Skip to comments.The summer of Woody Guthrie
Posted on 07/14/2012 7:09:13 AM PDT by ProtectOurFreedom
Woody Guthrie will always be remembered as the guy who wrote "This Land is Your Land."
But he was so much more. If you're not sure why his 100th birthday, which would have been Saturday, is being celebrated far and wide this summer, here's a clue from Country Joe McDonald, the famed Woodstock festival veteran who knows a thing or two about penning catchy protest songs.
"I think he's become the embodiment of the American dream," says the Berkeley musician, "at a time when the American dream is kind of dying." To be sure, those familiar with Guthrie's work know that the protest songs he wrote decades ago about workers' rights, immigrants, income disparity and the environment seem more relevant than ever.
"Woody was writing about the '1 percent' long before it had a name," says UC Berkeley professor Peter Glazer, who has written a stage musical about Guthrie.
Guthrie, who died at age 55 of Huntington's disease in 1967, captured an era in American history like no other songwriter. His humbly poetic lyrics, which portrayed the Everyman perspective of the Dust Bowl and Great Depression, profoundly influenced generations of protest songwriters, from Bob Dylan to Bruce Springsteen to the Bay Area's own Joan Baez and Michael Franti.
That influence extends beyond American shores, McDonald points out: "People all over the world love Woody Guthrie."
(Excerpt) Read more at mercurynews.com ...
Even Wikipedia doesn't hide it...
[In the 1930s,] while appearing on the commercial radio station KFVD, owned by a populist-minded New Deal Democrat Frank W. Burke, Guthrie began to write and perform some of the protest songs that would eventually appear on Dust Bowl Ballads.
It was at KFVD that Guthrie met newscaster Ed Robbin. Robbin was impressed with a song Guthrie wrote about Thomas Mooney, believed by many to be a wrongly convicted man who was, at the time, a leftist cause célèbre. Robbin, who became Guthrie's political mentor, introduced Guthrie to socialists and communists in Southern California, including Will Geer. He remained Guthrie's lifelong friend, and helped Guthrie book benefit performances in the communist circles in Southern California. Notwithstanding Guthrie's later claim that "the best thing that I did in 1936 was to sign up with the Communist Party,"he was never a member of the Party. He was noted as a fellow traveleran outsider who agreed with the platform of the party while not subject to party discipline. Guthrie requested to write a column for the Communist newspaper, The Daily Worker. The column, titled "Woody Sez," appeared a total of 174 times from May 1939 to January 1940. "Woody Sez" was not explicitly political, but was about current events as observed by Guthrie. He wrote the columns in an exaggerated hillbilly dialect and usually included a small comic; they were published as a collection after Guthrie's death. Steve Earle said of Guthrie, "I don't think of Woody Guthrie as a political writer. He was a writer who lived in very political times."
With the outbreak of World War II and the nonaggression pact the Soviet Union had signed with Germany in 1939, the owners of KFVD radio did not want its staff "spinning apologia" for the Soviet Union. Both Robbin and Guthrie left the station.
“This land is your land
This land is my land
Looks like somebody
Forged the deed to this land”
- Dave Barry
No, Woody, this land is NOT your land. Because you’re not content to let it be MY land as well. You and your thieving communist ilk steal what I own and hand it over to others in the name of “equality” and “compassion.”
Woody was a good-ole-communist boy whose gift to us is still kicking.
My late wife’s Great Uncle grew up with Guthrie. They were from the same town and I assume, went to the same high school. They were also the same age.
One day at a family get-together, one guy was asking him about Woody. I happened to hear when he asked what kind of guy he was.
Well the Uncle paused and thought for just a minute and said: “I guess the best way to describe him, is he was just plain sorry”.
His politics were despicable, but his influence on music was undeniable. His children’s music (”Let’s go riding in the car”) holds up pretty well. “Roll on Columbia” is a nice celebration of progress, although he just wrote the words there and not the tune.
Virtually every warbler in those days who called him or herself a folksinger was most likely a commie. Naturally, that fact was covered up by their fellow travelers in the media. That covering also applied to helping commie writers and “news” people. I remember Dick Cavett interviewing I.F. Stone in the sixties on Cavett’s show. At no time did Cavett mention Stone’s communist affiliation. All old commie writers and folksingers were described as having a “progressive” stand or being fighters for truth and justice. I did read one time Pete Seeger said Guthrie officially refused to join or was denied membership in the Party because he refused to deny the existence of God. At any rate, official commie member or not, Guthrie was far left in his political beliefs.
