Author: Compton, Cliff

Pete Seeger

And I’m walking down from the very back of the Amphitheater in the Rose garden next to some thin haired old man carrying a banjo case and the look of a man who ate light and slept little and
I’m talking to him like an old friend because
This was a great day in my young life
And I’ve been thinking about this song about how people are scratching all over the street because the rabbits had nothing to eat
And I’d heard it on a Pete Seeger album I picked up in a used record bin
In the same section where “The Chuckwagon Gang” and the “Weavers” kept Odetta, and Doc Watson company and I didn’t know Pete Seeger from Fred Flintstone but I bought it because Mike Seeger was a “Weaver” so I figured Pete was probably O.K. and I heard he wrote “Where have all the flowers gone” and I was 22 and recently out of the army
And that was during Vietnam and that line about “where have all the young men gone” always choked me up
Because I knew where all those young men had gone
And as I’m walking up the aisle toward the stage,
I’m telling this old man about this record I found
By this guy that was gonna play today and there was this song about how the people were scratching all over the street
Because the rabbits had nothing to eat
At least that’s the way I remember it now
And I read in the paper that he was gonna be playing here today free
And I didn’t have any money, but I had a Pete Seeger album
And he sang “If I had a hammer” he said I’d hammer in the morning, and I thought not me, I slept in the morning, because I was up late playing my guitar
Playing those songs, like the one about how people were scratching all over the street because the rabbits had nothing to eat
And the old man didn’t say much
He just looked over the crowd
The community organizers
The petition gatherers for Gus Hall and the communist party
The workers with their union signs
And he smiled at me like the old and tired do
When youth is caught up in the discovery of what everybody already knows
And I said, “I’m going right to the front of the stage”, and I did
And I think I said, “You want to sit here with me?”
And he just smiled
And walked up on stage
And opened up his banjo case
Posted:  2/14/2014

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