web analytics

Seeger “brought politics to music”

Written By: - Date published: 9:15 am, January 29th, 2014 - 23 comments
Categories: music, Unions, us politics - Tags:

It was a life long and well lived, and he had to go sometime.  However, he will be remembered, and revisited whenever politics of the people is revitalised in culture and music.

Seeger 1919 2014

I came of age at a time when folk music, especially political folk music was considered pretty cool.  It was a time when popular music drew directly on its folk music roots as people’s music.  And it was a time when those of the left of politics knew exactly who Pete Seeger was.

Doran Lynskey of The Guardian: ‘Pete Seeger: the man who brought politics to music

But Seeger carved out his place in history with a quieter, rarer set of qualities: nobility, generosity, humility and, when things got rough, breathtaking courage. Perhaps uniquely, he became one of the most important singers in America without ever being a star, because he believed in the song rather than the singer.

Like most, I think of him and Woody Guthrie as being significantly connected.

Guthrie the charismatic Dust Bowl poet, and Seeger the man who got America singing. He didn’t have a remarkable voice but it was clear and strong and it never got in the way of the material, which was the point. A great believer in the power of communal singing, he saw himself as just a catalyst: a means to an end.

He served in WWII, but for Seeger, political battles followed the end of the war.

He was hounded, sometimes violently, by the right. His new band, the Weavers, briefly became sensations, but the Red Scare ripped them apart in 1952. And there was worse to come.

Summoned to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1955, Seeger refused to wriggle out of trouble by taking the Fifth and made himself an “unfriendly” witness. While awaiting trial for contempt of Congress, and likely imprisonment, he threw himself into the civil rights movement. It was Seeger who introduced Martin Luther King to We Shall Overcome and advised civil rights activist to form their own group, the Freedom Singers. “Songs have accompanied every liberation movement in history,” he wrote. “These songs will reaffirm your faith in the future of mankind.”

Seeger was also the forefather of the folk revival. In 1962, the same week his legal troubles were finally over, Peter, Paul and Mary took Where Have All the Flowers Gone? into the Top 40. But the revival ran away from him, thanks to Bob Dylan.

[..]

Even in old age, he kept singing, notably at President Obama’s inauguration and Occupy Wall Street. His voice may have grown shaky but it carried with it the history of the American left since the New Deal. He would have considered it neglectfully selfish to retire.

The songs remain:

Talking Union

Which side are you on?

If I had a Hammer

23 comments on “Seeger “brought politics to music””

  1. philj 1

    A beacon of hope for all mankind. Bigger than music, he epitomised decency and justice in the world.

  2. Steve Wrathall 2

    Congratulations on the crooner in making it to 94, which is a lot longer than many dissenting artists lived in regimes that he idolized.

  3. Ad 3

    Just loved him.
    Went through many of the utube links last night.
    A grand life.

  4. fender 4

    A truly great man with 100% integrity like a real life saint, very rare indeed.

  5. Ron 5

    “Kisses Sweeter than Wine”
    Still a great favourite though I preferred Jimme Rodgers version over the Weavers original

  6. captain hook 6

    I have two Pete Seegar CD’s and they will get a fair airing tonight.
    I have an e-mail address with a news service attached and they never mentioned his passing and I heard it here first. I love his music and I learned to play the banjo out of his book. Well I frailed and frailed to no avail for quite some time before I got it. And Last week I just happened to obtain A Greatest Hits of The Weavers CD plus two Vanguard Vinyl Albums. I was putting the cd onto my computer at the Library and the music came out quite loud and before you know it nearly everyone was singing along to when the saints go marching in. Serendipity!

  7. greywarbler 7

    Peter Seeger a great musician and a nice man, on stage and every place I think.
    I think the first one is This land is your land. It could be changed a little to make if apply to
    NZ.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HE4H0k8TDgw
    and
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5s_yumYPFm4
    and
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHbTWJ9tjnw
    and
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgzl1Sai4Y0

    The last one is Peggy, his sister’s song, I want to be an engineer.

  8. joe90 8

    Pete Seeger’s Rainbow Quest with June Carter and a pissed/stoned Johnny Cash.

    edit: a search shows how diverse/inclusive Seeger and his music was.

  9. greywarbler 9

    I thought this was lovely with the honey voice of Peggy his sister playing her song to him on his 94th birthday.

    It’s Pete by Peggy
    and a touching one if you want to see a great old man gathering himself to broadcast his words and love of life, hopeful songs and love of people on his 94th birthday.

  10. AmaKiwi 11

    The way Pete lived life was his message.

    By most definitions I am not a Christian. But maybe I am because I believe the idealized concept we have of a man named “Jesus” is the model we have of how to live the ideal life.

    If Jesus appeared anywhere during the 20th century and walked amongst us, who was she or he?

    Martin Luther King, Jr.? Nelson Mandela? My list of nominees includes Pete Seeger.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Plumber shortfall highlights gaps in trades training
    A shortage of skilled plumbers highlights major gaps in the Government’s trades training which is having serious implications for our construction industry, Labour’s Skills and Training spokesperson Jenny Salesa says. “Information obtained under the Official Information Act shows an undersupply… ...
    1 day ago
  • Plumber shortfall highlights gaps in trades training
    A shortage of skilled plumbers highlights major gaps in the Government’s trades training which is having serious implications for our construction industry, Labour’s Skills and Training spokesperson Jenny Salesa says. “Information obtained under the Official Information Act shows an undersupply… ...
    1 day ago
  • Rates rebate on the cards for retirement village residents
    People living retirement villages could be entitled to a rates rebate after a Labour Member’s Bill was today pulled from the ballot, Labour’s Senior Citizens spokesperson Ruth Dyson says. “Most residents in retirement villages cannot currently claim a rebate because… ...
    1 day ago
  • Rates rebate on the cards for retirement village residents
    People living retirement villages could be entitled to a rates rebate after a Labour Member’s Bill was today pulled from the ballot, Labour’s Senior Citizens spokesperson Ruth Dyson says. “Most residents in retirement villages cannot currently claim a rebate because… ...
    1 day ago
  • Government’s weak trusts inquiry lambasted
    The weak and absurd scope of the Government’s inquiry into foreign trusts has been lambasted by Transparency International, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “In a scathing statement released today, the anti-corruption watchdog warns that the John Sherwan-led inquiry into foreign… ...
    1 day ago
  • Government’s weak trusts inquiry lambasted
    The weak and absurd scope of the Government’s inquiry into foreign trusts has been lambasted by Transparency International, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “In a scathing statement released today, the anti-corruption watchdog warns that the John Sherwan-led inquiry into foreign… ...
    1 day ago
  • Healthy Homes Bill passes first reading
    Some of New Zealand’s most vulnerable children and families are on their way towards safer living conditions with the passing of the first reading of the Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill in Parliament last night, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little… ...
    2 days ago
  • Healthy Homes Bill passes first reading
    Some of New Zealand’s most vulnerable children and families are on their way towards safer living conditions with the passing of the first reading of the Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill in Parliament last night, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little… ...
    2 days ago
  • Wellington Town Belt Bill becomes law
    The Wellington Town Belt will grow by 120 hectares after the passing today of the Wellington Town Belt Bill, Labour MP for Wellington Central Grant Robertson says. “The Town Belt is loved by Wellingtonians as a green and open space… ...
    2 days ago
  • Wellington Town Belt Bill becomes law
    The Wellington Town Belt will grow by 120 hectares after the passing today of the Wellington Town Belt Bill, Labour MP for Wellington Central Grant Robertson says. “The Town Belt is loved by Wellingtonians as a green and open space… ...
    2 days ago
  • 26 weeks paid parental leave the best Mother’s Day present
    If National truly values motherhood, they would drop their threat to scupper 26 weeks paid parental leave, says Labour MP Sue Moroney. “As New Zealand prepares to celebrate Mother’s Day on Sunday, John Key should remove his threat to… ...
    2 days ago
  • 26 weeks paid parental leave the best Mother’s Day present
    If National truly values motherhood, they would drop their threat to scupper 26 weeks paid parental leave, says Labour MP Sue Moroney. “As New Zealand prepares to celebrate Mother’s Day on Sunday, John Key should remove his threat to… ...
    2 days ago
  • Peering through the Huntly coal smokescreen
    Energy Minister Simon Bridges revealed in Parliament this week he has no idea what majority state-owned power companies are up to, when he wrongly claimed that Genesis Energy would not burn coal at Huntly unless there was a shortage of… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    2 days ago
  • Peering through the Huntly coal smokescreen
    Energy Minister Simon Bridges revealed in Parliament this week he has no idea what majority state-owned power companies are up to, when he wrongly claimed that Genesis Energy would not burn coal at Huntly unless there was a shortage of… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    2 days ago
  • Burger King dumps caged eggs!
    I’m not a fan of fast food companies, but a few days ago I was thrilled to see fast food multinational Burger King announcing that they are going to dump caged eggs in New Zealand. They join other food companies,… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers
    2 days ago
  • Burger King dumps caged eggs!
    I’m not a fan of fast food companies, but a few days ago I was thrilled to see fast food multinational Burger King announcing that they are going to dump caged eggs in New Zealand. They join other food companies,… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers
    2 days ago
  • Smoke and Mirrors on Pharmac funding
    Today’s announcement by John Key and Jonathan Coleman on Pharmac funding is a classic piece of financial jiggery-pokery, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “While I welcome any boost to the Pharmac budget this does not go far enough. ...
    2 days ago
  • Firearms Inquiry calling for submissions.
    Parliament’s Law and Order select committee (of which I am a member) has today called for public submissions to its firearms inquiry. This conversation should have been live since last year, when the Police Association started talking about their concerns… ...
    GreensBy David Clendon
    2 days ago
  • Firearms Inquiry calling for submissions.
    Parliament’s Law and Order select committee (of which I am a member) has today called for public submissions to its firearms inquiry. This conversation should have been live since last year, when the Police Association started talking about their concerns… ...
    GreensBy David Clendon
    2 days ago
  • National playing politics with children’s lives
    John Key’s Government is playing political games with the lives of children by refusing to support a bill which will ensure every home in the country is warm and dry, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. “National says that… ...
    2 days ago
  • Unemployment rise demands Budget response
    The rise in unemployment shows the Budget must contain concrete plans for job growth that deliver for all New Zealanders, not just the few at the top, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “After eight years under National it is… ...
    2 days ago
  • School funding falls by $150 per student
    Parents are having to fork out even more for their kids’ education after the Government cut school funding per student by $150 in the past year, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “According to the Education Ministry, its total per… ...
    3 days ago
  • School funding falls by $150 per student
    Parents are having to fork out even more for their kids’ education after the Government cut school funding per student by $150 in the past year, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “According to the Education Ministry, its total per… ...
    3 days ago
  • Government must clamp down on dodgy PTEs
    The Government must ensure all international students coming to New Zealand are legitimate after a survey of those approved in Mumbai found only 9 per cent had genuine intentions and met English language requirements, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.… ...
    3 days ago
  • Government must clamp down on dodgy PTEs
    The Government must ensure all international students coming to New Zealand are legitimate after a survey of those approved in Mumbai found only 9 per cent had genuine intentions and met English language requirements, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.… ...
    3 days ago
  • Chance to crack down on foreign speculators
    If John Key is serious about stopping foreign speculators driving house prices out of the reach of Kiwi families, he will support Labour’s Member’s Bill to ban offshore investors from buying existing homes, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “My… ...
    3 days ago
  • IRD had foreign trusts review on action plan
    The IRD was so ready to review foreign trusts it had the review on its action plan in November 2014, just before the Revenue Minister met with John Key’s lawyer, says the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “The IRD… ...
    3 days ago
  • IRD had foreign trusts review on action plan
    The IRD was so ready to review foreign trusts it had the review on its action plan in November 2014, just before the Revenue Minister met with John Key’s lawyer, says the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “The IRD… ...
    3 days ago
  • Child Youth and Family Review and Māori
    I wrote this blogpost sitting in Parliament listening to the Attorney General’s first reading speech on the Tauranga Moana Iwi Collective Redress and Ngā Hapū o Ngāti Ranganui Claims Settlement Bill. He has acknowledged the impact of colonisation that made… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    3 days ago
  • Rebuilding Christchurch – a lost opportunity?
    In rebuilding Christchurch, the city has a rare chance to build in a sustainable, creative and people-centred way. We can create a city that is so much more than a simple re-construction of buildings and transport links. Christchurch could be… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    4 days ago
  • Rebuilding Christchurch – a lost opportunity?
    In rebuilding Christchurch, the city has a rare chance to build in a sustainable, creative and people-centred way. We can create a city that is so much more than a simple re-construction of buildings and transport links. Christchurch could be… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    4 days ago
  • Minister must ensure 111 issue is fixed
    The Police Minister must ensure the 111 fault is fixed as an urgent priority as a 40 minute wait can be the difference between life and death, says Labour’s Police spokesperson Stuart Nash. “The Police have said the fault lies… ...
    4 days ago
  • New Zealand a world leader – in unaffordable housing
    The National Government has made New Zealand a world leader – in unaffordable housing, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “The latest International Monetary Fund report shows New Zealand had the world’s second fastest growth in house prices at the… ...
