Not Quite Déjà Vu

Apr 29, 2018 | 1 comment

Seeger Finale Stage Right

Last night’s “Pete Seeger 99th Birthday Tribute and Sing-along” was everything I thought it would be.  Almost.

The stage at Astoria’s Performing Arts Center was packed with musicians and singers, many of whom we count among our friends.  The music was beyond wonderful and almost every one of the twenty-six numbers, a sing-along.  The accompanying narration – the story of Seeger’s life – was perfect and the transitions between numbers went perfectly.  The audience was packed.

The songs carried us back to the days when unions were on the rise (which most of us don’t remember clearly), up through the Korean and Viet Nam Wars (which most of us do) and on through the Civil Rights Movement (which has never left us.)  There were light-hearted moments – “Where’s My Pajamas.” And lots of patriotism – “This Land is Your Land.” And romance – “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine.”  And spiritualism – “The Water is Wide.”  And of course, activism – “Hammer Song” and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone.”

Every single song was right on target for today – the old ‘timeless’ cliché came to mind.  But, it wasn’t quite déjà vu.  Even when Margaret Frimoth added a brilliant here-and-now verse to “Rainbow Race,” the mood wasn’t quite what it was back in the day.  Somehow, things are darker now.  And less focused.  It’s not just the war.  Or the hate.  Or the struggle with our divisiveness.  There’s another layer.

Seeger Finale Stage Left

I don’t like to think it’s hopelessness, but that did cross my mind last night.  There I sat in an auditorium filled with modern-day activists and people with all the right sensibilities and yet… there was that twinge of ‘been here done this and where did it get us’ underlying it all.

I came away feeling more sad than uplifted.  I still agree with Pete Seeger’s belief that if we sing together, we will be better off.  But… I’m a little bit discouraged about the ‘making a difference’ part of things.  Still… it was a grand evening.  I came away feeling that yes, we have to keep on keeping on.  But the “someday” part of “We Shall Overcome” seems farther away than ever.

1 Comment

  1. Cate Gable

    Sydney: I couldn’t agree more. So well-said…….is where we are, in these dark days, just an aberration or will things get back to “normal” after this throwback in the WH?


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