Thank You Pete Seeger

By January 28, 2014Ocean Alliance News

Pete Seeger At 89 AlbumToday we say good-bye to musical and environmental icon Pete Seeger. Roger Payne spent time with Seeger sailing on his boat the Clearwater on the Hudson River. The sloop was symbolic of the fight and the right for clean water in the Hudson and around the world. In 1970, after hearing Roger’s recording Songs of the Humpback Whale, Seeger wrote “Song of the World’s Last Whale,” but the song wasn’t recorded until 2007 when he released the album At 89 which went on to win the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album. The lyrics are shockingly current:

I heard the song
Of the world’s last whale
As I rocked in the moonlight
And reefed the sail

It’ll happen to you
Also without fail
If it happens to me
Sang the world’s last whale

It was down off Bermuda
Early last spring
Near an underwater mountain
Where the humpbacks sing

I lowered the microphone
About a quarter mile down
Switched on the recorder
Let the tape spin around

I didn’t just hear grunting
I didn’t just hear squeaks
I didn’t just hear bellows
I didn’t just hear shrieks

It was the musical singing
And the passionate wail
That came from the heart
Of the world’s last whale

Down in the Antarctic
There, the harpoons wait
But it’s up on the land
You decide my fate

In London town
They’ll be telling the tale
If it’s life or death
For the world’s last whale

So here’s a little test
To see how you feel
Here’s a little test
For this age of the automobile

If we can save
Our singers up in the sea
Perhaps there’s a chance
To save you and me

I heard the song
Of the world’s last whale
As I rocked in the moonlight
And reefed the sail

It’ll happen to you
Also without fail
If it happens to me
Sang the world’s last whale

“My job,” Seeger said, “is to show folks there’s a lot of good music in this world, and if used right it may help to save the planet.” Peter Seeger’s songs were not for him, they were for the world to sing, especially the children.