Woody Guthrie: American Radical Patriot
American Radical Patriot
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Woody Guthrie’s recording career began when he was 27 and lasted only 10 years, and yet, nearly 50 years after his death, he remains one of the most fascinating figures in American history. Surveys of his life and work still manage to produce fresh revelations, and American Radical Patriot, Rounder Records’ just-released collection of government-related Guthrie recordings, provides extraordinary new insight into the complex mind of this simple-sounding folk icon.
With six CDs, a documentary DVD and a 78-rpm disc — packaged as a photo album with a 60-page edition of the downloadable 258-page book by Rounder Records co-founder and box producer Bill Nowlin (included as a PDF on disc 1) — it is, as a friend noted, “a lot to digest.” But this combined chronicle of Alan Lomax’s Library of Congress interviews, 17 of the 26 songs Guthrie wrote in 30 days for the Bonneville Power Administration, and his war-effort, pro-union and anti-venereal disease contributions, resoundingly answers the text’s question, “Woody Guthrie: communist or ‘commonist’?”
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Hear Beck Cover Woody Guthrie
Few people are better suited to sing a Woody Guthrie song than Beck Hansen, whose dusty voice and mastery of folk music tropes connects him firmly to the great American troubadour’s legacy.
Listen to Beck perform “I Ain’t Got No Home,” a Guthrie song he first recorded in the mid-’90s. Beck recently made the live recording available online, in honor of Guthrie’s centennial. “I Ain’t Got No Home” was famously covered by Bob Dylan and The Band at a Guthrie tribute at Carnegie Hall in 1968.
Listen to the song here
Johnny Depp To Edit Lost Woody Guthrie Novel
This novel is your novel, from the rhapsodic prose to the working-class themes.
The book in question is House Of Earth, the lost Woody Guthrie novel, which will be edited by Johnny Depp and historian Douglas Brinkley, the New York Times reports. The book is scheduled for release next year.
“House of Earth was written as a direct response to the Dust Bowl,” Brinkley and Depp write in theTimes piece. “In December 1936 the rambling troubadour had an epiphany while busking for tips in New Mexico. He’d traveled there after a treacherous duster whacked the Texas Panhandle town of Pampa, where he’d been living in poverty. While in New Mexico, Guthrie became transfixed by an adobe hacienda’s sturdy rain spouts and soil-straw bricks, a simple yet solid weatherproof structure unlike most of his Texan friends’ homes, which were poorly constructed with flimsy wooden boards and cheap nails.”
Read the full story here.
In honor of the Woody Guthrie Centennial, Smithsonian Folkways is releasing Woody at 100: The Woody Guthrie Centennial Collection, a 3 disc box set containing 57 tracks, and 150-page large-format book. The new set, due July 10, covers Guthrie’s most influential songs, like “Pretty Boy Floyd,” “I Ain’t Got No Home in This World Anymore,” and “Riding in My Car,” as well as the complete version of “This Land Is Your Land.” (read our Behind The Song essay on “This Land Is Your Land” and those extra verses here.)
The set also includes 21 previously unreleased performances, and six original songs that have never been heard by the public, including Guthrie’s very first recordings from 1937.
Listen to four album tracks, including “This Land Is Your Land” and the newly unearthed “Big City Ways,” at Smithsonian Folkways’ site.
Highlights From The 2012 Songwriters Hall Of Fame Awards
Songwriting can sometimes be a solitary task, or at most a collaboration of a handful of people. So when a song hits a nerve and resonates with others it can be a wondrous thing to watch it take off and have a life of its own. For the past 43 years, the Songwriters Hall of Fame has made it their mission to recognize and honor those who have captured the public’s heart through the craft of music. Last night in New York City, the organization inducted its newest members: Gordon Lightfoot, Bob Seger, Don Schlitz, Jim Steinman, Mike Stoller & Jerry Leiber, Woody Guthrie, Ben E. King, Bette Midler, Harvey Schmidt & Tom Jones and publishing executive Lance Freed. Musicians Steve Miller, Stevie Nicks, Valerie Simpson, Take 6, Constantine Maroulis with Meat Loaf, LP and others offered loving tributes.
Read the entire article here.
Woody Guthrie Centennial Concert Is A Family Affair
Some shows you go in knowing how they will end before they even begin. Take the Woody Guthrie Centennial Concert. You know that was going to end with the various performers coming out and leading the audience in a rendition of “This Land Is Your Land.” Even though the finale was a foregone conclusion, it still wound up being a very moving moment (more on that later) and the show that preceded it was far from a predictable concert experience.
This final event in a week of Guthrie-related activities organized by the Grammy Museum (which is also helping to stage Guthrie centennial events around the world this year), began with a recitation by actor Ronny Cox of Woody Guthrie’s writing and then Sarah Lee Guthrie (Woody’s granddaughter) and his husband/musical partner Johnny Irion kicked off the concert with one of Guthrie’s “new hits,” “California Stars” (from the Mermaid Avenue project) and then performed “Union Maid,” a song they said “can still get you in trouble singing today.”
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Billy Bragg & Wilco: Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions
It was an idea that never should have worked. A British folk-rocker joins up with alt-country outliers to put music to the unreleased lyrics of Woody Guthrie. It wouldn’t have surprised anyone if it had diminished the reputation of all involved.
Instead, Mermaid Avenue, performed by Billy Bragg and Wilco and released in 1998, was a revelation, proof that Guthrie was far more than the populist, fascist-bashing folkie that he was often perceived to be. He was also capable of startlingly personal songwriting that was far ahead of its time. Volume 2 was released just two years later to more raves.
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Alejandro Escovedo Readies New Album, Big Station
On June 5, Fantasy Records/Concord Music Group will release Big Station, the 11th solo album from acclaimed Texas singer-songwriter Alejandro Escovedo. The new disc, a followup to Escovedo’s 2010 album Street Songs of Love, was produced by Tony Visconti and largely co-written with fellow songwriter Chuck Prophet (read our recent interview with Prophet, where he discusses their collaborations here). Big Station has a vintage ’60s and ’70s feel, and also features Escovedo’s first ever Spanish-language recording, “Sabor a Mi,” a song that was originally penned in 1959 by Mexican composer Alvaro Carrillo.
Escovedo recently joined Bruce Springsteen on stage at SXSW for a star-studded performance of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.” New tour dates are expected to be announced soon.
Check out the track listing here.
Rob Wasserman Talks Woody Guthrie, Note of Hope
On September 27, 429 Records will release Note Of Hope, an album of Woody Guthrie’s writings set to music by artists like Lou Reed, Jackson Browne, Tom Morello and Pete Seeger, and spearheaded by Grammy-winning bassist Rob Wasserman. We spoke with bassist Wasserman about the ten years he spent working on the project, collaborating with Lou Reed, and whether or not Woody Guthrie would make a good rapper.
Read the interview here.
New Woody Guthrie Tribute Disc Features Lou Reed, Jackson Browne, Ani DiFranco
In the same vein as Wilco and Billy Bragg’s Mermaid Avenue albums, bassist Rob Wasserman will release Note Of Hope on September 27 via 429 Records, an album of collaborations made up of songs inspired by unpublished Woody Guthrie material.
Wasserman and Nora Guthrie, Woody’s daughter, recruited over a dozen A-list artists including Pete Seeger, Jackson Browne, Lou Reed and even face-melter-turned-folk-troubadour Tom Morello.
Read the full article here.