Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Big Muddy!

Pete Seeger, A Legend of Great Talent, Sacrifice, and Wisdom

A guest post by The Engineer Of Knowlege

Pete Seeger was a folk singer who took personal chances by speaking out for the rights of the everyday working man. During the 1940’s, he went around the country singing and speaking out for workers to band together and unionize. In the 1950’s, McCarthy accused him of being a communist and was calling Pete before Congressional Hearings for Un-American Activities. Pete, stood up for his personal rights of free speech, and refused to accept the attacks made on him. He was black listed for a while which lost him and the singing group he belonged to, the “Weavers”, a TV contract. Later on, after McCarthy had been discredited and stopped, the Weavers got back together. When another chance for them to have their own TV show, he declined the opportunity because it was sponsored by a cigarette company and Pete left the singing group. Pete’s conviction of not promoting a product that was addicting and caused cancer was unheard of in the 1950’s.

Pete continued to speak out and sing about causes that he felt the American public was being mislead and manipulated by the established authorities. Pete soon was speaking out for Civil Rights and has been given credit of inspiring Martin Luther King in 1957 when he performed the song, “We Shall Overcome”; which King took as his message for his struggles.

Just before a concert in the late 1960’s, Pete Seeger spoke with a Vet who had just returned from Viet Nam. That Vet confided to Pete that he had originally come there that day to kill Pete because he lost several friends in Viet Nam and Pete had been singing anti-war songs. Instead of panicking and notifying the authorities, Pete told the Vet that wanted to speak with him after the concert. After Pete had completed the concert, Pete met with the Vet; they spoke for a while, and ended up singing the song, “Where Have All The Flowers Gone” together which was about the memory of all the fallen service men in Viet Nam. The Vet said that all of the hatred and anger that had been instilled into him from the constant droning propaganda by the war mongers of the time, had all been relieved and thanked Pete for helping him purge the hate so he could get back to putting his life back together after all he had been through.

Now today, some misguided people will say, “If you are speaking out against the War in Iraq, you are committing an act of treason.” I like to point out that during an interview; Pete Seeger asked the thought provoking questions of the same “Mind Thought,” the “Love it or Leave it” types during Viet Nam, “Was Lincoln Anti-American when he spoke out against the Mexican-American war?” “Was Samuel Clemons (Mark Twain) Anti-American when he spoke out against the Spanish-American War?” I don’t think that many people would consider these two icons of America as traders but without much thought are quick to accuse others for doing nothing more than Lincoln or Mark Twain had done themselves.

Pete Seeger is an old man now and I am sure is tired. I look about and wonder where the next person with the voice of reason who will pick up a cause, be willing to put others first, point out those who would manipulate the American public for their own gain, and sacrifice for the everyday man. After some thought on this subject, it came to me that it is happening with Bloggers right now. The needed messages are still getting out, just on a different medium. Where Pete went around with his banjo singing to gathered crowds, people are using the computers to communicate around the world with each other. Armed with this thought, it renewed my hope for our future.

In closing, I simply ask you to note and remember this line refrain from the song, “Big Muddy,” which is, “Soon even a tall man’ll be over his head, we’re stuck waist deep in the Big Muddy and the big fool says to push on.” I simply ask you to reflect on the song, “Big Muddy,” because as every historian knows, “If you don’t learn from the mistakes of the past, you will be doomed to repeat them.”

(The video is from the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour back in 1968. This performance by Mr. Seeger was the last straw for CBS, which cancelled the show for it's political views. I posted the words to the song in the comments, if you are interested.)

Thank you Mr. Engineer!


mud_rake said...

BIG MUDDY! Hey, that's ME!

microdot said...

The words to The Big Muddy

It was back in nineteen forty-two,
I was a member of a good platoon.
We were on maneuvers in-a Loozianna,
One night by the light of the moon.
The captain told us to ford a river,
That's how it all begun.
We were -- knee deep in the Big Muddy,
But the big fool said to push on.

The Sergeant said, "Sir, are you sure,
This is the best way back to the base?"
"Sergeant, go on! I forded this river
'Bout a mile above this place.
It'll be a little soggy but just keep slogging.
We'll soon be on dry ground."
We were -- waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool said to push on.

The Sergeant said, "Sir, with all this equipment
No man will be able to swim."
"Sergeant, don't be a Nervous Nellie,"
The Captain said to him.
"All we need is a little determination;
Men, follow me, I'll lead on."
We were -- neck deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool said to push on.

All at once, the moon clouded over,
We heard a gurgling cry.
A few seconds later, the captain's helmet
Was all that floated by.
The Sergeant said, "Turn around men!
I'm in charge from now on."
And we just made it out of the Big Muddy
With the captain dead and gone.

We stripped and dived and found his body
Stuck in the old quicksand.
I guess he didn't know that the water was deeper
Than the place he'd once before been.
Another stream had joined the Big Muddy
'Bout a half mile from where we'd gone.
We were lucky to escape from the Big Muddy
When the big fool said to push on.

Well, I'm not going to point any moral;
I'll leave that for yourself
Maybe you're still walking, you're still talking
You'd like to keep your health.
But every time I read the papers
That old feeling comes on;
We're -- waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.

Waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.
Waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.
Waist deep! Neck deep! Soon even a
Tall man'll be over his head, we're
Waist deep in the Big Muddy!
And the big fool says to push on!

Village Green said...

I grew up listening to Pete Seeger and the Weavers. Thanks for this post. I'm gonna haul out the old lps and have a private listening party now. Snowed in tonight in Akron.