Peter "Pete" Seeger (May 3, 1919 – January 27, 2014) was an American folk singer and activist. A fixture on nationwide radio in the 1940’s, he also had a string of hit records during the early 1950’s as a member of the Weavers, most notably their recording of Lead Belly's "Goodnight, Irene", which topped the charts for 13 weeks in 1950. 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, counterculture and environmental causes.
A prolific songwriter, his best-known songs include "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" (with Joe Hickerson), "If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)" (with Lee Hays of the Weavers), and "Turn! Turn! Turn!" (lyrics adapted from Ecclesiastes), which have been recorded by many artists both in and outside the folk revival movement and are 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 had a number one hit with "Turn! Turn! Turn!" in 1965.
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 stated it was he who changed the lyric from the traditional "We will overcome" to the more singable "We shall overcome".
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, but left in 1949.
In the spring of 1941, the twenty-one-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.
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 Quince 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 Hanns 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").
As a self-described "split tenor" (between an alto and a tenor), 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, racial and religious inclusion, and other progressive causes. Its personnel included, at various times: Woody Guthrie, Bess Lomax 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 an 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 and Fred Hellerman; later Frank Hamilton, Erik Darling and Bernie Krause serially took Seeger's place. 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 on occasion performed in tuxedos (unlike the Almanacs, who had dressed informally) and their managers refused to let them perform at political venues. The Weavers' string of major hits began with "On Top of Old Smoky" and an arrangement of Lead Belly's signature waltz, "Goodnight, Irene," which topped the charts for 13 weeks in 1950and was covered by many other pop singers. On the flip side of "Irene" was the Israeli song "Tzena, Tzena, Tzena". Other Weaver hits included "Dusty Old Dust" ("So Long It's Been Good to Know You" by Woody Guthrie), "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine" (by Hays, Seeger, and Lead Belly) and the South African Zulu song by Solomon Linda, "Wimoweh" (about Shaka), among others.
The Weavers' performing career was abruptly derailed 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 1950s, 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 buttoned-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.
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. He left the CPUSA in 1949 but remained friends with some who did not leave it, though he argued with them about it.
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 Congress, Seeger refused to plead the Fifth Amendment (which would have 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." Seeger's refusal to answer questions that violated his fundamental Constitutional rights 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 Congress in March 1961, and sentenced to ten 1-year terms in jail (to be served simultaneously), but in May 1962 an appeals court ruled the indictment to be flawed and overturned his conviction.
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. Almost 50 years later, in February 2009, the San Diego School District officially extended an apology to Seeger for the actions of their predecessors.
To earn money during the blacklist period of the late 1950s and early 1960s, Seeger worked 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 (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 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 1930s and 1940s 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.)
Seeger toured Australia in 1963. His single "Little Boxes", written by Malvina Reynolds, was number one in the nation's Top 40s. That tour sparked a folk boom throughout the country at a time when popular music tastes, post-Kennedy assassination, competed between folk, the surfing craze, and the British rock boom which gave the world the Beatles and The Rolling Stones, among others. Folk clubs sprung up all over the nation, folk performers were accepted in established venues, and Australian performers singing Australian folk songs - many of their own composing - emerged in concerts and festivals, on television, and on recordings, and overseas performers were encouraged to tour Australia.
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 hour-long programs were recorded at WNJU's Newark studios in 1965 and 1966, produced by Seeger and his wife Toshi, with Sholom Rubinstein. The Smothers Brothers ended Seeger's national blacklisting by broadcasting him singing "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy" on their CBS variety show on February 25, 1968, after his similar performance in September 1967 was censored by CBS.
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, 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", a loose pronunciation of Johnson's nickname "LBJ," did not listen to anti-war protests as he too had "beans in his ears".
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, after wide publicity it was broadcast when Seeger appeared again on the Smothers' Brothers show in the following January.
