Famous Quotes & Sayings

Pete Seeger Quotes & Sayings

Enjoy the top 100 famous quotes, sayings and quotations by Pete Seeger.

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Pete Seeger Quotes 1364478

Shh. Listen to the sounds that surround you. Notice the pitches, the volume, the timbre, the many lines of counterpoint. As light taught Monet to paint, the earth may be teaching you music. — Pete Seeger

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I feel that my whole life is a contribution. — Pete Seeger

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Not everybody has to sing the melody. — Pete Seeger

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

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Alan [Lomax] and his father started off changing the definition of folk music from something ancient and anonymous to something very contemporary. — Pete Seeger

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Throughout history the leaders of the countries have been very particular about what songs should be sung. We know the power of songs. — Pete Seeger

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I love my country very dearly, and I greatly resent the implication that some of the places that I have sung and some of the people that I have known, and some of my opinions, whether they are religious or philosophical, make me less of an American. — Pete Seeger

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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

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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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Folks out in the country couldn't afford to pay for anybody else to make music. They had to make their own. So the peasantry had their music, and it was about a hundred years ago given the name "Folk music". — Pete Seeger

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

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I came from an intellectual family. Most were doctors, preachers, teachers, businessmen. My grandfather was a small businessman. His father was an abolitionist doctor, and his father was an immigrant from Germany. — Pete Seeger

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Any idiot can be complicated. It takes a genius to be simple. — Pete Seeger

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Hope that there are many, many small leaders. — Pete Seeger

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In the largest sense, every work of art is protest ... A lullaby is a propaganda song and any three-year-old knows it ... A hymn is a controversial song - sing one in the wrong church: you'll find out ... — Pete Seeger

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To live you have to experiment, to have the ability to experiment you have to have confidence, to have confidence you have to be loved, to be loved you have to love. — Pete Seeger

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You have a right to your opinion and I've got a right to mine. Period. — 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

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Be wary of great leaders. — Pete Seeger

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To everything there is a season. — Pete Seeger

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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

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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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Now somebody will ask me, Pete, how can you prove these songs really make a difference? And I have to confess I can't prove a darn thing, except that the people in power must think they do something, because they keep the songs off the air. — Pete Seeger

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I'm not sure if my involvement in causes, benefits, marches, and demonstrations has made a huge difference, but I know one thing: that involvement has connected me with the good people: people with the live hearts, the live eyes, the live heads. — Pete Seeger

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I dreamed I saw a mighty room, the room was filled with men. And the paper they were signing said they'd never fight again. — Pete Seeger

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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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When I got out of school, I spent two years just hitchhiking around. Every time I met some old farmer who could play banjo, I got him to teach me a lick or two. Little by little, I put it together. — Pete Seeger

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I think the world is going to be saved by millions of small things. — Pete Seeger

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And this is the origin of pop music: it's a professional music which draws upon both folk music and fine arts music as well. — Pete Seeger

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Food is one of the great organizing tools. — Pete Seeger

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I get up each morning, gather my wits, pick up the paper and read the obits. If I'm not there, I know I'm not dead, so I eat a good breakfast and go back to bed. — Pete Seeger

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There is an old Arabic proverb, 'When the king puts the poet on his payroll, he cuts off the tongue of the poet', so throughout the ages, people in power have liked to control music, they used to throw songwriters in jail throughout history, and were assassinated. — Pete Seeger

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I was 16 when I came to New York. I had graduated to a tenor banjo in the school jazz band, and it was kind of boring - just chords, chords, chords. Then my father took me to a mountain music and dance festival in Asheville, North Carolina, and there I saw relatively uneducated people playing great music by ear. — Pete Seeger

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The world would never amount to a hill of beans if people didn't use their imaginations to think of the impossible. — 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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You can't work on everything all the time, so start where you are. — Pete Seeger

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I came along and was a teenager in the Depression, and nobody had jobs. So I went out hitchhiking, when I met a man named Woody Guthrie. He was the single biggest part of my education. — Pete Seeger

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Do-so is more important than say-so. — 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

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Many Americans knew their lives and their souls were being struggled for, and they fought for it. And I felt I should carry on. — Pete Seeger

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I've never sung anywhere without giving the people listening to me a chance to join in - as a kid, as a lefty, as a man touring the U.S.A. and the world, as an oldster. I guess it's kind of a religion with me. Participation. That's what's going to save the human race. — Pete Seeger

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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

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After visits to several Communist countries (USSR, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Slovenia, East Germany, Vietnam, China, Cuba), I feel strongly that most "revolutionary" types around the world don't realize the importance of freedom of the press and the air, a right to peaceably assemble and discuss anything, including the dangers of such discussions. — Pete Seeger

