8 Jul 2012

Woody Guthrie (1912-1967)

From Composer of the Week, 9:00 am on 8 July 2012
Woody Guthrie, 1943

Woody Guthrie, 1943 Photo: Public Domain

Woody Guthrie's songs provided a soundtrack for the American Depression years, telling tales of Dustbowl hardship and the seemingly never-ending class struggle.

Guthrie’s guitar bore the legend “This Machine Kills Fascists” and his fervour and commitment as a performer found him working alongside such activists as Leadbelly and Pete Seeger.

Most importantly, Guthrie inspired generations of musicians to put their art in the service of making the world a better and fairer place.

William Dart presents a six-part introduction to the music and influence of the seminal figure of Woody Guthrie.

The man who once defined history as a bit of a battle between the rich folks and the poor folks, came from the second camp. Born in 1912, he hailed from Oklahoma and the small town of Okemsah which, with wibbly, wobbly words worthy of John Lennon, he described in a stream of superlatives.

It was ‘the most singingest, squaredancingest, drinkingest, yellingest, preachingest, walkingest, talkingest, laughingest, cryingest, shootingest, fist-fightingest, bleedingest, gamblingest, gun, club and razor carryingest of all our ranch and farm towns.

For Guthrie, though, singing came first, reared on any music he could come by, from old ballads like ‘Barbara Allen’ and ‘The Drunkard’s Dream’ to the talking blues of Christopher Allen Bouchillon.

Music Details for Part 1:

Excerpts from -
Guthrie: California Blues - Woody Guthrie (Rounder)
Guthrie: Do re mi - Guthrie (Reprise)
Guthrie: Talking Dust Bowl Blues - Guthrie (Itunes)
Trad: I Ride an old paint - Almanac Singers (MCA 14992)
Cage: The Perilous Night - Tzenka Dianova (Atoll ACD 309)
Eisler: Supply and Demand - Eric Bentley (Smithsonian)
Guthrie: Eisler on the Go - Billy Bragg (Itunes)
Guthrie: Pretty Boy Floyd - Pete Seeger (Smithsonian)
Guthrie/Pratt: Avenging Annie - Andy Pratt (Razor & Tie)
Guthrie: This Land is Your Land - Cisco Houston (Itunes)
Dylan: Song to Woody - Bob Dylan (CBS)
Dylan: A hard rain’s a gonna fall - Bob Dylan (CBS)
Ochs: There but for fortune - Phil Ochs (Elektra)
Ochs: Outside of a small circle of friends - Phil Ochs (Elektra)
Ochs: The Party - Phil Ochs (Manimal Vinyl)
Ochs: Universal Soldier - Phil Ochs (Vanguard)
Sainte-Marie: God is alive, magic is afoot - Buffy Sainte-Marie (Vanguard)
Sainte-Marie: No no Keshagesh - Buffy Sainte-Marie (Appleseed)
Di Franco: J - Ani Di Franco (Righteous Babe)
Trad: The Rigs of the Time - Shirley Collins (Topic)
Tocker: Wahine Toa - Mahinārangi Tocker (Tristar)

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