He wrote “This Land is Your Land” because he hated “God Bless America”.
As I was walkin' - I saw a sign there
And that sign said - no tress passin'
But on the other side .... it didn't say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!
Google's home page for the 4th of July consisted of "Google" in red/blue created by the words "This land is made for you and me" and a cartoon guitar.
That's right. No patriotism; just a communist song by an American communist.
The only people who used the word “fascist” were commies. It was their default word for anyone who wasn’t them.
Well,however misguided Guthrie might have been in general you must,at least,give him credit for that.
Wikipedia citation above says something similar:
“Notwithstanding Guthrie’s later claim that “the best thing that I did in 1936 was to sign up with the Communist Party,” he was never a member of the Party. He was noted as a fellow traveleran outsider who agreed with the platform of the party while not subject to party discipline.”
...but note that Guthrie’s later claim that he WAS a member. Who ya gonna believe? The man himself? Or a biographer? Maybe he was like Obama, just polishing up his street cred?
Many of the commies refused to join the Party because the Party was under the control of the USSR. When WW2 started, Germany and the Soviets were allies and the Party was anti-war, which appealed to the little c communists. When Germany invaded the USSR, the Party flipped and demanded the US get into the war. The little c communists walked out on them.
The Party was rife with the perennially unemployed and red diaper trust fund kids. In short, people who lived a life devoted to doing nothing but drawing attention to themselves and playing the victim. That’s why the Party faltered.
The thing that bugs me most about these ‘sons of the working class’ is that they’re not working class. Sure, they like to wear jeans and talk folksy, but their ideals and bank accounts speak otherwise. There is nothing a leftist likes to do more than wrap themselves in the sweat staing clothes of the working class. Well, that is when they’re not wearing the flag or talking like black folks.
Guthrie was a communist and I toss Springsteen into a nearby pot because he is no Patriot who respects the US values that have made him a multi-millionaire. Bruce S. is a POS!
“He had a guitar that had the words this machine kills fascists on it.OK,fair enough. But there was plenty of room to add and Communists. For some reason he failed to include *those* words.”
Guthrie was an out-and-out communist, that’s why.
Probably moreso than his contemporary, Pete Seeger, who himself garnered a lot of attention over his life for being one.
Pete once made a remark that Guthrie might have attained national stardom, but the fact that Woody was a communist precluded that from happening.
Regardless of their political beliefs, I still enjoy listening to both of them, so long as they don’t “lay it on too thick”...
That outfit was the typical garb of a merchant seaman during WWII. Well, maybe a black watch cap instead of the one he was wearing.
My Father’s outfit was one of the early ones to enter Berlin after the Russians captured it.
Daddy said every time they would meet with a Russian soldier, they would say in English, “Death to Fascists”.
The American soldiers were for the most part not all that knowledgeable about those political issues. The Americans would sort of stare at them, like what are you saying?
He said after a couple of weeks they quit saying it.
I think the word “Fascist” has become a particular code word to the hard left.
Yup but you can bet your bottom dollar that “che” shirts will be on display aplenty at the “celebrations” of this piece of garbage to be held in.............where else? The bay area. Probably see an upsurge of sales for them at the tables outside displaying all sorts of commie crap.
Helping keep mankind warm for 65 years.
You could be right but I don't think that anyone can be certain at this point.However,the statement that "driftless" made,the one to which I responded in post #12,is either correct or it's incorrect.If,by chance,it's correct than I'll give Guthrie credit for that.Hell,I'll even give Osama Obama credit for not having been involved in JFK's assassination.Of course that's about all I'll give him credit for.
That's very true. The Nazi party was officially the National Socialist German Workers Party. The reds would never say "nazi" because "nazi" would remind everyone how close the nazi ideology really was to the communist ideology.
Help Celebrate "Know Your Commies Day"
Which is why I like Wagner's music despite the fact that he was an anti-Semitic creep. I like a lot of Guthrie's songs as well. For that matter, George Orwell never gave up his belief that some form of socialism was the way of the future. He just disliked communism.
See my post #21. The Soviet army was actually under orders to say "fascist", and not "nazi".
The Nazi party was officially the National Socialist German Workers Party. The reds would never say "nazi" because "nazi" would remind everyone how close the nazi ideology really was to the communist ideology.
