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Pete Seeger 2011

Pete Seeger (1919-2014) in 2011. Photo by Jim, the Photographer. Licensed under Creative Commons, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Pete Seeger
Birth name Peter Seeger
Genres Protest music
Americana
American folk music
Occupations Musician, Songwriter, activist, Television host
Instruments Banjo, guitar, recorder, mandolin, piano, ukulele
Years active 1939–present
Labels Folkways Records
Columbia/CBS Records
Vanguard Records
Sony Kids’ Music/SME Records
Associated acts The Weavers, The Almanac Singers, Woody Guthrie, Arlo Guthrie, Tao Rodríguez-Seeger Leadbelly
Notable instruments
Banjo, Twelve-string guitar

Peter "Pete" Seeger (May 3, 1919 - January 27,2014) was an American folk singer and an iconic figure in the mid-20th century American folk music revival.[1] A fixture on nationwide radio in the 1940s, he also had a string of hit records during the early 1950s as a member of The Weavers, most notably their recording of Leadbelly's "Goodnight, Irene," which topped the charts for 13 weeks in 1950.[2] Members of The Weavers were blacklisted during the McCarthy Era. In the 1960s, he re-emerged on the public scene as a prominent singer of protest music in support of international disarmament, civil rights, and environmental causes.

As a song writer, he is best known as the author or co-author of "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?," "If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)," (composed with Lee Hays of The Weavers), and "Turn, Turn, Turn!," which have been recorded by many artists both in and outside the folk revival movement and are still sung throughout the world. "Flowers" was a hit recording for The Kingston Trio (1962), Marlene Dietrich, who recorded it in English, German and French (1962), and Johnny Rivers (1965). "If I Had a Hammer" was a hit for Peter, Paul & Mary (1962) and Trini Lopez (1963), while The Byrds popularized "Turn, Turn, Turn!" in the mid-1960s, as did Judy Collins in 1964. Seeger was one of the folksingers most responsible for popularizing the spiritual "We Shall Overcome" (also recorded by Joan Baez and many other singer-activists) that became the acknowledged anthem of the 1960s American Civil Rights Movement, soon after folk singer and activist Guy Carawan introduced it at the founding meeting of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960. In the PBS "American Masters" episode Pete Seeger: The Power of Song, Seeger states it was he who changed the lyric from the traditional "We will overcome" to the more inspirational "We shall overcome".

Family and private lifeEdit

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Seeger was born in French Hospital, Midtown Manhattan(Citation needed), the youngest of three sons.[3] He came from a distinguished, prosperous family, which he described as "enormously Christian, in the Puritan, Calvinist New England tradition."[4] His father, Charles Louis Seeger Jr. was a violinist and composer who had studied music at Harvard.[5][3] His mother, Constance de Clyver Edson, also came from an excellent family, was a classical violinist and teacher, raised in Tunisia and trained at the Paris Conservatory of Music and the Juilliard School.[6] Soon after their 1911 wedding, the couple had moved to Berkeley, California, where Charles Seeger took up a position as professor of music.[6][7] Facing opposition from his university colleagues, he became a pioneering ethnomusicologist, investigating both Native American and American folk music.[8][9] In 1914, Charles Seeger, who had previously been apolitical, had a political awakening when he became aware of the lives of migrant workers in California.[10] His subsequent left-wing activism, which included opposition to World War I, led to deteriorating relations with the university, and in September 1918, he took a "sabbatical"; the entire family, including a pregnant Constance, moved back to the Seeger family home home in Patterson, New York.[11][9] His parents divorced when Seeger was seven. His stepmother, Ruth Crawford Seeger, was one of the most significant female composers of the twentieth century. His eldest brother, Charles Seeger III, was a radio astronomer, and his next older brother, John Seeger, taught in the 1950s at the Dalton School in Manhattan and was the principal from 1960 to 1976 at Fieldston Lower School in the Bronx.[12] His uncle, Alan Seeger, a noted poet, was killed during the First World War. His half-sister, Peggy Seeger, also a well-known folk performer, was married for many years to British folk singer Ewan MacColl. Half-brother Mike Seeger went on to form the New Lost City Ramblers, one of whose members, John Cohen, was married to Pete's other half-sister, singer Penny Seeger, also a highly talented singer.

In 1943, Pete married Toshi-Aline ÅŒta, whom he credits with being the support that helped make the rest of his life possible. The couple have three children - Daniel (an accomplished photographer and filmmaker), Mika, and Tinya - and grandchildren Tao, Cassie, Kitama, Moraya, Penny, and Isabelle. Tao is a folk musician in his own right, singing and playing guitar, banjo and harmonica with the Mammals. Kitama Jackson is a documentary filmmaker who was associate producer of the PBS documentary Pete Seeger: The Power of Song.

Seeger lives in the hamlet of Dutchess Junction in the Town of Fishkill, New York and also has a residence in Patterson, New York, the town in which he grew up. He remains very active politically and maintains an active lifestyle in the Hudson Valley Region of New York, especially in the nearby City of Beacon, New York. He and Toshi purchased their land in 1949 and lived there first in a trailer, then in a log cabin they built themselves, and eventually in a larger house.[13]

Musical careerEdit

Early workEdit

Pete Seeger attended the Avon Old Farms boarding school in Connecticut, during which he was selected to attend Camp Rising Sun, the Louis August Jonas Foundation's international summer scholarship program. Though Pete Seeger's parents were both professional musicians, they didn't press him to play an instrument. On his own, Pete gravitated to the ukulele, becoming adept at entertaining his classmates with it, while laying the basis for his subsequent remarkable audience rapport. Pete heard the five-string banjo for the first time at the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival in Asheville, North Carolina in 1936, while traveling with his father (then a director of Roosevelt's Farm Resettlement program).[14] It changed his life forever. He spent much of the next four years trying to master the instrument.

Seeger enrolled at Harvard College on a partial scholarship, but, as he became increasingly involved with radical politics and folk music, his grades suffered and he lost his scholarship. He dropped out of college in 1938.[15] He dreamed of a career in journalism and also took courses in art. His first musical gig was leading students in folk singing at the Dalton School, where his aunt was principal. He polished his performance skills during summer stint of touring New York State with The Vagabond Puppeteers (Jerry Oberwager, 22; Mary Wallace, 22; and Harriet Holtzman, 23), a traveling puppet theater "inspired by rural education campaigns of post-revolutionary Mexico,"[16] One of their shows coincided with a strike by dairy farmers. The group reprised its act in October in New York City. An article in the October 2, 1939 Daily Worker reported on the Puppeteers' six-week tour this way:

During the entire trip the group never ate once in a restaurant. They slept out at night under the stars and cooked their own meals in the open, very often they were the guests of farmers. At rural affairs and union meetings, the farm women would bring "suppers" and would vie with each other to see who could feed the troupe most, and after the affair the farmers would have earnest discussions about who would have the honor of taking them home for the night.
"They fed us too well," the girls reported. "And we could live the entire winter just by taking advantage of all the offers to spend a week on the farm."
In the farmers' homes they talked about politics and the farmers' problems, about anti-Semitism and Unionism, about war and peace and social security - "and always," the puppeteers report, "the farmers wanted to know what can be done to create a stronger unity between themselves and city workers. They felt the need of this more strongly than ever before, and the support of the CIO in their milk strike has given them a new understanding and a new respect for the power that lies in solidarity. One summer has convinced us that a minimum of organized effort on the part of city organizations - unions, consumers' bodies, the American Labor Party and similar groups - can not only reach the farmers but weld them into a pretty solid front with city folks that will be one of the best guarantees for progress.[17]
That fall Seeger took a job in Washington, D.C., assisting Alan Lomax, a friend of his father's, at the Archive of American Folk Song of the Library of Congress. Seeger's job was to help Lomax sift through commercial "race" and "hillbilly" music and select recordings that best represented American folk music, a project funded by the music division of the Pan American Union (later the Organization of American States), of whose music division his father, Charles Seeger, was head (1938-1953).[18] Lomax also encouraged Seeger's folk singing vocation, and Seeger was soon appearing as a regular performer on Alan Lomax and Nicholas Ray's weekly Columbia Broadcasting show Back Where I Come From (1940-1941) alongside of Josh White, Burl Ives, Leadbelly, and Woody Guthrie (whom he had first met at Will Geer's Grapes of Wrath benefit concert for migrant workers on March 3, 1940). Back Where I Come From was unique in having a racially integrated cast, which made news when it performed in March 1941 at a command performance at the White House organized by Eleanor Roosevelt called "An Evening of Songs for American Soldiers,"[19] before an audience that included the Secretaries of War, Treasury, and the Navy, among other notables. The show was a success but was not picked up by commercial sponsors for nationwide broadcasting because of its integrated cast. During the war, Seeger also performed on nationwide radio broadcasts by Norman Corwin.

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Group recordingsEdit

As a self-described "split tenor" (between an alto and a tenor),[21] Pete Seeger was a founding member of two highly influential folk groups: The Almanac Singers and The Weavers. The Almanac Singers, which Seeger co-founded in 1941 with Millard Lampell and Arkansas singer and activist Lee Hays, was a topical group, designed to function as a singing newspaper promoting the industrial unionization movement,[22] racial and religious inclusion, and other progressive causes. Its personnel included, at various times: Woody Guthrie, Bess Lomax Hawes, Baldwin "Butch" Hawes, Sis Cunningham, Josh White, and Sam Gary. As a controversial Almanac singer, the 21-year-old Seeger performed under the stage name "Pete Bowers" to avoid compromising his father's government career.

In 1950, the Almanacs were reconstituted as The Weavers, named after the title of a 1892 play by Gerhart Hauptmann about a workers' strike (which contained the lines, "We'll stand it no more, come what may!"). Besides Pete Seeger (performing under his own name), members of the Weavers included charter Almanac member Lee Hays, Ronnie Gilbert, Fred Hellerman, and later, Frank Hamilton, Erik Darling and Bernie Krause. In the atmosphere of the 1950s red scare, the Weavers' repertoire had to be less overtly topical than that of the Almanacs had been, and its progressive message was couched in indirect language - arguably rendering it even more powerful. The Weavers even on occasion performed in tuxedos (unlike the Almanacs, who had dressed informally) and their managers refused to let them perform at political venues. Because of this, the somewhat hokey string orchestra and chorus arrangements on a few of their hit numbers, and, no doubt also because of their considerable, if temporary, financial success, the Weavers incurred criticism from some progressives for supposedly compromising their political integrity. It was a tricky dilemma, but Seeger and the other Weavers felt that the imperative of getting their music and their message out to the widest possible audience amply justified these measures. The Weavers' string of major hits began with "On top of Old Smokey" and an arrangement of Leadbelly's signature waltz, "Goodnight, Irene," which topped the charts for 13 weeks in 1950 and was covered by many other pop singers. On the flip side of "Irene" was the Israeli song "Tzena, Tzena, Tzena." Other Weaver hits included, "So Long It's Been Good to Know You" (by Woody Guthrie), "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine" (by Hays, Seeger, and Lead Belly), the South African Zulu song, "Wimoweh" (about "the lion," warrior chief Shaka Zulu), to name a few.

The Weavers's performing career was abruptly halted in 1953 at the peak of their popularity when blacklisting prompted radio stations to refuse to play their records and all their bookings were canceled. They briefly returned to the stage, however, at a sold-out reunion at Carnegie Hall in 1955 and in a subsequent reunion tour, which produced a hit version of Merle Travis's "Sixteen Tons" as well as LPs of their concert performances. "Kumbaya," a Gullah black spiritual dating from slavery days, was also introduced to wide audiences by Pete Seeger and the Weavers (in 1959), becoming a staple of Boy and Girl Scout campfires.

In the late fifties, the Kingston Trio was formed in direct imitation of (and homage to) the Weavers, covering much of the latter's repertoire, though with a more button-down, uncontroversial and mainstream collegiate persona. The Kingston Trio produced another phenomenal succession of Billboard chart hits, and, in its turn spawned a legion of imitators, laying the groundwork for the 1960s commercial folk revival.

In the documentary film Pete Seeger: The Power of Song (2007), Seeger states that he resigned from the Weavers when the three other band members agreed to perform a jingle for a cigarette commercial.

Banjo and 12-string guitarEdit

In 1948, Seeger wrote the first version of his now-classic How to Play the Five-String Banjo, a book that many banjo players credit with starting them off on the instrument. He went on to invent the Long Neck or Seeger banjo. This instrument is three frets longer than a typical banjo,is slightly longer than a bass guitar at 25 frets, and is tuned a minor third lower than the normal 5-string banjo. Hitherto strictly limited to the Appalachian region, the five-string banjo became known nationwide as the American folk instrument par excellence, largely thanks to Seeger's championing of and improvements to it. According to an unnamed musician quoted in David King Dunaway's biography, "by nesting a resonant chord between two precise notes, a melody note and a chiming note on the fifth string" Pete Seeger "gentrified" the more percussive traditional Appalachian "frailing" style, "with its vigorous hammering of the forearm and its percussive rapping of the fingernail on the banjo head."[23] Though what Dunaway's informant describes is the age-old droned frailing style, the implication is that Seeger made this more acceptable to mass audiences by omitting some of its percussive complexities, while presumably still preserving the characteristic driving rhythmic quality associated with the style.

From the late 1950s on, Seeger also accompanied himself on the 12-string guitar, an instrument of Mexican origin that had been associated with Lead Belly who had styled himself "the King of the 12-String Guitar." Seeger's distinctive custom-made guitars had a triangular soundhole. He combined the long scale length (approximately 28") and capo-to-key techniques that he favored on the banjo with a variant of drop-D (DADGBE) tuning, tuned two whole steps down with very heavy strings, which he played with thumb and finger picks.[24]

"Steel Pan" to U.S. AudiencesEdit

In 1956, then "Peter" Seeger (see film credits) and his wife, Toshi, traveled to Port Of Spain, Trinidad, to seek out information on the steel pan, steel drum or "Ping-Pong" as it was sometimes called. The two searched out a local panyard and proceeded to film the construction, tuning and playing of the then new, national instrument of Trinidad-Tobago. The film is located here.

Recent workEdit

On March 16, 2007, Pete Seeger, his sister Peggy, his brothers Mike and John, his wife Toshi, and other family members spoke and performed at a symposium and concert sponsored by the American Folklife Center in honor of the Seeger family, held at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.,[25] where Pete Seeger had been employed by the Archive of American Folk Song 67 years earlier.