At the November 15, 1969, Vietnam Moratorium March on Washington, DC, Seeger led 500,000 protesters in singing John Lennon's song "Give Peace a Chance" as they rallied across from the White House. Seeger's voice carried over the crowd, interspersing phrases like, "Are you listening, Nixon?" between the choruses of protesters singing, "All we are saying ... is give peace a chance".
Inspired by Woody Guthrie, whose guitar was labeled "This machine kills fascists", Seeger's banjo was emblazoned with the motto "This Machine Surrounds Hate and Forces It to Surrender."
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), ranging from Dave Matthews, John Mellencamp, Billy Bragg, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Morello, Eric Weissberg, Ani DiFranco and Roger McGuinn to Joan Baez, Richie Havens, Joanne Shenandoah, R. Carlos Nakai, Bill Miller, Joseph Fire Crow, Margo Thunderbird, 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 United States government. Consistent with Seeger's long-time advocacy for environmental concerns, the proceeds from the event benefited the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, a non-profit organization founded by Seeger in 1966, to defend and restore the Hudson River. Seeger's 90th Birthday was also celebrated at The College of Staten Island on May 4.
On September 19, 2009 Pete Seeger made his first appearance at the 52nd Monterey Jazz Festival, which was particularly notable because the festival does not normally feature folk artists.
On September 21, 2013, Pete Seeger performed at Farm Aid at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, New York. Joined by Wille Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, and Dave Matthews, he sang "This Land Is Your Land" and included a verse he said he had written specifically for the Farm Aid concert. Seeger died on January 27, 2014, at the age of 94. According to his grandson, Kitama Cahill-Jackson, Seeger died peacefully in his sleep around 9:30 p.m. at New York's Presbyterian Hospital, where he had been for six days. Family members were with him at the time of his death. Cahill-Jackson said Seeger was still as active as ever, out chopping wood ten days prior to his death.
Regina Spektor– LITTLE BOXES – "Little Boxes" is a song written by Malvina Reynolds in 1962, which became a hit for her friend Pete Seeger in 1963. The song is a political satire about the development of suburbia and associated conformist middle-class attitudes. It refers to suburban tract housing as "little boxes" of different colors "all made out of ticky-tacky", and which "all look just the same." "Ticky-tacky" is a reference to the shoddy material used in the construction of housing of that time. It was used as the theme song for the television show “Weeds”, with a different artist interpreting it each episode.
Pete Seeger – LITTLE BOXES (LIVE) – "Little Boxes" is a song written by Malvina Reynolds in 1962, which became a hit for her friend Pete Seeger in 1963. The song is a political satire about the development of suburbia and associated conformist middle-class attitudes. It refers to suburban tract housing as "little boxes" of different colors "all made out of ticky-tacky", and which "all look just the same." "Ticky-tacky" is a reference to the shoddy material used in the construction of housing of that time.
Pete Seeger – IF I HAD A HAMMER… (LIVE) – "If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)" is a song written by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays. It was written in 1949 in support of the progressive movement, and was first recorded by The Weavers, a folk music quartet composed of Seeger, Hays, Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman, and then by Peter, Paul and Mary.
The song was first performed publicly by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays on June 3, 1949 at St. Nicholas Arena in New York at a testimonial dinner for the leaders of the Communist Party of the United States, who were then on trial in federal court, charged with violating the Smith Act by advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government. It was not particularly successful in commercial terms when it was first released. It fared notably better when it was recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary more than a decade later. Their cover of the song, released in August 1962, became a Top 10 hit.
Pete Seeger – MICHAEL ROW THE BOAT ASHORE (LIVE) - "Michael, Row the Boat Ashore" is a Negro spiritual. It was first noted during the American Civil War at St. Helena Island, one of the Sea Islands of South Carolina.
It was sung by former slaves whose owners had abandoned the island before the Union navy arrived to enforce a blockade. Charles Pickard Ware, an abolitionist and Harvard graduate who had come to supervise the plantations on St. Helena Island from 1862 to 1865, wrote the song down in music notation as he heard the freedmen sing it. Ware's cousin, William Francis Allen reported in 1863 that while he rode in a boat across Station Creek, the former slaves sang the song as they rowed.
