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Pete Seeger with David Bernz | Chopping Wood


Pete Seeger with David Bernz | Chopping Wood





288 pages

For years, Woody had a sign on his guitar, ‘This Machine Kills Fascists,’ and we’d say, ‘Woody, Hitler’s dead—why don’t you take the sign off?’ And he’d say, ‘Oh, this fascism comes along whenever the rich people get the generals to do what they want.’ It’s a good definition of fascism. But then Woody went into the hospital, and that’s when I decided to put something on my banjo, but I thought it should be a little different. ‘This Machine Surrounds Hate And Forces It To Surrender.’

Chopping Wood is Pete Seeger up close and personal like never before. Derived from years of conversations between Seeger and his close friend and collaborator David Bernz, it takes readers on a uniquely personal journey through this legendary folksinger and songwriter remarkable life and career, in his own words.

Listen in as Pete unabashedly shares historical and family stories; tells of learning the banjo, traveling with Woody Guthrie, and finding commercial success with The Weavers; explains how he wrote books and put together songs; delves into controversial subjects like communism and the Peekskill Riots; and highlights those he admired and respected, including Bruce Springsteen, who honoured Pete with his Seeger Sessions album in 2006.

Pete and David share the heavy lifting as they tackle subjects such as the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, Pete’s relationship to Greenwich Village, and the need for copyright reform. Together, they describe how Pete put his worldview into practice in his local community, how he lived with local hero status in later life, and how they made recordings together that resulted in two Grammy Awards.

Minimally edited to preserve Seeger’s trademark cadence, the book is punctuated by historical images and additional commentary from David as well as other musicians and friends. Readers will come to know Pete more deeply as they hear this gentle, principled man’s voice resonate in their own heads and bear witness to his humility and willingness to respect those whose opinions differed greatly from his own—vital qualities in these troubled and divisive times.

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