Welcome to my songs of Woody Guthrie page.
On this web page, we will look at a few of Woody's popular songs as a collection of full lesson tutorials available for purchase, along with several free chord sheets in .pdf format, guitar demos and some rhythm tips on playing each song.
Jump links to quickly access song sections.
Woody Guthrie, born on July 14, 1912, in Okemah, Oklahoma, was a legendary folk artist whose music and lyrics became a powerful force for social change. Growing up during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, Guthrie's experiences greatly influenced his music, which resonated with the struggles of everyday people.
As a young man, Woody faced hardships that shaped his worldview. His family struggled during the Dust Bowl, a devastating period of drought and soil erosion, forcing many families to migrate in search of work. These experiences fueled Guthrie's empathy for the working class and those affected by economic challenges. His family's hardships inspired him to use his music to amplify the voices of the disenfranchised.
In the 1930s, Guthrie began his musical journey, playing guitar and harmonica while hopping freight trains across the United States. He absorbed the stories of the people he met, documenting their struggles and joys in his songs. Woody's lyrics were straightforward, filled with empathy and a call for justice. His music became a powerful means of storytelling, capturing the spirit of the time.
In the early 1940s, Woody Guthrie emerged as a key figure in the folk music scene. His most famous guitar, adorned with the slogan "This Machine Kills Fascists," became a symbol of his commitment to using music as a tool for social change. Woody's songs often addressed issues like labor rights, social inequality, and the impact of war. One of his most enduring songs, "This Land Is Your Land," remains an anthem of unity and inclusion.
During World War II, Guthrie served in the Merchant Marine, further influencing his perspectives on social justice. His time at sea and exposure to various cultures broadened his understanding of humanity's interconnectedness, which found expression in his later works.
Guthrie's personal life was marked by challenges, including the tragic loss of family members to illness. Despite these hardships, he continued to create music that resonated with people across the nation. In the 1950s, Woody Guthrie faced another personal struggle: Huntington's disease, a genetic disorder that would eventually claim his life. Despite the challenges posed by the disease, Guthrie continued to write and perform until he was no longer physically able.
Throughout his career, Woody Guthrie's influence extended beyond his own performances. Many artists, including Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, were inspired by his commitment to social justice and his ability to use music as a vehicle for change. Guthrie's impact on the folk music movement is immeasurable, as he laid the foundation for future generations of musicians to use their art to address societal issues.
Woody Guthrie's legacy endures not only in his vast body of work but also in the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, dedicated to preserving and promoting his contributions to American folk music. His songs continue to be celebrated for their timeless messages of hope, justice, and the resilience of the human spirit. In the hearts and minds of those who listen, Woody Guthrie remains an emblematic figure of the folk music tradition, a troubadour who used his guitar and lyrics to champion the voices of the marginalized and inspire change in the world.
Baltimore To Washington was never released as a single.
It can be found on The Asch Recordings which covers a series of numbers recorded by Woody Guthrie between 1944 and 1949.
Blowin Down The Road has no recorded ref as to which album may contain this track if any, so I have no idea about the history of this song.
This Land Is Your Land was written by Woody Guthrie in 1940 after getting tired of hearing Kate Smith sing God Bless America. The melody is from a Carter family number called "When The World's On Fire".
After he wrote the song, he forgot about it for 4 years until 1944 when he first recorded the song on The Asch Recordings Vol 1 album. Moses Asch was the person who recorded these songs by Woody over a 5 year period.
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