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Get people to sing together and they'll act together too. — Pete Seeger

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John McCutcheon is not only one of the best musicians in the USA, but also a great singer, songwriter, and song leader. And not just incidentally, he is committed to helping hard-working people everywhere to organize and push this world in a better direction. — Pete Seeger

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Way back in the old days, say in Europe of the Middle Ages, you had an aristocracy, and they could afford to pay for musicians. The kings and queens had musicians in the castles, and that developed into symphony orchestras and what we call "Classical music" now. — Pete Seeger

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Most conservatives just want to turn back the clock to a time before the income tax - 100 years or so. I would like to turn the clock back thousands of years to a time when people lived in small communities and took care of each other. — Pete Seeger

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A good song reminds us what we're fighting for. — Pete Seeger

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My father urged Alan [Lomax] not to repeat the mistakes of the European folklorists who, a century ago, had collected these peasant songs and then arranged them for part choir and accompanied them on piano, and then told the young people of their country, "Don't change a note, this is our sacred heritage." Father said, whether it's a fiddle tune or a gospel song, learn it right off the record from the people who grew up with it. Don't just learn it from a piece of paper. — Pete Seeger

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We will never know everything. But I think if we can learn within the next few decades to face the danger we all are in, I believe there will be tens of millions, maybe hundreds of millions, of human beings working wherever they are to do something good. — Pete Seeger

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If there is a world here in a hundred years, it's going to be saved by tens of millions of little things. — Pete Seeger

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I believe that all technological societies tend to self-destruct. The reason is that the very things that make us a successful technological society, such as our curiosity, our ambition and determination, will also cause us to fall. — Pete Seeger

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The American Indians were Communists. They were. Every anthropologist will tell you they were Communists. No rich, no poor. If somebody needed something the community chipped in. — Pete Seeger

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Parents are the hardest-working members of the population. But they do it for the highest wages. Kisses. — 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

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I don't think of God as an old white man with no belly button, nor even an old black woman with no belly button. But I agree that God is something eternal. Something cannot come out of nothing. I believe God is Everything. And I believe in infinity. — Pete Seeger

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The danger with the internet is that you don't need to think about music, you just search for it and you find the answer. Singing used to be part of everyday life. Women sang while pounding corn. Men sang while paddling canoes. — Pete Seeger

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Sometimes you find an old tune so good you can use it several times for different purposes. — Pete Seeger

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And there's a wonderful parable in the New Testament: The sower scatters seeds. Some seeds fall in the pathway and get stamped on, and they don't grow. Some fall on the rocks, and they don't grow. But some seeds fall on fallow ground, and they grow and multiply a thousandfold. Who knows where some good little thing that you've done may bring results years later that you never dreamed of? — Pete Seeger

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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. — Pete Seeger

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I remember someone once saying, "Pete, you know you really should take voice lessons." And I said, "Well, if I could find any voice teacher that could teach me to sing like Lead Belly I'd spend every cent to study under him." But every time you'd go to a voice teacher, he'd teach you to warble, as if you'd want to be an opera singer, and that's not what I'm interested in. — Pete Seeger

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I have sung for Americans of every political persuasion, and I am proud that I never refuse to sing to an audience, no matter what religion or color of their skin, or situation in life. — Pete Seeger

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

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Every time I read the paper those old feelings come on.We are waist deep in the Big Muddy and the big fool says to push on. — Pete Seeger

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Well, normally I'm against big things. I think the world is going to be saved by millions of small things. Too many things can go wrong when they get big. - Pete Seeger (on how he felt about attending his big 90th birthday bash last year) — Pete Seeger

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It was Rachel Carson's famous book 'Silent Spring' that got me involved with the environment. I read it in The New Yorker, in installments. Up to then, I'd thought the main job to do is help the meek inherit the Earth. And I still, that's a job that's got to be done. But I realized if we didn't do something soon, what the meek would inherit would be a pretty poisonous place to live. — Pete Seeger

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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

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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

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

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Every time I'm in the woods, i feel like I'm in church — Pete Seeger

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If I had an axe on the evening at Newport when [Dylan] broke out the electric guitar, I'd have cut his cable. — Pete Seeger

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Technology will save us if it doesn't wipe us out first. — Pete Seeger

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All the arts, music, the visual arts, acting and dancing arts, cooking arts, and I believe sports, will save the human race because they can leap over barriers, religions, leap over barriers of race, politics. — Pete Seeger

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The world will be solved by millions of small things. — Pete Seeger

