Tuesday, September 5


An extraordinary interview with legendary folk singer Pete Seeger.

I have to relate my own history with folk music. From the time I was thirteen I was an aficionado of folk music, organizing folk groups and singing publicly as often as the opportunity arose. Inspired by Joan Baez, I even went back to The English and Scottish Popular Ballads recorded by Francis Child, sometimes known as the "Child Ballads," locating the out-of-print volumes and learning and performing them. Pete Seeger, of "Where Are All The Flowers Gone?" fame, was one of my favorites, along with Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, The Kingston Trio, and, later, Joni Mitchell, Peter Paul & Mary, and Gordon Lightfoot. Oh, there were so many great folk acts, too many to recount!

But Pete Seeger was The Real Thing, like Joanie. These were people who lived what they sang, who were activists as well as performers. Pete at 87 has seen and experienced it all -- the early labor movement, WWII, the McCarthy era, Vietnam, Iraq ... And, as this interview demonstrates, has come out of it with an optimism and faith that is enduring.

I sang "Waste Deep in the Big Muddy," [ed. note: next line is "and the big fool says to push on"] and this time only at a station in Detroit cut it out. But the rest of the country heard it, so seven million people heard it. Who knows? Later that month, in late February, Lyndon Johnson decided not to run for re-election. The song would be probably just one more thing. I honestly believe that the future is going to be millions of little things saving us. I imagine a big seesaw, and at one end of this seesaw is on the ground with a basket half-full of big rocks in it. The other end of the seesaw is up in the air. It's got a basket one-quarter full of sand. And some of us got teaspoons, and we're trying to fill up sand.

A lot of people are laughing at us, and they say, "Ah, people like you have been trying to do that for thousands of years, and it's leaking out as fast as you're putting it in." But we're saying, "We're getting more people with teaspoons all the time." And we think, "One of these years, you'll see that whole seesaw go zooop in the other direction." And people will say, "Gee, how did it happen so suddenly?" Us and all our little teaspoons. Now granted, we've gotta keep putting it in, because if we don't keep putting teaspoons in, it will leak out, and the rocks will go back down again. Who knows?
Realize that little things lead to bigger things. That's what Seeds is all about. And this wonderful parable in the New Testament: the sower scatters seeds. Some seeds fall in the pathway and get stamped on, and they don't grow. Some fall on the rocks, and they don't grow. But some seeds fall on fallow ground, and they grow and multiply a thousand fold. Who knows where some good little thing that you've done may bring results years later that you never dreamed of.


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8:03 PM  

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