Pete Seeger on his earliest memories of music

One of my favorite topics to talk about with musicians is their earliest memories of music. And that is how I started my interview with folk icon Pete Seeger.

From his earliest memories of music to now, music has been a way of interacting with others for Seeger. But these days, the famous minstrel says he’d rather be a hermit.

“It’s the only way to be an honest person in this world,” he says. “Once you start participating in the world, you start being hypocritical.”

In spite of himself he stepped out into the world, compelled to reach others through music. Once he stepped out, he noticed his surroundings needed improving. He tackled issues using his musical ability — a tool given to him by his father, a music teacher.

Gene: Can you tell me about your earliest memory of music?

Pete: I don’t remember anything under 3 years old, but my mother played a very good violin and my father accompanied her on a folding pump organ. When I was only 2 years old-I have pictures of this in my book-my father would hold me on his lap while he was playing the little organ and my mother was playing her fiddle. I must have been conscious of it. I did like to hear my father play Chopin etudes on the piano. But what I really liked was when he’d let me play with one finger some melody while he improvised. I’d play on the upper half of the piano and he’d play all around the lower half of the piano.

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