The Republic of T.

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Pete Seeger

Many years ago, when I was in college, I bought myself a guitar. My idea was that I wanted a way to accompany myself while singing. I never took a lesson, but followed my usual self-teaching method: go get a “how-to” book that covered what I wanted to know, read it, and then do what it says.

I never became a virtuoso. (In fact, I’m not sure what happened to the guitar.) But I learn enough chords, and learned how to play them well enough to strum them while singing songs that I’d learned; not as a performance, but for my own enjoyment. (Growing up, I had an ear for music. I could hear a song a few times, walk over to a piano, and quickly figure out the melody. Given a bit more time, I’d have the three basic chords down.)

Some of the first songs I learned to play were either written by or popularized by Pete Seeger.

In fact, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” is one of them that’s on my iPod right now, in at least two different versions: one by Joan Baez, and one from Dolly Parton’s cover album, Those Were the Days. I’ve also got Bruce Springsteen’s We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions. In fact, I think I’ll fire that one up for the ride home.

It all comes to mind because of Seeger’s 90th birthday. In honor of the occasion, here’s the man and his music.

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