Sunday, 21 April 2019

Woody Guthrie - 3000 Unrecorded Songs


I've just watched the BBC documentary Woody Guthrie: Three Chords and The Truth and it reminded me of a few things and showed me a lot i didn't know about them man. I didn't that Guthrie and his father were racist and his father was involved in or facilitated lynchings. A lot of Guthrie's early writing was awash with racist wording and illustrations until ...

.. on his radio show he played a piece called "Run Nigger Run" , and he used THAT word in the worst ways you could, but then he got a letter from a Negro listenten, an educated guy who said up to the that point the show had been excellent, but by playing that and using THAT word he was showing disrespect and race hate towards African Americans. Guthrie took this on board and vowed never  to use THAT word again, he apologised on air and in a letter and became very active in pushing race equality. The problem is race inequality is still with use but Woody showed that people can change when educated by events.

This then brought me on to the fact that though he was struck down by the horrifying Huntingdon's Chorea which destroys the nervous system and therefor you lose control of everything, he had been a prolific writer being inspired by everything. After his death there were over three thousand sets of lyrics to unrecorded songs.

A lot of these are now being picked up by artists examples of which are seen in Billy Bragg and Wilco's "Mermaid Avenue Sessions" and the wonderful  take on "Old Man Trump" by Ryan Harvey (with Anne Di Franco and Tom Morello) and he remarked bout the number of songs that Woody had written.

Another remarkable one is "Deportees (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)" , my favourite take on this is by Bob Dylan and Joan Baez (see here), but this illustrates the absolute disdain the for immigrant workers not even acknowledging them as human and the same is happening today with Trump's Wall and Brexit in the UK.

The documentary is excellent watch it , listen to Woody's songs and if you need to change yourself for the better , do it.


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