20090123

SMOTHERS BROTHERS, PETE SEEGER, MUDDY - Too Hot for Anything

This week's Old School Friday theme is Too Hot for Radio - well, THIS ONE WAS TOO HOT FOR TELEVISION!

In September of 1967, Pete Seeger, in his first appearance on television after being blacklisted in the 1950s, appeared on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. The original taping of the show included Seeger singing Waist Deep in Muddy Waters, a controversial anti-war song that was subsequently cut from the show by CBS. Thanks to the efforts of the Smothers Brothers, this version below aired in a later broadcast on the show on February 25, 1968.

This was only one of many fights over the censorship of content that occurred between the Smothers Brothers and the network and CBS abruptly cancelled the show on April 4th 1969. Despite the cancellation, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour ended up winning an Emmy for writing after being cancelled. If you're interested, there is a great documentary that details the history of the CBS vs. Smothers censorship struggle called Smothered.

The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour had an Olympian line-up of writers including; Steve Martin, Rob Reiner, Albert Brooks, Don Novello (Father Guido Sarducci), Pat Paulsen and head writer Mason Williams (yes, composer of Classical Gas which premiered on the show), as well as Tommy Smothers though he was not credited as one of the writers when the show won the 1969 Emmy. BUT Tommy went on to win that Emmy nearly 40 years later!

By the way, there is currently a move to have Pete Seeger nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Video Courtesy of PopulistParty at YouTube.

Just in case the video is removed from YouTube due to copyright violations at a later date, here are the lyrics:

It was back in 1941.
I was a member of a good platoon.
We were on maneuvers in Lou'siana one night
By the light of the moon.
The Captain told us to ford a river.
That's how it all begun.
We were knee deep in the Big Muddy,
And 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've forded this river
About a mile above this place.
It'll be a little soggy, but just keep sloggin'.
We'll soon be on dry ground."
We were waist deep in the Big Muddy,
And the big fool said to push on.

The Sergeant said, "Sir, with all this equipment,
No man will be able to swim."
"Sergeant, don't be a Nervous Nelly,"
The Captain said to him.
"All we need is a little determination.
Men, follow me. I'll lead on."
We were neck deep in the Big Muddy,
And the big fool said to push on.

All at once the moon clouded over.
We heard a gurglin' cry.
A few seconds later the Captain's helmet
Was all that floated by.
The Sergeant said, "Turn around, men.
I'm in charge from now on."
And we just made it out of the Big Muddy
With the Captain dead and gone.

We stripped and dived and found his body
Stuck in the old quicksand.
I guess he didn't know that the water was deeper
Then the place he'd once before been.
Another stream had joined the Big Muddy
About a half mile from where we'd gone.
We were lucky to escape from the Big Muddy
When the big fool said to push on.

Now I'm not going to point any moral —
I'll leave that for yourself.
Maybe you're still walking, you're still talking,
You'd like to keep your health.
But every time I read the papers, that old feeling comes on,
We're waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.

Waist deep in the Big Muddy,
The big fool says to push on.
Waist deep in the Big Muddy,
The big fool says to push on.
Waist deep, neck deep,
Soon even a tall man will be over his head.
We're waist deep in the Big Muddy,
And the big fool says to push on.

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15 comments:

  1. It's amazing, what was controversial then compared to now. You can just about say anything in song. I didn't know he was up for a nobel nod. I will have to check this out and find out more about him.

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  2. Wow, great historic background. The show was a bit before my time but I didn't realize it had such a limited run.

    My pick is from the 80's on MartyBLOGs when ever you get a minute. Have a good weekend!

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  3. Mrs. Grapevine - yes, today we live in a much more sophisticated world I guess. Isn't that Nobel Peace Prize thing interesting?

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  4. Martin - I checked out your pick and I loved it - perfect choice for this week!

    And I did click through to YouTube so no sweat about the disabled embedding on it!

    Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. Thanks for this provocative post, Pop Diva. So You Think You Can Dance took some flack for doing anti-war production two years ago. It wasn't censored, and that's a good thing. But it shows we can still face political pressure to shut up when we disagree with Washington. I don't think that will be a problem under the new administration, however, since Obama understands The Constitution.

    I went with sexy hot not politically hot. I was so thinking in the box with that.

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  6. Vérité - oh how funny! I didn't even get the sexy idea at all - just went directly to politics (not my usual response either!)

    Does this mean I'm getting too old??? LOL!

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  7. Hard to imagine what artists and performers had to deal with just a few short decades ago. I always loved the Smothers Brothers and their show was one of my very favorites.
    What courage and tenacity they showed-- bucking the network and going for the truth as they saw it. In the end, of course, the big guys one the battle and cancelled the show. But, little by little, the war was won by people who, like the Smothers Brothers, wouldn't allow censorship and restrictions to keep them down.
    Up the revolution!!!

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  8. Eileen - yes, I agree - the fights we fought back in the 60s and 70s did make differences.

    Now we live in a new day with new fights that need to be fought - we're not too old to dust off those protest signs, are we?

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  9. Times have really changed! I agree with Mrs Grapevine, things unheard of back then fly freely today.

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  10. I agree with Mrs. G...it is absolutely amazing what was back then compared to now!

    Thanks for the lesson...I learned something else new today!

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  11. Mrs. Marvalus - hey, thanks for stopping by as usual!!! I love this kind of trivia myself so I enjoy sharing it.

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  12. I learned something new today!! Thank you for that jolt to the mind. :)

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  13. Connoisseur - glad I was able to share some tv history with you!

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  14. I watched a great documentary on vareity shows over Thanksgiving. They had a bit about the Smothers Brothers show and the censorship.

    Brilliant comedy. As we watched I thought to myself, how did we get to such no talent stuff on television these days. Quantity not quality.

    I think Rosie O debuted her variety show that same weekend with low ratings. Obviously since there was only one show. I think it is a shame.

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  15. I think PBS just aired part of this documentary a few weeks ago - I caught the last 1/2 hour or so - I was so upset that I didn't know it was on!

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