14 songs by Pete Seeger that are more relevant than ever, sadly

<> the 2009 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize special outdoor tribute at Hunts Point Riverside Park on September 3, 2009 in New York City.

Pete Seeger died on Monday at the age of 94. He was a folk music legend and activist whose songs called for peace, social justice, and environmental protection.

Sadly, he left us at a time when we may need his music more than ever. The world is still filled with war and conflict, poverty and vast inequality, and environmental devastation. And so we keep singing his lyrics.

Here are some songs to help you celebrate Seeger's life and music while keeping his message alive.

 

End the Wars!

These are songs for the warmongers and the conflict-stokers, wherever they may be — from the United States to Iraq and Afghanistan to Central African Republic and Syria to Israel and Palestine.

 

1) "Bring 'em Home"

(This one goes out to Barack Obama. Will he mention Afghanistan in tonight's State of the Union address?)

The world needs teachers, books and schools,
Bring them home, bring them home.
And learning a few universal rules,
Bring them home, bring them home.

So if you love your Uncle Sam,
Bring them home, bring them home.
Support our boys in Vietnam,
Bring them home, bring them home.

 

2) “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy”

We were — knee deep in the Big Muddy,
But the big fool said to push on.

The Sergeant said, "Sir, are you sure,
This is the best way back to the base?"
"Sergeant, go on! I forded this river
'Bout a mile above this place.
It'll be a little soggy but just keep slogging.
We'll soon be on dry ground."

We were — waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool said to push on.

 

3) “What Did You Learn in School Today?”

What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?

I learned that Washington never told a lie.
I learned that soldiers seldom die.
I learned that everybody's free,
And that's what the teacher said to me.

...

I learned our Government must be strong;
It's always right and never wrong;
Our leaders are the finest men
And we elect them again and again.

...

I learned that war is not so bad;
I learned about the great ones we have had;
We fought in Germany and in France
And someday I might get my chance.

That's what I learned in school today,
That's what I learned in school.

 

4) “Last Train to Nuremberg”

(A song for chemical weapons and drone strikes.)

Who held the rifle? Who gave the orders?
Who planned the campaign to lay waste the land?
Who manufactured the bullet? Who paid the taxes?
Tell me, is that blood upon my hands?

Last train to Nuremberg!
Last train to Nuremberg!
Last train to Nuremberg!
All on board!

If five hundred thousand mothers went to Washington
And said, "Bring all of our boys home without delay!"
Would the man they came to see, say he was too busy?
Would he say he had to watch a football game?

Last train to Nuremberg!
Last train to Nuremberg!
Last train to Nuremberg!
All on board!

 

5) "This Land is Your Land"

(We're looking at you, Bibi.)

As I went walking that ribbon of highway
I saw above me that endless skyway
I saw below me that golden valley
This land was made for you and me

This land is your land and this land is my land

...

I roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
All around me a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me

This land is your land and this land is my land

...

When the sun came shining, then I was strolling
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
A voice was chanting as the fog was lifting
This land was made for you and me

(By Woody Guthrie)

 

6) "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?"

Where have all the young men gone,
Long time passing,
Where have all the young men gone,
Long time ago,
Where have all the young men gone,
Gone to soldiers every one,
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone,
Long time passing,
Where have all the soldiers gone,
Long time ago,
Where have all the soldiers gone,
They've gone to graveyards every one,
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone,
Long time passing,
Where have all the graveyards gone,
Long time ago,
Where have all the graveyards gone,
Gone to flowers every one,
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?

 

Up with the workers and the poor! Down with the bankers and the CEOs!

These are songs for a time — today — when the 85 richest people in the world have more wealth than the poorest half of the world (3.5 billion people) combined.

 

7) "Talking Union"

(For much of Seeger's career, union membership declined and income equality grew. Look at this graph. Listen to this song.

Now, you know you're underpaid, but the boss says you ain't;
He speeds up the work till you're ‘bout to faint,
You may he down and out, but you ain't beaten,
Pass out a leaflet and call a meetin'
Talk it over - speak your mind -
Decide to do something about it.

...

Suppose they're working you so hard it's just outrageous,
They're paying you all starvation wages;
You go to the boss, and the boss would yell,
"Before I'd raise your pay I'd see you all in Hell."
Well, he's puffing a big see-gar and feeling mighty slick,
He thinks he's got your union licked.
He looks out the window, and what does he see
But a thousand pickets, and they all agree
He's a bastard - unfair - slave driver -
Bet he beats his own wife.

 

8) "We Shall Not be Moved"

We shall not, we shall not be moved
Just like a tree that's planted by the water
We shall not be moved

We're young and old together, we shall not be moved
Just like a tree that's planted by the water
We shall not be moved

We're women and men together, we shall not be moved
Just like a tree that's planted by the water 
We shall not be moved

 

9) "All I Want"

We worked to build this country, Mister,
While you enjoyed a life of ease.
You've stolen all that we built, Mister,
Now our children starve and freeze.

So, I don't want your millions, Mister,
I don't want your diamond ring.
All I want is the right to live, Mister,
Give me back my job again.

(By Jim Garland)

 

10) "Garbage"

Oh, garbage, garbage, garbage
Their stocks and their bonds all garbage
What will they do when their system go to smash
there's no value to their cash
there's no money to be made
that there's a world to be repaid
their kids will read in history book
about financiers and other crooks
and feudalism and slavery
and nukes and all their knavery
To history's dustbin they're consigned,
along with many other kinds of garbage

 

11) "Banks Made of Marble"

(Listen up, Jamie Dimon, et al.)

I saw the weary miner,
Scrubbing coal dust from his back,
I heard his children cryin',
Got no coal to heat the shack.

But the banks are made of marble,
With a guard at every door,
And the vaults are stuffed with silver,
That the miner sweated for.

I've seen my brothers working
Throughout this mighty land;
I prayed we'd get together,
And together make a stand.

Then we'd own those banks of marble;
With a guard at every door;
And we'd share those vaults of silver,
That we have sweated for.

(By Les Rice)

 

Save the Earth!

Songs for a dying planet.

 

11) "To My Old Brown Earth"

To my old brown earth
And to my old blue sky
I'll now give these last few molecules of "I."

And you who sing,
And you who stand nearby,
I do charge you not to cry.

Guard well our human chain,
Watch well you keep it strong,
As long as sun will shine.

And this our home,
Keep pure and sweet and green,
For now I'm yours
And you are also mine.

 

12) "From Way Up Here"

It's just a little ball of rock and sea and sand,
No bigger than my hand.

...

From way up here the earth is very small,
It's just a little ball, so small, so beautiful and dear.

 

13) "My Dirty Stream"

Out in the ocean they say the water's clear
But I live right at Beacon here
Half way between the mountains and sea
Tacking to and fro, this thought returns to me

Well it's Sailing up my dirty stream
Still I love it and I'll dream
That some day, though maybe not this year
My Hudson and my country will run clear.

 

What are you going to do?

Title says it all:

 

14) "Which Side Are You On?"