On September 29, 2008, the 89-year-old singer-activist, once banned from commercial TV, made a rare nationwide appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman, singing "Take It From Dr. King." In September 2008, Appleseed Recordings released At 89, Seeger's first studio album in 12 years. On September 19, Pete Seeger made his first appearance at the 52nd Monterey Jazz Festival, particularly notable because the Festival does not normally feature folk artists.

In 2010, still active at the age of 91, Seeger co-wrote and performed a song "God's Counting on Me, God's Counting on You" with Lorre Wyatt, commenting on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.[26]

Obama Inaugural CelebrationEdit

On January 18, 2009, Seeger joined Bruce Springsteen, grandson Tao Rodríguez-Seeger, and the crowd in singing the Woody Guthrie song "This Land Is Your Land" in the finale of Barack Obama's Inaugural concert in Washington, D.C.[27][28] The performance was noteworthy for the inclusion of two verses not often included in the song, one about a "private property" sign the narrator cheerfully ignores, and the other making a passing reference to a Depression-era relief office.[27][29]

90th Birthday CelebrationEdit

On May 3, 2009, at The Clearwater Concert, dozens of musicians gathered in New York at Madison Square Garden to celebrate Seeger's 90th birthday (which was later televised on PBS during the summer),[30] ranging from Dave Matthews, John Mellencamp, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Morello, Ani DiFranco and Roger McGuinn to Joan Baez, Richie Havens, Tom Paxton, Ramblin' Jack Elliott and Arlo Guthrie. Cuban singer-songwriter Silvio Rodríguez was also invited to appear but his visa was not approved in time by the US government. Consistent with Seeger's long-time advocacy for environmental concerns, the proceeds from the event benefited the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater,[31] a non-profit organization created to defend and restore the Hudson River. Seeger's 90th Birthday was also celebrated at The College of Staten Island on May 4.[32]

A number of Pete Seeger celebrations are being organized in Australia including a revival of the musical play about his life ONE WORD WE!, a DVD of his 1963 concert in Melbourne Town Hall, and concerts in folk clubs and folk festivals. One Word WE! was performed at the Tom Mann Theatre in Surry Hills, Sydney, on 12, 13 and 14 June 2009. It was written by Maurie Mulheron, who is also musical director and a performer. Frank Barnes directed.

On April 18, 2009, Pete Seeger performed in front of a small group of Earth Day celebrants at Teachers College in New York City. Among the songs he performed were "This Land is Your Land," "Take it From Dr. King," and "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain."

ActivismEdit

1930s and 1940sEdit

In 1936, at the age of 17, Pete Seeger joined the Young Communist League (YCL), then at the height of its popularity and influence. In 1942 he became a member of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) itself. He eventually "drifted away" (his words) from the Party in the late 1940s and 1950s.[33]

In the spring of 1941, the 21-year-old Seeger performed as a member of the Almanac Singers along with Millard Lampell, Cisco Houston, Woody Guthrie, Butch and Bess Lomax Hawes, and Lee Hays. Seeger and the Almanacs cut several albums of 78s on Keynote and other labels, Songs for John Doe (recorded in late February or March and released in May, 1941), the Talking Union, and an album each of sea chanteys and pioneer songs. Written by Millard Lampell, Songs for John Doe was performed by Lampell, Seeger, and Hays, joined by Josh White and Sam Gary. It contained lines such as, "It wouldn't be much thrill to die for Du Pont in Brazil," that were sharply critical of Roosevelt's unprecedented peacetime draft (enacted in September, 1940). This anti-war/anti-draft tone reflected the Communist Party line after the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which maintained the war was "phony" and a mere pretext for big American corporations to get Hitler to attack Soviet Russia. Seeger has said he believed this line of argument at the time—as did many fellow members of the Young Communist League (YCL). Though nominally members of the Popular Front, which was allied with Roosevelt and more moderate liberals, the YCL's members still smarted from Roosevelt and Churchill's arms embargo to Loyalist Spain (which Roosevelt later called a mistake) and the alliance frayed in the confusing welter of events.

A June 16, 1941, review in Time magazine, which under its owner, Henry Luce, had become very interventionist, denounced the Almanacs' John Doe, accusing it of scrupulously echoing what it called "the mendacious Moscow tune" that "Franklin Roosevelt is leading an unwilling people into a J. P. Morgan war." Eleanor Roosevelt, a fan of folk music, reportedly found the album "in bad taste," though President Roosevelt, when the album was shown to him, merely observed, correctly as it turned out, that few people would ever hear it. More alarmist was the reaction of eminent German-born Harvard Professor of Government, Carl Joachim Friedrich, an adviser on domestic propaganda to the US military. In a review in the June 1941 Atlantic Monthly, entitled "The Poison in Our System," he pronounced Songs for John Doe "...strictly subversive and illegal," "...whether Communist or Nazi financed," and "a matter for the attorney general," observing further that "mere" legal "suppression" would not be sufficient to counteract this type of populist poison,[34] the poison being folk music, and the ease with which it could be spread.

At that point, the U.S. had not yet entered the war but was energetically re-arming. African Americans were barred from working in defense plants, a situation that greatly angered both African Americans and white progressives. Black union leaders A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, and A. J. Muste began planning a huge march on Washington to protest racial discrimination in war industries and to urge desegregation of the armed forces. The march, which many regard as the first manifestation of the Civil Rights Movement, was canceled after President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802 (The Fair Employment Act) of June 25, 1941, barring discrimination in hiring by companies holding federal contracts for defense work. This Presidential act defused black anger considerably, although the U.S. army still refused to desegregate, declining to participate in what it called "social engineering."

Roosevelt's order came 3 days after Hitler broke the non-aggression pact and invaded the Soviet Union. The Communist Party now immediately directed its members to get behind the draft, and it also forbade participation in strikes for the duration of the war (angering some leftists). Copies of Songs for John Doe were removed from sale, and the remaining inventory destroyed, though a few copies may exist in the hands of private collectors.[35] The Almanac Singers' Talking Union album, on the other hand, was reissued as an LP by Folkways (FH 5285A) in 1955 and is still available. The following year the Almanacs issued Dear Mr. President, an album in support of Roosevelt and the war effort. The title song, "Dear Mr. President," was a solo by Pete Seeger, and its lines expressed his life-long credo:

Now, Mr. President, / We haven't always agreed in the past, I know, / But that ain't at all important now. / What is important is what we got to do, / We got to lick Mr. Hitler, and until we do, / Other things can wait.//
Now, as I think of our great land . . . / I know it ain't perfect, but it will be someday, / Just give us a little time. // This is the reason that I want to fight, / Not 'cause everything's perfect, or everything's right. / No, it's just the opposite: I'm fightin' because / I want a better America, and better laws, / And better homes, and jobs, and schools, / And no more Jim Crow, and no more rules like / "You can't ride on this train 'cause you're a Negro," / "You can't live here 'cause you're a Jew,"/ "You can't work here 'cause you're a union man."//
So, Mr. President, / We got this one big job to do / That's lick Mr. Hitler and when we're through, / Let no one else ever take his place / To trample down the human race. / So what I want is you to give me a gun / So we can hurry up and get the job done.

