Pure Pete Seeger

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Pete Seeger, who passed away earlier this week at the age of 94, spoke with Bill a number of times over the years, and even sang a few of his folk songs. In remembrance of the activist and folksinger, we’ve pulled together some highlights in the video clips below.

Pete Seeger on Being Censored

As McCarthyism gripped America in the post-World War II era, many Americans scrambled to appear as non-dissenting as possible. Pete Seeger was not one of them. As a former member of the Young Communists’ League, he was brought before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1955. In this clip, Seeger remembers how he felt during the 1950s and 1960s, when he was confronted by intimidation and censorship.

What it Takes to Change the World

In this clip, Seeger says 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.” There are more people working to change the world every day, he says, and eventually they’ll be numerous enough to tip the scales.

Cleaning up the Hudson

One of Seeger’s causes was environmentalism, and one of his biggest projects was the Hudson River. In this clip, Seeger describes the ultimately successful efforts to clean it up through an organization of environmentalists based on his sailboat, The Clearwater.

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  • anarchommie

    Thank you for continuing the celebration of this wonderful & courageous man’s life, & especially for reminding us of his environmental work. I grew up along the Hudson & it remains to my mind the greatest & most majestic of all rivers.

  • Marilyn Goodman

    Thanks for giving us the opportunity to hear these remarks again.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you, Bill Moyers, for the original interviews and for re-showing them this week. No surprise that your interviews with Pete Seeger would be great, two of my favorite people together. So many of us are sad this week at his passing, but I think it’s important to remember that he also wanted people to sing along, not to watch HIM perform, per se; in other words, he wanted us all to get involved with doing all that needs to be done. We can still “sing along” , and we must, if anything is to be left to save! As he said at the launching of the “Clearwater”, that he thought they might have bitten off more than they could chew, we can all look at what seems like overwhelming power feel like it’s “more than we can chew” but “bite by bite” – to paraphrase the great song written by David Mallett and sung by Pete Seeger, with the lines “inch by inch, row by row, I’m gonna make this garden grow…” we have to keep at it. He worked at it until the end of his life; now we “have to keep on singing.” Thank you, Bill Moyers. What a dear treasure you are and Pete Seeger was/will always be.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for these wonderful memories of a wonderful, gentle and courageous man. Pete Seeger’s songs and life have been, and will continue to be, a great source of inspiration for me.

  • Anonymous

    What a well-lived life! And what an honor and privilege it was to share the planet with him.

  • Edward Moriarty

    Thanks for these great reminders of Pete’s life well lived. Although it’s not connected with your show, I would recommend that if anyone can catch the end of the Colbert Report from the day after Pete’s passing it included a duet of Colbert and Pete ( + 90 & with banjo) performing a duet of “If I Had a Hammer.” It was not the most wonderful, artful performance, but Pete’s goodness and contentment with a life well lived just radiated thru the TV screen. Self actualization, as described by Maslow, was relegated to 2nd place by Pete’s shining love for humanity that was evident to anyone seeing this remarkable man in one of his last public appearances.

  • Rabbit

    Wonderful interviews. Pete Seeger was such a wise man.

  • Denis Farley

    Thanks, Bill. Won’t forget Pete. I grew up in Beacon, and Pete, will be a song sung for a long time.

  • JAL 15

    I’ve seen a ton of Pete Seeger clips since he died, but not these from Bill Moyer. (Thanks to the referrer.) Always, the tears, and the jolt about remembering what life’s about. Moyer’s the best thing on TV and Seeger was maybe the best human being who ever lived. Sorry for the superlatives but isn’t it true?