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When I really started to listen to the music of Bob Dylan was when I first heard about Woodie Guthrie. An American folk legend, Guthrie has had tremendous impact not only on Dylan and other folk artists, but the entire music industry and society as a whole. Moving to Guthrie's music after listening to Dylan and many other folk artists, was like stepping back in time for me. It was like when I first heard Robert Johnson or Chuck Berry. Suddenly I could see Guthrie's influence everywhere and entire genres just seemed to make more sense.
Woody Guthrie died in 1967 and was more or less retired for most of the 50s due to health problems. This combined with the fact that his politics and personal beliefs may have kept him out of some major media outlets, made me think for a long time that there might never have been any footage of him playing his songs live. Well, apparently there are a few clips, but they are quite rare. The two I'm sharing here are the only two I've ever seen, but that doesn't mean there aren't more I haven't found yet. In fact I hope there are more because Woody Guthrie is an artist that needs to be remembered not only for his influence on other artists, but his tremendous contributions to society and music as a whole.
As always, special thanks to Youtube, and even more thanks to lupine22 and bobby4000 for uploading these rare clips. They are from 1945 and 1946 respectively.
Since I first started writing for the Soul of Rock 'n' Roll, I've been trying to condense my thoughts about the music of Woody Guthrie into some sort of logical statement. His music has not only had a big influence on me personally, but also, as previously mentioned, was a motivator for so many other artists who's music I like as well.
I haven't had much success in forming a statement though, as the songs just seem to authentic and timeless for words. Right now, I don't know what I could explain, interpret, discuss or analyze that wouldn't risk clouding them up and make them seem like something that they're not. I feel the same way about Robert Johnson's music. These songs are just such a defining part of music history and American history that it's ridiculous. It's also interesting to note a bit of irony in that fact, because "This land is Your Land," a classic American anthem in a way, could be viewed as more of an anti capitalism song than a truly patriotic composition. Still, that doesn't diminish it's worth though, just makes the story more interesting.
Maybe soon I'll be able to form a larger tribute to Woody Guthrie and his music, I did find a way with Robert Johnson that was at least somewhat successful, but for the time being, I think I'll just let the music and these clips speak for themselves.
Enjoy these rare bits of music history.