The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Print Edition
Letter to the editor submissions
Have a strong opinion about something happening on campus or in Fort Collins? Want to respond to an article written on The Collegian? Write a Letter to the Editor by following the guidelines here.
Follow Us on Twitter
Why Online Education is a Game-Changer for Nurses
September 25, 2023

Online education has revolutionized the way nurses acquire knowledge and skills by providing them with a flexible and accessible learning...

Dan Blegen plays Pete Seeger for concert lecture at Old Town Library

Folk singer Pete Seeger became the voice for the common man, singing and playing American and British folk songs through the Great Depression, the rise of socialist and communist political parties and the Civil Rights Movement. Songs such as “If I Had a Hammer”, “Turn, Turn, Turn” and “We Shall Overcome” communicated unspeakable feelings and a desire for radical change across the nation from the 1930s through the 1950s.

Pete Seeger, American folk singer
Pete Seeger, American folk singer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In June, 94-year-old Seeger passed away, inspiring folksinger Dan Blegen to create a commemorative concert lecture entitled “Pete Seeger and the Hammer.”


“I’ve performed at many libraries all over Colorado for very appreciative audiences which I enjoy,” Blegen said. “I don’t really try to imitate him, but I’ve listened to him for so many years that I’ve had people say that I do sound like him.”

Tonight at 7 p.m. Blegen will be presenting his Seeger concert for the first time at the Old Town Library. It is open and free to the public to come learn about and celebrate Seeger’s life.

“Especially in this time of different sort of political discourse I think some of the songs that Pete Seeger sang are as important now as they were in the 30s and 40s,” said Paula Watson-Lakamp, communications director for the Old Town Library. “I think people can still resonate with the message of the songs.”

In a time when the nation needed a voice to rally around, Seeger’s songs provided.

“He sang ‘If I had a Hammer’ at union rallies and so it means basically the hammer of justice, the bell of freedom,” Blegen said. “It’s a song about love before the days of irony–he said brotherhood could change the world and he meant it.”

“Turn, Turn, Turn” is another song of Seeger’s that was a plea for world peace. According to Seeger’s appreciation webpage, he took most of the lyrics straight from book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament, and added his own melody.

In his fight for human rights, Seeger was blacklisted for being a communist after joining the Party. Blegen looks at this choice in the context of the events of the time.

“Communism, socialism, they were just a lot of different political movements that were trying to fight for the rights of people,” Blegen said. “A lot of people weren’t paid very well and people who worked in very dangerous conditions. It’s not like he was trying to overthrow the country. He was trying to improve it.”

“We shall overcome” was a freedom song that served to unify the black community during the Civil Rights Movement. Originally a hymn, it was made popular by Seeger, and served to unify communities in the movement.


One of the reasons Seeger’s folk songs are so impactful is how audiences would sing the songs with him. Now Blegen says his audiences will sing the songs with him in the same way they once did for Seeger.

“You could not sit through a concert without him haranguing you to sing along and he even taught his audience how to sing in three part harmony,” Blegen said. “Just a real audience participation experience and I really like that.”

Seeger immersed himself in what his music meant, and was in the business of changing souls.

“I think that he felt he was a part of a bigger picture and with music could really unite people for good reasons: uniting people for positive,” Blegen said.

Collegian A&E Writer Sierra Cymes can be reached at or on Twitter @sierra_cymes.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Hey, thanks for visiting!
We’d like to ask you to please disable your ad blocker when looking at our site — advertising revenue directly supports our student journalists and allows us to bring you more content like this.

Comments (0)

When commenting on The Collegian’s website, please be respectful of others and their viewpoints. The Collegian reviews all comments and reserves the right to reject comments from the website. Comments including any of the following will not be accepted. 1. No language attacking a protected group, including slurs or other profane language directed at a person’s race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, social class, age, physical or mental disability, ethnicity or nationality. 2. No factually inaccurate information, including misleading statements or incorrect data. 3. No abusive language or harassment of Collegian writers, editors or other commenters. 4. No threatening language that includes but is not limited to language inciting violence against an individual or group of people. 5. No links.
All The Rocky Mountain Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *