Study Guide

Waist Deep in the Big Muddy

Waist Deep in the Big Muddy Introduction

In a Nutshell

Think that Pete Seeger's music is just old-school, corny, folksy stuff from bygone days? 

Think again. 

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 17 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

ArtistSeeger, Pete
Year1967
LabelColumbia Records
Writer(s)Pete Seeger
Producer(s)John Hammond
Musician(s)Pete Seeger (guitar, vocals)
Learn to play
AlbumWaist Deep in the Big Muddy and Other Love Songs

Music Video

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Influences on Seeger, Pete

Woody Guthrie
Alan Lomax
Charles Seeger

Influenced by Seeger, Pete

Joan Baez
Arlo Guthrie
Utah Phillips
The Byrds
Joni Mitchell
Peter, Paul and Mary
Raffi
Tao Rodriguez-Seeger

Waist Deep in the Big Muddy Resources

Books

Allan M. Winkler, To Everything There is a Season: Pete Seeger and the Power of Song (2009)
"Pete Seeger was always our hero," says the author.

Alec Wilkinson, The Protest Singer: An Intimate Portrait of Pete Seeger (2010)
New Yorker contributor Wilkinson spends extended hours at the Seeger house, painting a sweet picture of the aging singer and his loving family.

David King Dunaway, How Can I Keep From Singing? The Ballad of Pete Seeger (2008)
An authorized biography with photos.

Albums

Waist Deep in the Big Muddy and Other Love Songs (1967)
This is the controversial album that featured "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy."

The Essential Pete Seeger (1961)
Early stuff, great stuff, stuff that our parents and grandparents listened to…

Dangerous Songs!? (1966)
Seeger was on a protest-song binge in the mid-60s; the difference between him and almost everyone else is that he's still on one.

Images

"Waist Deep in the Big Muddy" Youtube video
Just the track plus a Youtube video by a fan.

"Waist Deep in the Big Muddy" Live 1967
This is the performance censored by CBS in 1967 and aired by CBS in 1968.

Pete Seeger American War Songs Medley in CBS (1967)
Well, a medley can only ever be so good, but this one is at least a bit educational.

Movies & TV

Pete Seeger: The Power of Song (2007)
The latest important Seeger documentary.

Websites

Pete Seeger Appreciation Page
A relatively inclusive fan site with lots of good links.

Pete Seeger Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Page
A brief bio and overview of important turns in Seeger's career.

Pete Seeger on Last.fm
Get Seeger discography, suggestions of similar artists, and Seeger radio.

Military History of Vietnam
A detailed history website explaining military operations in Vietnam.

Video & Audio

Pete Seeger's Banjo
In homage to Woody Guthrie's "This Machine Kills Fascists," Pete inscribed his banjo "This Machine Surrounds Hate and Forces It to Surrender."

Seeger's lifted forehead look
Apparently this is what he always does when he sings.

Young Pete Seeger with Woody Guthrie
Seeger watched Guthrie intently.

Pete Seeger and the Weavers
Yeah, they sure do look like a bunch of threats to national security.