Wednesday, 14 July 2010
Woody Guthrie was born today in 1912 in Okemah, Oklahoma. He needs no introduction. I imagine his music has seeped into the lives of nearly every artist I've ever featured on Carnival Saloon. So, to mark what would have been his 98th birthday, here are Woody Guthrie songs by four of my favourites.
MP3: Bob Dylan - This Land is Your Land (live)
"Woody Guthrie tore everything in his path to pieces. For me it was an epiphany,like some heavy anchor had just plunged into the waters of the harbor." That's Bob writing in Chronicles Volume One. It's part of a wonderful two pages recalling the impact hearing Woody for the first had on him. This version of Guthrie's most famous song is from a concert at the Carnegie Chapter Hall in 1961, the year before Bob's first album came out.
Find it on No Direction Home
MP3: Bruce Sprinsgteen - Riding in My Car
Bruce fans will probably know his version of This Land is Your Land that's on the Live 1975-1985 album. This is more obscure (and one of Bob Dylan's early Guthrie favourites too). It's from a 1996 concert that Ani DiFranco organised and is commemorated on the album 'Til We Outnumber Them (which also features Bruce's version of Deportees).
Find it on Til We Outnumber 'em
MP3: Tom Russell - Woodrow
When I first saw Tom Russell live, at the Cambridge Folk Festival in 2006, the way this song encompasses so much of Guthrie's life, work and legacy in all its multi-faceted glory really hit me as a masterpiece.
Find it on Hotwalker
MP3: Billy Bragg & Wilco - California Stars (live)
Whenever Wilco play London I always cross my fingers in the hope that they'll invite Billy on to join them to sing one of the songs off Mermaid Avenue. Anyone who's seen the documentary Man in the Sand knows it's unlikely to ever happen. This is one of few times they have performed together, on Conan O'Brien's old show Late Night.
Find the original on Mermaid Avenue
If that's whet your appetite and you want to get back to the source there are tons of Guthrie compilations available. I'd also highly recommend Joe Klein's book Woody Guthrie: A Life.
Doing Woody's Work Billy Bragg & Wilco's Mermaid Avenue demos
Woody Guthrie - official site