The first such “celebration” may be in Berkeley, but the article points out they are being held all over the country this summer. Probably in conjunction with the OWSers in the same camps.
“Guthrie was an out-and-out communist, thats why. Probably more so than his contemporary, Pete Seeger...”
The main difference between Guthrie & Seeger is that the latter is alive, well into his nineties thanks to evil capitalist healthcare, and living large the bourgeois lifestyle made possible by the social & economic system he has so despised for so many decades.
Unregenerate Stalinists, both of them.
” Steve Earle said of Guthrie,”
Who cares! Steve Earle has admitted that he’s a communist in several articles.
Screw you Steve!
Re the photo in your post #16...Wikipedia (again) — “Guthrie believed performing his anti-fascist songs and poems at home was the best use of his talents; Guthrie lobbied the United States Army to accept him as a USO performer instead of conscripting him as a soldier in the draft. When Guthrie’s attempts failed, his friends Cisco Houston and Jim Longhi pressured Guthrie to join the U.S. Merchant Marine. Guthrie followed their advice: he served as a mess man and dishwasher and frequently sang for the crew and troops to buoy their spirits on transatlantic voyages. ... In 1945, Guthrie’s association with communism made him ineligible for further service in the Merchant Marine, and he was drafted into the U.S. Army.”
As Maine Mariner says in #20, that’s his Merchant Marine garb, not an affectation.
Marine and longshoremen unions in that era were completely dominated by communists. I’m sure he fit right in. Of course, that’s true of unions to this day. After all, communism has its roots in the workers throwing off the shackles of the capitalist bourgeoise class.
So true. Take a look in Wikipedia at Burl Ives and Will Geer.
According to Wikipedia, his son Arlo (b. 1947), best known probably for his "Alice's Restaurant" song, is a registered Republican and supported Ron Paul in 2008. Arlo's mother is Jewish and he studied for his bar mitzvah with Rabbi Meir Kahane. Maybe not what you would expect of the son of a card-carrying Communist.
Country Joe McDonald was sued for copyright infringement for his song, “I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag” by the estate of the composer of the song “Muskrat Ramble”. McDonald lost the suit and a lot of money. Just goes to show that the “noble” progressives and communists are not above stealing for their own gain.
Let’s not forget that the song “This Land is Your Land” was about the fact that ALL land should be ‘your’ land and that there shouldn’t be private land.
Thank you for that info. Sorry to say that I was among those fooled by this song.
I didn’t know that interesting tidbit about McDonald. Thanks for putting it up here.
“Appropriating” somebody else’s private property — how perfectly commie.
This was supposed to be The Summer of George!
No. A Communist never symbolizeed “American Dream.”
Stephen Foster will still be sung long after Guthrie is totally forgotten.
Funny you mention that. This is one of my favorite CDs. Highly recommended...
Think? It has been for at least 70 years.
See the Hayek quote on my FR profile page for some insight into some of the main reasons why. It’s the 3rd one down, the two-paragrapher.
Beyond that, read Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism for additional history and insights on this subject.
Years ago in primary school, we had to sing a lot of what I later found out where Stephen Foster songs. But you don't hear his work much lately. "Tis summer, the darkies are gay" and "Still longing for de old plantation" don't quite go over well nowadays.
Woody Guthrie, a songwriter? I don't think he actually created those melodies. They were traditional or by long forgotten composers with maybe a few minor changes. His lyrics weren't always very memorable either. We've had great songwriters -- plenty of them -- but some people are stuck on the folk thing and don't care about talented songwriters who don't fit in with it.
Beautiful Dreamer was my Mother’s favorite song. It is also one of mine.
At Mother’s funeral a Cousin who has a professional tenor voice sang it along with the choir. A perfect song for such a beautiful and sweet Mother.
Glazer adds that Woody likely had no idea how timeless the material he was writing would turn out to be.Really? Timeless? Outside of a few aged (formerly aging) hippie never-have-beens in Berkeley, I'd say his stuff is pretty forgettable, and pretty much long forgotten.
Beautiful Dreamer is a wonderful song. How very nice to have it sung at your mother’s funeral. It must have been very touching. Check out Suzy Boguss’ version on American Folk Songbook.
Suzy does a magnificent version of “Ah, May The Red Rose Live Always” also by Stephen Foster and on the same CD. Lyrics are just wonderful and the counterpoint of the plaintive fiddle against her sweet voice is incredible.
Communists are Fascists in overalls.
To his credit, Seeger renounced Stalin many years back.