John Fahey was attributed with the following quote about Pete Seeger; "I remember when you'd go into a folk store, there'd always be a big sign up, 'Should Pete Seeger Go To Jail?' I'd always say, Absolutely. Because he sings such lousy music."
Sounds like something Fahey would say! Apparently Fahey had a reputation for saying most anything to be outlandish, get attention, just get a reaction? Hard to know for sure.
But Fahey wasn't without his own political song, don't forget March! For Martin Luther King. Pretty cool song.
Ah...here is Pete at the feet of Woody Guthrie. Now Woody, he had an interesting life.
You could say Woody started all this singin' for change. Sit in, Sing out, march, march, march.
Woody was all about the labor movement.
No doubt Pete learned a lot for Woody, like how to write all over your guitar.
But...it looks like the stencil had been invented by the time Pete decided on his protest motto. So you could say that Pete improved on his mentor's style. Always good for the student to teach the master a thing or two, no?
Pete sorta took up the protest career and with all the labor problems solved he decided to focus on racism and wars. Excellent cause. Pete learned another thing from Woody, take a folk song and turn it into a "cause" song. Take an old spiritual and turn it into a "protest" song. Very effective. Everyone kinda knows the tune, add some timely lyrics and presto, the whole crowd sings along!
However, somewhat questionable when it comes to all the accolades the men receive for preserving American folk music. True, some of the praise is well deserved, but let's not lose site of the means to an end. Protesting, sitting in, walking out, march, march, march. And, the causes were noble and worthy, no doubt about that. But does one justify the twisting of the other?
How about the song "I Shall not be Moved"? Beautiful old spiritual, forever linked to sit-ins. Listen to Mississippi John Hurt sing that song. Man, that is something! Very popular song, lots of people did it as a spiritual, Johnny Cash, "Pops" Staples. Long list. Great song.