Peggy Quotes

Since 1959, Seeger has written hundreds of songs. Those who regard Joni Mitchell, Carole King, and Laura Nyro as the first generation of singer-songwriters to craft material from women's experiences should think again. Seeger is a missing link between the 1950s American folk-song revival and women's liberation; the guitar-toting chanteuses of the 1970s could not have existed without either of those movements. - Laura Pellegrinellli, The Village Voice

Peggy Quotes 2

Her singing is as highly charged as ever and her writing as pointed and witty.
- Dave Laing


Peggy Seeger - Activist with an Attitude

In the presence of fighters I find a new peace,

In the company of workers replenish myself;

Of miners and weavers, of rebels and dreamers:

When I sing of my comrades I sing of myself.


(from Song of Myself, Peggy Seeger, THE FOLKWAY YEARS, SF 40048)

We hold our breath as the tables turn

As we become the target - as we learn to learn.

As we comb the world for someone to blame

And ponder that terrorists and patriots might behave the same.

Is it so, is it so?

Cry for the dead of Viet Nam,

For the starving children of Iraq.

Cry for the victims of Uncle Sam

In all the countries that we've attacked

Cry for the thousands -

Who lie beneath the rubble in new York ...

We sow and we sow and we sow

You reap what you sow.

(from The Cavemen, a song about 9/11, as yet unrecorded)


peg.jpg"I have a reputation for being an activist, a progressive, an advocate, a mover-and-shaker, a leftwinger, a feminist, a singer of songs which try to move humanity on a little down the road towards that time when our descendants will look back upon us as Neanderthals, dinosaurs, blind hopefuls groping our way towards the future.

I don't look on myself as an activist because all around me I see wonderful brave people doing much more than I am doing to get to that better future. Then I look around and see people might be construed as doing much less than I am doing and wonder what 'activist' really means.After all, what is the mother who trains her child not to throw trash down on the sidewalk? An activist, on the family front line. What is the boy who objects when his comrades use denigrating words about girls? An activist in the gender arena. Who are the SOA prisoners of conscience; the courageous priests and nuns who defend, encourage and harbour freedom fighters; Barbara Lee (Democratic Representative, California) who was the only member of the two houses of government to stand against the Patriot Act: all ACTIVISTS."

To quote a fairly mild activist song written by Peggy Seeger :

Choose your issue and choose your space


Choose your level and choose your pace


The ship's in trouble, needs a brand new crew,

Old Mother Earth needs me and you

She'll welcome any little thing we do




(from Time to be Moving On, as yet unrecorded) to be found on Timely CD #3, entitled 'ENOUGH IS ENOUGH'.


"This isn't to say that we should just stay at our comfortable level, pace and space with our comfy issue. Go there ... then go several steps beyond, to where you are uncomfortable. How many steps beyond is up to each of us. The activists take those steps, go beyond personal gain and comfort, stick their neck out. They dare, they challenges, they attempt to improve SOMETHING. That something also has its level, pace, and space. The mother who faces down the teenager who behaves antisocially, the wife who challenges a husband's violence, the people who (like many people in Asheville where I live) attend meeting after meeting after meeting after meeting to discourage the building of a new Walmart or the defeat of the plans for the new I-26 connector road that is being built in order to facilitate transport of nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain. These are improvers, optimists, activists, all with their level of strategy, tactic or just plain attitude.

So perhaps I am one of them in my own sphere. I've written harmless' little songs about pride in being a mature (forget the senior' crap) citizen, about farting as a weapon against smokers, about deep ecology, fascism, domestic violence. I believe it's my job to put into song what many people are feeling these days: that there is a better world up ahead of us there and there's nothing more worth while doing than to envision it and make it happen. Each in our own way.

womantshirt.jpgI have developed a workshop entitled A Feminist View of Anglo-American Traditional Songs. I wax eloquent upon this subject, having for most of my life sung the traditional songs which, for the most part, portray women as property, as unclaimed property, as victims, as powerless, nagging, pathetic ... and so on. Of course there are those other, less numerous songs that portray women as individuals of courage, stamina, cunning, tenderness, loyalty and inventiveness. Put together, they make up a complete picture of our submission and resistance to gender oppression. It is important to make people feel good about themselves - this is especially true of women, who meet so many obstacles at so many turning points in life. In the workshop, we discuss the enormous body of female experience that is not dealt with at all in the folk songs and we examine how modern songwriters are dealing with these omissions.

It is very easy when singing the old songs to become immersed in the past, to become nostalgic and detached. I have been writing songs since 1959. It is a pleasurable duty. Songwriting helps me to live in the present, 'at the same time as myself', as Ewan MacColl used to say. It is my way of trying to let tomorrow's people know part of what it was like to be alive today; my way of trying to change things, attempting to re-interpret old thoughts or introduce new ways of looking at the same old problems, the same old poverty, the same old violence, the same old apathy, destruction, ignorance, discrimination and brutality. It is also a way of holding up a mirror to ourselves in all of our tragic and comic poses.

My battlefield is the concert stage, the lecture hall. My job, like so many songwriters, is to place (in a memorable and enticing form) a message that, were it in non-hummable form, might not be so easily remembered. Quite apart from that, it's enjoyable to write songs. And it's rewarding to hear other people singing a song you've written even though (as has happened a number of times in my life) they attribute it to (a) the "folk" or (b) to another songwriter."

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