Woody Guthrie – NonviolencePeace and Justice through Music By Elizabeth Marsden
About Woody Guthrie• Woody Guthrie was born on July 14, 1912 in Okemah, Oklahoma – This year would have been his 100th birthday• He was named after Woodrow Wilson – the Democratic Presidential candidate• His mother, Nora suffered from Huntington’s Disease – a genetic defect that was passed on to Woody• As a boy growing up in Oklahoma, Woody learned to play the guitar by ear• He married at age 19 and wrote songs about working people• Woody Guthrie achieved fame in the late 1930’s singing folk songs on KFVD Radio in Los Angeles, CA
Woody Guthrie’s FamilyThis picture shows Woody Guthrie as a childwith his Mother, Father and Brother
About Woody GuthrieA young Woody Guthrie with his first wifeMary Jennings and their three children
About Woody Guthrie• In 1937, Woody moved to Los Angeles, California; began performing on radio station KFVD
“Dust Bowl Refuges”In 1938, Woody traveled to investigate theliving and working conditions of migrantworkers on assignment for TheLightnewspaper and wrote "Dust BowlRefugees.“ Some vintage footage of WoodyGuthrie performing songs about the lives ofmigrant workers can be seen at the linkbelow:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZoGOLvdMo0
The Ballard of Pretty Boy FloydIn 1939, five years after the death of theOklahoma outlaw Pretty Boy Floyd, WoodyGuthrie wrote “The Ballard of Pretty BoyFloyd”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4YKUJZI5Bg
Pretty Boy Floyd LyricsYes, as through this world Ive wanderedIve seen lots of funny men;Some will rob you with a six-gun,And some with a fountain pen.And as through your life you travel,Yes, as through your life you roam,You wont never see an outlawDrive a family from their home.
About Woody Guthrie In 1940, Woody began his autobiography –“Bound for Glory”It was published in 1943“My eyes has been my camera takingpictures of the world and my songs has been my messages that I tried to scatteracross the back sides and along the stepsof the fire escapes and on the window sills and through the dark halls”
“ This Land is Your Land”In 1940, after tiring of hearing Irving Berlins“God Bless America” played on the radio,Woody wrote his most famous song – “Thisland is your land”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaI5IRuS2aE
1913 MassacreIn 1941, Woody wrote and recorded a song about the deaths of immigrant copper miners and their children in Calumet, Michigan, on Christmas Eve in 1913. The song was first appeared on “Struggle Number 1”, an album of labor songs.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BxxKWGTtjNM
1913 MassacreSeventy three peopledied in the Italian Hallmassacre onChristmas Eve – 1913Many of the deadwere childrenThis photographshows the bodies ofsome of the childrenwho died in the fire.
Woody Guthrie and the Almanac SingersIn the summer of 1941, Woody joined theAlmanac Singers in New York for a cross-country summer tour
Woody Guthrie and The Second World WarAlthough Woody had dedicated his life to theplight of working men and women and hadstrong views on nonviolence, he stronglysupported the war against fascism. He had thewords “This machine kills fascists” paintedonto his guitar.He enlisted in the Merchant Marines in 1943He was drafted into the army in 1945 as theSecond World War was ending
Woody Guthrie and NonviolenceWoody Guthrie was a paradox. He believed innonviolence to accomplish social justice, but had thewords "This machine kills fascists" painted on hisguitar. He was a product of his time. The SecondWorld War set the stage for a more enlightenedworld.His passion was social injustice and he believed inusing his music and words to achieve equality bynonviolent means.
Woody Guthrie and NonviolenceWoody Guthrie’s belief in nonviolence isexpressed in the songs he wrote and in thevery fact that he sought to achieve social andeconomic equality in the United Statesthrough music.One his songs titled “I’ve Got to Know” sumsup his views on violence.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyo_Hilxlj0
“I’ve Got to Know”Ive got to know, yes, Ive got to know, friend;Hungry lips ask me wherever I go!Comrades and friends all falling around meIve got to know, yes, Ive got to know.Why do your war boats ride on my waters?Why do your death bombs fall from my skies?Why do you burn my farm and my town down?Ive got to know, friend, Ive got to know!What makes your boats haul death to my people?Nitro blockbusters, big cannons and guns?Why doesnt your ship bring food and some clothing?Ive sure got to know, folks, Ive sure got to know!
