Happy birthday to Woody Guthrie
I know Woody Guthrie didn’t create American folk music, but it’s hard to imagine the craft without his legacy. He wrote so many songs in his life, we’re still finding out about some of them (discarded on napkins, etc., he was a bit compulsive with the verses). Along with his buddies in the Almanac Singers, he was one of the first to pull political and topical song into the realm of what was considered folk music. Previously, political song was a different arena altogether.
But, Woody’s political songs weren’t just about politics. They were assertions about the human condition all around. They set a bar where the personal and the political intertwined – humanizing to the individual soul-level figures like Pretty Boy Floyd and events like the sinking of the Lusitania.
He didn’t create folk music, but he certainly set a standard that everyone from Bob Dylan to Ani DiFranco has sought to emulate ever since. And so, it’s hard to imagine where not just American folk music, but modern music in general, would be without the life and work of Woody Guthrie.
Today, he’d be 98 years old. Happy birthday to him! I’ll leave you with another video, because why not?