Seeger's critics, however, have continued to bring up the Almanacs' repudiated Songs for John Doe. In 1942, a year after the John Doe album's brief appearance (and disappearance), the FBI decided that the now-pro-war Almanacs were still endangering the war effort by subverting recruitment. According to the New York World Telegram (Feb. 14, 1942), Carl Friedrich's 1941 article "The Poison in Our System" was printed up as a pamphlet and distributed by the Council for Democracy (an organization that Friedrich and Henry Luce's right hand man, C. D. Jackson, Vice President of Time magazine, had founded "...to combat all the nazi, fascist, communist, pacifist..." antiwar groups in the United States).[36] and was shown to the Almanac's employers in order to keep them off the air. Coincidentally, defamatory reviews and gossip items appeared in New York newspapers whenever they performed in public, and ultimately the Almanacs had to disband.[37]

Seeger served in the US Army in the Pacific. He was trained as an airplane mechanic, but was reassigned to entertain the American troops with music. Later, when people asked him what he did in the war, he always answered "I strummed my banjo." After returning from service, Seeger and others established People's Songs, conceived as a nationwide organization with branches on both coasts that was designed to "Create, promote and distribute songs of labor and the American People"[38] With Pete Seeger as its director, People's Songs worked for the 1948 presidential campaign of Roosevelt's former Secretary of Agriculture and Vice President, Henry A. Wallace, who ran as a third party candidate on the Progressive Party ticket. Despite having attracted enormous crowds nationwide, however, Wallace only won in New York City, and, in the red-baiting frenzy that followed, he was excoriated (as Roosevelt had not been) for accepting the help in his campaign of Communists and fellow travelers such as Seeger and singer Paul Robeson.[39]

Spanish Civil War songsEdit

Seeger had been a fervent supporter of the Republican forces in the Spanish Civil War. In 1943, with Tom Glazer and Bess and Baldwin Hawes, he recorded an album of 78s called Songs of the Lincoln Battalion on Moe Asch's Stinson label. This included such songs as "There's a Valley in Spain called Jarama," and "Viva la Quinta Brigada." In 1960, this collection was re-issued by Moe Asch as one side of a Folkways LP called Songs of the Lincoln and International Brigades. On the other side was a reissue of the legendary Six Songs for Democracy (originally recorded in Barcelona in 1938 while bombs were falling), performed by Ernst Busch and a chorus of members of the Thälmann Battalion, made up of refugees from Nazi Germany. The songs were: "Moorsoldaten" ("Peat Bog Soldiers", composed by political prisoners of German concentration camps), "Die Thaelmann-Kolonne," "Hans Beimler," "Das Lied Von Der Einheitsfront" ("Song of The United Front" by Hans Eisler and Bertolt Brecht), "Der Internationalen Brigaden" ("Song Of The International Brigades"), and "Los cuatro generales" ("The Four Generals," known in English as "The Four Insurgent Generals").

1950s and early 1960sEdit

In the 1950s and, indeed, consistently throughout his life, Seeger continued his support of civil and labor rights, racial equality, international understanding, and anti-militarism (all of which had characterized the Wallace campaign) and he continued to believe that songs could help people achieve these goals. With the ever-growing revelations of Joseph Stalin's atrocities and the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, however, he became increasingly disillusioned with Soviet Communism. In his PBS biography, Seeger said he "drifted away" from the CPUSA beginning in 1949 but remained friends with some who did not leave it, though he argued with them about it.[40][41]

On August 18, 1955, Seeger was subpoenaed to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). Alone among the many witnesses after the 1950 conviction and imprisonment of the Hollywood Ten for contempt of court, Seeger refused to plead the Fifth Amendment (which asserted that his testimony might be self incriminating) and instead (as the Hollywood Ten had done) refused to name personal and political associations on the grounds that this would violate his First Amendment rights: "I am not going to answer any questions as to my association, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this."[42] Seeger's refusal to testify led to a March 26, 1957 indictment for contempt of Congress; for some years, he had to keep the federal government apprised of where he was going any time he left the Southern District of New York. He was convicted in a jury trial of contempt of court in March 1961, and sentenced to 10 years in jail (to be served simultaneously), but in May 1962 an appeals court ruled the indictment to be flawed and overturned his conviction.[43]

In 1960, the San Diego school board told him that he could not play a scheduled concert at a high school unless he signed an oath pledging that the concert would not be used to promote a communist agenda or an overthrow of the government. Seeger refused, and the American Civil Liberties Union obtained an injunction against the school district, allowing the concert to go on as scheduled. In February 2009, the San Diego School District officially extended an apology to Seeger for the actions of their predecessors. [44]

Vietnam War eraEdit

A longstanding opponent of the arms race and of the Vietnam War, Seeger satirically attacked then-President Lyndon Johnson with his 1966 recording, on the album Dangerous Songs!?, of Len Chandler's children's song, "Beans in My Ears". Beyond Chandler's lyrics, Seeger said that "Mrs. Jay's little son Alby" had "beans in his ears," which, as the lyrics imply,[45] ensures that a person does not hear what is said to them. To those opposed to continuing the Vietnam War the phrase implied that "Alby Jay" was a loose pronunciation of Johnson's nickname "LBJ," and sarcastically suggested "that must explain why he doesn't respond to the protests against his war policies."

Seeger attracted wider attention starting in 1967 with his song "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy," about a captain — referred to in the lyrics as "the big fool" — who drowned while leading a platoon on maneuvers in Louisiana during World War II. In the face of arguments with the management of CBS about whether the song's political weight was in keeping with the usually light-hearted entertainment of the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, the final lines were "Every time I read the paper/those old feelings come on/We are waist deep in the Big Muddy and the big fool says to push on." The lyrics could be interpreted as an allegory of Johnson as the "big fool" and the Vietnam War as the foreseeable danger. Although the performance was cut from the September 1967 show,[46] after wide publicity[47] it was broadcast when Seeger appeared again on the Smothers' Brothers show in the following January.[48]

Inspired by Woody Guthrie, whose guitar was labeled "This machine kills fascists,"photo Seeger's banjo was emblazoned with the motto "This Machine Surrounds Hate and Forces It to Surrender."photo

In the documentary film The Power of Song, Seeger mentions that he and his family visited North Vietnam in 1972.[49]

EnvironmentalismEdit

Seeger was involved in the environmental organization Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, which he co-founded in 1966. This organization has worked since then to highlight pollution in the Hudson River and worked to clean it. As part of that effort, the sloop Clearwater was launched in 1969 with its inaugural sail down from Maine to South Street Seaport Museum in New York City, and thence to the Hudson River.[50] Amongst the inaugural crew was Don McLean, who co-edited the book Songs and Sketches of the First Clearwater Crew, with sketches by Thomas B. Allen for which Seeger wrote the foreword...[51] Seeger and McLean sang "Shenandoah" on the 1974 Clearwater album. The sloop regularly sails the river with volunteer and professional crew members, primarily conducting environmental education programs for school groups. The Great Hudson River Revival (aka Clearwater Festival) is an annual two-day music festival held on the banks of the Hudson at Croton Point Park. This festival grew out of early fundraising concerts arranged by Seeger and friends to raise money to pay for Clearwater's construction.