    4 days ago
  • New Zealand a world leader – in unaffordable housing
    The National Government has made New Zealand a world leader – in unaffordable housing, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “The latest International Monetary Fund report shows New Zealand had the world’s second fastest growth in house prices at the… ...
    4 days ago
  • Hospital meals making you sick
    I don’t know about you but I felt a bit sick watching Health Minister Jonathon Coleman eat supposed Dunedin hospital food last week.  Dunedin people have tolerated a crumbling hospital, lower access to services, longer waiting times and gross food… ...
    GreensBy Metiria Turei
    4 days ago
  • Hospital meals making you sick
    I don’t know about you but I felt a bit sick watching Health Minister Jonathon Coleman eat supposed Dunedin hospital food last week.  Dunedin people have tolerated a crumbling hospital, lower access to services, longer waiting times and gross food… ...
    GreensBy Metiria Turei
    4 days ago
  • Key needs to stop shifting and come clean
    John Key’s position on his lawyer’s offshore trusts lobbying has changed yet again with the Prime Minister admitting he told Todd McClay that Ken Whitney had approached him, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Yet again information has to be… ...
    5 days ago
  • Key needs to stop shifting and come clean
    John Key’s position on his lawyer’s offshore trusts lobbying has changed yet again with the Prime Minister admitting he told Todd McClay that Ken Whitney had approached him, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Yet again information has to be… ...
    5 days ago
  • Revolutionary art in Palmerston North
    Last night I was a judge at the May Day Cup, an annual theatrical event which celebrates International Workers Day. The event was organised by stalwart unionist Dion Martin and included a range of performers competing for the Cup. This year… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    5 days ago
  • Revolutionary art in Palmerston North
    Last night I was a judge at the May Day Cup, an annual theatrical event which celebrates International Workers Day. The event was organised by stalwart unionist Dion Martin and included a range of performers competing for the Cup. This year… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    5 days ago
  • Andrew Little visits Zaatari refugee camp
    Leader of the Opposition, Andrew Little, has visited the largest Syrian refugee camp in the world, Zaatari in Jordan, a day after seeing New Zealand troops at Camp Taji in Iraq. Mr Little spent several hours in the camp, meeting… ...
    6 days ago
  • Com Com’s Z Energy decision anti-competitive
    The Commerce Commission’s decision to allow Z Energy to buy Caltex can only undermine the competition in the fuel industry that is needed to ensure New Zealanders pay the lowest price for petrol, Labour’s Consumer Affairs spokesperson David Shearer says.… ...
    7 days ago
  • Com Com’s Z Energy decision anti-competitive
    The Commerce Commission’s decision to allow Z Energy to buy Caltex can only undermine the competition in the fuel industry that is needed to ensure New Zealanders pay the lowest price for petrol, Labour’s Consumer Affairs spokesperson David Shearer says.… ...
    7 days ago
  • OAG raps Govt over the knuckles on HNZ contracts
    The Government has been rapped over the knuckles by the Auditor General over its failure to properly manage $2.3m of contracts and conflicts of interest in relation to a merchant banker advising them on the state house sell-off, says Labour’s… ...
    1 week ago
  • OAG raps Govt over the knuckles on HNZ contracts
    The Government has been rapped over the knuckles by the Auditor General over its failure to properly manage $2.3m of contracts and conflicts of interest in relation to a merchant banker advising them on the state house sell-off, says Labour’s… ...
    1 week ago
  • Brownlee must step in as EQC spin exposed
    Gerry Brownlee needs to step in after EQC’s desperate spin in the wake of yesterday’s landmark settlement has been exposed by its own documents, says Labour’s Canterbury spokesperson Megan Woods. “Yesterday’s settlement showed that thousands of homes may not have… ...
    1 week ago
  • Brownlee must step in as EQC spin exposed
    Gerry Brownlee needs to step in after EQC’s desperate spin in the wake of yesterday’s landmark settlement has been exposed by its own documents, says Labour’s Canterbury spokesperson Megan Woods. “Yesterday’s settlement showed that thousands of homes may not have… ...
    1 week ago
  • OIO must explain Argentine pollution prosecutions
    The Overseas Investment Office (OIO)has questions to answer about how it safeguarded our sensitive land by allowing foreign investors with criminal prosecutions to purchase Onetai Station in Taranaki, says Labour’s Land Information spokesperson David Cunliffe.   “Rafael and Federico Grozovsky… ...
    1 week ago
  • Aussie banks in NZ should ban lending to offshore buyers
    ASB, Westpac and ANZ must confirm whether or not they will continue to fund the over-heated property market by lending to non-resident offshore home buyers, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “This issue has arisen because their parent banks have… ...
    1 week ago
  • Aussie banks in NZ should ban lending to offshore buyers
    ASB, Westpac and ANZ must confirm whether or not they will continue to fund the over-heated property market by lending to non-resident offshore home buyers, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “This issue has arisen because their parent banks have… ...
    1 week ago

Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere