Pete Seeger's Session

A Beliefnet interview with the great folk singer on God, religion, and whether music can change the world.

Continued from page 1

A whole new generation was introduced to your songs with Bruce Springsteen's "Seeger Sessions." Was there any song you would have added?

“Walking Down Death Row…” I was going to write a letter to Bruce about it...if you ever do any other record of songs I made, put in one serious song like that song. Or maybe the one “Quite Early Morning,” which people like the tune of--“You know it’s darkest before the dawn/ this song keeps me moving on/ if we could heed these early warnings/ the time is now, quite early morning.”

What was your upbringing like?

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. My mother was a mixture. Her grandfather came over from France and ran a preparatory school in New York. My mother was a very good violinist, my father was a musicologist and spent most of his life in academia. 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.


If you were to choose an organized religion, what would it be?

My mother was briefly a member of the Unitarian Church. I actually joined the Community Church [a Unitarian-Universalist church] on 35th Street, in New York, because I had a chorus and we needed a place to rehearse. [My wife] Toshi thinks it was very dishonest of me to join a church simply because I needed to rehearse the chorus. But I’ve been on good terms with them ever since. And sung for them occasionally. And if I ever sing at all now, I would do it down there.

What are your religious or spiritual beliefs?

His Spiritual Beliefs
I now feel that there must be microscopic electromagnetic waves that come out from our brain. All I know is that I’m not the only person who will be thinking of somebody and all of a sudden the telephone rings, and it’s that somebody. My wife also, when things are lost, sometimes can close her eyes and fix her mind on that thing and try and visualize it, maybe it’s a key or a notebook. And she finds her feet moving, and she follows her feet moving and she puts her hand on the key or notebook. Nobody knows for sure. But people undoubtedly get feelings which are not explainable and they feel they’re talking to God or they’re talking to their parents who are long dead.

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