Today marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Woody Guthrie, one of America’s greatest and most prolific songwriters. If you’ve ever sung This Land Is Your Land, you’ve sung one of the best known songs of the man who had been dubbed the “Dust Bowl troubadour.” That work was only one of the more 3,000 songs, essays and stories the folk musician wrote in a span of about 15 years.
Woody Guthrie’s songs were about people displaced by the dust storms of the 1930s, migrant workers, unions, the disparity between the rich and the poor, and about the beauty of this country. The influence of his music has touched countless people, from campers singing at a summer get-together to well known performers like Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Pete Seeger, and John Mellencamp.
To learn more about the man behind the songs and about his music, a great place to start is at the website of the Woody Guthrie Foundation. You’ll find biographical information, lyrics to songs, news articles, and much more.
You can listen to an interesting interview about Woody Guthrie and his music on Fresh Air, hosted by Terry Gross on National Public Radio. The recent program titled Fresh Air Celebrates Woody Guthrie At 100 featured Ed Cray, who wrote the Guthrie biography, Ramblin’ Man, and Jeff Place, Archivist at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, who co-produced a new 3-CD boxed set of Woody Guthrie’s music, Woodie At 100.
Finally, you can take an in-depth look at the song This Land Is Your Land in the book of the same title, by Robert Santelli. You’ll learn a lot both about the work and the songwriter in this fast-paced, yet detailed history of this classic song. You’ll find it in the New Adult Non-Fiction area on the 3rd Floor of our library. Check it out.
– Tom D.