The Late Singer, Songwriter and Activist Pete Seeger Offers "Uncommon Common Sense" in 1994 Interview

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Posted Feb. 5, 2014

Interview with Pete Seeger, legendary folk singer and activist, conducted by Scott Harris


Pete Seeger, one of the world's best-known and most loved folk singers, songwriters and social activists, died on Jan. 27 at the age of 94. During more than six decades of agitation through music, Seeger struggled for peace and social justice, not as something he pursued in his spare time, but as a full-time vocation. Best known for his songs, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” “If I Had a Hammer,” and “Turn, Turn, Turn,” Pete was actively engaged in the civil rights, pro-union, anti-Vietnam War, environmental and Central American peace movements. For his progressive activism, the singer was blacklisted and brought before the House Un-American Activities Committee during the height of the anti-communist McCarthy era in August 1955.

Seeger picked up the banjo while attending a Connecticut prep school. Later, after flunking out of Harvard University, becoming radicalized, and making an aborted stab at journalism, Seeger committed himself to social change through folk music, forming the Almanac Singers – featuring Woody Guthrie – in 1941. But it was The Weavers, a group that came together just as Seeger was thinking of giving up performing, that made him a star.

Between the Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Seeger at the at the annual People's Music Network Retreat in Pine Bush, N.Y. on June 5, 1994. Under a tree with birds chirping on that sunny spring day, Seeger, then age 74, talked about music, democracy, capitalism, threats to the environment, the future of the human race and his Clearwater project.

Listen to the full 30-minute interview and read the partial transcript here.

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