Woody Guthrie


Woody Guthrie Brief Biography

Woody Guthrie
Woodrow Wilson Guthrie (July 14, 1912 - October 3, 1967) was an American singer-songwriter who is regarded as one of the most significant figures in American folk music; his songs, including social justice songs, such as "This Land Is Your Land", have inspired several generations both politically and musically. He wrote hundreds of political, folk, and children's songs, along with ballads and improvised works, sometimes with a Communist leaning. His album of songs about the Dust Bowl period, Dust Bowl Ballads, is included on Mojo magazine's 100 Records That Changed The World. Many of his recorded songs are archived in the Library of Congress. Songwriters such as Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, Robert Hunter, Harry Chapin, John Mellencamp, Pete Seeger, Andy Irvine, Joe Strummer, Billy Bragg, Jerry Garcia, Jay Farrar, Bob Weir, Jeff Tweedy, Bob Childers, Sammy Walker and Tom Paxton have acknowledged Guthrie as a major influence. He frequently performed with the slogan This machine kills fascists displayed on his guitar.

Guthrie was brought up by middle-class parents in Okemah, Oklahoma until he was 14, when his mother was hospitalised as a consequence of Huntington's disease, a hereditary neurological disorder, and his father had to move to Pampa, Texas to repay debts from unsuccessful real estate deals. During his early teens Guthrie learned folk and blues songs from his parents friends. He married at 19, but with the advent of the dust storms that marked the Dust Bowl period, he left his wife and three children to join the thousands of Okies who were migrating to California looking for work. He worked at Los Angeles radio station KFVD, achieving some fame from playing hill-billy music; made friends with Will Geer and John Steinbeck; and wrote a column for the Communist newspaper People's World from May 1939 to January 1940. Throughout his life Guthrie was associated with United States Communist groups, although he was seemingly not a member of any. With the outbreak of World War II and the non-aggression pact the Soviet Union had signed with Germany in 1939, the owners of KFVD radio were not comfortable with Guthrie's Communist sympathies; he left the station, ending up in New York where he wrote and recorded his 1940 album Dust Bowl Ballads, based on his Dust Bowl experiences, and which earned him the nickname the "Dust Bowl Troubadour". In February 1940 he wrote his most famous song, "This Land Is Your Land", as a response to what he felt was an overplaying of Irving Berlin's "God Bless America" on the radio.

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This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "Woody_Guthrie" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.


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