Thursday, October 23, 2014

Week 10: Woody Guthrie

DOWNLOAD: Woody Guthrie on BOX:

READING: We can pick up again with the READER--there's a chapter included from Woody Guthrie's autobiography--Bound for Glory (pps. 57-91, with a good introduction by Studs Terkel). With drtawings by Woody Guthrie. Also see the section on his life, which starts on Reader p. 244. It's from Phil Hood, Artists of American Folk Music.  (There are other good sections from that book--on Pete Seeger, John Lomax, Odetta Carter Family, Elizabeth Cotten... I've included some of these in the Reader as well.)

Bound for Glory, cover, 1943

Also: Read this key chapter in John Szwed (Alan Lomax bio): Bohemian Folklorist (exploring the question of folksongs in the city), pps.141-167, particularly the section on Woody Guthrie in New York, pps. 157-167.  Posted on iDocs: 

SONGS: Here are the main songs for this week (all in your tan songsheets). They're ALL good songs to sing...

This Land Is Your Land  (also--compare the way Dylan recorded it early on, included in YouTube section, below)
Roll on Columbia
Blowin' Down the Road
we can also do
Do Re Mi
So Long It's Been Good to Know You (Dusty Old Dust)

Here are the (supplemental) titles on your Woody Guthrie download. I included some of his Dust Bowl ballads, (The Great Dust Storm, Tom Joad)  a "talking blues," his high-spirited version of Go Tell Aunt Rhody, some topical songs (Philadelphia Lawyer, Lindberg, and Jarama Valley) plus several other--to give you a good taste. There's of course lots more on YouTube, but this is a start (and the sound will be better...)

The Great Dust Storm (Dust Storm Disaster)
John Henry
Talking Dust Bowl Blues
Dusty Old Dust (So Long, It's Been Good To Know You)
Go Tell Aunt Rhody
Dust Bowl Blues
Blowin' Down The Road (I Ain't Going To Be Treated This Way)
Tom Joad - Part I
Pastures Of Plenty
Tom Joad - Part II
Do Re Mi
Dust Bowl Refugee
Philadelphia Lawyer
Gypsy Davy
Hobo's Lullaby
Roll On Columbia
Jarama Valley
This Land Is Your Land
When That Great Ship Went Down
Long John

Woody Guthrie, Alan Lomax,and friends, New York, early 1940s

There are a number of great YouTube things as well. The first with Woody Guthrie live in an old film clip. These film clips of him are apparently rare. Can you find better? The first two are for LOOKING (so watch them carefully!!!); the next three, for listening:
Woody Guthrie performing, film fragment   
This Machine Kills Fascists  (A short Summary of the Year 1941). Sets Woody Guthrie's work in a historical context--what he (and his peers) were dealing with in the world. Good visuals...
This Land Is Your Land. Woody Guthrie's own version

Bob Dylan - (Rare The Minneapolis Party Tape) - This Land Is Your Land - YouTube 
The Bob Dylan's version I wanted you to hear is no longer on YouTube  (although I'm sure you can find it elsewhere). The one above (even earlier, from Minneapolis in 1961, will give you a good idea of how he did the song.)
Red River Valley. Woody Guthrie, early Asche recording. Compare with out S&P version (The Texian Boys, who were--in case it's not been mentioned--John Lomax and friends. I consider the Lomax version classic in terms of the meaning of the lyrics--one of our most beautiful songs. Woody Guthrie's version is sprightlier. Why do you think this is so?

Woody Guthrie's family, Okemah, Oklahoma

QUESTIONS: As with Leadbelly, there's a lot of social history in Woody Guthrie's songs--and in his life (he was born in Okemah, Oklahoma  and grew up with the music of that place--it was in him all throughout his life, even as he moved into and through MANY other social and artistic worlds. This is probably the key thing to consider: Woody Guthrie's heritage--and his life--as giving form to his songs. How did he become "a spokesman for the common man?"  (Oklahoman, vagabond, hobo, musical wanderer, hollywood radio show host, then new york, the recordings with moe asche (founder of folkways records), friendships with leadbelly, sonny terry & brownie mcgee and cisco huston, plus his influence on pete seeger (who loved the music, but didn't come from woody's "real" country background) and other subsequent "folk singers." And I left out his career in the Merchant Marine (his ship was torpedoed in the Atlantic during WWII) and the songs that came from his drawings and paintings...AND his jaunty autobiography (Bound for Glory). 

Woody Guthrie, Eric Shaal photo, New York, 1943