Friday, 23 December 2016

John S. Partington, ed., The Life, Music and Thought of Woody Guthrie: A Critical Appraisal (Routledge, 2016) ISBN 9781138273375

Woodrow Wilson Guthrie (1912–67) has had an immense impact on popular culture throughout the world. His folk music brought traditional song from the rural communities of the American southwest to the urban American listener and, through the global influence of American culture, to listeners and musicians alike throughout Europe and the Americas. Similarly, his use of music as a medium of social and political protest has created a new strategy for campaigners in many countries. But Guthrie's music was only one aspect of his multifaceted life. His labour-union activism helped embolden the American working class, and united such distinct groups as the rural poor, the urban proletariat, merchant seamen and military draftees, contributing to the general call for workers' rights during the 1930s and 1940s. As well as penning hundreds of songs (both recorded and unrecorded), Guthrie was also a prolific writer of non-sung prose, writing regularly for the American communist press, producing volumes of autobiographical writings and writing hundreds of letters to family, friends and public figures. Furthermore, beyond music Guthrie also expressed his creative talents through his numerous pen-and-ink sketches, a number of paintings and occasional forays into poetry. This collection provides a rigorous examination of Guthrie's cultural significance and an evaluation of both his contemporary and posthumous impact on American culture and international folk-culture. The volume utilizes the rich resources presented by the Woody Guthrie Foundation.

Table of Contents
  • John S. Partington, 'Preface'
  • Jorge Arévalo Mateus, 'Foreword'
Part I: 'All You Can Write Is What You See': Woody Guthrie's Songs as Diagnosis and Cure
  • Richard Nate, '"Pastures of plenty": Woody Guthrie and the New Deal'
  • John S. Partington, '"There's a better world a-coming": resolving the tension between the urban and rural visions in the writings of Woody Guthrie'
  • Will Kaufman, 'Woody Guthrie and the cultural front'
  • Mark Allan Jackson, 'Playing legend maker: Woody Guthrie's "Jackhammer John"'
  • Martin Butler, '"Words to shoot back at you": Woody Guthrie's 'war' against German Fascism'
Part II: Creating an Icon: The (Self-)Imaging of Woody Guthrie
  • Martin Butler, '"Always on the go": the figure of the hobo in the songs and writings of Woody Guthrie'
  • Jeff Morgan, '"Hard travelin": constructing Woody Guthrie's dust bowl legacy'
  • Frank Erik Pointner, 'Woody Guthrie, aka "the guy who wrote This Land is Your Land"'
Part III: Partnering and Siring: Woody Guthrie in Comparative Perspective
  • Ronald D. Cohen, 'Will Geer and Woody Guthrie: a folk music friendship'
  • Ed Cray, 'The performer and the promoter'
  • D. A. Carpenter, 'Good man, honest man: Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and the role of the folk outlaw'
  • Bibliography
  • Index