. But from time to time he continued to telephone my brothers who are still living in that same area.

My point is this, that up until that one fall day, I certainly loved Pete Seeger's music. Every sense that day however I have loved the man behind the music for the compassion and kindness that he displayed towards both my brother and I that afternoon.

Thank you Mr. Seeger. God bless you and your family. Play on brother because we are definitely still listening. ~JD