Woody Guthrie: A Tribute & A Box Set (With Rare Dylan!)

Tuesday, 27 August 2013 06:10 AM Written by 

guthrie boxset

You might not have noticed that 2012 was Woody Guthrie's 100th Birthday, but a lot of other people did. On Today's "Believe Your Ears" podcast, I'll review Woody Guthrie at 100! Live At the Kennedy Center, a CD/DVD package released this summer of a tribute concert recorded there last October and broadcast by PBS.  This is the link.

Participants included Judy Collins, Rosanne Cash, Del McCoury, Old Crow Medicine Show, Lucinda Williams, Donovan, Jackson Browne, John Mellencamp and Ramblin' Jack Elliot.

On October 22, Rounder will release a 7-CD limited edition box set titled Woody Guthrie: American Radical Patriot, blending songs with interviews and rare recordings giving a deeper picture of Guthrie and his impact on American culture and music, including his complete 1940 Library of Congress recordings with Alan Lomax including tunes he'd later record for Moe Asch's Folkways Records and even for RCA (source of the material for the label's classic Dust Bowl Ballads compilation).

The set assembles radio dramas, music recorded for the Bonneville Power Administration, anti-fascist tunes written during World War II and many of his anti-VD recordings for the United States Public Health Service.  

The set also includes a 78-rpm disc (really!) of Guthrie in 1951, singing "The Greatest Thing That Man Has Ever Done" and a home recording of his best-known disciple, Bob Dylan, singing Woody's "VD City" in 1961, back in the days when he was just starting to record, favoring tunes like Song To Woody."

Below: Guthrie in 1947 with Brownie McGhee (guitar) and Sonny Terry (harmonica), circa  from a documentary.  It's one of only two known Guthrie film clips.  This is from a folk music documentary, narrated by folklorist Alan Lomax, titled To Hear Your Banjo Play. And yes, that's a bit of Pete Seeger at the end.

A clip from the 2012 Guthrie Tribute




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