File:Pete Seeger Clearwater.jpg

Seeger wrote and performed "That Lonesome Valley" about the then-polluted Hudson River in 1969, and his band members also wrote and performed songs commemorating the Clearwater.

Solo Career and the Folk Song RevivalEdit

To earn money during the blacklist period of the late 1950s and early 1960s, Seeger had gigs as a music teacher in schools and summer camps and traveled the college campus circuit. He also recorded as many as five albums a year for Moe Asch's Folkways Records label. As the nuclear disarmament movement picked up steam in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Seeger's anti-war songs, such as, "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" (co-written with Joe Hickerson), "Turn, Turn, Turn," adapted from the Book of Ecclesiastes, and "The Bells of Rhymney" by the Welsh poet Idris Davies [52] (1957), gained wide currency. Seeger also was closely associated with the 1960s Civil Rights movement and in 1963 helped organize a landmark Carnegie Hall Concert, featuring the youthful Freedom Singers, as a benefit for the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee. This event and Martin Luther King's March on Washington in August of that year, in which Seeger and other folk singers participated, brought the Civil Rights anthem "We Shall Overcome" to wide audiences. A version of this song, submitted by Zilphia Horton of Highlander, had been published in Seeger's People's Songs Bulletin as early as in 1947.

By this time Seeger was a senior figure in the 1960s folk revival centered in Greenwich Village, as a longtime columnist in Sing Out!, the successor to the People's Songs Bulletin, and as a founder of the topical Broadside magazine. To describe the new crop of politically committed folk singers, he coined the phrase "Woody's children," alluding to his associate and traveling companion, Woody Guthrie, who by this time had become a legendary figure. This urban folk revival movement, a continuation of the activist tradition of the thirties and forties and of People's Songs, used adaptations of traditional tunes and lyrics to effect social change, a practice that goes back to the Industrial Workers of the World or Wobblies' Little Red Song Book, compiled by Swedish-born union organizer Joe Hill (1879-1915). (The Little Red Song Book had been a favorite of Woody Guthrie's, who was known to carry it around.)

Pete Seeger made two tours of Australia, the first in 1963. At the time of this tour, his single "Little Boxes" (written by Malvina Reynolds) was number one in the nation's Top 40s. In 1993 the Australian singer/playwright Maurie Mulheron assembled a musical biography of Seeger's, and friends', work in a stage production One Word We. It enjoyed a long and sold-out season at the New Theatre in the inner Sydney suburb of Newtown. It was reprised in 2000 and 2009, and the company has also taken the show on tour to folk festivals at Maleny and Woodford in Queensland, and Port Fairy in Victoria.

The long television blacklist of Seeger began to end in the mid-1960s when he hosted a regionally broadcast, educational folk-music television show, Rainbow Quest. Among his guests were Johnny Cash, June Carter, Reverend Gary Davis, Mississippi John Hurt, Doc Watson, The Stanley Brothers, Elizabeth Cotten, Patrick Sky, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Tom Paxton, Judy Collins, Donovan, Richard Fariña and Mimi Fariña, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Mamou Cajun Band, Bernice Johnson Reagon, The Beers Family, Roscoe Holcomb, Malvina Reynolds, and Shawn Phillips. Thirty-nine[40] hour-long programs were recorded at WNJU's Newark studios in 1965 and 1966, produced by Seeger and his wife Toshi, with Sholom Rubinstein.

File:SO!vol49 2 Pete Seeger.PNG

An early booster of Bob Dylan, Seeger, who was on the board of directors of the Newport Folk Festival, became upset over the extremely loud and distorted electric sound that Dylan, instigated by his manager Albert Grossman, also a Folk Festival board member, brought into the 1965 Festival during his performance of "Maggie's Farm." Tensions between Grossman and the other board members were running very high (at one point reportedly there was a scuffle and blows were briefly exchanged between Grossman and board member Alan Lomax).[53] There are several versions of what happened during Dylan's performance and some claimed that Pete Seeger tried to disconnect the equipment.[54] Seeger has been portrayed by Dylan's publicists as a folk "purist" who was one of the main opponents to Dylan's "going electric," but when asked in 2001 about how he recalled his "objections" to the electric style, he said:

I couldn't understand the words. I wanted to hear the words. It was a great song, "Maggie's Farm," and the sound was distorted. I ran over to the guy at the controls and shouted, "Fix the sound so you can hear the words." He hollered back, "This is the way they want it." I said "Damn it, if I had an axe, I'd cut the cable right now." But I was at fault. I was the MC, and I could have said to the part of the crowd that booed Bob, "you didn't boo Howlin' Wolf yesterday. He was electric!" Though I still prefer to hear Dylan acoustic, some of his electric songs are absolutely great. Electric music is the vernacular of the second half of the twentieth century, to use my father's old term.[55]

In November of 1976 Seeger wrote and recorded the anti-death penalty song "Delbert Tibbs" about then death row inmate Delbert Tibbs, who was later exonerated. Seeger wrote the music and selected the words from poems written by Tibbs. [3]

Repudiation of StalinEdit

In 1982 Seeger performed at a benefit concert for Poland's Solidarity resistance movement. His biographer David Dunaway considers this the first public manifestation of Seeger's decades-long personal dislike of communism in its Soviet form.[56] In the late 1980s Seeger also expressed disapproval of violent revolutions, remarking to an interviewer that he was really in favor of incremental change and that "the most lasting revolutions are those that take place over a period of time."[56] In his autobiography Where Have All the Flowers Gone (1993 and 1997 reissued in 2009), Seeger wrote, "Should I apologize for all this? I think so." He went on to put his thinking in context:

How could Hitler have been stopped? Litvinov, the Soviet delegate to the League of Nations in '36, proposed a worldwide quarantine but got no takers. For more on those times check out pacifist Dave Dellinger's book, From Yale to Jail....[57] At any rate, today I'll apologize for a number of things, such as thinking that Stalin was merely a "hard driver" and not a supremely cruel misleader." I guess anyone who calls himself a Christian should be prepared to apologize for the Inquisition, the burning of heretics by Protestants, the slaughter of Jews and Muslims by Crusaders. White people in the U.S.A ought to apologize for stealing land from Native Americans and enslaving blacks. Europeans could apologize for worldwide conquests, Mongolians for Genghis Khan. And supporters of Roosevelt could apologize for his support of Somoza, of Southern White Democrats, of Franco Spain, for putting Japanese Americans in concentration camps. Who should my granddaughter Moraya apologize to? She's part African, part European, part Chinese, part Japanese, part Native American. Let's look ahead.[58][59]

In a 1995 interview, however, he insisted that "I still call myself a communist, because communism is no more what Russia made of it than Christianity is what the churches make of it."[60] In recent years, as the aging Seeger began to garner awards and recognition for his life-long activism, he also found himself attacked once again for his opinions and associations of the 1930s and 1940s. In 2006, David Boaz - Voice of America and NPR commentator and president of the libertarian Cato Institute - wrote an opinion piece in The Guardian, entitled "Stalin's Songbird" in which he excoriated The New Yorker and The New York Times for lauding Seeger. He characterized Seeger as "someone with a longtime habit of following the party line" who had only "eventually" parted ways with the CPUSA. In support of this view, he quoted lines from the Almanac Singers' May 1941 Songs for John Doe, contrasting them with lines supporting the war from Dear Mr. President, issued in 1942, after the USA had entered the war.[61][62]

