Woody Guthrie, born Woodrow Wilson Guthrie, was born in Okemah, Oklahoma in 1912. When he was 16 he began to travel around the United States (Feather 428). He had a great love for music and soon began writing his own songs about the Great Depression and the treatment of the migrant workers, who were forced to move west because of the Dust Bowl. His music greatly influenced many people across the country. However, Woody never let the fame go to his head.
When Woody Guthrie was singing hillbilly songs on a little Los Angeles radio station in the late 1930s, he used to mail out a small mimeographed ongbook to listeners who wanted the words to his songs, On the bottom page appeared the following: This song is Copyrighted in U. S. , under Seal of Copyright # 154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we dont give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it.
We wrote it, thats all we wanted to do. (qtd. Pete Seeger www. geocities. com/Nashville/ 3448/guthrie. html) Woody was very passionate about his causes. He felt very strongly about the mistreatment of the migrant workers, robably because he was himself an Okie. His works served as inspiration for musicians like Bob Dylan and Pete Reeves 2 Seeger and not to mention countless, less-famous others (www. geocities. com/Nashville3448 guthrie. html) One of Woodys most popular song about the novel The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinback.
It was entitled Tom Joad. The song basically summarized the entire novel. The last few lines of the song were very important, they were also the last words that Tom Joad said to Ma in the novel Wherever people aint happy, and wherever they aint free Thats where Im gonna be Ma, Thats where Im a-gonna be. (www. geocities. com/Nashville3448 guthrie. html) Although many people disliked The Grapes of Wrath because they felt it had communist ideals, people loved the song; probably because people loved Woody.
However, many people didnt know that Woody was diagnosed with an emotional disorder that resulted in years of turmoil amongst him and his family. He ended up becoming a recluse. A lot of his songs were written while he was in seclusion. Huntingtons disease ended up causing his death in 1967 (Feather 428). Despite the many challenges that Woody faced hroughout his lifetime, his work has always exhibited great talent. His works have carried on for many years, and will continue to let us glimpse into another time and into the lives of others.
He showed us the pain of the migrant workers while exposing the corrupt system that was keeping them in misery. This kind of passion and dedication led people to revolt against this system and stand up for the basic human rights that these workers were being kept from having. Woody saw all of this and worked to improve the lives of these people, by simply making others aware of the situation. Reeves 3 Woody wrote a biography about his life called Bound for Glory. It was published in 1943 and was basically a collection of his works and thoughts.
Woody Guthrie is widely considered the most influential American folk musician. His music has affected many people throughout the years. John Steinback once said of Woody.. Woody is just Woody. Thousands of people do not know he has any other name. He is just a voice and a guitar. He sings the songs of a people and I suspect that he is, in a way, that people. Harsh voiced and nasal, his guitar hanging like a tire iron on a rusty rim, there is nothing sweet about Woody, and there is nothing sweet about the songs he sings.
But there is something more important for those who will listen. There is the will of the people to endure and fight against oppression. I think we call this the American spirit. (qtd. Steinback. www. geocities. com/Nashville3448 guthrie. html) Woody was and is the voice of his generation. He saw what was wrong and did his part to fix it. He is a hero. Woody Guthrie changed the face of music as well as his society by holding fast to his convictions and writing from the heart. He truly does sum up the essence of the American spirit.