Friday, 9 January 2004

Thinking of Woody Guthrie (and here's a Leadbelly playlist Woody would have loved)


When i absorb enough Ledbelly ... (and that's a lot of listening time for me); i'll tell a true story about Woody that might interest some.

I came across a rare book up for auction by Bauman's Rare Books. It was a copy of "American Folksong" (1947) with a hand-written inscription by Woody: "for Margo and Eddie / Woody Guthrie / Aug. 1949". Quoting from the Bauman's auction listing the book at 7,500$; "In the 1930's, actor Eddie Albert shared rooms with singer Burl Ives -- who one evening invited home an undernourished family of four who had been living in a boxcar, and fried some chicken for them. "The man can really play a guitar and sing," Albert was told, and he really could: he was Woody Guthrie. Guthrie and Albert remained close for many years. In addition to Woody's autobiography and his essay on Leadbelly, "American Folksong" includes the texts of some of his greatest songs.

I wonder how many realise that Woody wrote and sang "This Land Is Your Land" as a strident protest song against the "love or leave it" message the recent (1930's) release of "God Bless America" had engendered for the lucky few who then or today are able to share in the bounty that is America. All was not well then and it is very little better today. Bruce Springsteen recorded his rendition of Woody's most famous song along with a biting vocal commentary in solid agreement with it's true meaning. The only recording I can find of that live recording by "The Boss" or of Woody's original are to be found on the Rhaposdy music service. It may sound like I work for Rhapsody or get paid by them; I want to state here and now that I have never received any payment from anybody (like my voice is worth money...NOT!); by Rhapsody or by anybody else. In fact I pay 100$ a year for it like anyone else. That said, I pay the sum gladly. It's one of the few inet services (besides Blogging), that are worth probably more than they cost. Anyway my Leadbelly playlist linked above was a big influence to Mr. Guthrie and is well worth a listen or four.

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