Pete Seeger, as almost every reader of these pages will know, passed away at the age of 94 on Jan. 27, 2014. Pete was a great folksinger, explorer of US music, and song writer. In his younger days he was also a great banjo picker, and learned how to play the 12-string guitar (a difficult instrument in its own right) from the legendary Afro-American blues singer Huddie Ledbetter, better known as Leadbelly. He worked with one of the founding US folklorists, Alan Lomax, as well as his with his father, Charles Seeger and his step-mother, Ruth Crawford Seeger (mother of Pete’s step-sister, the folk singer Peggy Seeger). And of course he was a close colleague of the iconic Woody Guthrie.
When US President Barack Obama opened his tour of Europe this week it had the unmistakable choreography of a scripted set piece: lights, camera, action etc. The storyline is a familiar trope. America, the shining beacon of democracy and human rights, comes to the rescue of European damsels in distress just before they are ravaged by bestial European recidivism for war.