Sunday, August 13, 2006

Pete Seeger synchronicity

In the car in upstate New York with my family, a Pete Seeger tape running. The Vietnam allegory "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy" began:

It was back in 1942,
I was a member of a good platoon.
We were on maneuvers in Lou'siana,
One night by the light of the moon.
The captain told us to ford a river,
That's how it all begun.
We were knee deep in the Big Muddy,
The big fool said to push on.
Within two or three seconds of the song's start, we saw a sign for the town of Westmoreland. Readers of a certain age (or of any age) will recall that General William Westmoreland commanded American military forces in Vietnam War from 1964 to 1968.

In 1967, CBS would not allow Seeger to sing "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy" on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Seeger finally got the chance in 1968. He writes about the song and its history in a 1983 piece available from the link below:
Of course, a song is not a speech, you know. It reflects new meanings as one's life's experiences shine new light upon it. (This song does not mention Vietnam or President Johnson by name.) Often a song will reappear several different times in history or in one's life as there seems to be an appropriate time for it. Who knows.
Link » How "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy" Finally Got on Network Television in 1968 (from, a fan site)

[Note: The lyrics quoted in this piece differ slightly from those of the 1966 recording. I've followed the recording in typing the verse given above.]

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