From Socialist Voice, January 2007

“Waist-deep in the Big Muddy”

by Pete Seeger

This song by Pete Seeger was planned for the “Smothers Brothers’ Comedy Hour” on American television in 1967, but the television channel CBS objected to Seeger’s references to the “big fool” in the White House. It was finally sung by Seeger on the “Comedy Hour” in 1968 as the finale in a medley of anti-war songs.

It was back in nineteen forty-two;
I was a member of a good platoon.
We were on manoeuvres in-a Loozianna,
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,
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.

The sergeant said, “Sir, with all this equipment
No man will be able to swim.”
“Sergeant, don’t be a Nervous Nellie,”
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 gurgling 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
Than the place he’d once before been.
Another stream had joined the Big Muddy
’Bout 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.

Well, 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,
And the big fool says to push on.
Waist-deep in the Big Muddy,
And the big fool says to push on.
Waist-deep! Neck-deep! Soon even a
Tall man’ll be over his head; we’re
Waist-deep in the Big Muddy,
And the big fool says to push on!

© Melody Trails, Inc., New York, 1967.

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