The song was first published in Slave Songs of the United States, by Allen, Ware, and Lucy McKim Garrison, in 1867.
The version of "Michael, Row the Boat Ashore" that is widely known today was adapted by Boston folksinger and teacher Tony Saletan, who taught it to Pete Seeger in 1954. One of the earliest recordings of the song is by folksinger Bob Gibson, who included it on his 1957 Carnegie Concert album. After The Weavers included an arrangement in The Weavers' Song Book, published in 1960, the American folk quintet The Highwaymen had a #1 hit on both the pop and easy listening charts in the U.S. with it (under the simpler title of "Michael") in 1960; this version also went to #1 in the United Kingdom. Harry Belafonte recorded a popular version of it for his 1962 Midnight Special album; Pete Seeger included it in his Children's Concert at Town Hall in 1963.
Pete Seeger & Johnny Cash – WORRIED MAN BLUES - "Worried Man Blues" is a folk song in the roots music repertoire. Like many folks songs passed by oral tradition, the lyrics vary from version to version, but generally all contain the chorus "It takes a worried man to sing a worried song/It takes a worried man to sing a worried song/I'm worried now, but I won't be worried long." The verses tell the story of a man imprisoned for unknown reasons "I went across the river, and I lay down to sleep/When I woke up, had shackles on my feet", who pines for his lost love, who is "on the train and gone." The Carter Family recorded this song for the Victor Talking Machine Company in 1930. It was also recorded by Big Joe Williams in 1935, Woody Guthrie in 1940, the Kingston Trio in 1959 (as "A Worried Man" with new verses), Ramblin' Jack Elliott in the 60s, Johnny Cash in 1969, Pete Seeger in 1970 (together with Johnny Cash), Devo in 1979, Van Morrison in 1998, Elliott Murphy in 2013, and numerous other artists.
Arlo Guthre & Pete Seeger – AMAZING GRACE – "Amazing Grace" is one of the most recognizable Christian hymns in the English-speaking world. The text by English poet and Anglican clergyman John Newton (1725–1807) was first published in 1779. The words describe in first person the move of a "wretch" from a "lost" to a "found" state by a merciful act of God. The melody, "New Britain", was first published in 1829 by Charles H. Spilman and Benjamin Shaw (Cincinnati). Unattributed to any composer, the melody combines two earlier melodies ("Gallaher" and "St. Mary") and possibly represents a confluence of oral traditions. "New Britain" was wedded to Newton's text in 1835 by composer William Walker to form the hymn familiar today.
Author Gilbert Chase describes "Amazing Grace" as "without a doubt the most famous of all the folk hymns." Jonathan Aitken, a Newton biographer, estimates that it is performed about 10 million times annually. "Amazing Grace" stands as an emblematic Negro spiritual and exemplar of Appalachian shape note hymnody. In the nineteenth century the hymn was sung by Native Americans enduring the ordeal of the Trail of Tears, by abolitionists, by soldiers in the U.S. Civil War, and by homesteaders settling the Prairies. Today it has attained international popularity, and benefited from renewed popularity among members of America's civil rights movement.
Pete Seeger and The Rivertown Kids –FOREVER YOUNG - "Forever Young" is a song by Bob Dylan. The song first appeared (in two different versions) on Dylan's 1974 album Planet Waves.
After an eight year break from touring, Dylan's legend was big enough to fit all twelve apostles and still have room for a couple of Buddhas. He agreed to go back on the road in 1974 with The Band, his old backup group who had become stars themselves during the down time. They got together and quickly knocked off an album, Planet Waves, that featured two versions of a blessing from a parent to a child. In the years he was away from stage Dylan had become a father. He had that in common with a good chunk of the audience. The song reflected it. Memorably recited on American TV by Howard Cosell when Muhammad Ali won the heavyweight crown for the third time. Peter, Paul and Mary covered the song in their album "Reunion" released in 1978.
