The 15 Best Pete Seeger Quotes: “It’s a Very Important Thing to Learn to Talk to People You Disagree With”

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

For many, Pete Seeger is the ultimate Grandfather of folk music.

The artist, who often focused on political and protest songs, is the bridge from Woody Guthrie to Bob Dylan. He was and is the standard-bearer, in many ways, providing inspiration and insight on his guitar and banjo unlike any other.

But what did Seeger have to say about life itself? Or the craft of songwriting? Or his legacy? What about the people who came before and after him, or the general changing nature of music and of country or folk music, more specifically?

These questions and more make up the essence of our inquiry here today, dear reader. So, to get to the bottom of them, let’s dive into the 15 Best Pete Seeger quotes.

1. “Do you know the difference between education and experience? Education is when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don’t.”

2. “I have sung in hobo jungles, and I have sung for the Rockefellers, and I am proud that I have never refused to sing for anybody.”

3. “It’s a very important thing to learn to talk to people you disagree with.”

4. “I still call myself a communist, because communism is no more what Russia made of it than Christianity is what the churches make of it.”

5. “According to my definition of God, I’m not an atheist. Because I think God is everything. Whenever I open my eyes, I’m looking at God. Whenever I’m listening to something, I’m listening to God.”

6. “If there’s something wrong, speak up!”

7. “I want to turn the clock back to when people lived in small villages and took care of each other.”

8. “When you play the 12-string guitar, you spend half your life tuning the instrument and the other half playing it out of tune.”

9. “When you’re facing an opponent over a broad front, you don’t aim for the opponent’s strong points, important though they may be. Pick a little outpost that you can capture and win. And then you find another place that you can capture and win it, and then you move slowly toward the big places.”

10. “I love my country very dearly, and I greatly resent the implication that some of the places that I have sung and some of the people that I have known, and some of my opinions, whether they are religious or philosophical, make me less of an American.”

11. “I am not going to answer any questions as to my association, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs.”

12. “I try to sing many different kinds of songs. If I sing a batch of humorous songs, I’ll throw in a deadly serious song. Or if I’m singing too many serious songs, I’ll throw in a ridiculous song, to mix it up.”

13. “If I’ve got a talent, it’s for picking the right song at the right time for the right audience. And I can always get people to sing with me.”

14. “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.”

15. “The good and bad are all tangled up together. American popular music is loved around the world because of its African rhythm. But that wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for slavery.”

Photo by Stephen Lovekin/WireImage

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