I find Pete Seeger a bit of an enigma. Some of the songs he sings are twee and the sing-alongs are crap but then there is the harder side. The man speaks out against wrong, writes songs of great social import, was a staunch environmentalist and was prepared to suffer for what he believed in. He would not be moved.
His version of Which Side Are You On is skin tingling. (This isn’t the best version)
Pete was in the Almanac Singers with Woody Guthrie and learnt a lot from Woody’s genius and uncompromising ways.
Here’s a few of my favourite quotes of Pete’s.
If there’s something wrong, speak up!
If only more people did that. If only more people became involved. We might get more things done.
It’s a very important thing to learn to talk to people you disagree with.
If we don’t engage with people who think differently we cannot learn what they think and we cannot learn what they think. Mutual respect is crucial. If you want to change somebody’s mind you have to talk to them.
Education is when you read the fine print. Experience is what you get if you don’t.
Education is the answer to most problems. We have to teach people to think, understand and develop empathy and compassion.
Being generous of spirit is a wonderful way to live.
Being generous of spirit gets you abused by some – but that’s worth it. If you aren’t open and trusting your spirit suffers.
I’m still a communist in the sense that I don’t believe the world will survive with the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer – I think that the pressures will get so tremendous that the social contract will just come apart.
I can see it all unravelling now with Brexit, Clinton and Trump. There is a new cynicism with politics and the establishment. The inequality is too great. People have had enough. We aren’t all in this austerity together. Some have never had it so good.
I came along and was a teenager in the Depression, and nobody had jobs. So I went out hitchhiking, when I met a man named Woody Guthrie. He was the single biggest part of my education.
He’s been a big part of my education too. He taught me to think, care and appreciate the world. He taught me that poor people matter as much as anyone else.