My Car Quest

July 19, 2024

Pete Seeger – A Life Well Lived

by Mike –

Pete Seeger was a big star but not like the big stars we see today in the music world. He did not wear gold chains and expensive clothes or drive expensive cars. He did not live in a mansion in Southern California or France. He did not make music to make money – he made music to touch people and to change the world. I suspect that all of you reading this have been touched by Pete Seeger in some way even if you don’t know it. He died on January 27, 2014 at the age of 94.

Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger

He fought two of the most evil activities in America since the end of WWII – the House Un-American Activities Committee and the injustice of the lack of civil rights for all people in the US.

When he was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1955 he said,

“I feel that in my whole life I have never done anything of any conspiratorial nature.” He also stated: “I am not going to answer any questions as to my association, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this.”

He was convicted of contempt of Congress in 1961 and sentenced to a year in prison, but the conviction was over turned on appeal.

Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger – 1965

His most well known songs

“We Shall Overcome” became the most important civil rights song and is a song he discovered, rewrote the lyrics a little and then donated all the profits from this song to charity.

“If I Had a Hammer” co-written with Lee Hays, and made famous by Peter, Paul and Mary and Trini Lopez.

“Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” an anti-war song sung by The Kingston Trio and others.

“Turn! Turn! Turn!,” Mr. Seeger’s song borrowed from the “Bible” (“Book of Ecclesiastes”) was a big hit for the Byrds.

He popularized the South African Zulu song by Solomon Linda, “Wimoweh” (The Lion Sleeps Tonight) and “Kumbaya,” a black spiritual dating from slavery days that became popular around the camp fire, at least in America.

On January 18, 2009, Seeger joined Bruce Springsteen and grandson Tao Rodríguez-Seeger in singing the Woody Guthrie song “This Land Is Your Land” at Barack Obama’s Inaugural concert in Washington, D.C. on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

He performed and spent time with Woodie Guthrie and later his son Arlo Guthrie. He was a leader in the American folk music revival in the 1950s and performed with many of the big music stars of the past few decades. He influenced Bod Dylan, Don McLean, Joan Baez, Bruce Springsteen and many others.

Pete Seeger won many awards and he is in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame but I don’t think that is really important. What is important is that he touched a lot of people and helped change the world for the better.

His obituary is in the New York Times.

Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger - A Life Well Lived
Article Name
Pete Seeger - A Life Well Lived
Pete Seeger made music to touch people and to change the world. He died on January 27, 2014 at the age of 94.


  1. Steve Gurr says

    Thanks for the tribute..

  2. David Allison says

    Some good music, but he was also a hard-left, liberal communist.

    • David,

      I am not sure that Pete Seeger can be labeled so easily – and whatever he was he was a great American and a great human being.

      The New Yorker Magazine (by Alec Wilkinson) said this about him,

      The courage he showed in facing down the House Un-American Activities Committee, his refusal to give names, and his insistence on his right to entertain his own conscience are not common behaviors. Plenty of people gave names. Plenty of people pleaded the Fifth Amendment, but Seeger refused to, because the plea implied a person had something to hide. He chose jail rather than collaboration. At the time, he was a member of the most successful group in show business, the Weavers. He was not surprised when the government threatened night-club owners if they hired the Weavers, and the group’s opportunities withered.


      Seeger was blackballed from TV for ten years yet he outlasted the people who made those un-American decisions.

  3. jwrosenberg says

    Who would have guessed; a car site, MYCARQUEST, would offer such a nice tribute to a wonderful American!
    Thank you:):)

  4. I’m not sure one can label anyone who was a member of the Communist Party of the USA a “great American.” unless they renounced that membership and had a change of heart. I don’t believe Mr. Seeger ever did. I look upon car sites to stick to cars and stay out of politics.

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