About a half-century ago, Pete Seeger knew nothing about sailing or boats. But, he knew the Hudson River was woefully polluted and he wanted to do something about it. He decided the best way to raise awareness would be to build a big sailboat and sail it up and down the river, through the polluted water, to encourage people to help him figure out how to clean it up.
Now, decades later, generations of children and adults have joined Seeger on his mission, volunteering with the Sloop Clearwater, pitching in on his annual Clearwater Music Festival (which raises money and awareness for the environmental effort), and the Hudson River is running cleaner.
At 94 years old, Seeger has witnessed the way progress happens - slowly, persistently - as it has affected not only his life in activism, but his life in music as well. (He was, after all, blacklisted once for pleading the First Amendment when asked to testify about the Communist Party. The blacklisting was mostly because his populist songs and his musical connections raised "suspicions" about his Americanism. He basically told the committee there's nothing threatening or un-American about singing a song, and that he had sung for all kinds of people - Christians, Communists, Republicans, children, etc.)
So, in the spirit of election day, to encourage folks to vote and to remind them of our right to free speech, to gather and organize, Seeger released a new song and a new video. Check out the video for "God's Counting on Me, God's Counting on You". Then read about Pete Seeger's influence on American folk music or check out some other essential Pete Seeger songs.
photo: Roberto Rabanne/Getty Images