August 10, 2009 – 4:08 am

As late as 2007, Pete Seeger’s politics was still scrutinized. He’s not red anymore.

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PETE SEEGER R.I.P. 1919-2014

Pete Seeger, the singer, folk-song collector and songwriter who spearheaded an American folk revival and spent a long career championing folk music as both a vital heritage and a catalyst for social change, died January 27, 2014. He was 94 and lived in Beacon, NY. His death was confirmed by his grandson, Kitama Cahill Jackson, who said he died of natural causes at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. Seeger’s career carried him from singing at labor rallies to the Top 10 to college auditoriums to folk festivals, and from a conviction for contempt of Congress (after defying the House Un-American Activities Committee in the ’50s) to performing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at an inaugural concert for Barack Obama. “My job,” he said in 2009, “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.” - New York Times

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Click on the panels for a better view or to download artwork.

Mandel Hall 1957 [no label, 1CD]

Live at  Mandel Hall, University of Chicago (57th & University, Chicago, IL US), October 12 and 13, 1957. Excellent FM stereo.

This show in Chicago, 1957 occurred just months after Seeger had been indicted for contempt of America’s Congress when he refused to testify before the House of Un-American Activities Committee. Seeger had been called to a hearing before the committee in mid-1955. He refused to say anything and in March 1957 was indicted for contempt of Congress. Thereupon he was forced to keep federal authorities aware of his movements whenever he travelled outside of New York. No doubt FBI agents were aware Seeger was to play in front of students at the University of Chicago.

If he felt the pressure, this show doesn’t show it. Seeger is a consummate performer and storyteller. He’s chatty from the start and keeps his audience rivetted. On both dates of this show, Seeger sings traditional songs but on the second evening, he lets loose a couple of “political” songs.

Oh the Student Y has found a new vocation
poisoning the students minds
the leaders by astute manipulations are
poisoning the students minds
Big men, bold men filled with sneering hide
behind the smiling confidence they hide
spiritual arsenic, moral cyanide
they’re poisoning the students minds

There’s just one thing that
they’ve just forgot to mention
the student has got a mind

Seeger tells his audience Poisoning The Students Minds was composed by young Christians after a local newspaper had scolded them for inviting a socialist to speak at their event thus “poisoning students minds”.

But the only thing on Seeger’s mind is communicating. Folk songs by their own description are social in flavour. In the ’40s and ’50s, radio spurred the revival of folk music. It was used to promote causes.

Pete Seeger joined the Young Communist League and officially became a member of the Communist Party in 1942. His music career started around the same time. He was a founding member of The Almanac Singers and later in 1950 formed The Weavers. Those were tumultuous years when people took sides, formed alliances and confronted each other over their beliefs, practices and politics.

Finally, Seeger was convicted in a jury trial for contempt of court in March 1961, and sentenced to 10 years in jail but in May 1962 an appeals court ruled the indictment to be flawed and overturned his conviction.

Seeger has said he stopped believing in Communism in the ’50s when more and more was revealed of Stalin’s purges and excesses. But Seeger never stopped protesting against injustice and war, worker’s rights and equality, environmental issues and disarmament. He was there at Barack Obama’s inaugural concert and was himself celebrated when he turned 90 this year.

But long term cold warriors still remember Seeger as a Communist. The UK Guardian carried an essay in 2006 titled, Stalin’s Songbird, where the head of the Cato Institute criticised the New Yorker and the New York Times for lionising Seeger.

Stalin and his brand of Russian Communism lies buried under the Berlin Wall. What’s still not settled is whether a new evil has finally revealed itself. The tentacles of international banking and finance that currently holds the world in awe.

What’s not new is the age old practice of “labelling”. Calling them your enemies simply because they disagree with you. The Christians called theirs “heretics” and burned them. During the Cold War, protesters were routinely called “Commies”. In recent years, anyone opposed to Globalisation is a “terrorist”. And so it goes. But the right to disagree should be a given to any member of any society.
- Professor Red

Note: Click on the highlighted tracks to download the MP3s (these are high quality MP3s - sample rate of 192 kbps). As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never been officially released on CD.

Due to the size of some of the files, please be very patient when downloading the tracks. It could be that the server was very busy. Please try again later. Kindly email us at [email protected] if you encounter persistent problems downloading the files.

Part One: (Saturday, October 12, 1957)
Track 01. Hoedowns: Leather Britches / Sally Goodin (trad) [1:12] (1.6MB)
Track 02. Arkansas Traveler (trad) [3:31] (4.8MB)
Track 03. Treat My Daughter Kindly (trad) [2:56] (4.0MB)
Track 04. Conversation with a Mule (Arthur Smith) [2:09] (2.9MB)
Track 05. Theme from Goofin’ Off Suite (Seeger) / Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (J.S. Bach) / Duet from Symphony No. 7 [7:41] (10.5MB)
Track 06. Letter to Eve (Seeger) [2:40] (3.6MB)
Track 07. Let Me Take a Ride (trad) [2:31] (3.4MB)
Track 08. Hold On (Keep Your Hand on the Plow) (trad) [5:09] (7.0MB)

Part Two: (Sunday, October 13, 1957)
Track 09. She Moves Through the Fair (trad) [1:56] (2.6MB)
Track 10. John Riley (trad) [3:04] (4.2MB)
Track 11. Ballad of Barney Graham (Della Mae Graham) [2:20] (3.2MB)
Track 12. Bard of Armagh (trad) [1:01] (1.4MB)
Track 13. There Is Mean Things Happening in This Land (John Handcox) [1:35] (2.1MB)
Track 14. The Dodger Song (trad) [3:29] (4.8MB)
Track 15. Sinner Man (trad, arranged Hayes-Hellerman-Seeger) [2:23] (3.2MB)
Track 16. Abiyoyo (Seeger) [4:59] (6.8MB)
Track 17. Dink’s Song (trad arranged John & Alan Lomax) [3:30] (4.8MB)
Track 18. Poisoning the Student’s Minds (Seeger) [2:34] (3.5MB)
Track 19. Teacher’s Blues (Seeger) [2:44] (3.7MB)
Track 20. Great Getting’ Up Morning (cut at end when tape ran out) (trad) [3:38] (4.9MB)

For a brief introduction to Pete Seeger’s protest songs, this release in 2009, Pete Seeger Now, is a great 2CD resource. There are a total of three Seeger albums (Rainbow Race, Now and Young vs Old) on the two discs which cover 1968 to 1971. Buy it here.

  1. 14 Responses to “COLORED FOLK”

  2. This is great.
    If you like this check out new DVD Pete Seeger Live in Australia 1963 recently released in Australia - a lovingly pieced together concert of Pete doing the same sort of show that is here, miracuosly captured on film by the Auistralian broadcasting Commission ( as it was then) The stuff of legends

    By Pierre le Cufffe on Aug 10, 2009

  3. Superb gem!
    Thanks :-)

    By Rochacrimson on Aug 10, 2009


    We need more Pete Seegers (and less Beyonces) today!

    By Sluggo714 on Aug 10, 2009

  5. but if pete did ‘at last’ for obama i wonder if etta would have objected as vehemently.

    By darth on Aug 11, 2009

  6. Incredible sound quality! Awesome release. . .thanks so much BigO!

    By Mike on Aug 17, 2009

  7. One of my heros died.
    A great loss!!!

    Rijn B

    By Rijn Borgwat on Jan 28, 2014

  8. and liberals the left “labelize” as well as the next person and as any one else too…!!!

    dont let the left…the right…nor the center fool you…just trust yourself…!!!

    no you can’t change the world but you can change yourself…!!!

    By Jerry's Finger on Jan 28, 2014

  9. rip pete. we will miss u terribly. more than u could ever know.

    By darth on Jan 28, 2014


    By darth on Jan 28, 2014

  11. another article from the same source on pete with 5 of his performances hilited -

    By darth on Jan 28, 2014


    By darth on Jan 29, 2014

  13. I know that there are a lot of knuckle headed views expressed on this site.

    But, for the moment, if one can be serious and appreciative, Pete Seeger is dead. If you want to express KIND views to his grieving family, check it out and leave a warm and caring message. If you are a true knuckle head, please do not bother if you know what I mean.

    By Mike Rotchertz on Jan 29, 2014

  14. The note at the bottom, below the downloads, leads to a site that says nothing about the double CD. Does anyone know where one can get Pete Seeger Now double CD?

    By Johanna on Feb 3, 2014

  15. Hello Johanna

    You can try it here:


    By bigozine2 on Feb 3, 2014

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