(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).
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