SOUNDTRACK: WOODY GUTHRIE-This Land is Your Land: The Asch Recordings Vol 1 (1997).
Protesters don’t get more powerful or more emblematic than Woody Guthrie (if nothing else, he should be forever thanked for “This Land is Your Land”). Some of his other great political songs are “Lindbergh” (“Now Lindy tried to join the army, but they wouldn’t let ‘im in,/’Fraid he’d sell to Hitler a few more million men”). There’ also the silly on the surface “Do Re Mi” which holds a deeper meaning: “They think they’re goin’ to a sugar bowl, but here’s what they find/Now, the police at the port of entry say,”You’re number fourteen thousand for today.”/ Oh, if you ain’t got the do re mi, folks, you ain’t got the do re mi,/Why, you better go back to beautiful Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Georgia, Tennessee.”
He also introduced a wider world to his “Talkin’ Blues” which were influential on Bob Dylan among others.
The thing that I didn’t know about him was that he wrote so many “silly” songs. “Car Song” features some car engine noises (as done by a three-year old) as a verse. “Why Oh Why” which is a nonsensical call and response song: “Why don’t you answer my questions?/Why, oh why, oh why?/’Cause I don’t know the answers.
Goodbye goodbye goodbye.” And “Talking Hard Work” is a pretty hilarious look at how hard it is to do nothing.
The only thing I don’t particularly care for on this disc is, well, Woody’s voice. I’ve listened to this disc many times, and I have grown to appreciate it, but it was quite a shock to hear his reedy, unpolished voice and how tinny the recording it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that this music is available to hear, but don’t expect 21st (or even mid-20th) century production or anything.
Here’s a verse that most people don’t know from “This Land is Your Land”
There was a big high wall/there that tried to stop me/The sign was painted; said “Private Property”/But on the back side it didn’t say nothing/This land was made for you and me
[READ: Week of July 23, 2010] Letters of Insurgents [Seventh Letters]
Last week, Sophia wrote to Yarostan without having read his letter (which was just as well, as Mirna was pretty far off the deep end). But Yarostan has received Sophia’s letter and is ready to write back to her.
And he is thrilled that he and Sophia are really in synch with their attitudes and events for once (things have changed a lot for him since he last wrote).
I regret much of what I said in that letter. I now have an opposite admission to make to you. I was very moved when you said you were waiting for me to walk into your “council office.” If such an expedition should ever be undertaken, I’ll be the first to volunteer and of course I’ll bring Yara and Mirna along as well as Jasna and Zdenek. I love you, too, Sophia; we all do; you’ve seduced us with your honesty and especially with your modest, almost shy courage (497).
In fact, things are worlds apart in Yarostan’s household. Mirna was thrilled to get the latest letter and to learn that Sophia was on strike. But more importantly, Mirna reveals that she herself is on strike, too! And they will be partying! Jasna excitedly comments that they are in the same world, separated only by geography.
Zdenek comes over and reads the letter too, but he has a hard time thinking that the unions where Sophia is are the same as unions where they are. And Mirna jumps all over him, asking if old age is making him conservative. But Zdenek makes what I think is an excellent point about the postal workers. Everyone uses the mail, even rebels. So, sure they should have rights too, but encouraging them to strike doesn’t only harm capitalists. (more…)
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