Thursday, July 06, 2006

Why we do it

The discussion of Pete Seeger brought up this 2004 interview in which he discusses the controversy surrounding his singing of an anti-war song on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in 1968. At first, CBS censored the song but then relented under public pressure:
I sang "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy," and this time only at a station in Detroit cut it out. But the rest of the country heard it, so seven million people heard it. Who knows? Later that month, in late February, Lyndon Johnson decided not to run for re-election. The song would be probably just one more thing. I honestly believe that the future is going to be millions of little things saving us. I imagine a big seesaw, and at one end of this seesaw is on the ground with a basket half-full of big rocks in it. The other end of the seesaw is up in the air. It's got a basket one-quarter full of sand. And some of us got teaspoons, and we're trying to fill up sand.

A lot of people are laughing at us, and they say, "Ah, people like you have been trying to do that for thousands of years, and it's leaking out as fast as you're putting it in." But we're saying, "We're getting more people with teaspoons all the time." And we think, "One of these years, you'll see that whole seesaw go zooop in the other direction." And people will say, "Gee, how did it happen so suddenly?" Us and all our little teaspoons. Now granted, we've gotta keep putting it in, because if we don't keep putting teaspoons in, it will leak out, and the rocks will go back down again. Who knows?
I know all I have is a teaspoon. But there are a lot of us, and a lot of sand. Keep on digging.

Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” by Pete Seeger from the album Waist Deep in the Big Muddy and Other Love Songs (1967, 2:58).