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92 Inspiring Quotes by Pete Seeger

  • Last updated Jul 27 2021

Welcome to our collection of quotes by Pete Seeger.

Wikipedia Summary for Pete Seeger

Peter Seeger (May 3, 1919 – January 27, 2014) was an American folk singer and social activist.

A fixture on nationwide radio in the 1940s, Seeger also had a string of hit records during the early 1950s as a member of the Weavers, most notably their recording of Lead Belly's "Goodnight, Irene", which topped the charts for 13 weeks in 1950. Members of the Weavers were blacklisted during the McCarthy Era. In the 1960s, Seeger re-emerged on the public scene as a prominent singer of protest music in support of international disarmament, civil rights, counterculture, workers' rights, and environmental causes.

A prolific songwriter, his best-known songs include "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" (with additional lyrics by Joe Hickerson), "If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)" (with Lee Hays of the Weavers), "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine" (also with Hays), and "Turn! Turn! Turn!", which have been recorded by many artists both in and outside the folk revival movement. "Flowers" was a hit recording for the Kingston Trio (1962); Marlene Dietrich, who recorded it in English, German and French (1962); and Johnny Rivers (1965). "If I Had a Hammer" was a hit for Peter, Paul and Mary (1962) and Trini Lopez (1963) while the Byrds had a number one hit with "Turn! Turn! Turn!" in 1965.

Seeger was one of the folk singers responsible for popularizing the spiritual "We Shall Overcome" (also recorded by Joan Baez and many other singer-activists), which became the acknowledged anthem of the Civil Rights Movement, soon after folk singer and activist Guy Carawan introduced it at the founding meeting of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960. In the PBS American Masters episode "Pete Seeger: The Power of Song", Seeger said it was he who changed the lyric from the traditional "We will overcome" to the more singable "We shall overcome".



forest with tall and green trees during daytime

It was only through the years that I realized what an absolutely extraordinarily thoughtful person Dr. King was.

--Pete Seeger


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Song, songs kept them going and going; They didn't realize the millions of seeds they were sowing. They were singing in marches, even singing in jail. Songs gave them the courage to believe they would not fail.

--Pete Seeger

woman standing on cliff

Historically, I believe I was correct in refusing to answer their questions.

--Pete Seeger


silhouette of off-road car

I believe that my choosing my present course I do no dishonor to them, or to those who may come after me.

--Pete Seeger

mountains under starry sky during nighttime

It's a very important thing to learn to talk to people you disagree with.

--Pete Seeger

cluster of stars in the sky

Some folklorists just collected dead bones from one graveyard, only to bury them in another, their library.

--Pete Seeger

couple sitting on the field facing the city

This banjo surrounds hate and forces it to surrender.

--Pete Seeger


photo of woman climbing mountain

My job, is to show folks there's a lot of good music in this world, and if used right it may help to save the planet.

--Pete Seeger

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I am saying voluntarily that I have sung for almost every religious group in the country, from Jewish and Catholic, and Presbyterian and Holy Rollers and Revival Churches.

--Pete Seeger

Longer Version:

I am saying voluntarily that I have sung for almost every religious group in the country, from Jewish and Catholic, and Presbyterian and Holy Rollers and Revival Churches, and I do this voluntarily.


brown and gray mountains during daytime

Little boxes made of ticky-tacky, and they all look just the same.

--Pete Seeger



silhouette photo of mountain during night time

When you play the 12-string guitar, you spend half your life tuning the instrument and the other half playing it out of tune.

--Pete Seeger


green leafed tree on snowfield under white cloudy sky at daytime

I feel that my whole life is a contribution.

--Pete Seeger

white flowers

The world would never amount to a hill of beans if people didn't use their imaginations to think of the impossible.

--Pete Seeger

blue painted concrete wall during daytime

The good and bad are all tangled up together. American popular music is loved around the world because of its African rhythm. But that wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for slavery.

--Pete Seeger

landscape photography of waves and clouds

My mother playing the violin and my father and grandfather playing the piano, classical stuff.

--Pete Seeger

street lamp

Every time I'm in the woods, i feel like I'm in church.

--Pete Seeger

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I try to sing many different kinds of songs. If I sing a batch of humorous songs, I'll throw in a deadly serious song. Or if I'm singing too many serious songs, I'll throw in a ridiculous song, to mix it up.

--Pete Seeger

sunset

I fought for peace in the fifties.

--Pete Seeger

elephant on green grass field during daytime

I was working for Alan Lomax in the Library of Congress folk song archive, and starting to realize what a wealth of different kinds of music there was in this country that you never heard on the radio.

--Pete Seeger

clear wine glass with red wine

A song is like a picture of a bird in flight; the bird was moving before the picture was taken, and no doubt continued after.

--Pete Seeger



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My mother gave me a ukulele at age eight, and I sang the popular tunes of the day.

--Pete Seeger

green leafed trees during daytime

Songs are sneaky things; they can slip across borders.

--Pete Seeger


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I think folk music helps reinforce your sense of history. An old song makes you think of times gone by.

--Pete Seeger

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If I've got a talent, it's for picking the right song at the right time for the right audience. And I can always seem to get people to sing with me.

--Pete Seeger

green and white bird on black wire during daytime

But I decline to say who has ever listened to them, who has written them, or other people who have sung them.

--Pete Seeger


pair of white lace-up shoes

The easiest way to avoid wrong notes is to never open your mouth and sing. What a mistake that would be.

--Pete Seeger


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It's been my belief that learning how to do something in your hometown is the most important thing.

--Pete Seeger

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Some may find them merely diverting melodies. Others may find them incitements to Red revolution. And who will say if either or both is wrong? Not I.

--Pete Seeger

purple lavender flower

I've found that festivals are a relatively painless way to meet people and make a few points that need making, without having to hit them over the head with too many speeches.

--Pete Seeger


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We all go to different churches or no churches, we have different favorite foods, different ways of making love, different ways of doing all sorts of things, but there we're all singing together. Gives you hope.

--Pete Seeger

person holding white book

I still call myself a communist, because communism is no more what Russia made of it than Christianity is what the churches make of it.

--Pete Seeger


mountains under orange kies

I still prefer to hear Bob Dylan acoustic, some of his electric songs are absolutely great. Electric music is the vernacular of the second half of the twentieth century, to use my father's old term.

--Pete Seeger

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My mother was a very good violinist; my father was a musicologist and spent most of his life in academia.

--Pete Seeger

orange and blue abstract painting

According to my definition of God, I'm not an atheist. Because I think God is everything. Whenever I open my eyes, I'm looking at God. Whenever I'm listening to something, I'm listening to God.

--Pete Seeger

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I was never enthusiastic about being somebody who was supposed to be silent about being a member of something.

--Pete Seeger

woman looking up to the sky while standing on white sand

This world is so full of hypocrisy, the only way you can be honest is to be a hermit.

--Pete Seeger


starry milky way

If there's something wrong, speak up!

--Pete Seeger

toddlers standing outdoors

I have sung in hobo jungles, and I have sung for the Rockefellers, and I am proud that I have never refused to sing for anybody.

--Pete Seeger

shoreline during golden hour

The truth is a rabbit in a bramble patch. All you can do is circle around and say it's somewhere in there.

--Pete Seeger

photo of pine trees

One of the things I'm most proud of about my country is the fact that we did lick McCarthyism back in the fifties.

--Pete Seeger



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A productive mistake is: (1) made in the service of mission and vision; (2) acknowledged as a mistake; (3) learned from; (4) considered valuable; (5) shared for the benefit of all.

--Pete Seeger


pink and blue painted wall

In a world of private property, if something isn't owned by somebody, it's going to be misused by somebody else.

--Pete Seeger

palm trees covered with fog

The first step in solving a problem is admitting there is a problem to be solved.

--Pete Seeger


black mountain under blue sky during night time

I keep reminding people that an editorial in rhyme is not a song. A good song makes you laugh, it makes you cry, it makes you think.

--Pete Seeger

toddlers standing outdoors

Work in nightclubs was interesting. There were interesting people and places, but by and large, the commercial music experience.

--Pete Seeger


brown and gray floral textile

Looking back, I think I tried to be too eclectic. Sometimes I'd sing thirty songs, and fifteen of them were not in English.

--Pete Seeger

selective focus photography of grey coin operated telescope

Plagiarism is basic to all culture.

--Pete Seeger


white Starbuck plastic cup on brown fabric armchair

Singing with children in the schools has been the most rewarding experience of my life.

--Pete Seeger


I want to turn the clock back to when people lived in small villages and took care of each other.

--Pete Seeger


man riding on boat on body of water

Songs won't save the planet, but neither will books or speeches.

--Pete Seeger

silhouette of woman hugging mna under starry night sky

In the sixties, during the Vietnam war, when anarchists and pacifists and socialists, Democrats and Republicans, decent-hearted Americans, all recoiled with horror at the bloodbath, we came together.

--Pete Seeger

yellow flower field near mountain during daytime

Any darn fool can make something complex; it takes a genius to make something simple.

--Pete Seeger

green fruit in macro lens photography

Being generous of spirit is a wonderful way to live.

--Pete Seeger



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Do you know the difference between education and experience? Education is when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don't.

--Pete Seeger


aerial photography of gray and white stone lot

Food is one of the great organizing tools.

--Pete Seeger




black pug puppy lying on gray bed

My dad, the old professor, used to say, 'Never get into an argument about what's folk music and what isn't.'

--Pete Seeger

purple flower on purple textile

Some of my ancestors were religious dissenters who came to America over three hundred years ago. Others were abolitionists in New England in the eighteen forties and fifties.

--Pete Seeger

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I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this. I would be very glad to tell you my life if you want to hear of it.

--Pete Seeger

white and gray floral bed sheet

Songwriters can't explain. You get an idea and you don't know where it's come from. And if you're lucky, you have a pencil or pen and can write it down.

--Pete Seeger

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If it can't be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled or composted, then it should be restricted, redesigned or removed from production.

--Pete Seeger




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