Tuesday, July 14, 2015

dust bowl ballads

Woodrow Wilson "Woody" Guthrie 
(July 14, 1912 – October 3, 1967)

Born in Okemah, a small town in Okfuskee County, Oklahoma; Guthrie learned to play harmonica and guitar at a young age and played for food or money to support his siblings after his mother was institutionalized.  His father was working in Texas at the time and after several years, he sent for the children to join him there.  Woody would leave his his first wife Mary Jennings and their three children behind in Texas when he joined the mass migration of 'Okies' headed for California looking for work.  The experience would inspire many songs.  

In California, he teamed up with Maxine "Lefty Lou" Crissman for a hillbilly radio show.  He was also drawn into the circle of socialists, performing his political songs at benefits and writing "Woody Sez", a regular column of homespun social commentary for the Communist newspaper, People's World.  

He returned to Texas briefly before accepting an invitation by activist and actor Will Geer to come to New York City.  It was there that "the Oklahoma cowboy" was interviewed by the folklorist Alan Lomax for the Library of Congress.  He also recorded his first album, 'Dust Bowl Ballads', for Victor Records in Camden, New Jersey.  The concept album relates the experience of the migratory workers and parallels the story of John Steinbeck's 'The Grapes of Wrath'.  

Guthrie would explain:    "The songs are liberal as the dickens and as progressive as the angels.... They came out of the hearts and mouths of the Okies. On no occasion have I referred to myself as either an entertainer or a singer and I'd better not start now.... [If I'm] most proud of anything... [it's] the fact that I seem to have been born a shade pink, and didn't have to read too many books to become a proletariat [sic], and you can guess that when you hear the records.... What I'm glad to see is working folks' songs getting so popular. I'm sure Victor never did a more radical album."

"My relatives had wrote letters back from California a-telling how pretty the country was and about the big rains and the big ocean and the high mountains, and the valleys with the green trees that was loaded down with most every kind of groceries, and they said the whole landscape out there just spelt the word 'Work'... and I got so interested in the art and science of Migratin' that I majored in it, in a school so big you can't get out of it."



I Ain't Got No Home In This World Anymore 

Dust Bowl Blues

Tom Joad

Dust Bowl Refugee

Pretty Boy Floyd

liner notes and lyrics

'Dust Bowl Ballads'
full album:

Talking Dust Bowl Blues 2:45
Blowin' Down This Road 3:06
Do-Re-Mi 2:40
Dust Cain't Kill Me 2:58
Tom Joad 6:34
The Great Dust Storm 3:24
So Long, It's Been Good to Know You (Dusty Old Dust) 3:09
Dust Bowl Refugee 3:14
Dust Pneumonia Blues 2:46
I Ain't Got No Home in This World Anymore 2:50
Vigilante Man 3:31

'Dust Bowl Ballads'

'Dust Bowl Ballads'

1. The Great Dust Storm (Dust Storm Disaster) 
2. I Ain't Got No Home In This World Anymore 
3. Talkin' Dust Bowl Blues
4. Vigilante Man 
5. Dust Can't Kill Me 
6. Pretty Boy Floyd 
7. Dust Pneumonia Blues 
8. Blowin' Down This Road 
9. Tom Joad - Part 1 
10. Tom Joad - Part 2 
11. Dust Bowl Refugee 
12. Do Re Mi 
13. Dust Bowl Blues 
14. Dusty Old Dust 
15. Talkin' Dust Bowl Blues (alternate take)

'Dust Bowl Ballads'

Woody Guthrie blew down the dusty road and defined folk music with the wit and wrath of this political concept album. 


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