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Guthrie, Woody

Guthrie, Woody

Guthrie, Woody (Woodrow Wilson Guthrie), 1912-67, American folk singer, guitarist, and composer, b. Okemah, Okla. Having learned harmonica as a boy and guitar as an adolescent, Guthrie was an itinerant musician and laborer from the age of 13. He was always deeply involved in union and left-wing politics, and he wrote many of his over 1,000 published songs on themes of social injustice, poverty, and politics. A friend of Leadbelly, Pete Seeger, and Ramblin Jack Elliott, Guthrie exerted a strong influence on younger performers, notably Bob Dylan. His most famous song is probably "This Land Is Your Land."

See his autobiography, Bound for Glory (1943, rev. ed. 1968); biographies by J. Klein (1980) and E. Cray (2004); R. Shelton, ed., Born to Win (1965); H. Yurchenco and M. Guthrie, A Mighty Hard Road (1970).

Guthrie's son, Arlo Guthrie, 1947-, b. New York City, is also a folk singer and composer. He is best known for "Alice's Restaurant," a rambling, witty song that was the basis of a motion picture in which he starred (1969).

orig. Woodrow Wilson Guthrie

(born July 14, 1912, Okemah, Okla., U.S.—died Oct. 3, 1967, New York, N.Y.) U.S. singer and songwriter, one of the legendary figures of American folk music. He left home at age 15 to travel the country by freight train. With his guitar and harmonica he sang in the hobo and migrant camps of the Great Depression, later becoming a musical spokesman for labour and populist sentiment. He wrote more than a thousand songs, including “So Long (It's Been Good to Know Yuh),” “Hard Traveling,” and “Union Maid.” In New York City he joined Pete Seeger and others in the Almanac Singers; after serving in World War II, he continued to perform with them for farmer and worker groups. “This Land Is Your Land” was his most famous song, and it became an unofficial national anthem. His autobiography, Bound for Glory (1943), was filmed in 1976. His son Arlo (b. 1947) also achieved success as a songwriter and singer.

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Woody may mean:

  • a name in its own right - Woody
  • a short form of Woodrow (name)
  • an adjective for wood
  • the code name for version 3.0 of the Debian Linux distribution
  • American slang for an erection
  • alternative unit of momentum

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