Posted at 4:25 PM on September 21, 2007
by Euan Kerr
Twin Cities based producer Bill Eigen says he worked on Pete Seeger for several years to get him to co-operate on a biographical movie. Seeger just wasn't interested as he has never had much time for limelight basking.
Eigen says Seeger only agreed after deciding that the film could be an antidote to the political times of today. The result is the new film "Pete Seeger: the power of song."
Seeger's story is extraordinary. The son of talented musicians he got swept up in music and activism in college, ending up working with Alan Lomax as he collected songs for the Library of Congress, and Woody Guthrie. His time in the Communist Party was relatively short-lived but it was enough to get him blacklisted after World war II for almost two decades. He kept singing though and taught an entire generation such songs as "We shall overcome" "Where have all the flowers gone," and "Guantanamera." Even as the VietNam was was winding down he was working to clean up the Hudson River, work which he continues today.
Eigen says he had his work cut out for him given the amount of material which was available. His personal favorites? Film of Johnny Cash telling Seeger he is a great patriot who loves America, despite what his detractors say.
There are also the home movies which the Seeger family made on a world trip after the VietNam War ended. Only rather than just take a little Super 8 they bought an old 16mm newsreel camera complete with sound equipment. Seeger's wife Toshi ran the camera and his son Dan did the sound, and they ended up capturing music and dance from around the world. Its amazing stuff and a lot of it is in the film.
We'll run our interview with Eigen next week.