Pete Seeger


pete and bob

edited from “The Incompleat Folksinger” by Pete Seeger:

In 1935 I was sixteen years old, playing tenor banjo in the school jazz band.  A good deal of song collecting was being done under the auspices of different government agencies such as the Resettlement Administration.  Such work was called boondoggling at the time, but through the work of these agencies, the famous Library of Congress collection was first built up.

My father, Charles Seeger, as an expert in several branches of musical scholarship, was involved in these projects.  And I accompanied him on one field trip to North Carolina.  We wound down through the narrow valleys with so many turns in the road that I got seasick.

We passed wretched little cabins with half-naked children peering out the door; we passed exhibits of patchwork quilts and other handicrafts which were often were the main source of income.  I first became acquainted with a side of America that I had never known before.

At the Asheville square dance and ballad festival I fell in love with the old-fashioned five-string banjo, rippling out a rhythm to one fascinating song after another.  I liked the rhythms.  I like the melodies, time-tested by generations of singers.  I liked the words.



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