Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Recently Discovered Live Recording by Woody Guthrie

Woody Guthrie's music, alive and well

By Geoffrey Himes
International Herald Tribune, Monday, September 3, 2007

NEW YORK: Upon entering the Woody Guthrie Archives here, you're confronted by bronze busts of Guthrie, the mid-century folk legend; his son Arlo; his old bandmate Pete Seeger; his good friend Leadbelly; and his disciple Bob Dylan.

Nearby on the wall is the original manuscript for Guthrie's most famous song, "This Land Is Your Land," under its original title, "God Blessed America for Me," a riposte to Irving Berlin's more jingoistic song with a similar title. Also on the wall is a hand-scrawled note that says: "Dear Whoever, Woody lives and I'm glad. Love, John Lennon, '75."

Lennon's letter is just one example of the surprises that show up at the West 57th Street, Manhattan, archives. In 2001, for example, Guthrie's daughter Nora received a small box that contained two black-and-yellow spools of silver wire with a note that said, "I found this in my closet and thought you might like to have it." When she reopened the boxes in January, the strands resembled the wire you might use for hanging pictures. But the spools were recordings, an exciting discovery.

"What these are," Nora Guthrie, 57, said, "are the only decent live recordings we've found of Woody in front of an audience. When we could finally hear them, we flipped out, because it's Woody telling jokes, laughing with the crowd and singing songs for them." This week those recordings will be released on CD as "The Live Wire: Woody Guthrie in Performance 1949" (Woody Guthrie Publications).

The rest of the article is at

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