The Byrds – TURN! TURN! TURN! (TO EVERYTHING THERE IS A SEASON) – "Turn! Turn! Turn! (to Everything There Is a Season)", often abbreviated to "Turn! Turn! Turn!", is a song written by Pete Seeger in the late 1950s. The lyrics, except for the title -- which is repeated throughout the song -- and the final verse of the song, are adapted word-for-word from Chapter 3 of the Book of Ecclesiastes, as found in the King James Version (1611) of the Bible (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8), though the sequence of the words was rearranged for the song. Ecclesiastes is traditionally ascribed to King Solomon. Set to music and recorded in 1962. The song was originally released as "To Everything There Is a Season" on The Limeliters' album Folk Matinee and then some months later on Seeger's own The Bitter and the Sweet. The song became an international hit in late 1965 when it was covered by the American folk rock band The Byrds, bowing at #80 on October 23, 1965, before reaching #1 on the Hot 100 chart on December 4, 1965, #3 in Canada (Nov. 29, 1965), and also peaking at #26 on the UK Singles Chart.
Jackson Browne & Bonnie Raitt – KISSES SWEETER THAN WINE - "Kisses Sweeter than Wine" is a popular love song written by The Weavers in 1950. The song was a hit for Jimmie Rodgers in 1957 and Frankie Vaughan in 1958.
The song was first recorded by The Weavers, who released the song as a Decca single in 1951. The recording by The Weavers reached #19 on the Billboard chart and #20 on the Cashbox chart in 1951. In his 1993 book Where Have All the Flowers Gone, Pete Seeger described the long genesis of this song. Apparently the folk musician Lead Belly heard Irish performer Sam Kennedy in Greenwich Village singing a traditional Irish song. Lead Belly adapted the tune for his song "If it Wasn't for Dicky", which he first recorded in 1937. Lead Belly did not like the lack of rhythm, which had been a part of many free-flowing Irish songs, so he made the piece more rhythmic, playing the chorus with a twelve-string guitar. Seeger liked Lead Belly's version of the tune, and his chords as well. In 1950, the quartet The Weavers, which Seeger belonged to, had made a hit version of Lead Belly's "Goodnight, Irene", and they were looking for new material. Seeger and Lee Hays wrote new lyrics (Hays wrote all new verses, Seeger re-wrote Lead Belly's chorus), turning "If It Wasn't for Dicky" into a love song. "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine" was published in 1951 and recorded by The Weavers on June 12, 1951, reaching #19 on the US Hit Parade. The music was credited to "Joel Newman" and the lyrics to "Paul Campbell", both names being pseudonyms for Howard Richmond, The Weavers' publisher. The Weavers' music publisher was Folkways Publishing, one of the many subsidiaries (aliases) of TRO/The Richmond Organisation, founded by Howard Richmond. Others are Ludlow Music, Folkways Music, Essex, Hollis, Hampstead House, Worldwide Music, Melody Trails, and Cromwell.
In his 1993 book, Seeger wrote: "Now, who should one credit on this song? The Irish, certainly. Sam Kennedy, who taught it to us. Lead Belly, for adding rhythm and blues chords. Me, for two new words for the refrain. Lee, who wrote seven verses. Fred and Ronnie, for paring them down to five. I know the song publisher, The Richmond Organization, cares. I guess folks whom TRO allows to reprint the song, (like Sing Out!, the publisher of this book) care about this too."
Joan Baez – WHERE HAVE ALL THE FLOWERS GONE (LIVE FROM PETE SEEGER’S 90TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION) – "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" is a contemporary folk song. The first three verses were written by Pete Seeger in 1955, and published in Sing Out! magazine. Additional verses were added by Joe Hickerson in May 1960, who turned it into a circular song. In 2010, the New Statesman listed it as one of the "Top 20 Political Songs".
