Woody Guthrie at 100: Celebrate His Amazing Life with a BBC Film

Sat­ur­day marks the 100th anniver­sary of the birth of Woody Guthrie, the great­ly influ­en­tial folk singer whose music was insep­a­ra­ble from the hard cir­cum­stances of his life and his deep sense of social jus­tice.

“A folk song is what’s wrong and how to fix it,” Guthrie once said, “or it could be who’s hun­gry and where their mouth is or who’s out of work and where the job is or who’s broke and where the mon­ey is or who’s car­ry­ing a gun and where the peace is.”

To help mark the mile­stone we bring you rare footage, above, of Guthrie singing “The Ranger’s Com­mand” in 1945. The clip is from the 1988 BBC Are­na doc­u­men­tary, Woody Guthrie, which can be seen in its entire­ty below. The film is a vivid por­trait of the singer, with rare audio record­ings of Guthrie speak­ing, along with inter­views with Alan Lomax, Jack Elliot, Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie and oth­ers. As BBC Are­na edi­tor Antho­ny Wall writes of the film’s sub­ject:

“This land is your land”, sang Woody Guthrie, his mis­sion to reclaim the true Amer­i­ca from the lawyers and politi­cians and thugs and return it to the peo­ple. He said he was just try­ing ‘to tell peo­ple what they already know’. Orig­i­nal­ly from a com­fort­ably-off fam­i­ly in Okla­homa, he took to the road and rails to chron­i­cle in song the depres­sion and dust­bowl. A fab­u­lous exam­ple of Amer­i­can self-inven­tion, ‘Guthrie came with the dust and he went with the wind’

For more on the Woody Guthrie Cen­ten­ni­al, vis­it Woody100.com. The Web site fea­tures a biog­ra­phy with pho­tographs and oth­er mate­ri­als, a “song of the day,” and a 2012 cal­en­dar of events. This week­end there are sev­er­al big events in New York, includ­ing a birth­day par­ty Sat­ur­day on Coney Island, with appear­ances by Bil­ly Bragg, Steve Ear­le and Guthrie’s daugh­ter, Nora, along with a free screen­ing the film “Bound For Glo­ry” on the beach. On Sun­day, Arlo Guthrie and oth­ers in the Guthrie fam­i­ly will give a free con­cert in Cen­tral Park.

And for more Guthrie resources, go to:

  • SoundPortraits.org to down­load audio of Alan Lomax’s 1940 inter­view with Guthrie, along with a tran­script of the con­ver­sa­tion.
  • CulturalEquity.org, host of the Alan Lomax Archives, for sev­er­al short but inter­est­ing takes of Guthrie singing polit­i­cal songs in 1948, includ­ing “If Dewey Gets Elect­ed” and “The Road is Rocky.”
  • NPR.org for a 40-minute radio pro­gram, “Fresh Air Cel­e­brates Woody Guthrie at 100.” Ter­ry Gross inter­views Guthrie biog­ra­ph­er Ed Cray and Smith­son­ian Folk­ways archivist Jeff Place, who co-pro­duced the new box set Woody at 100.
  • DemocracyNow.org for a one-hour tele­vi­sion spe­cial, “On Woody Guthrie’s Cen­ten­ni­al, Cel­e­brat­ing the Life, Pol­i­tics & Music of the ‘Dust Bowl Trou­ba­dour.’ ” Hosts Amy Good­man and Juan Gon­za­lez inter­view Woody’s daugh­ter Nora Guthrie, author of the new book, My Name is New York: Ram­blin’ Around Woody Guthrie’s Town, and his grand­daugh­ter Anna Canoni, along with musi­cian Steve Ear­le. The show also fea­tures rare audio record­ings of Guthrie speak­ing.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Pete Seeger: To Hear Your Ban­jo Play

The Alan Lomax Sound Archive Now Online: Fea­tures 17,000 Record­ings

by | Permalink | Comments (1) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (1)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.