Pete Seeger and the Origins of "Union Maid"

Jodie Childers


A commentary on a video interview with Pete Seeger [Video accessible on . In the video “A Reflection on Woody Guthrie’s ‘Union Maid’: An Interview with Pete Seeger,” filmed in September 2013, ninety-four year old Pete Seeger recounts the story of how Woody Guthrie composed the song “Union Maid.” Seeger reflects on his friendship with Guthrie while also foregrounding the dialogic interplay in the making of folk music as he discusses the origins of the song, both lyrically and melodically. Through this narrative told through his eyes, Seeger shows how songs materialize out of moments and experiences through the push and pull of human relationships. For Seeger, the social and historical context surrounding the song is just as important as the individual moment of its creation, which gives us insight not just into the song’s history but also into Seeger’s own perspective on the creative process: it is not about the individual imposing a will on the world, but it is about the artist listening to the people.


Woody Guthrie; Pete Seeger; Union Maid; interview; songwriting; dialogism; Red Wing

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