Music Woody Guthrie: 100th Anniversary of His Birth

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Nicole Colson tells the story of Woody Guthrie on the 100th anniversary of his birth.

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In 1938, Woody drifted around Northern California, working on a series of stories covering the plight of the "Okies" in California. He performed for migrant families camped by the Sacramento River and observed peaches rotting on trees because growers weren't hiring pickers--too much fruit on the market would drive prices down. During his travels, he met members of the Industrial Workers of the World, and learned about IWW songwriter Joe Hill, who was executed in 1915 for his labor activism.

[...]

Despite this, it's important to understand that Woody saw the CP in particular, and socialism more generally, as an alternative to the viciousness and barbarism of capitalism that destroyed the lives of working people. Because of his interactions with rank-and-file CP members during strikes and organizing drives, Woody developed a deep and abiding respect for the party.

[...]

WOODY BRISTLED against the patriotism and jingoism exploding in the U.S. as America's entrance into the Second World War approached. This anger set the stage for his most famous composition in February 1940: "This Land Is Your Land."

[...]

Read all of it here.
 

WonderRandy

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I have a deep and abiding love for Woody Guthrie. Growing up in Oklahoma, I was exposed to a lot of Woody Guthrie reverence, even tho most people knew very little about his political leanings. But among the people who know what's what, the Woody love is amazing. There's a huge musical/cultural underground in OK that was born from his writing.
 
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From 2010:

Postcard From Woody Guthrie's Hometown

Okemah, Oklahoma—It's hard to imagine a quiet town like Okemah spawning a rabble-rousing, labor-loving, leftist. But then, once you walk around for a bit, it's also really hard to imagine Woodrow Wilson Guthrie coming from anywhere else.

The legendary folk singer's childhood home in Okfuskee County sits halfway up a hill ("the hill," if you ask for directions in town), one block south of the public library, roughly equidistant from Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and the surface of the sun (about an hour each way, I think).* If you drove 14,000 miles to see the home of a folk hero, it'd be more than a little dispiriting to discover it'd been turned into a McMansion with a swimming pool for the poodle and quarters for the servants. But don't worry; Woody Guthrie's childhood home is totally the mess you'd hope it'd be.

The house was torn down decades ago, leaving only the stone foundations, and, in true Guthrie fashion, it's been commemorated by a piece of folk art. A woodcarver named Justin Osborn, who lives and works right across the street on a plot cluttered with his creations, carved up an oak in the front yard of the old Guthrie house and made a monument: There's an acoustic guitar carved on top, "This Land is Your Land" in big letters on one side, and "Okemah" carved on the other.

[...]

More.
 
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Rare Photos: One Of Woody Guthrie's Last Shows

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[...]

The first concert was in July 1950. Alan Lomax, a friend of the Barbers, hosted a concert featuring Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and the Rev. Gary Davis. Among those in attendance was Dan Burley, a piano player and journalist for the Amsterdam News and other African-American newspapers.

We don't know exactly what music was played that night, but it appears that Woody drew on his early years of Oklahoma fiddling, as well as the political songs for which he was better known. The photographs show him engaged in some trick fiddling and playing a guitar with his hand-scrawled signature phrase, "This machine kills fascists."

This is believed to be one of Woody's last performances before Huntington's disease began to affect his behavior and ability to play and sing.

[...]

More photos at link.
 

beanstew

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Loving the Woody love.

Woody Guthrie - This Land Is Your Land

In September I'm going to this show:

Billy Bragg, Joe Henry and Grace Petrie celebrate Woody Guthrie's Centenary
This year sees the 100th anniversary of Woody Guthrie's birth - one of the most influential figures in popular music. As part of a year of celebration, Billy Bragg curates and performs in four shows in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales which focus entirely on the legacy of Woody Guthrie.

Bragg has invited singer-songwriter Joe Henry and rising indie-folk star Grace Petrie along to join him in the celebrations.

Guthrie inspired Bob Dylan and a generation of topical singer-songwriters in the
1960s, and even had an influence on punk with Joe Strummer modelling himself on Guthrie and asking friends to call him Woody as a teenager.

It should be pretty great. :) I love Billy Bragg!
 
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