My Thoughts on Woody Guthrie
When I was a kid, my parents had a friend who passed through Oklahoma a couple time a year. He would bring his guitar and my dad would get out his tape recorder and they would drink whiskey and sing and play (my dad sounded amazing like Gene Autry) until the wee hours of the morning. That was really my first introduction to the music of Woody Guthrie (and so many others). Though I don’t remember ever singing “This Land is My Land” in school as so many others seem to, I can never remember not knowing it.
I think there are a very few song writers whose music transcends the ages. Stephen Foster, Hank Williams, Robert Johnson, Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie are among these elite few. What sets Guthrie apart is his social activism. From the haunting refrains of Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos) to the “This Machine Kills Fascist” bumper sticker on his guitar, Woody was all about standing up for the little guy.
As a song writer myself, I know how hard it is to get even one song to resonate with others, but to have Woody’s extensive catalog of songs that are still relevant today and that have been sung by generations of musicians of all genres is a phenomena likely to never be duplicated.