Sunday, July 15, 2012
Woody Guthrie at 100
(Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archives)
Woody Guthrie would have been 100 yesterday. He was a prolific songwriter and writer, a champion of the underdog, and traveled across most of America. His life was cut tragically short by Huntington's disease at the age of 55. The list of musicians he's influenced is very long, and there have been several tribute concerts and memorial events this year. (WoodyFest takes place every year.)
Democracy Now did two great shows for the occasion, one featuring Nora Guthrie (Woody's daughter, who runs his Foundation and Archives, and who's written a new book about him) and Steve Earle. Another features
Pete Seeger, Billy Bragg and Will Kaufman (author of a new book on Guthrie).
NPR did a number of pieces on Woody Guthrie, including All Things Considered, Fresh Air, a photo album, and Talk of the Nation. It's also possible to listen to a fantastic mix of Guthrie and Guthrie tribute songs on loop (but unfortunately, you can't scroll through them) at NPR or Folk Alley (the sites collaborated, but the playlists seem to be slightly different).
Smithsonian Folkways has just released a new box set, Woody at 100: The Woody Guthrie Centennial Collection.
Here are a five of his thousands of songs, including his most famous one (although this version doesn't include some of my favorite verses):