January 28, 2014

With the Children that Moses Led

Who are those children they’re dressed in red?
There’s twelve gates to the city, Hallelujah
It must be the children that Moses led
There’s twelve gates to the city, Hallelujah

Oh what a beautiful city
Oh what a beautiful city
Oh what a beautiful city
Twelve gates to the city, Hallelujah

Oh, when I get to Heaven, gonna sing and shout
There’s twelve gates to the city, Hallelujah
Ain’t nobody there gonna put me out
There’s twelve gates to the city, Hallelujah

To borrow from one of my favorite songs that he sang, Pete Seeger is now with the children that Moses led. Pete must be having a blast leading them all in song up there.

Another favorite Pete Seeger song that I think belongs in his homegoing is "Little Birdie." When I was googling for the wonderful version he did around 1966 on his Rainbow Quest TV show, with June Carter and Johnny Cash looking on, I found this more recent version from 1990, at about age 70.

Love the song so much let’s hear it again, this time the 1966 version:

I have nothing succinct to say about Pete Seeger’s influence on my life. It begins with his presence in my parents’ lives and continues on through mine and into my son’s.

Songs are for certain the right way to send Pete off but also with a final word about what he fought for his whole long and beautiful life. An anecdote about Pete in 2004, told to Alec Wilkinson by John Cronin:

About two winters ago, here on Route 9 outside Beacon, one winter day it was freezing—rainy and slush, a miserable winter day—the war in Iraq is heating up, and on the other side of the road I see from the back a tall, slim figure in a hood and coat. I can tell it’s Pete. He’s standing there all by himself, and he’s holding up a big piece of cardboard that clearly has something written on it. Cars and trucks are going by him. He’s getting wet. He’s holding the homemade sign over his head—he’s very tall, and his chin is raised the way he does when he sings—and he’s turning the sign in a semicircle, so the drivers can see it as they pass, and some people are honking and waving at him, and some people are giving him the finger. He’s eight-four years old….

He’s just standing out there in the cold and the sleet like a scarecrow getting drenched. I go a little bit down the road, so that I can turn around and come back, and when I get him in view again, this solitary and elderly figure, I see that what he’s written on the sign is Peace.’


pete seeger music homegoing


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This Machine Cover of Pete Seeger, Childrens Concert at Town Hall This post is excerpted and adapted from a longer post from ten years ago, on my other blog,