Woody Guthrie’s Continuing Collaborations
I thought I’d share my Smithsonian piece about contemporary songwriters using the Woody Guthrie Archives for lyrics. It’s up now at http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/Woody-Guthries-Music-Lives-On.html?c=y&page=1
Unfortunately, the Jay Farrar interview ended up on the cutting room floor. Here’s part of that:
One of those she’s working with is Jay Farrar, the creative force behind the alt country band Son Volt who named the group’s 2005 album “Okemah and the Melody Riot” in honor of Guthrie’s birthplace. He plans to release an album in the fall of 2010 featuring lyrics and songs inspired by his reading of journals from the archives.
Farrar grew up in a blue-collar St. Louis suburb with parents who held Guthrie up as a hero. So he looked for writings that had resonance today and in his life, including Woody’s journals from his Army days at Scott Field near St. Louis. Among the songs he’s recorded are “Old Cocaine,” “San Anton Meat House,” about a brothel, and “Plane Wreck at Los Gatos,” about the crash of a plane filled with deported workers, a song that has been covered by others over the years. “What hit me looking through the lyrics and the art work was the complexity of Woody as an artist,” Farrar says.