Music News

Woody Guthrie's Songs Still Killing Fascists Through His Many Disciples on His 100th Birthday

See also:
Our interview with Arlo Guthrie
Review of Arlo Guthrie at Parker Playhouse.

Woody Guthrie had his own version of a copyright warning. It read: "This song is copyrighted in U.S. under Seal of Copyright #154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin' it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ours, 'cause we don't give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that's all we wanted to do."

Though expressed in the chatty colloquial style that helped define his populist appeal, Woody's invitation is still well worth remembering. Nearly 45 years after his death, he remains an indelible icon, with hordes of musicians and admirers carrying on his remarkable legacy.

Born July 14, 1912, this past weekend was the 100th anniversary of his birth. Yet it's not surprising how celebrated he is. Consider the number of lingering classics that flowed from his pen -- powerful protest songs like "This Land Is Your Land," "Pastures of Plenty," "Grand Coulee Dam," "Desportees (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)," and others that defined the template for a future folk-music movement.

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Lee Zimmerman