Pete Seeger: Alive and Kickin’ at 89

Imagine the scene. You’ve just taken a leisurely jog down a trail that hugs the Hudson River. You’re nearing the dock where a farmer’s market is in progress, and you hear the familiar tune She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountains.

She’ll be driving six white horses when she comes
She’ll be driving six white horses when she comes
She’ll be driving six white horses, she’ll be driving six white horses,
She’ll be driving six white horses when she comes

Getting closer, you see a bearded, rangy man of indeterminate age in blue jeans strumming a banjo. No, you’re not hallucinating. At 89, Pete Seeger is playing for farmers’ market shoppers outside his Sloop House in Beacon, N.Y.

How many singers out there can pepper their performances with asides like “This is a song that Woody Guthrie taught me”? Say what?

I did a little research on Seeger, the legendary folk singer who has been a driving force behind the revitalization of this gritty mill town. Among my generation, he’s best known for writing the Byrds hit Turn Turn Turn and the folk classics If I Had a Hammer (co-written with Lee Hays) and Where Have All the Flowers Gone? recorded by Peter Paul & Mary and others. My mother knows him for Goodnight Irene.

Guess what? Today, Sept. 30, he’s released a new CD called, of all things, At 89.

Here’s Seeger’s chart, courtesy of Astrodienst. He’s got a Sun/Mars conjunction in artsy Taurus. He was briefly a painter before becoming a singer and musician. His popular folk band was called The Weavers, which has a very Taurean feel to it. The chart is set for noon because I don’t know the time of birth.

Mars is very active and it’s with the life force of the Sun in a Venusian sign. Think about that Mars when you hear:

If I had a hammer
I’d hammer in the morning
I’d hammer in the evening
All over this land
I’d hammer out danger
I’d hammer out a warning
I’d hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters
All over this land

Seeger is a crusader. And look at his longevity: He’s basically a marathoner among folk singers. There is tremendous physical endurance in this chart.

The Taurus conjunction is sextiled by a strong stellium in Cancer, including a Jupiter that is quite close to the U.S. Sun and is very tightly aspected to his own Sun. Along with Guthrie, Seeger is the prototypical American troubadour.

Although he did not write it, Seeger adapted and helped popularize We Shall Overcome before it became the anthem of the civil rights movement. (To musicologists and African-Americans reading this: Don’t worry, I’m not trying to give him credit for the Negro spiritual. It was a black thang long before Seeger arrived; he merely helped spread the gospel, so to speak.)

Back to Seeger’s Jupiter in Cancer, which rules spirituality. As he did for his rendition of We Shall Overcome, Seeger drew on historical material for Turn Turn Turn: The Bible, no less. Those familiar with the Byrds classic will recognize the words of Ecclesiastes 3:2: There is “a time to be born, a time to die, a time to sow, a time to reap.”

Bruce Springsteen gave a new generation an introduction to Seeger with his folkie album and tour We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, in 2006. It was the first album recorded by Springsteen that didn’t showcase his own material, and was not a commercial success in the U.S. However, it was critically acclaimed overseas, where they generally appreciate “classics” more than Americans do.

Get this: Seeger has an out-of-sign opposition of Saturn in Leo and Uranus in Pisces. Sound familiar? The aspect between restriction and rebellion in his chart is similar to the one between Saturn and Uranus that’s going to be exact on Election Day, though Saturn is currently in Virgo, not Leo, as it is in Seeger’s chart.

At 89, Seeger is back in tune with the times. Some would say he was never out of tune; we just weren’t listening. Let’s just say he’s striking a chord once again.

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Seeger’s not afraid of another Depression. He had the time of his life criss-crossing the country with Guthrie in the late Thirties, holding concerts in support of striking workers, a journey that gave rise to Guthrie’s standard This Land is Your Land.

You know, they never taught me the last two verses in school. Do you know them?

As I was walkin’ – I saw a sign there
And that sign said – no tress passin’
But on the other side …. it didn’t say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!

Chorus

In the squares of the city – In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office – I see my people
And some are grumblin’ and some are wonderin’
If this land’s still made for you and me.

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