Geraldine's Reviews > The Protest Singer: An Intimate Portrait of Pete Seeger

The Protest Singer by Alec Wilkinson
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's review
Apr 20, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2011

Pete Seeger is one of my heroes, so this isn't a very unbiased review. I'd say that it's not a great introduction to Seeger if you don't know a little bit about him; but since I love him, I thought the author did a wonderful job of allowing me to feel as though I'm just dropping in on a conversation outside the cabin in Beacon.

“I always hated the word ‘career.’ It implies that fame and fortune are what you’re trying to get. I have a life’s purpose. In the old days I felt it should be helping the meek to inherit the earth, whether you call the working class meek or not…These days my purpose is trying to get people to realize that there may be no human race by the end of the century unless we find ways to talk to people we deeply disagree with. Whether we cooperate from love or tolerance, it doesn’t much matter, but we must treat each other nonviolently.”

And: "Folk songs frequently contain every kind of trouble and harm. Often they are songs people sung to themselves or with their neighbors to commemorate a disaster or to give themselves courage or to console themselves for losses and defeats and suffering and hardship. Sometimes they celebrate victories, but typically there is more misfortune than triumph. Folk songs have a lot of dark corners. They don't muse so much. They don't describe life from a balcony overlooking a harbor from which the boat is departing at sunset with your sweetheart. The folk song version of that is We-were-to-wed, but-I-killed-her-instead."

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