Dave Gibson

Woody Guthrie at 100

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Woody Guthrie was born on 14 July 1912 in Okemah, Oklahoma. He died in 1967 in relative obscurity, having been hospitalised for the last 15 years of his life. Yet his music continues to be an inspiration for musicians from Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen to Billy Bragg. The centenary of his birth has seen a flurry of new books, CDs and concerts celebrating his music.

His songs attack poverty, racism, fascism (he had a sticker on his guitar saying "This machine kills fascists") and the system that creates such evils. His songs are on the side of workers, which is why, in a world still ravaged with the same problems, his music retains such power.

Perhaps his most famous song is This Land is Your Land, written originally as a riposte to the patriotic song God Bless America. Ironically it is often taken to be patriotic and is frequently sung with three of its original verses missing - the verses attacking private property and hunger.


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