Pete Seeger And Arlo Guthrie Occupy Wall Street…Er, Columbus Circle

23 Oct

On Friday night, Pete Seeger performed at the Clearwater Environmental Benefit at Symphony Space, a performing arts center at 2537 Broadway @ 95th Street.

Clearwater, founded by Pete Seeger, presented a benefit concert for their Environmental Education Programs. Performers included Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Suzanne Vega, Loudon Wainwright III, Guy Davis, David Amram, Toshi Reagon, Lucy Kaplansky, Tao Seeger and Richard Barone.

Seeger’s Grandson, Tao Rodriguez Seeger told the press that his Grandfather was “all fired up” about plans for a late-night march in New York City in support of Occupy Wall Street.

About 750 people attended Friday’s benefit concert, and Pete Seeger invited them all to join him outside after the show to walk and sing together.

They walked and sang down Broadway to Columbus Circle, at 59th Street.

That’s 36 blocks.

Pete Seeger is 92 years old.

Here’s a photo from the New York Times, taken by Marcus Yam.

The article says, in part:

Mr. Seeger, whose activist credentials go back at least as far as a benefit concert that he and Woody Guthrie did for California migrant workers in 1940 and who wrote or helped write populist ballads like like “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” and “If I Had a Hammer,” had been performing at Symphony Space at Broadway and 95th Street with Arlo Guthrie, Woody Guthrie’s son, and others.

About 11 p.m., Mr. Seeger, 92, emerged from Symphony Space wearing a red knit cap and carrying two canes. He then set off south, walking at a brisk pace and accompanied by a crowd of about 600, some of them carrying placards declaring support for the self-declared 99 percent that have been occupying Zuccotti Park for five weeks.

The crowd sang as they marched in the October chill, their voices swelling softly and carrying words to songs Mr. Seeger helped popularize, including “Down by the Riverside,” and “We Shall Not Be Moved.”

“He’s a symbol of the peace movement,” said one of the marchers, Larry Manzino, a retired research scientist from Piscataway, N.J. “He’s a guy who never caved, a guy who had integrity, a guy who stood up and said no when he had to.”

He’s an icon of folk music, the people’s music.” said another marcher.

Shortly before 1 a.m. the crowd streamed into the center of Columbus Circle. There, surrounded by gushing fountains, musicians that included Arlo Guthrie, Tom Chapin and David Amram, joined Mr. Seeger on the base of the Christopher Columbus monument.

The crowd quieted. Guitars began strumming as Mr. Seeger began singing “We Shall Overcome,” a song that he introduced to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”

One of the people who attended the concert and afterwards the walk, commented this on the paper’s website:

This great American hero ended the Clearwater benefit concert last night telling us ‘I’m going to walk 35 blocks down Broadway to Columbus Circle. We’ll walk in the street, and if the police don’t let us walk in the street, we’ll walk on the sidewalk’. 92 years old, with two canes, he then marched so briskly it was an effort to keep up with him!”

An NPR story says:

After more singing, Seeger asked for a mic check to tell the crowd: “The words are simple: I could be happy spending my days on the river that flows both way-ay-ays.”

What a thrill it would have been, to have heard that.

This live album by Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie was always one of my favorite records.

It’s funny to think of the things that are happening around you, as you sleep or do other things…

Here’s a short clip from YouTube that shows some of the march. Pete Seeger is visible at the 50-second mark, as he waves his cane at the camera.




5 Responses to “Pete Seeger And Arlo Guthrie Occupy Wall Street…Er, Columbus Circle”

  1. hubby October 23, 2011 at 10:28 pm #

    When I first heard that 92-year-old Pete Seeger walked 35 blocks in support of Occupy Wall Street, I was amazed. Now I realize he did it after his benefit concert! Wow!

    • sallanscorner October 24, 2011 at 10:15 am #

      I KNOW! What a guy. Remember the TV show we watched recently, where he was chopping his own wood?


  2. thatsecretary October 25, 2011 at 3:37 pm #


  3. Julia Schopick November 5, 2011 at 5:04 pm #

    Seeing Pete here brought tears to my eyes.

    If anyone who reads this comment knows Pete Seeger, please ask him to write some new verses to his wonderful song, “Banks of Marble.”

    Pete sang it so many years ago — and with a few new verses, it would be perfect for the “Occupy” movement today. As the last verse of this song says: “Then we might own those banks of marble, with a guard at every door. And we would share those vaults of silver that we have sweated for!” Perfect.

    And if you do talk to Pete, please thank him for the many years of songs and spirit he has given to all of us. We love you, Pete! xoxoxo

    • sallanscorner November 5, 2011 at 7:16 pm #

      Thanks, Julia, for the comment and the link. Interesting what Pete Seeger said about Les Rice, who actually was the songwriter of “Banks Of Marble”:

      Pete Seeger recorded the song, ‘Banks of Marble’, on at least two albums; and in a note in one of his songbooks he wrote that Rice ‘farms across the Hudson from me, near Newburgh [Orange County, New York]. Like most small farmers, he was getting intolerably squeezed by the big companies which sold him all his fertiliser, insecticide and equipment, and the big companies that dictated to him the prices he would get for his produce. Out of that squeeze came this song.’

      This site has more info:

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