The 1964 release of the song as a Columbia Records 45 single by Pete Seeger was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2002 in the Folk category. Seeger found inspiration for the song in October 1955, while on a plane bound for a concert in Ohio. Leafing through his notebook he saw the passage, "Where are the flowers, the girls have plucked them. Where are the girls, they've all taken husbands. Where are the men, they're all in the army." These lines were taken from the traditional Cossacks folk song "Tovchu, tovchu mak", referenced in the Mikhail Sholokhov novel And Quiet Flows the Don (1934), which Seeger had read "at least a year or two before".
Seeger adapted it to the tune of the Russian folksong "Koloda Duda" (which was subsequently published in Sing Out in 1962). With only three verses, he recorded it once in a medley on The Rainbow Quest album (Folkways LP FA 2454) released in July 1960 and forgot about it. Joe Hickerson added verses four and five, and a repeat of verse one, in May 1960 in Bloomington. In 2010, the New Statesman listed it as one of the "Top 20 Political Songs". The song appeared on the 1967 compilation album Pete Seeger's Greatest Hits released by Columbia Records as CS 9416.
Bruce Springsteen with the Sessions Band – WE SHALL OVER COME (LIVE) – We Shall Overcome is a protest song that became a key anthem of the African-American Civil Rights Movement (1955–1968). The title and structure of the song are derived from an early gospel song, "I'll Overcome Someday", by African-American composer Charles Albert Tindley. The song was published as "We Will Overcome" in the Sept. 1948 issue of People's Songs Bulletin (a publication of People's Songs, an organization of which Pete Seeger was the director and guiding spirit). It appeared in the bulletin as a contribution of and with an introduction by Zilphia Horton, then music director of the Highlander Folk School of Monteagle, Tennessee, an adult education school that trained union organizers. In it, she wrote that she'd learned the song from members of the CIO Food and Tobacco Workers Union: "It was first sung in Charleston, S.C. ... Its strong emotional appeal and simple dignity never fails to hit people. It sort of stops them cold silent." It was her favorite song and she taught it to countless others, including Pete Seeger, who included it in his repertoire, as did many other activist singers, such as Frank Hamilton and Joe Glazer, who recorded it in 1950.
The song became associated with the Civil Rights movement from 1959, when Guy Carawan stepped in as song leader at Highlander, which was then focused on non-violent civil rights activism. It quickly became the movement's unofficial anthem. Seeger and other famous folksingers in the early 1960s, such as Joan Baez, sang the song at rallies, folk festivals, and concerts in the North and helped make it widely known. Since its rise to prominence, the song, and songs based on it, have been used in a variety of protests worldwide.
Tao Rodriguez Seeger – BRING ‘EM HOME – An anti-war song written by Pete Seeger. Tao Rodríguez-Seeger (born 1972) is an American contemporary folk musician. A founder of The Mammals, he is the grandson of folk musician Pete Seeger. He plays banjo, guitar, harmonica, and sings in English and Spanish. In 1986, Rodríguez-Seeger started performing with his grandfather, Pete Seeger. In 1999 he was a member of the band RIG, with Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion. In 2001 he founded the Mammals with Michael Merenda and Ruth Ungar. In 2006 he recorded an album, Que Vaya Bien, with Puerto Rican folk singers Roy Brown, and Tito Auger of the Puerto Rican rock band Fiel A La Vega and he formed the Anarchist Orchestra (now known as the Tao Rodriguez-Seeger band) with Jacob Silver, also of the Mammals, Laura Cortese and Robin McMillan.
On January 18, 2009, Seeger performed with his grandfather Pete Seeger, Bruce Springsteen and a youth chorus at the We Are One Inaugural Celebration of President Barack Obama. They sang Woody Guthrie's famous song "This Land Is Your Land" during the finale, before an audience estimated at 400,000. The performance included two of Guthrie's original verses to the song that have often been censored. One verse mentions "private property" and the other refers to a depression era relief office. Taken from his CD “Rise and Bloom” (2010) produced by Jono Manson.
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