Sunday, November 05, 2006

An American Legend: Woody Guthrie

On the eve of the U.S. mid-term elections it's difficult to find anyone who truly represents the working class. Of course all politicians claim to speak for the common man while lining their own pockets with money from corporations, religious fanatics, and lobbyists. As I ponder how I'll mark the ballot tomorrow I ask myself "What would Woody Do?"

Woody Guthrie spent most of his life working for the rights of the working class. Born Woodrow Wilson Guthrie on July 14, 1912 in Okemah, Oklahoma, Woody moved to Texas at the age of 19. He made a decent living as a street musician and playing small bars and clubs. With the coming of the Dust Bowl era in the early 1930s Woody left his young family to follow the "Okies" to a better life in California. The poverty and injustice he saw would change his life.

In Los Angeles Woody found fame on the radio playing hillbilly and country music and had a large following in the migrant work camps. Displaced families from Texas and Oklahoma lived in tents or shanties and followed the harvest earning a meager existence picking crops. Woody worked as a union organizer and donated some of his earnings to farm worker relief causes. He started slipping some of his protest songs into his radio show which ruffled the feathers of the show's sponsors. Woody walked away from a promising radio career rather than drop his fight for justice or compromise his beliefs.

Woody Guthrie - Talking Dust Bowl Blues.mp3

Woody Guthrie - Pastures Of Plenty.mp3

Woody Guthrie - I Ain't Got No Home.mp3

Dana Robinson - What Would Woody Do.mp3


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm thinking maybe Woody would make sure there is lots of gas in his killing machine before Tuesday.

November 05, 2006 11:08 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

I'm hoping lots of folks do.

November 06, 2006 8:49 AM  
Blogger countrygrrl said...

i remember reading woody's book bound for glory when a callow teenager and thinking what a rich tapestry of life was packed in between the pages. i think picador published it. so thanks for the memories and great writing as always. listening to the tracks as i am writing and i am going to go back to the old vinyl albums i have and have a blast!!

November 06, 2006 4:20 PM  
Blogger kjk said...

Woody also refused to copyright his songs. How's that for a man of the people?

I recommend this book (WOODY CISCO AND ME: Seamen Three in the Merchant Marine) very highly.

-- Ken

November 06, 2006 5:33 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

countrygrrl - "Bound For Glory" was released as a feature film just after Woody's death in 1967.

I'm glad this post stirred some memories for you. Have a good time getting lost in vinyl!

November 06, 2006 8:26 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Ken - When folks started asking for the lyrics to his songs to sing at rallies, Woody published a small booklet and wrote:

"This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright #154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin' it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don't give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that's all we wanted to do."

"Woody, Cisco, and Me" should be required reading.

November 06, 2006 8:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes we need some of those machines to to kill all of the facism that is alive and well in these good ol' usa right now, all i can do at this point is hope that the dems will choose to do what's right now that they have taken control, they can't do us any worse than the neo-facist neo cons who have controled this country for the past 6 years.



November 08, 2006 10:12 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Don't stop with hoping. Let your representatives know what you expect of them. We can take our country back.

November 09, 2006 8:12 AM  

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