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Woody Guthrie

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Woody Guthrie - The Asch Recordings CD Cover

Woody Guthrie - The Asch Recordings

© Smithsonian Folkways

Description of Woody Guthrie's Work:

Singer-songwriter, political music

Comparisons:

Some of Woody Guthrie's contemporaries who may be comparable include Leadbelly, Pete Seeger and Ramblin Jack Elliot. Woody Guthrie was also hugely influential on the mid-century folk revivalists, particularly Bob Dylan.

Woody Guthrie Trivia:

Woody Guthrie's first attempt at a music career was with a band in Texas called the Corn Cobb Trio (1934).

Artists Influenced by Woody Guthrie:

If you already like Woody Guthrie, you should check out Bob Dylan, Dan Bern, Billy Bragg, Pete Seeger, Ani Difranco, Bruce Springsteen and Wilco.

Recommended CDs by Woody Guthrie:

This Land is Your Land: The Asch Recordings Vol. 1 (Smithsonian Folkways, 1997) Compare Prices

Dust Bowl Ballads (Buddha, 1964) Compare Prices

Columbia River Collection (Rounder, 1990) Compare Prices

The Live Wire: Woody Guthrie in Performance 1949 (Woody Guthrie Productions, 2007) Review

Purchase/Download Woody Guthrie MP3s:

Quote from Woody Guthrie:

"I am out to sing songs that will prove to you that this is your world and that if it has hit you pretty hard and knocked you for a dozen loops, no matter what color, what size you are, how you are built, I am out to sing the songs that make you take pride in yourself and in your work. And the songs that I sing are made up for the most part by all sorts of folks just about like you."

Woody Guthrie Biography:

Woody Guthrie was born in 1912 in Okemah, Oklahoma. His father was a cowyboy and a local politician, and his mother was institutionalized when Woody was just a boy.

After Okemah's boomtown status started to lose speed, Woody headed down to texas where he married his first wife. There he also joined his first band, the Corn Cobb Trio, and started writing songs at an alarming rate.

Around the time the stock market crashed, unemployed men from all over the Dust Bowl states started heading out in search of jobs and promising futures. Woody was among them, and he spent the next couple of years hopping railroad cars, and in some cases even walking to California.

Once he arrived in California, he got a job doing weekly radio broadcasts, wherein he covered all sorts of social and political commentary. He quickly tired of that lifestyle, though, and headed to New York City two years later.

In New York, Woody joined up with Pete Seeger to form leftist troupe the Almanac Singers, and enjoyed a bit of fame entertaining leftist organizations and labor unions. Soon, he was married again, and fathered four children, including Cathy, Arlo, Joady, and Nora Lee.

As World War II heated up, Woody enlisted with the Merchant Marines and served several tours of duty before returning home in 1946 to his family in Coney Island, NY.

Always subject to his wanderlust, he headed back onto the road with his protégé Ramblin Jack Elliot. Later, in California, he would marry a third time, before falling ill. In 1954, Woody was admitted to a hospital in New Jersey. Over the next decade, he was constantly in and out of the hospital, and was treated for illnesses from alcoholism to schizophrenia.

In 1967, Woody Guthrie died of Huntington's Chorea, but his music continues to thrive. In 1988, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and in 1996, he was honored at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame American Music Masters Series.

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