Woodrow Wilson Guthrie, better known as Woody Guthrie, was a celebrated American singer, musician and songwriter. His work proved an inspiration for many contemporary legends such as Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, Joe Strummer, Tom Paxton and many more. Guthrie established his stature as a legend of Folk music through numerous traditional and children’s songs. Guthrie’s iconic track ‘This Land Is Your Land’ and several other recordings also featured in the Library of Congress. This leader of American Folk movement was also famous for his slogan carved on his guitar- ‘This machine kills fascists’. Majority of his songs were based on the struggles and hardships the farmers faced during ‘the Great Depression’ and ‘Dust Bowl Era’ of the United States. After suffering from complications of Huntington's disease, he passed on the baton of his folk music legacy to his son, Arlo Guthrie. Let us go through some of the quotes from this legend of American music culture.
It's a folk singer's job to comfort disturbed people and to disturb comfortable people
I would like to see every single soldier on every single side, just take off your helmet, unbuckle your kit, lay down your rifle, and set down at the side of some shady lane, and say, nope, I aint a gonna kill nobody. Plenty of rich folks wants to fight. Give them the guns.
I am out to sing songs that will prove to you that this is your world and that if it has hit you pretty hard and knocked you for a dozen loops, no matter what color, what size you are, how you are built, I am out to sing the songs that make you take pride in yourself and in your work. And the songs that I sing are made up for the most part by all sorts of folks just about like you.
Life has got a habit of not standing hitched. You got to ride it like you find it. You got to change with it. If a day goes by that don't change some of your old notions for new ones, that is just about like trying to milk a dead cow.
There's several ways of saying what's on your mind. And in states and counties where it ain't too healthy to talk too loud, speak your mind, or even vote like you want to, folks have found other ways of getting the word around. One of the mainest ways is by singing.
I better quit my talking 'cause I told you all I know But please remember, pardner, wherever you may go The people are building a peaceful world, and when the job is done, That'll be the biggest thing that man has ever done.
I hate a song that makes you think that you are not any good. I hate a song that makes you think that you are just born to lose. Bound to lose. No good to nobody. No good for nothing. Because you are too old or too young or too fat or too slim too ugly or too this or too that.
Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple.
The words are the important thing. Don't worry about tunes. Take a tune, sing high when they sing low, sing fast when they sing slow, and you've got a new tune.
A folk song is what's wrong and how to fix it or it could be
who's hungry and where their mouth is or
who's out of work and where the job is or
who's broke and where the money is or
who's carrying a gun and where the peace is.
You oil field workers, come and listen to me I'm goin' to tell you a story about old John D. That company union made a fool out of me. That company union don't charge no dues It leaves you a-singing them Rockefeller blues. That company union made a fool out of me. Takes that good ole C.I.O., boys To keep that oil a-rollin', rollin' over the sea. Takes that good ole C.I.O., boys To keep that oil a-rollin' over the sea.
My eyes has been my camera taking pictures of the world and my songs has been my messages that I tried to scatter across the back sides and along the steps of the fire escapes and on the window sills and through the dark halls...
The world is filled with people who are no longer needed. And who try to make slaves of all of us. And they have their music and we have ours. Theirs, the wasted songs of a superstitious nightmare. And without their music and ideological miscarriages to compare our songs of freedom to, we'd not have any opposite to compare music with --- and like the drifting wind, hitting against no obstacle, we'd never know its speed, its power....
Now as I look around, it's mighty plain to see,
This world is such a great and a funny place to be.
Oh, the gamblin' man is rich, an' the workin' man is poor,
And I ain't got no home in this world anymore.
Okemah was one of the singingest, square dancingest, drinkingest, yellingest, preachingest, walkingest, talkingest, laughingest, cryingest, shootingest, fist fightingest, bleedingest, gamblingest, gun, club and razor carryingest of our ranch towns and farm towns, because it blossomed out into one of our first Oil Boom Towns.