Woody Guthrie, So Long it Been Good to know You
I have been been a Woody Guthrie fan long before I was a Woody Guthrie fan. As a child in elementary school, I clasped hands with my peers in the auditorium and peered out into a rolling crowd of people searching for my parents faces. I remember the anxiety as I struggled to remember the words to my verse.
As I went walking that ribbon of highway
I saw above me that endless skyway
I saw below me that golden valley
This land was made for you and me
At the time those words meant little to me besides a catchy, sin-song tune. But I’ll be damned if that little ditty hadn’t been cemented in my impressionable little mind for the long haul. Over the years, as my musical tastes advanced and matured I looked to various genres of music. I rambled from the catchy riffs of bands like Led Zeppelin and the stadium rock of the Who, to the mind melting melodies of the Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel. In darker moments, I even turned to the hard stuff, Metallica, etc.
Eventually after knocking around for years I came to the music that I knew would be mine. I felt completely at home in the lush, beautiful vocals of artists such as George Jones, Loretta Lynn, and Willie Nelson. Waylon Jennings spoke to me in a way few could. The countryish rock of Gram Parsons fit like a warm glove and Ryan Adams dense literate songs completed the outfit. Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt, and the Bottle Rockets feed me my rock fix, while still satiating my country tooth.
My newfound love of all things “Real” country inevitable led me to the live concerts of my heros. More than a handful of times at these concerts I have felt my hair stand on end when mid-concert, a show would silence and I would hear that lonesome fiddle start to whine and I would hear those timeless words and the cover song would begin.
This land is your land, this land is my land…
I had come full circle. My childhood song finally made sense to me. There was a reason it was my song.
I am no expert on Woody Guthrie, but his legend is cemented in my mind. My song searching has yield countless other gems such as “Gypsy Davey, 1913 Massacre, Do Re Mi, and the Biggest Thing Man Has Ever Done.” Woody is gone know but I know with conviction that Woody is a constant presence and will always have a home in this world.