Sunday 5 December 2010

Woody Guthrie in the words of Bob Dylan

As we've linked Woody Guthrie to Bob Dylan by calling Will Kaufman's session on 9th December Like a Rolling Stone after Dylan's 1965 song - I thought I'd see how Dylan himself described Woody Guthrie in his autobiography, Bob Dylan: Chronicles. He says:

'Who is he? He's a hustling ex-sign painter from Oaklahoma, an anti materialist who grew up in the Depression and dustbowl days -migrated West, had a tragic childhood, a lot of fire in his life -figuratively and literally. He's a singing cowboy, but he's more than a singing cowboy. Woody's got a fierce poetic soul -the poet of hard crust and gumbo mud. Guthrie divides the world between those who work and those who don't and is interested in the liberation of the human race and wants to create a world worth living in'.

When Bob Dylan was in his early twenties he tracked down Woody Guthrie to a grim hospital in New Jersey where the inmates had to wear uniforms. He used to take the bus there, take him cigarettes and play his own songs to him. He said 'it was a strange environment to meet anybody, least of all the true voice of the American spirit'. I notice Bob Dylan still talks about Woody Guthrie in the present tense.