TV alert: PBS profiles Pete Seeger

The pioneering and courageous folk singer Pete Seeger will be profiled on PBS' "American Masters" program this week. You can check your local listings for the show here.

The Los Angeles has a review of the show:

Seeger co-wrote "If I Had a Hammer" with Lee Hays, a fellow member of the folk group the Weavers, and he had a hand as well in "Where Have All the Flowers Gone," "Turn! Turn! Turn!" (adapted from the Book of Ecclesiastes) and "The Bells of Rhymney" (a setting of a Welsh poem) and had some part in "We Shall Overcome" becoming the anthem of the civil rights movement. "I get too much credit for this song," he says. "I added a few verses, but everybody adds verses."

He's paid tribute here by, among others, Dixie Chick Natalie Maines (another musician who's caught flak for speaking her mind), Bruce Springsteen (who recorded an album of songs associated with Seeger), former New York Gov. George Pataki (who applauds Seeger's spearheading the movement to clean up the Hudson River) and Bob Dylan, who says of Seeger's fondness for audience participation, "Whether you wanted to or not you'd find yourself singing a part, and it would be beautiful."

...As well as laying out the facts of a life, "The Power of Song" amounts to a brief history of 20th century American moments and movements -- the Depression-era labor movement, the Second World War (Seeger went off banjo in hand), the Red Scare, the civil rights movement, the antiwar movement and finally the environmental movement. He joined and later "drifted out" of the Communist Party ("I was against race discrimination and the communists were against race discrimination; I was in favor of unions and the communists were in favor of unions"), which led him in due course to the House Un-American Activities Committee, where he simply said that his politics were none of their business. And he quit the Weavers, with whom he had known success, because he did not want to sing in a cigarette ad.