Waist Deep in the Big Muddy
In a Nutshell
Think that Pete Seeger's music is just old-school, corny, folksy stuff from bygone days?
Throughout his life, humble old Pete Seeger found himself at the center of more than a few big dramas, spanning a remarkable period of American history ranging from the 1940s right up to Barack Obama's inaugural. In 1967, after seventeen years of being blacklisted in Hollywood for his political radicalism, "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy" got him back into the spotlight—by being temporarily banned from network TV.
Although presidential insults have since become par for the course
in the mainstream media, it seems that back then people didn't just go around calling wartime presidents "big fools."
About the Song
||Musician(s)||Pete Seeger (guitar, vocals)
|Album||Waist Deep in the Big Muddy and Other Love Songs|
Explore the ways this song connects with the world and with other topics on Shmoop
Pete Seeger thought he had seen it all. He'd been scorned for his union involvement
and Communist Party affiliations in the 1940s. He'd been deployed in World War II
and sung songs for American soldiers in distant places. He'd been blacklisted during McCarthyism and the Red Scare
, threatened with violence at civil rights demonstrations
, and disinvited from presidential dinners and TV appearances because of his political associations. So when he wrote "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy," a thinly veiled attack on President Lyndon B. Johnson's policy of escalation during the Vietnam War, he probably wasn't too surprised when it caused a stir. Plus, as it turned out, his antiwar allegory might have actually reflected the sentiments of nearly half the nation
On the Charts
Despite garnering a decent amount of attention for being controversial, "Waist Deep In the Big Muddy" did not chart.
In the end, Seeger hardly needed a chart-topping history: among many other honors, he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
in 1993 and he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
in 1996. He also received the Harvard Arts Medal
in 1996 despite having dropped out of Harvard in 1938.