In 2007, in response to criticism from a former banjo student - historian Ron Radosh, who was once a Trotskyite and now writes for the conservative National Review - Seeger wrote a song condemning Stalin, "Big Joe Blues"[63]: "I'm singing about old Joe, cruel Joe. / He ruled with an iron hand. /He put an end to the dreams / Of so many in every land. / He had a chance to make / A brand new start for the human race. / Instead he set it back / Right in the same nasty place. / I got the Big Joe Blues. / Keep your mouth shut or you will die fast. / I got the Big Joe Blues. / Do this job, no questions asked. / I got the Big Joe Blues."[64] The song was accompanied by a letter to Radosh, in which Seeger stated, "I think you're right, I should have asked to see the gulags when I was in U.S.S.R [in 1965]."[59]

The banjo-playing narrator of John Updike's 1998 short story "Licks of Love in the Heart of the Cold War," who is sent by the US government as a "cultural ambassador" to the Soviet Union, confesses himself an ardent fan of Pete Seeger and the Weavers.[65]

DeathEdit

Seeger died at New York-Presbyterian Hospital on January 27, 2014, at the age of 94.[66] Response and reaction to Seeger's death quickly poured in. President Barack Obama noted that Seeger had been called "America's tuning fork"[67] and that he believed in "the power of song" to bring social change, "Over the years, Pete used his voice and his hammer to strike blows for workers' rights and civil rights; world peace and environmental conservation, and he always invited us to sing along. For reminding us where we come from and showing us where we need to go, we will always be grateful to Pete Seeger."[68] Folksinger and fellow activist Billy Bragg wrote that: "Pete believed that music could make a difference. Not change the world, he never claimed that – he once said that if music could change the world he'd only be making music – but he believed that while music didn't have agency, it did have the power to make a difference."[69] Bruce Springsteen said of Seeger's death, "I lost a great friend and a great hero last night, Pete Seeger", before performing "We Shall Overcome" while on tour in South Africa.[70]

RecognitionEdit

AwardsEdit

Seeger has been the recipient of many awards and recognitions throughout his career, including :

Selected discographyEdit

1955 "The Folksinger's Guitar Guide (Instruction) (Folkways Records)
Release Date Album Title Record Label
2009 American Favorite Ballads, The Complete Collection Vol.1-5 Smithsonian Folkways
2009 "Pete Seeger at Bard College," credited to "Ono Okoy and the Banshees," a student performance art group dedicated to "preserving the footsteps of Pete Seeger" by singing folk music and recording in his footsteps. Appleseed Recordings
2008 At 89 Appleseed Recordings
2007 American Favorite Ballads, Vol. 5 Smithsonian Folkways
2006 American Favorite Ballads, Vol. 4 Smithsonian Folkways
2004 American Favorite Ballads, Vol. 3 Smithsonian Folkways
2003 American Favorite Ballads, Vol. 2 Smithsonian Folkways
2002 American Favorite Ballads, Vol. 1 Smithsonian Folkways
2000 American Folk, Game and Activity Songs Smithsonian Folkways
1998 Headlines and Footnotes: A Collection of Topical Songs Smithsonian Folkways
1998 If I Had a Hammer: Songs of Hope and Struggle Smithsonian Folkways
1998 Birds, Beasts, Bugs and Fishes (Little and Big) Smithsonian Folkways
1996 Pete Living Music Records
1993 Darling Corey/Goofing-Off Suite Smithsonian Folkways
1992 American Industrial Ballads Smithsonian Folkways
1991 Abiyoyo and Other Story Songs for Children Smithsonian Folkways
1990 Folk Songs for Young People Smithsonian Folkways
1990 American Folk Songs for Children Smithsonian Folkways
1989 Traditional Christmas Carols Smithsonian Folkways
1980 God Bless the Grass Folkways Records
1979 Circles & Seasons Warner Bros. Records
1974 Banks of Marble and Other Songs Folkways Records
1968 Wimoweh and Other Songs of Freedom and Protest Folkways Records
1966 Dangerous Songs!? Columbia Records
1966 God Bless The Grass Columbia Records
1964 Songs of Struggle and Protest, 1930-50 Folkways Records
1964 Broadsides - Songs and Ballads Folkways Records
1962 12-String Guitar as Played by Lead Belly Folkways Records
1960 Champlain Valley Songs Folkways Records
1959 American Play Parties Folkways Records
1958 Gazette, Vol. 1 Folkways Records
1957 American Ballads Folkways Records
1956 With Voices Together We Sing Folkways Records
1956 Love Songs for Friends and Foes Folkways Records
1955 Bantu Choral Folk Songs Folkways Records
1954 How to Play a 5-String Banjo (instruction) Folkways Records
1954 The Pete Seeger Sampler Folkways Records

Tribute albumsEdit

In 1998 Appleseed Records issued a double-CD tribute album: Where Have All the Flowers Gone: the Songs of Pete Seeger, which included readings by Studs Terkel and songs by Billy Bragg, Jackson Browne, Eliza Carthy, Judy Collins, Bruce Cockburn, Donovan, Ani DiFranco, Dick Gaughan, Nanci Griffith, Richie Havens, Indigo Girls, Roger McGuinn, Holly Near, Odetta, Tom Paxton, Bonnie Raitt, Martin Simpson, and Bruce Springsteen, among others.

In 2001, Appleseed release "If I Had a Song: The Songs of Pete Seeger, Vol. 2." In 2003, it issued the double-CD Seeds: The Songs of Pete Seeger, Volume 3, the final set in its trilogy of releases celebrating Seeger's music.

In April 2006 Bruce Springsteen released a collection of folk songs associated with Seeger's repertoire, titled, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions (which some reviewers noted that, oddly, contained no songs actually composed by Seeger). Springsteen and his band also toured to sellout crowds in a series of concerts based on those sessions. He had previously performed the Seeger staple, "We Shall Overcome," on Where Have All the Flowers Gone.

In the 1970s Harry Chapin released a song dedicated to Seeger called "Old Folkie."


