I'm going to devote the blog today to the passing of Pete Seeger who dies Monday at the age of 94. I'm not going to concentrate on his politics which I know many of you did not agree with. Instead I'd like to focus on the work he did and the art he created in trying to make the world a better place for every one. About how he tried to give a voice to the voiceless, a platform for advancing the ability to have a better life for people who had little expectation that that was even possible..to continue to work for peace and justice in a time of history where there was little of either. About standing up to the House Un-American Activities Committee ...his work on environmental issues and his organization that called attention to and helped clean up the Hudson River...To repopularize songs of our history..whether it was old spirituals like 'We Shall Overcome" that became the anthem of the Civil Rights movement...or Woody Guthrie classics like "This Land Is Your Land" .
He would be a giant in our musical history for his songbook alone...If I Had A Hammer, Where Have All The Flowers Gone, Turn Turn Turn, The Bells Of Rhymney, Take It From Dr. King, and my favorite 'Waist Deep In The Big Muddy"
He wrote Waist Deep in 1967 and performed it on the Smother Brothers Show in January of 1968 after CBS wouldnt let him sing it in the fall of 67. It tells the story of a National guard platoon on maneuvers in the Louisiana bayous during World War 2 and the tragedy that befell them after blindly following the orders of a deluded captain. It was viewed, and rightly so, as an allegory for Lyndon Johnson's escalation of our participation in the quagmire that became Viet Nam.
He was an early backer of Bob Dylan and convinced John Hammond to sign Dylan and record his first album.
You may not agree with Seeger's politics...but it is hard to ignore his importance not only in the history of American music...but in our general history as a country as well.
Waist Deep In The Big Muddy-Pete Seeger (1967) considering what constitutes tv entertainment today its hard to believe that this was once censored
Where Have All The Flowers Gone-Peter ,Paul & Mary (1962)
If I Had A Hammer-Pete Seeger (1949) here is a 1956 live version
The Bells Of Rymney-Byrds (1965) a great version of this mining disaster song from the Byrds debut album
Turn Turn Turn-Byrds (1965) the Byrds used this song written by Seeger in the late 50's as the title track of the their second album