Hey! Rumor has it that “He’ll be Comin Round the Mountain” for REAL! Old Man Winter! Well, it IS Mid-January, for cryin out loud!
All of these extra warm days have been wood-chopping paradise for us New York highlanders. At my chopping pile i rarely take a swing without remembering “the Ole Man of our Mountain,” Pete Seeger. ANOTHER RUMOR has it that he passed into the Big Wood-Choppers’ Paradise just the way he had predicted – to me, for one – with the swing of his old ax. How honored we were to be part of the Greater Family of Mister Pete, my daughter Molly being a member of his Rivertown Kids, barely reaching the Giant’s heart.
Of all times of the year none was so dear to Pete as mid-January, when he sang his heart out and yelled for the Kids to “let it loose” in honor of his Number One Hero – and Friend, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. One of the rare white men among the Marchers, Pete Seeger actually co-wrote the very Anthem of Civil Rights, “We Shall Overcome.” i couldn’t believe the day he walked off to march in a parade and asked me to babysit his trusty banjo. There it was at my toes, “the Legend” itself.
Well, on another warm January day, while i was chopping away at my woodpile, thinking of Pete over yonder and of Martin, a little tune came into my head. While asking my kids to gather up all of the PRECIOUS kindling pieces, i reflected on Pete and Martin’s DREAM – to spread Peace Through Justice and a Better World through treating each other as equals. Both men, just like many GREAT men and women before them, knew that to accomplish such a task a KEY INGREDIENT would have to be CHILDREN. They are the HOPE of the World ALWAYS, as Gandhi famously said: “Every child is a Love Letter from God, saying, Look! I haven’t given up on you yet!”
Thinking of how the German word for CHILD is KINDER and how the FIRE of every Dreamer depends on CHILDREN as KINDLIN, i wrote this song for Pete and Martin and Gandhi and St. Francis and Jesus, who was Dr. King’s #1 inspiration. Jesus who said, “I came to start a fire on this earth. How I wish it were kindled.” And the same Jesus said, “Unless you become like Children…..”
After i got my fire red-hot blazing that evening, i jotted down the lyrics and sent them off to the Granddaddy of Folk (knowing that he was especially a lyrics man!) Not long after, i get a telephone call, and the man says, “Mike, this is Pete, and I love it – EXCEPT FOR any part about me!! You know I’ll never sing it, if it mentions me!” What a truly humble giant he was!
But, then, he threw me the highest of compliments, when he said, “Now, I’m German, as you know, and when I see this Kinder and Kindlin, Children and the Fire, why did I never think of that??!!” LOL! Pete then asked whether there was a melody, and i said Yes, and he ran off to fetch his banjo and a pencil. He asked me to sing it through, and after i did, this 90+ year old sang the entire thing back to me – with banjo! To top it off, he told me that he wrote it all out on music paper and would drop it in the mail.
So, here it is, my piece o’ Pete:
My next move was to send all of this to a wild Irish Troubador who had marched and sung with Pete at the Lincoln Memorial, my old buddy, Danny O’Flaherty. Danny had recently lost his home and many possessions to a monster named Katrina, but as long as he has his music and some kids to sing along, Danny is filled with HOPE! He was the man to take this torch. Danny touched it up with his own magic, and when i said, “It Must Be Sung With Kids!,” the Maestro even added the kids’ voices for now. And THEN to TOP IT OFF, Danny sent the whole thing to his buddy, a master video artist by the name of Jake Sager, another lover of Pete and Martin and Gandhi and Francis and Jesus and Peace and Justice and Mercy AND CHILDREN!!!
And in the end comes this tribute to TWO GOOD MEN for Pete Seeger’s FAVORITE holiday, Martin Luther King Day. May it NEVER be reduced to a day of big sales at various stores. May it rather be a day to IGNITE or RE-IGNITE the DREAM and the DREAMERS of the Earth.
Sing it, Children….http://www.dannyoflaherty.com/one-earth-for-me-and-you/ Check Out Danny O’Flaherty’s Wide Experience in Music and History, ESPECIALLY HIS UNIQUE PROGRAMS FOR CHILDREN!!!!