QuotesEdit

Template:Copy to Wikiquote

From SeegerEdit

Template:Sister

  • "Some may find them [songs] merely diverting melodies. Others may find them incitements to Red revolution. And who will say if either or both is wrong? Not I."[73]
  • "I like to say I'm more conservative than Goldwater. He just wanted to turn the clock back to when there was no income tax. I want to turn the clock back to when people lived in small villages and took care of each other."[74]
  • "Technology will save us if it doesn't wipe us out first."[75]
  • "I still call myself a communist, because communism is no more what Russia made of it than Christianity is what the churches make of it. But if by some freak of history communism had caught up with this country, I would have been one of the first people thrown in jail."[60]
  • "I certainly should apologize for saying that Stalin was a hard driver rather than a very cruel leader. I don't speak out about a lot of things. I don't talk about slavery. A lot of white people in America could apologize for stealing land from the Indians and enslaving Africans. Europe could apologize for worldwide conquest. Mongolia could apologize for Genghis Khan. But I think the thing to do is look ahead."[59]
  • "There is hope for the world." - in Pete Seeger: The Power of Song.
  • "We sang about Alabama 1955, / But since 9-11, we wonder, will this world survive? / The world learned a lesson from Dr. King: / We can survive, we can, we will, and so we sing - // Don't say it can't be done, / The battle's just begun. / Take it from Dr. King, / You too can learn to sing, / So drop the gun."[76]
  • "I believe God is everywhere."[77]
  • "Singing with children in the schools has been the most rewarding experience of my life." -Seeger, October 17, 2009, at community concert in Beacon, New York
  • "I usually quote Plato, who said: It is very dangerous to allow the wrong kind of music in the republic." 0:45 @ [78]

From othersEdit

Jim Musselman (founder of Appleseed Recordings), longtime friend and record producer for Pete Seeger:

He was one of the few people who invoked the First Amendment in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). Everyone else had said the Fifth Amendment, the right against self-incrimination, and then they were dismissed. What Pete did, and what some other very powerful people who had the guts and the intestinal fortitude to stand up to the committee and say, "I'm gonna invoke the First Amendment, the right of freedom of association...."
...I was actually in law school when I read the case of Seeger v. United States, and it really changed my life, because I saw the courage of what he had done and what some other people had done by invoking the First Amendment, saying, "We're all Americans. We can associate with whoever we want to, and it doesn't matter who we associate with." That's what the founding fathers set up democracy to be. So I just really feel it's an important part of history that people need to remember."[75]

Raffi on his concert video "Raffi on Broadway" during the introduction of May There Always Be Sunshine:

"And this song is the one that I first heard Pete Seeger singing. And he tells me that it was written by a four-year-old boy in Russia. And it's just got four lines and it's been translated into a number of languages."

