Waist deep in the big muddy
About the Song
The song tells the story of a platoon wading in a river in Louisiana on a practice patrol in 1942. Imperiously ignoring his sergeant's concerns, the captain orders the platoon to continue with himself in the lead, until they are finally up to their necks. Suddenly, the Captain drowns and the sergeant instantly orders the unit to turn back to the original shore. It turns out the Captain was not aware that the river was deeper with a joining stream upriver. The narrator declines to state an obvious moral, but intimates from what he has read in the paper that his nation itself is being led into similar peril by authoritarian fools. Each verse ends with a line noting that "the big fool said to push on", except for the final verse, which changes to the present tense, and the fourth verse which says "the big fool dead and gone". The story is similar to theRibbon Creek incident, which occurred in 1956.
Seeger performed the song live on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour on CBS network TV in 1967. CBS censored the performance during the show causing a considerable degree of controversy. They later apologized for this act of censorship and played the performance on a later program of the show.
Recordings and covers of the song:
- It was first released as a single in 1967 by Columbia Records
- Columbia used this as the title tracks of Seeger's Waist Deep in the Big Muddy & Other Love Songs LP in 1967
- Graeme Allwright released his French translation of the song in 1968 as "Jusqu'a la ceinture" in 1968
- Dick Gaughan on his 1998 album "Sail On" - also on Where Have All the Flowers Gone: Songs of Pete Seeger, Vol. 1
- Richard Shindell on his 2004 album "Vuelta"
- Annie DiFranco on the 2007 Sowing the Seeds Appleseed Recordings compendium double CD
- John McCutcheon on his 2018 To Everyone in All the World: A Celebration of Pete Seeger album
- Kronos Quartet on their 2020 album Long Time Passing: Kronos Quartet & Friends Celebrate Pete Seeger
Secondhand Songs: https://secondhandsongs.com/work/42163/versions#nav-entity