Peggy Quotes

Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger had a profound effect on their contemporaries in the folk music world that can still be heard today.  - Roy Bailey, BBC Online

Peggy Quotes 2

Songs of Love and Politics is a wonderful introduction to Peggy Seeger for those of you who are not familiar with her work and a delight to those love her work.
- Don Jacobsen, KVMR Radio


Peggy Seeger - Songmaker

Gonna Be An Engineer

peggyage7-300dpi.jpgWhen I was a little girl, I wished I was a boy,

I tagged along behind the gang and wore my corduroys,

Everybody said I only did it to annoy

But I was gonna be an engineer.

Momma told me, ‘Can’t you be a lady?

Your duty is to make me the mother of a pearl.

Wait until you’re older, dear, and maybe

You’ll be glad that you’re a girl.’

Dainty as a Dresden statue,

Gentle as a Jersey cow;

Smooth as silk, gives creamy milk,

Learn to coo, learn to moo,

That’s what you do to be a lady now -

(Words & music © Peggy Seeger. Recorded on Period Pieces, Tradition TCD 1078)

The best-known of Peggy's songs are Gonna Be an Engineer (above, which has become one of the anthems of the womens' movement) and The Ballad of Springhill (about the 1958 Nova Scotian mining disaster). Her songs have been recorded on numerous records, most of them made with her first life-partner, Ewan MacColl. She has, she thinks, made 21 solo albums, the most recent of which is THREE SCORE and TEN (Appleseed APR 1100). This entrancing 2-CD set celebrates Peggy's 70th birthday concert in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, 2005. Her brothers (Pete and Mike), her children (Neill, Calum and Kitty), her partner (Irene Pyper-Scott) and numerous musical luminaries (Norma Waterson, Martin and Eliza Carthy, Billy Bragg, among others) held a real hooly. It's a departure from her usual 13-17 songs per album with no talk, no audience, no ... birthday. But much of her original material is there, songs dealing with ecology, home-and-housework, unions, battered wives, jobs, abortion, weddings, feminism, friends, death . . . and more.

Peggy always has lots to say . . .

peggy1961photobybillmenckeu-300dpi.jpg“I started writing songs when I was 21. Thank goodness my earliest attempts will never see the light of day! I am especially proud of The Ballad of Springhill (one verse of which was written by Ewan MacColl, for when I wrote it I had never been down a coal-mine. We both felt the song needed a verse that sounded as if I had). This song has actually entered the ‘folk tradition’ to such an extent that people either think that Ewan or ‘the folk’ wrote it. What a compliment! In 1998 I put out a book of my songs, The Peggy Seeger Songbook (Oak Publications, New York). It has 147 songs in it and is intended to show how I developed as a songwriter. I use it as a teaching manual, using some of my less satisfactory songs as cannon-fodder. As a songwriter, I have passed through a number of phases, politically speaking - so I've got a Jacky Fleming cartoon-figure that travels through the book sometimes poking fun at my work. So if you want the words of any of my songs - buy the book. Quite apart from its musical advantages, it weighs 3.5 lb. It’ll help keep you fit.“I’ve written long, long, long pieces, containing every thought or idea I had on the subject that was under scrutiny. One of them is seven minutes long, a dialogue between a mother and a daughter (Different Tunes, on the CD PERIOD PIECES). I am always surprised when people actually tackle these wordy, tautological, plethorically verbose offspring of my imagination. And congratulations, all you brave folks who sing Gonna Be an Engineer! It's a tract, a rhymed essay more than a song.


“I’ve written short, short pieces as well. These present a very different sort of problem from the longer songs - every word is important, no space to be self-indulgent. I get ideas from many places and from a lot of other people's ideas. I take them from conversations, from magazine articles, or (in the case of the following piece) from cartoons. Then I expand them into songs. Creative plagiarism? The following song is an example."


    The man waited, the woman groaned,

    She was lost in labour's toil.

    Forgotten for now the long nine-month,

    The act of passion and joy.

    Ten fingers, ten toes,

    Two eyes, two ears, a mouth and a nose,

    And that one inch of flesh that proclaims IT'S A BOY!

    The midwife inspected his belly and bum,

    Counted appendages one by one.

    Took his sweet willie twixt finger and thumb,

    Looked at it in wonder and said:

    Does this little spike of flesh define the stronger sex?

    Will this little pleasure rod put this baby next to God?

    Is this the thing that gets him higher wages,

    That's kept him up on top throughout the ages?

    Will these round thingamabobs get this child a better job?

    A pilot, not a stewardess; a doctor, not a nurse;

    Headmaster, not a teacher; a chance to get there first -

    The sceptre that makes kingdoms, the key that opens doors,

    The reason why this baby won't be scrubbing kitchen floors.....

    She laid the little dickie down and gave a weary smile;

    'Give 'em an inch - and they'll take a mile.'


Give 'em an Inch words and music: Peggy Seeger © 1992 Peggy Seeger , administered by Harmony Music, Ltd. recorded on ALMOST COMMERCIALLY VIABLE, Sliced Bread SB71204


"Or you can always borrow ideas from other songs, like this one that I re-made from a children’s song for the first president Shrub and was re-made for the second P-resident one. The tune is traditional (It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More) and is in my songbook under the title “Bush Has Gone to Rio”).


    Bush went to Kyoto with his bag of tricks,

    Bush went to Kyoto with his bunch of

    PRIncipled diplomats who want to grab it all,

    The thought of world democracy is just a lot of

    BALderdash and nonsense, what Georgie doesn't want

    Is sharing what we've got with a lot of other

    COUNTries who are poor or black or just down on their luck,

    So Bush is off to Rio to tell them all to

    FUnd other solutions, 'cause he don't want to lose

    The profits and the business, so he's prepared to

    SCREW the people, screw the climate, screw the earth and then

    Make the world a safer place for Yankee businessmen.


Bush went to Kyoto is on the TIMELY CD entitled SONGS FOR 2004, re-named SONGS FOR 2008.


“Well, maybe I should say relatively short songs. To wind up: Like many of us contemporary songwriters, I give workshops on how I write songs. These workshops vary from a day to a week, depending on time and place and dedication of those attending. For information on these sessions see the concerts and workshop section of this website."


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