Good stuff: Billy Bragg on Woody Guthrie.
However, it's not what Woody did in the 1940s that still riles people in these parts. It's what his followers did in the 60s that made Woody a pariah in his home state. For Woody was the original singer-songwriter, the first to use his voice not just to entertain, but to ask why people should remain dirt poor in a country as rich as the US.
It was Woody's words that prompted the young Robert Zimmerman to leave his home in the Iron Range of Minnesota and head for New York. Changing his name to Bob Dylan and singing as if he came from the red dirt of Oklahoma, he inspired a generation of articulate young Americans to unleash a torrent of criticism against the complacency of their unequal society. The fact that Woody was a hero to that generation of long-haired freaks ensured that he and his songs would remain largely unsung in Oklahoma.
On a separate note, Guthrie's long-lost novel House of Earth will be published next year. Belated honors for a great American.
I read his biography, Ramblin Man, last year. He was a complex individual. Far more faceted than how he is depicted in most media.
Posted by: Paul Lamb at Jul 14, 2012 5:15:17 PM