To Bruce Springsteen, Pete Seeger, the singer/songwriter/activist who died Monday at the age of 94, was "the father of American folk music."
But Seeger, who popularized This Land Is Your Land and We Shall Overcome and wrote If I Had a Hammer and Turn, Turn, Turn, never liked the term folk music.
"It's been defined as the 'music of the peasants,' " Seeger told USA TODAY in a 2009 interview, "and then you get someone saying (of Seeger), 'he's no peasant!'''
Seeger, who dropped out of Harvard University in 1938 to ride a bicycle across the country, quoted his father, Charles Seeger, a musicologist: "My dad, the old professor, used to say, 'Never get into an argument about what's folk music and what isn't.' "
But whatever you called him, Seeger influenced scores of other singers, including Springsteen, Joan Baez, Dave Matthews, Rufus Wainwright, John Mellencamp and Arlo Guthrie. All performed in 2009 at Seeger's 90th birthday party at sold-out Madison Square Garden, a fundraiser for his favorite local cause: cleaning up New York's Hudson River.
TVNL Comment: We mourn the loss of a great voice for all that might have been great about America. Pete Seeger stood up against the evil around him as he stood up for all that was fair and just. Rest in Peace, Pete Seeger.