During the Great Depression, Pete Seeger and his friend Woody Guthrie traveled together from town to town, Seeger with his banjo and Guthrie with his guitar, playing music in exchange for meals. Later, Seeger came to New York where he played in support of unions and the fight against fascism, joined the communist movement and left it again. Repeatedly throughout his life, and especially during the McCarthy era, Seeger’s folk songs attracted the attention of those in power who branded Seeger a dangerous figure.
In this clip from a 1994 interview, Seeger tells Bill that music has a power that, even after decades of playing it, he still doesn’t fully understand. “All I know,” he says, “is that throughout history, the leaders of countries have been very particular about what songs they want sung, so some people, beside me, must think songs do something.”