Saturday, 14 July 2012
Woody Guthrie Centennial
The great American folk singer/songwriter Woody Guthrie was born 100 years ago today. His labour, protest and folk songs have enriched us all since the 1930s. His most famous song is This Land is Your Land, a stirring anthem celebrating the rights of the working people who built America. Guthrie wrote it in 1940 as a response to Irving Berlin's song God Bless America, which he regarded as complacent patriotic schmaltz.
I think the most fitting tribute to Woody Guthrie is to post this wonderful video of This Land is Your Land, sung by Bruce Springsteen, Pete Seeger (Guthrie's long-lived contemporary) and Seeger's grandson, Tao Rodriguez-Seeger, in front of the Lincoln Memorial at Barack Obama's Inauguration Concert in January, 2009. The singers gleefully belt out all of Guthrie's verses, including his more radical ones which are often censored and omitted from public performances of this song.
How relevant this song remains today! Woody Guthrie would be appalled by the current state of America's economy and politics, I'm sure.