“I’ve Got to Know”Why cant my two hands get a good pay job?I can still plow, plant, I can still sow!Why did your lawbook chase me off my good land?Id sure like to know, friend, Ive just got to know!What good work did you do, sir, Id like to ask you,To give you my money right out of my hands?I built your big house here to hide from my people,Why you crave to hide so, Id love to know!You keep me in jail and you lock me in prison,Your hospitals jammed and your crazyhouse full,What made your cop kill my trade union worker?Youll hafta talk plain cause I sure have to know!Why cant I get work and cash my big paycheck?Why cant I buy things in your place and your store?Why do you close my plant down and starve all my buddies?Im asking you, sir, cause Ive sure got to know!
Children’s SongsIn 1946, Woody began writing and performingchildren’s songsOne of the most memorable is “The Car Song”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUDtFdnn9oQ
Woody and Friends• Woody Guthrie sang with many of the legendary folk performers of the 1940’s. This photograph shows Woody with Cisco Houston
Woody Guthrie and Social Justice Woody Guthrie experienced the GreatDepression and the Dust Bowl. He saw firsthand the misery of the people it affected. Hisyouth in rural Oklahoma and Texas and hisexperiences with migrant workers in Californiamoved him to dedicate his life and music tothe struggle for economic and social justice inAmerica.
“Dust Bowl Refuge”I’m a dust bowl refugee,Just a dust bowl refugee,From that dust bowl to the peach bowl,Now that peach fuzz is a-killin me.Cross the mountains to the sea,Come the wife and kids and me.Its a hot old dusty highwayFor a dust bowl refugee. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_ehYkr0NhU
Woody Guthrie and Social JusticeOn January 28, 1948, a plane carrying 28Mexican farm workers who being deported toMexico crashed near Los Gatos canyon nearCoalinga CA. Woody was touched by thetragedy and wrote a song called "Deportee(Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)“. In this link, thesong is sung by Woody’s son, Arlo.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2eO65BqxBE
Woody Guthrie and Social Justice“This Land is your Land” – forgotten verse:“In the shadow of the steeple, I saw my peopleBy the relief office, I seen my people;As they stood there hungry, I stood thereaskingIs this land made for you and me?”
Recognition of Woody Guthrie’s Commitment to Social JusticeA plaque from the Woody Guthrie archives atthe John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, DCproclaims that it “recognizes the exceptionalcontributions made by Woody Guthrie whichreflect a deep personal commitment to thestruggle for economic and social justice inAmerica”
Woody Guthrie – Marriages and Tragedy• In 1945, Woody married his second wife, Marjorie Mazia while on furlough from the army• They had a daughter, Cathy Ann who died in a fire in 1947• In 1952, Woody was diagnosed with Huntington’s Chorea• He was married again in 1953 to Anneke Van Kirk – they divorced in 1956
Inspired by Woody GuthrieMany of the folk music performers of the1960’s were inspired by Woody Guthrie –most notably Bob Dylan
Woody Guthrie’s Death• Between the years 1956 and 1967, Woody wasted away from the degenerative disease• In 1961, a very young Bob Dylan visited Woody at the Brooklyn State Hospital• Bob Dylan was inspired by Woody Guthrie and his music• Woody died in New York in 1967 at the age of 55
Woody Guthrie – 1912 - 1967 “My Peace”My peace my peace is all Ive got that I can give to youMy peace is all I ever had thats all I ever knewI give my peace to green and black and red and white andblueMy peace my peace is all Ive got that I can give to youMy peace, my peace is all Ive got and all Ive ever knownMy peace is worth a thousand times more than anything IownI pass my peace around and about cross hands of every hue;I guess my peace is justa bout all Ive got to give to you