It all started when Billy Bragg's Grammy winning album "Mermaid Avenue" came out. The album was a labor of love that Bragg did after being approached by Woody Guthrie's daughter who offered him a chance to go through a vast amount of unrecorded Guthrie material and at his discretion pick lyrics that he would then put music to. The whole project lasted more than a year and the resulting albums are wonderful. This album did two things for my world of music appreciation. It Introduced me to the band Wilco, which served as the "back-up" band for the Mermaid Ave. sessions and it made me a huge fan of Woody Guthrie the story teller.
The other event that made me a great Woody Fan was having a child. I remember when I was young and went to this progressive school in Brooklyn, NY there was a class called "Rythm's" which was basically a folk dancing class. It was taught by a woman name Margaret Mayo, who was a friend of Woody's and in the course of that class I was inculcated with a broad love of amongst other things Woody Guthries music. Now that I have a son of my own and rediscovering so many of Woody's playful children songs, it made me pick up my guitar and for the first time in my life. actual play it with abandon and just put the songs out there. There may be nothing more joyful than singing along with children.
Anyway's. too make a long life history short, I decided to add Woody to Soundbytze just the other day when a co-worker gave me this set of Woody Guthrie interviews made by Alan Lomax as part of his "Oral Histories" that he made in the 1940's. Amongst the many powerful and beautiful ideas that Woody puts out is a haunting account of a dust storm that pert near sounds like the end of the world. And after the account Woody sings a very early version of one of my favorite songs of all time. "So long, it's been good to know you"
Woody Guthrie: "So Long It's Been Good To Know You"
Alan Lomax Oral Histories
Library of Congress Recordings 1940