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Anybody who wants to learn everything is pretty stupid. You learn what you can. — Pete Seeger

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

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Again, I say I will be glad to tell what songs I have ever sung, because singing is my business. — Pete Seeger

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

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I live in the country, so I get a fair amount of exercise. We heat our house with wood, so I split wood. We also live on a steep hill, and I have to rake and put in cross-stitches to keep the road from washing out when there's a big rain. — Pete Seeger

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Like most teachers, I'm just another sower of seeds. — Pete Seeger

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My mother wanted me to learn how to read music. She'd given fiddles to my two older brothers, but they'd rebelled. I came along and my father said, "Oh, let Peter enjoy himself." What she did was leave musical instruments all around the house. Whistles, marimbas, squeeze boxes, a piano and organ. By age six or seven, I could bang out a simple tune on almost anything. I developed a good ear, so I didn't learn to read music until I taught myself at age eighteen, 'cause I was hearing so many good songs I couldn't possibly remember them all. — Pete Seeger

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Down through the centuries, this trick has been tried by various establishments throughout the world. They force people to get involved in the kind of examination that has only one aim and that is to stamp out dissent. — Pete Seeger

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When I am chopping trees out in the woods because I heat my house with wood, I feel myself right in the middle of God. Mahalia Jackson said "I have seen God. I have seen the sun rise." So, in a sense, when anyone looks in the mirror, they look at an infinitesimally small part of God. — Pete Seeger

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But if by some freak of history communism had caught up with this country, I would have been one of the first people thrown in jail. — Pete Seeger

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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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Town after town has but one newspaper or one radio station. It is often owned by Murdoch. Yes, we don't have as much freedom of the press as we think we have - although the traditional freedom of speech is strongly rooted in American culture. — Pete Seeger

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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

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The nice thing about poetry is that you're always stretching the definitions of words. Lawyers and scientists and scholars of one sort or another try to restrict the definitions, hoping that they can prevent people from fooling each other. But that doesn't stop people from lying.

Cezanne painted a red barn by painting it ten shades of color: purple to yellow. And he got a red barn. Similarly, a poet will describe things many different ways, circling around it, to get to the truth.

My father also had a nice little simile. He said, "The truth is a rabbit in a bramble patch. And you can't lay your hand on it. All you do is circle around and point, and say, 'It's in there somewhere. — Pete Seeger

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There's a story behind every old ballad or work song or nonsense song that I ever knew. Sometimes it's a fascinating story. A story of people struggling for freedom, struggling to get along in this old world. — 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, and I do this voluntarily. — Pete Seeger

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If there's a world here in a hundred years, it's going to be saved by tens of millions of little things. The powers-that-be can break up any big thing they want. They can corrupt it or co-opt it from the inside, or they can attack it from the outside. But what are they going to do about 10 million little things? They break up two of them, and three more like them spring up! — Pete Seeger

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A good song can only do good, and I am proud of the songs I have sung. I hope to be able to continue singing these songs for all who want to listen, Republicans, Democrats, and independents. — Pete Seeger

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There are many people writing songs. That is absolutely wonderful. Who knows, there may be some kid in diapers and he or she might succeed in capturing in a few dozen words what great writers have spent years trying to say. Just the right word in the right place with the right melody behind it and the right rhythm. It might get around the world inch by inch, and people realize that this world is in danger, that we're in danger. That's the way "This Land Is Your Land" got to be so well known. — Pete Seeger

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There is something about participating; it is almost my religion. If the world is still here in 100 years, people will know the importance of participating, not just being spectators. Millions of small groups around the world, that don't necessarily all agree with one another, are made up of people who are not just sitting back waiting for someone to do things for them. No one can prove anything, but of course if I didn't believe it had some kind of power, I wouldn't be trying to do it. — Pete Seeger

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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

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Just as with other great words, the word environment means different things. You might say that a cave woman twenty thousand years ago sweeping out the cave was improving the environment. Many people improving the environment think only in terms of the air they breathe in their hometown and the water in the aquifer under their hometown. My guess is very few are thinking centuries ahead or thousand of years ahead, but that's what we have to do. — Pete Seeger

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RULERS should be careful about what songs are allowed to be sung. — Pete Seeger

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Being generous of spirit is a wonderful way to live. — Pete Seeger

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I fought for peace in the fifties. — Pete Seeger

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Now any person who plays an acoustic guitar standing up on stage with a microphone is a folk singer. Some grandmother with a baby in her arms singing a 500-year-old song, well, she's not a folk singer, she's not on stage with a guitar and a microphone. No, she's just an old grandmother singing an old song. The term "folk singer" has gotten warped. — Pete Seeger