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

NotesEdit

  1. See Richard Silverstein, "Happy Birthday, Pete Seeger, Guardian UK, April 30, 2009: "As the iconic folk singer turns 90, we can say that America is a far better country for his having shared his music with us. Pete Seeger, the American troubadour and balladeer of the common man." For Pete Seeger as a cultural icon see also: Minna Bromberg and Alan Fine, "Resurrecting the Red: Pete Seeger and the Purificaton of Difficult Reputations," Social Forces, Vol. 80 (June 2002), No. 4, pp. 1135–1155. They write:
    We chart Seeger's reputation through four historical periods: recognition among his peers on the Left (1940s), ruin in the McCarthy period (1950-62), renown among sympathetic subcultures (1960s), and institutionalization as a cultural icon. While it has clear advantages, institutionalization can also have a dampening effect on an artist's oppositional potency.
  2. Alec Wilkinson, "The Protest Singer: Pete Seeger and American folk music," in The New Yorker (April 17, 2006) pp. 44–53.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Dunaway (2008), p. 19.
  4. Dunaway (2008), pp. 16-19.
  5. Winkler (2009), p. 2.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Dunaway (2008), p. 20.
  7. New York Times, December 19, 1911 wedding announcement.
  8. Dunaway (2008), pp. 22, 24.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Winkler (2009), p. 4.
  10. Dunaway (2008), pp. 19-21
  11. Dunaway (2008), pp. 22-28
  12. "John Seeger Dies at 95". WordPress.com. 18 January 2010. http://peteseegersite.wordpress.com/2010/01/18/john-seeger-dies-at-95/. Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  13. Wilkinson (2006), pp. 47-48.
  14. David King Dunaway, David King Dunaway, How Can I Keep From Singing (New York: [Random House, 1981, 1990], revised edition, Villard Books, 2008) pp. 48-49.
  15. According to Wilkinson (2006), p. 51, after failing one of his winter exams and losing his scholarship.
  16. David King Dunaway, How Can I Keep From Singing (New York: [Random House, 1981, 1990], revised edition, Villard Books, 2008), pp. 61-63.
  17. Emery, Lawrence, "Interesting Summer: Young Puppeteers in Unique Tour of Rural Areas," quoted on Pete Seeger website
  18. The resultant 22-page mimeographed "List of American Folk Music on Commercial Recordings," issued in 1940 and mailed by Lomax out to academic folklore scholars, became the basis of Harry Smith's celebrated Anthology of American Folk Music on Folkways Records. Seeger also did similar work for Lomax at Decca in the late forties.
  19. Folk Songs in the White House, Time, March 3, 1941. Accessed online 30 September 2008.
  20. From the Washington Post, Feb 12 1944: "The Labor Canteen, sponsored by the United Federal Workers of America, CIO, will be opened at 8 p.m. tomorrow at 1212 18th st. nw. Mrs. Roosevelt is expected to attend at 8:30 p.m."
  21. Wilkinson (2006), p. 47.
  22. See the Wikipedia entry on the CIO.
  23. David King Dunaway, (2008), p. 100.
  24. Acoustic Guitar Central.
  25. "How Can I Keep from Singing?": A Seeger Family Tribute. 2007 symposium and concert, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress (web presentation includes program, photographs, and webcasts).
  26. Patrick Doyle, Video: Pete Seeger Debuts New BP Protest Song: Songwriter talks inspiration behind "God's Counting on Me, God's Counting on You", Rolling Stone online, 26 July 2010. Retrieved 27 July 2010.
  27. 27.0 27.1 Tommy Stevenson, "'This Land Is Your Land' Like Woody Wrote It", Tuscaloosa News, January 18, 2009. Accessed January 19, 2009.
  28. Maria Puente and Elysa Gardner, "Inauguration opening concert celebrates art of the possible", USA Today, January 19, 2008. Accessed January 20, 2009.
  29. YouTube: Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen at the inaugural concert at the Lincoln Memorial. Accessed January 20, 2009.
  30. Web site announcing Seeger's 90th birthday celebration
  31. Hudson River Sloop Clearwater.
  32. Here are links to other "For Pete's Sake: Sing!" 90th-birthday shows on Sunday, May 3: Seattle, WA, Sequim, WA , Bellingham, WA, Huntington, NY, Telkwa, BC, Ithaca, NY, Richmond, VA, Rockville, MD, Boston, MA, Sherborn, MA, Knoxville, TN, Dayton, OH, in Australia, in Scotland.
  33. He later commented "Innocently I became a member of the Communist Party, and when they said fight for peace, I did, and when they said fight Hitler, I did. I got out in '49, though.... I should have left much earlier. It was stupid of me not to. My father had got out in '38, when he read the testimony of the trials in Moscow, and he could tell they were forced confessions. We never talked about it, though, and I didn't examine closely enough what was going on.... I thought Stalin was the brave secretary Stalin, and had no idea how cruel a leader he was." Alec Wilkinson, The Protest Singer: An Intimate Portrait of Pete Seeger, (New York: Knopf, 2009),p. 152.
  34. "The Poison in Our System" (excerpt from the Atlantic Monthly) by Carl Joachim Friedrich. Note: Dunaway misses the significance of military propagandist Carl Joachim Friedrich, when he mistakenly refers to him as "Karl Frederick," an error other writers who relied on Dunaway repeated.
  35. Although the Almanacs were accused -- both at the time and in subsequent histories -- of reversing their attitudes in response to the Communist Party's new party line, "Seeger has pointed out that virtually all progressives reversed course and supported the war. He insists that no one, Communist Party or otherwise, told the Almanacs to change their songs. (Seeger interview with [Richard A.] Reuss 4/9/68)" quoted in William G. Roy, "Who Shall Not Be Moved? Folk Music, Community and Race in the American The Communist Party and the Highlander School," ff p. 16.
  36. Blanche Wiessen Cook, Eisenhower Declassified (Doubleday, 1981), page 122. "The Council was a limited affair," Cook writes, "...that served mostly to highlight Jackson's talents as a propagandist."
  37. See: "Singers on New Morale Show Also Warbled for Communists," New York World Telegram, February 17, 1942
  38. People's Songs Inc. People's Songs Newsletter No 1. Feb 1946. Old Town School of Folk Music Resource center collection.
  39. American Masters: "Pete Seeger: The Power of Song - KQED Broadcast 2-27-08.
  40. 40.0 40.1 "Pete Seeger: The Power of Song" - PBS American Masters, 2008-02-27
  41. , p. 52.
  42. Pete Seeger to the House Unamerican Activities Committee, August 18, 1955. Quoted, along with some other exchanges from that hearing, in Wilkinson (2006), p. 53.
  43. Wilkinson (2006), p. 53.
  44. Dillon, Raquel Maria. "School board offers apology to singer Pete Seeger". Sign On San Diego. http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2009/feb/11/pete-seeger-apology-021109/?zIndex=51324. Retrieved 13 February 2011. 
  45. Beans in My Ears.
  46. Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, CBS, Season 2, Episode 1, September 10, 1967.
  47. How "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy" Finally Got on Network Television in 1968.
  48. Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, CBS, Season 2, Episode 24, February 25, 1968.
  49. Brown, Jim (Director) (2005). The Power of Song (DVD). Genius Products LLC. ISBN 1-594-45156-7. 
  50. Featured in the PBS documentary, a more specific cite is needed.
  51. Howard, Alan (2007). The Don McLean Story: Killing Us Softly With His Songs. Lulu Press Inc.. p. 420. ISBN 978-1430306825. 
  52. BBC Wales.
  53. The Butterfield Blues band, managed by Grossman, was the closer in a blues workshop that had included Memphis Slim and other African-American greats, Lomax is reported to have questioned whether white musicians such as the Butterfield Band really could play the blues as well as the great blues artists of the past, whom they were imitating: this infuriated Grossman, who responded by attacking Lomax physically. Michael Bloomfield stated, "Alan Lomax, the great folklorist and musicologist, gave us some kind of introduction that I didn't even hear, but Albert found it offensive. And Albert went upside his head. The next thing we knew, right in the middle of our show, Lomax and Grossman were kicking ass on the floor in the middle of thousands of people at the Newport Folk Festival. Tearing each other's clothes off. We had to pull 'em apart. We figured 'Albert, man, now there's a manager!'" quoted in Jan Mark Wolkin, Bill Keenom, and Carlos Santana's, Michael Bloomfield: If You Love These Blues (San Francisco: Miller Freeman Books), p. 102. See also Ronald D. Cohen's introduction to "Part III, The Folk Revival (1960s)" in Alan Lomax: Selected Writings Ronald D. Cohen, ed. (London: Routledege), p. 192.
  54. In the Dylan documentary No Direction Home, John Cohen, Maria Muldaur and Seeger himself give conflicting accounts.
  55. David Kupfer, Longtime Passing: An interview with Pete Seeger, Whole Earth magazine, Spring 2001. Accessed online October 16, 2007.
  56. 56.0 56.1 David King Dunaway (2008), p. 103.
  57. David T. Dellinger, From Yale to Jail: The Life Story of a Moral Dissenter (New York : Pantheon Books, 1993 ISBN 0-679-40591-7).
  58. Where Have All the Flowers Gone: A Musical Autobiography, edited by Peter Blood (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania: A Sing Out Publication, 1993, 1997), page 22.
  59. 59.0 59.1 59.2 Daniel J. Wakin, "This Just In: Pete Seeger Denounced Stalin Over a Decade Ago", New York Times, September 1, 2007. Accessed October 16, 2007.
  60. 60.0 60.1 "The Old Left". New York Times Magazine. 1995-01-22. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=990CE7D7123BF931A15752C0A963958260&n=Top/Reference/Times%20Topics/People/S/Seeger,%20Pete. Retrieved May 22, 2010. 
  61. Boaz, David (April 14, 2006). "Stalin's songbird". London: Guardian News and Media Limited. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2006/apr/14/post33?commentpage=1. Retrieved 2009-03-27. 
  62. Boaz's article is reprinted in his book, The Politics of Freedom (Washington, D.C.: The Cato Institute, 2008) pp. 283-84
  63. Dunaway (2008), p. 422.
  64. Seeger turns on Uncle Joe, NewStatesMan, 27/9/2007.
  65. "If a man can't walk around in his own country without fear, what business does he have selling freedom to the Russians?" See "Licks of Love in the Heart of the Cold War" in the May 1998 Atlantic Monthly
  66. [1] Template:Webarchive
  67. The phrase "America's tuning fork" is usually attributed to poet Carl Sandburg, for example, see Corey Sandler, Henry Hudson: Dreams and Obsessions (New York: Kensington Books, 2007), p. 203. It is unclear when and where Sandburg, who thought highly of the Weavers, said this. Studs Terkel, who introduced Seeger as "America's tuning fork" at the 1959 Newport Folk Festival (see George Wein, Nate Chinen, Myself Among Others: A Life in Music [Da Capo Press, 2009], p. 314), later wrote that he had seen the phase in Down Beat jazz magazine (see Terkel, Hope Dies Last: Keeping The Faith In Troubled Times [New York: The New Press], p. 249). The phrase was picked up in a photo spread on Seeger by Life Magazine (October 9, 1964), p. 61 (see also Ronald D. Cohen, Rainbow Quest: The Folk Music Revival and American Society, 1940–70 [University of Massachusetts Press, 1970], p. 223).
  68. "Obama memorializes Pete Seeger". USA Today. January 28, 2014. http://www.usatoday.com/story/theoval/2014/01/28/obama-pete-seeger-bruce-springsteen/4958941/. Retrieved January 28, 2014. 
  69. Billy Bragg, "Pete Seeger: folk activist who believed music could make a difference", The Guardian, January 28, 2014.
  70. Diane Vadino, "Bruce Springsteen Honors Pete Seeger With a Stirring 'We Shall Overcome," Rolling Stone, January 29, 2014.
  71. Mid-Hudson Civic Center, accessed 2009-05-15. Template:Dead link
  72. Alan Chartock, "New York has a chance to honor an American hero," Legislative Gazette, April 24, 2009, found at Legislative Gazette website. Accessed April 29, 2009.
  73. Rolling Stone, April 13, 1972.
  74. When Will They Ever Learn?, accessed 2009-05-15.
  75. 75.0 75.1 We Shall Overcome: An Hour With Legendary Folk Singer & Activist Pete Seeger, Democracy Now!, September 4, 2006. Accessed December 6, 2008. (Interview from 2004).
  76. Lyrics to "Take It From Dr. King".
  77. A Beliefnet interview with the great folk singer on God, religion, and whether music can change the world., accessed 2009-05-15.
  78. [2]

External linksEdit

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