'Dust Bowl Troubadour': Celebrating life, politics and music of Woody Guthrie [DemocracyNow!]
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Today a Democracy Now! special on the life, politics and music of Woody Guthrie, the "Dust Bowl Troubadour." Born a hundred years ago on July 14, 1912, in Oklahoma, Guthrie wrote hundreds of folk songs and became a major influence on countless musicians, including Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Pete Seeger and Phil Ochs. While Guthrie is best remembered as a musician, he also had a deeply political side, speaking out for labor and civil rights at the height of McCarthyism.
Amidst commemorations across the country marking Woody Guthrie's centennial, we're joined by Guthrie's daughter, Nora Guthrie, author of the book "My Name is New York: Ramblin' Around Woody Guthrie's Town"; his granddaughter Anna Canoni; and musician Steve Earle. We hear stories from Woody Guthrie's family life and his time in New York City, where he lived from 1940 until his death in 1967 after a long battle with Huntington's Disease. Guthrie's wife, Marjorie, later dedicated her life to finding a cure for the disease, inspiring young doctors to pursue genetic research and founding what became the Huntington's Disease Society of America. Earle, a three-time Grammy winner, performs two of Guthrie's songs and discusses how the singer inspired him as a musician and activist. "I never separated music and politics, which [I] kept bringing back to Woody over and over again," Earle says. "I still don't consider myself to be a political artist. I'm just an artist that -- I think like Woody was -- lives in really politically charged times."
"A lot of people don't think of him as a New Yorker, but that was really his home town, for most of his life actually," says Nora Guthrie, president of both the Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archives, and Woody Guthrie Publications. Her new book, "My Name is New York: Ramblin' Around Woody Guthrie's Town," documents many of the places Woody lived and wrote his most popular songs, including "This Land Is Your Land." "It's really a New York song, its about the result, the culmination of that journey," she says. "I'm constantly learning about Woody, I feel like he's constantly evolving because we're still learning more and more about him," says Canoni. "He had something to say that was very important."
See the first installment of the Woody Guthrie special in the Democracy Now! archive, http://www.democracynow.org/2012/7/4/woody_guthrie_at_100_pete_seeger