I grew up listening to what I call “My parent’s folk music” though I have to admit that after 30 years it is probably safe to call it MY or OUR music. This week I came across a relic from that musical movement and left feeling very inspired.
I recently made the pilgrimage to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. I moved through the hall’s reliquaries, starting at the top floors and working my way down to the basement. I saw it posted in a glass case along the wall.
Pete Seeger’s banjo head.
The small, tan circle hung unassumingly next to a much larger 12-string guitar and a spattering of faded sheet music and show bills. The membrane was peeled around the edges where the oil from his hands buffed the head over years of playing. Small translucent strips punctuated the grit, the synthetic material now appeared reminiscent of buckskin, as if his hands turned the plastic to organic. I saw the hand-written block letters written in a ring around the outside edge:
THIS MACHINE SURROUNDS HATE AND FORCES IT TO SURRENDER
I thought of the spirituals, hymns, and protest songs Pete brought to the masses from the 1940s to today. This head hailed in the civil rights era when Pete sang “We Shall Overcome” and penned “Tun! Turn! Turn!” The other artifacts in the rock hall seemed dusty and hollow compared to the significance of this piece.
Pete doesn’t have an official site, or I would link to it. Please check out his history and music. You will be blown away at his consistent dedication to his causes and to the power of music.
What inspires you? What would look forward to seeing in the Rock Hall?