Five essential songs by Pete Seeger, who died Monday at age 94:
“IF I HAD A HAMMER”: An all-time singalong co-written in 1949 by Seeger and Lee Hays and released a year later by the Weavers under the title “The Hammer Song.” Popularized in the 1960s by Peter, Paul and Mary, the song was performed countless times, all over the world, from union halls and folk festivals to the Kennedy Center in Washington. “WAIST DEEP IN THE BIG MUDDY”: An anti-war song written in 1967 about a platoon and its doomed, gung-ho captain in Louisiana in the 1940s. A blunt allegory about the Vietnam War, “Waist Deep” was censored by CBS producers when Seeger performed it on “The Smothers Brother Comedy Hour” in September 1967. CBS soon backed down and let the song air when Seeger returned to the program in February 1968.
“TURN! TURN! TURN!”: Seeger adapted language from the book of Ecclesiastes for this plea for peace that became a No. 1 hit for the Byrds in the 1960s.
“THE BELLS OF RHYMNEY”: Adapted by Seeger from a Welsh poem about a mining accident and again covered by the Byrds, with a guitar riff the Beatles’ George Harrison openly drew upon for “If I Needed Someone.”
“WHERE HAVE ALL THE FLOWERS GONE?”: An anti-war anthem inspired in the 1950s by words Seeger came upon in a Cossacks folk song. Additional lyrics were written by Joe Hickerson in 1960. Among those who covered it: Marlene Dietrich, Harry Belafonte, Dolly Parton and U2. …read more
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