Tuesday, January 28, 2014

It Was Pete's Words That Helped Me Through

As a teenager embracing adulthood I went through many transformations as all people do. Music was highly influential to my life during that time. Back then we had the internet but it didn't consume our lives like it does now. Instead I used the radio and the public library's collection of CD's to keep the entertainment on. 

I'm not entirely sure when I started listening to Pete Seeger, but I believe the connection starts when I was listening to community radio station KVMR 89.5, back in Nevada City. There were shows like "The Woman's Collective" that spirited liberalism and spiritualism as a woman. There were also a lot of folk shows.  So as I transitioned out of being 18 into my early 20's I somehow heard Pete sing about loving your enemies and understanding what is really important in this world.

His words carried further with me as I lived away from my dad's home for the first time as I went to community college in Eureka, California. There I found my shy and small-town self clashing with meeting new people and being in a new community. But Pete's words soothed me and reminded me of how rich life really can be.

From "All Mixed Up"

This doesn’t mean we will all be the same,We’ll have different faces and different namesLong live many different kinds of racesIt’s difference of opinion that makes horse racesJust remember the rule about rules, brotherWhat could be right for one could be wrong for the otherAnd take a tip from La Belle France: “Viva la difference!”

 (Inside my dorm room, probably around 2002 or '03).

As I lived far away from home and the places that gave me great pleasure (the river, dad's cooking) Pete's words helped remind me I take those things with me wherever I go. 

When I moved out of Humboldt to the San Francisco Bay Area and living with my college sweetheart I continued to enjoy Pete's music and words. 

From "My Rainbow Race":
One blue sky above usOne ocean lapping all our shoreOne earth so green and roundWho could ask for moreAnd because I love youI’ll give it one more tryTo show my rainbow raceIt’s too soon to die.
Life in Berkeley was where I really encountered the "real" world, by living in a large city and taking the subway to school everyday. I got more into painting and art and most of all recognising that at some point I will have to enter this real world and work in it. I used Berkeley's public library to find some CD's by Pete, but his music helped me explore other folk singers and the traditional roots that his music came from.

(Berkeley, probably around 2005)

After college and as I entered the real world I didn't formally listen to Pete so much but his songs were heard enough that his lyrics became anthems in my head. When I left America for work in Korea, his wise words helped me through the tough times I faced.

My first year in Korea saw me dealing a lot with culture shock and also being apart of an even bigger world. 

From "The Water is Wide":

The water is wide, I cannot cross over,
And neither have I wings to fly,
Give me a boat that can carry two,
And both shall row – my love and I.
A ship there was, and she sails the sea,
She’s loaded deep as deep can be,
But not so deep as the love I’m in,
And I know not how, I sink or swim.
So I feel that Pete's words carry through me as I keep on trucking through in life. He helped me understand peers I worked with in Korea (both Korean and American) who I met with disagreement. His words echo in my mind now as build up a new life here in Seattle.

 Thank you Pete Seeger and I hope you are resting well wherever you are.  For more listing of lyrics go here.

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