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Woody Guthrie grew up in a nowhere town in the heart of the Dust Bowl — Okemah, Okla., to be exact — in an America not altogether different from the one we live in today. As a young man, Guthrie joined the Dust Bowl exodus chronicled in John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath. He cut his teeth singing in California union halls and eventually found his way to New York City. There, along with Pete Seeger, Leadbelly and others, he laid the groundwork for a topical-song movement which strongly influenced the 1950s and '60s folk revival.
Songs he wrote — "This Land Is Your Land," "Pastures of Plenty," "Pretty Boy Floyd" and thousands of others — have been sung by generations of artists since. Before Guthrie, singers and songwriters were separate entities in the music industry. But his stage presence, poetics and grasp on musical performance set a standard for singer-songwriters which remains influential to this day.
Listen closely to this stream, and you'll hear the reach of Guthrie's influence in the recordings of his protégé Pete Seeger, those of revival folksingers like Joan Baez and 21st-century innovators like Ani DiFranco and Old Crow Medicine Show. Though Woody Guthrie died in 1967, his 100th birthday is cause for a celebration of not only one man's legacy, but also the songs which have, for the past century, given voice to working folks everywhere.
The Woody Guthrie Centennial Playlist
Abigail Washburn, "Who's Gonna Shoe"
Alison Krauss & Union Station, "Pastures of Plenty"
Andy Irvine, "Never Tire of the Road"
Ani DiFranco, "Do Re Me"
Arlo Guthrie, "Hobo's Lullaby"
Arlo Guthrie, "Deportees"
Arlo Guthrie & Friends, "'Til We Outnumber 'Em"
Billy Bragg & Wilco, "Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key"
Billy Bragg & Wilco, "Joe DiMaggio Done It Again"
Billy Bragg & Wilco, "Another Man's Done Gone"
Bob Dylan, "Song to Woody"
Charles Sawtelle, "The Ranger's Command"
Country Joe McDonald, "Roll On Columbia"
Dave Alvin, "What Does the Deep Sea Say?"
Eliza Gilkyson & Friends, "Peace Call"
Ellis Paul, "God's Promise"
Jackson Browne, "You Know the Night"
Jay Farrar, Will Johnson, Anders Parker, Yim Yames, "New Multitudes"
Jay Farrar, Will Johnson, Anders Parker, Yim Yames, "Hoping Machine"
Jay Farrar, Will Johnson, Anders Parker, Yim Yames, "Fly High"
Jimmy LaFave, "Down in Oklahoma Hills"
Joan Baez, "Deportee (Live '04)"
Joel Rafael Band, "Talking Fishing Blues"
Joel Rafael Band, "Dance a Little Longer"
Joel Rafael Band, "Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key"
John McCutcheon, "Ludlow Massacre"
John McCutcheon, "Biggest Thing That Man Has Ever Done"
Jonatha Brooke, "My Sweet and Bitter Bowl"
Jonatha Brooke, "King of My Love"
Kevin Welch, "Vigilante Man"
Leftover Salmon, "Woody Guthrie"
Madeleine Peyroux, "Wild Card in the Hole"
Nanci Griffith, "Do Re Me"
Norman & Nancy Blake, "Grand Coulee Dam"
Old Crow Medicine Show, "Union Maid"
Patrick Street, "Tom Joad"
Pete Seeger, "There's a Feeling in Music"
Pete Seeger, "So Long, It's Been Good to Know Yuh"
Ramblin' Jack Elliott, "Talking Dust Bowl"
Ramblin' Jack Elliott, "Hard Travelin'"
Ramblin' Jack Elliott, "Woody's Last Ride"
Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion, "Be No Church Tonight"
Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion, "Hangknot"
Slaid Cleaves, "This Morning I Was Born Again"
Solas, "Pastures of Plenty"
Spider John Koerner, "More Pretty Women Than One"
Steppin' in It, "Bound For Glory"
Steve Earle, "Christmas in Washington"
The Duhks, "Pretty Boy Floyd"
The Klezmatics (Susan McKeown), "Headdy Down"
Tim Grimm, "Pretty Boy Floyd"
Tim O'Brien, "The Sun Jumped Up"
Wilco, "Jolly Banker"
Woody Guthrie, "Dust Bowl Blues"
Woody Guthrie, "Going Down the Road"
Woody Guthrie, "Hard Ain't It Hard"
Woody Guthrie, "This Land Is Your Land"
Woody Guthrie, "Gypsy Davy"
Woody Guthrie, "Ramblin' Round"
Woody Guthrie, "Philadelphia Lawyer"
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