Thoughts from Pete Seeger’s 90th Birthday Celebration

Looking out onto Madison Square Gardens was like looking out onto the Grand Canyons for the first time. Breathtaking. I walked up to a security guard and asked him, “Where did Mohammed Ali box?” He looked at me and said, “I don’t know. I’ve never thought about that before, but I will now.”

There was no distance between the audience and performers. The moment was when Pete Seeger sang Amazing Grace and all 20,000 people stood up singing. No one can engage an audience like Pete.

Bruce Springsteen spoke with great eloquence. Maggie’s Farm with Ramblin Jack, Kristofferson, Richie Havens, and Arlo Guthrie was a hoot. Rufus and Martha Wainwright sang a most beautiful, tender ballad of Pete’s. Before going up on stage Kris Kristofferson turned and laughed, “ I don’t know what I’m doing.” He did well! Ani DeFranco and he sang, “There’s A Hole
In The Bucket.”

I sang with others beside Joan Baez on Jacob’s Ladder and Bernice Reagon on We Shall Overcome. We were all F.O.P.’s (Friends of Pete), according to the techs. A polite (or not so polite) way of referring to the lesser known musicians who were personally invited by Pete. To us it was a compliment.

Seeger90 will be televised as part of Great Performances for PBS in the coming months. Will be interesting to see how the editing is done.