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Autobiography and Personal Narrative/Post-1945 American Literature Dr.

Marilyn Zucker ____________________________________________________________________________________ Woody Guthrie

The first time I heard the name of Woody Guthrie I was reading a piece of the Bod Dylans Chronicles, in the fall of 2012. I remember thinking it would be very interesting to know some more about this musician. He must have been someone worth knowing, I thought, as he was a reference to Bob Dylan, an idealist songwriter and singer. One of the oddest things I noticed about Woody was that he always had a slogan displayed in his guitar, This Machine kills Fascists. Just like that. In most pictures he is holding a guitar, his instrument, his tool - and there it is the slogan easy to read. This American man, born in 1912, in the state of Oklahoma suffered tremendously during the Dust Bowl thirties and during the Great Depression. He travelled to California, in search of a better living, with the working class people and the emigrants, and, in that journey he got familiar with their popular and folk music. Woody achieved popularity very quickly. Woody Guthries songs were about the simple things in life: man and his right to be free, his right to live a decent life and a life of dignity. We can say that these are, in fact the hopes of every man and woman on this Earth. In his mild folkish/country style he captivated audiences all over America. In 1940 he was asked to write songs about the Columbia River and a compilation of ballads were recorded the next year. Curiously, hearing The Red River Valey reminded me of all the nice western movies I used to watch with my grandfather in my childhood. During the 1940s Woody was constantly travelling and performing, becoming more involved in progressive radical politics. He married his second wife Marjorie Mazia, who shared his humanist ideals and political activities. She supported Woodys writings and helped him with the songs, poems and prose pieces, paintings and drawings. He also published two books. It is amazing how easily Woody created. Words just flowed out and mingled with harmony, showing his ability to express his inner thoughts. He wrote songs for

the army during the war, he wrote songs for children, he was passionate against fascists and composed hundred of anti-Hitler ballads. Very soon he became part of Almanac Group, a folk protest group of singers, like Pete Seeger, Lee Hayes and Alan Lomax, who embraced social and political causes. They supported union organisers, the Communist Party and protested against the war. This group of singers were passionate, fought with what they had. Songs. Fascinating how the best way to reach people, whether it is a single person or the masses, it is through a simple song, music. Woody became an influence to the new generations of folk songwriters and remained popular throughout decades leaving a lasting legacy to his country. Artists, disc houses, institutes and organisations paid tributes and gave posthumous honours to the author of This Land Is Our Land. It was not only worth knowing Woody Guthrie but it was a real pleasure.

Veronica Karvat - N.44138