Waist Deep in the Big Muddy

Words & Music : Pete Seeger
TRO © 1967 Melody Trails, Inc. New York, NY

Lyric as sung by Dick Gaughan

It was back in nineteen forty-two,
I was part of a good platoon.
We were on manoeuvers in Louisiana,
One night by the light of the moon.
The captain said, "We've got to ford the river",
That's where it all began.
We were knee deep in the Big Muddy,
And the damn fool kept yelling to push on.

The Sergeant said, "Sir, are you sure,
This is the way back to the base?"
"Sergeant, I once crossed this river
Not a mile above this place.
It'll be a little soggy but we'll keep slogging.
We'll soon be on dry ground."
We were waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the damn fool kept yelling to push on.

"Captain, sir, with all this gear
No man'll be able to swim."
"Sergeant, don't be a Nervous Nellie,"
The Captain said to him.
"All we need is a little determination;
Follow me, I'll lead on."
We were neck deep in the Big Muddy
And the damn fool kept yelling to push on.

All of a sudden, the moon clouded over,
All we heard was a gurgling cry.
A second 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 where he'd once been.
For another stream had joined the Muddy
A half mile from where we'd gone.
We were lucky to get out of the Big Muddy
When the damn fool kept yelling to push on.

Well, you might not want to draw conclusions
I'll leave that to yourself
Maybe you're still walking, maybe you're still talking
Maybe you've still got your health.
But every time I hear the news
That old feeling comes back on;
We're waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the damn fools kept yelling to push on.

Knee deep in the Big Muddy
And the damn fools keep yelling to push on
Waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the damn fools keep yelling to push on
Waist deep! Neck deep! we'll be drowning before too long
We're neck deep in the Big Muddy
And the damn fools keep yelling to push on!


Song Notes

Songs (good songs, anyway) are part of the world which surrounds them and they adapt to suit the changing needs of the times. Originally written in 1967 as an allegory about the Vietnam War, I've changed it quite a bit in singing it over the years, as inevitably happens.

For the song text as Pete actually wrote it, see
Jim Capaldi's Pete Seeger Appreciation Pages.

celtic knotwork


Top of Page