S is for Pete Seeger

Johnny Cash and Pete Seeger talk about the origins of the Cherokee written language.

peteseegerI was, and am, a big fan of the late folk singer Pete Seeger (May 3, 1919 – January 27, 2014). I wrote about him on his 90th birthday in 2009 HERE, though I am surprised that I didn’t mention the fact that I had the opportunity to actually talk with Pete at the Springboks demonstration.

My affection for the We Shall Overcome album I have documented.

I remember watching him singing Waist Deep in the Big Muddy on The Smothers Brothers show, after it had previously been yanked by CBS.

The documentary Wasn’t That A Time, about the reunion of the Weavers – Seeger, Ronnie Gilbert, Fred Hellerman and Lee Hays – came out in 1982. I saw it at least a decade later. You should watch it.

Still, I keep learning things about the singer. Earlier this year, I wrote about the song Black and White, popularized by Three Dog Night, but performed a decade and a half earlier by Seeger.

Then there was this: Rainbow Quest (1965–66) was a U.S. television series devoted to folk music. It was on public television, but not in any market I was in. There were 39 episodes. Here’s a description of the last one:

“Way back in the halcyon days of black and white TV, Johnny Cash and Pete Seeger talk about the origins of the Cherokee written language, and sing a Peter La Farge song of the Seneca trust broken in treaties with the U.S. government.” June Carter also appeared on that episode.

You can watch it a sample of it HERE.

“Starting in the early 1980s 38 of the shows were made available on VHS, Betamax and 3/4″ (U-Matic) tapes… The 39th show, featuring Johnny Cash and June Carter, was withheld at the request of Pete Seeger because Johnny Cash was heavily on drugs during his appearance. However, in the late ’90s this show was released to the public.”

Here are some other episodes, along with the last episode in full.

ABC Wednesday – Round 18

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

16 thoughts on “S is for Pete Seeger”

  1. Was the song about the “big muddy” yanked by CBS because of the political connections to the Vietnam War? I was pretty young then but do recall news reports of that war and how a lot of young men were moving up into the wilderness of Canada. I actually met some of them in ’94/’95 when I went up to Bella Coola to teach for a year…they look the same now, only older, with long pony-tailed hair and cowboy hats!

    abcw team

  2. Leslie – it most assuredly was banned by CBS for over a year because of its implicit opposition to the Vietnam war and by exptension, “the big fool”, Lyndon Johnson.

  3. Always enjoy your post ~ fond memories of Pete Seeger and Peter, Paul and Mary music ~ it all went by in a ‘blink’ ~ ya think???

    Happy Week to you ~ ^_^

  4. always a big fan – saw his last concert at proctors a couple mothers days ago- alsaw him at page hall a couple decades before that amazing man

  5. To me, Seeger means “Where have all the flowers gone?” One of the few songs recorded by Marlene Dietrich, Johnny Rivers, and Earth, Wind and Fire.

  6. I admire Pete Seegers because he sang protest songs against the Vietnam war. I was a member of two peace movements.
    Wil, ABCW Team

  7. I loved Pete Seger he had the courage to sing about what the people were thinking,
    I too considered LBJ to be a great dope!

    Best wishes,
    ABCW team.

  8. I didn’t know that was what “Black and White” was about. I do like the lyrics that Pete Seeger sang more. Funny how some people relish films with graphic violence but get pushed out of shape to the reality of such lyrics.

  9. Not a particular fan but I can understand liking him. I put him in the same bracket as Peter, Paul and Mary (you may disagree).

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