Life Entrepreneurs Are Influenced by Musical Anchors

Yesterday
I experienced a Musical Anchor.  I heard a 1985 interview with Pete Seeger
and Terry Gross on Fresh Air.  The interview was interesting enough, and I
was pleasantly driving my car listening—until they played a recording of him
singing “Which Side Are You On” and I was immediately transported to
1970—sitting around a campfire in a commune in northern Vermont, playing and
singing folk music, learning songs I had never heard before. 
I grew
up in Texas in the 50s, which on the surface looked very apple pie and
wholesome.  We didn’t know anything about the labor movement of the 20s
and 30s.  We didn’t know about hobos riding the rails during the
depression.  We were taught to be afraid of creeping socialism and the red
scare.  It wasn’t until I joined The Movement and SDS (Students for a
Democratic Society) to stop the war in Viet Nam and to open admissions to black
people in colleges and universities, that I became immersed in a part of our
history and culture that was new, exciting, and heart-opening for me.
By the
time I ended up in the commune in Vermont in 1970, I had traveled the country
making speeches, been arrested for incitement to riot, gotten probation for the
offence, then jumped my probation and spent more time traveling around with a
very radical group (until they kicked me out because I wouldn’t make bombs),
and ended up “underground” living anonymously in a remote section of Vermont
helping some hippies build a house. 
We
worked hard all day with picks and shovels digging a foundation pit for the
house out of the stiff, rocky Vermont hill we were on, and at night we would
cook on a campfire and make percussion sounds on bowls with chopsticks to
accompany Peter—who played a 12 string guitar that echoed through the
countryside—and Tom and Enid who played regular 6 string guitars and knew the
words to almost every folk song imaginable.  The songs were old, they were
deep and meaningful—they were the songs of Woody Guthrie, Jimmie Rodgers, Pete
Seeger.  I was transported by music into a way of life that I couldn’t
have known about otherwise. 
I
hadn’t put away my political beliefs, they were just quiet while I figured out
my next move.  That music kept me going for 4 ½ months until I realized
the commune life wasn’t for me.  Leaving there didn’t mean losing the
music.  The “Hobo’s Lullaby” by Woody Guthrie became my bedtime song for
my son, Noah, and I sing it still to my grandson.  

Hearing
Pete Seeger brought me back—and reminded me how wonderful music creates an
imprint inside us and guides us through our lives.  Bless you Pete! 
We won’t miss you as long as we have your music, your legacy.

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