Woody Guthrie: Songs and Art * Words and Wisdom

Chronicle. Nov. 2021. 304p. ISBN 9781797211787. $35. MUSIC
American folk music icon Woody Guthrie wrote prolifically: songs about the Dust Bowl, the plight of American workers, the nation’s unfulfilled promise, the delightful humor of children. This book collects Guthrie’s notes and other ephemera (song drafts, sketches, keen observations, setlists, photographs), drawn from archives and family papers and curated by music producer Nora Guthrie (Woody’s daughter) and music historian Santelli to shed light on his life, philosophy, and creative process. Many of the song drafts, for instance, include Woody’s own notes recalling when, where, and why he wrote the song. There are also new short essays by musicians, actors, and historians, including Santelli’s history of the Guthrie song “This Land Is Your Land,” and Nora Guthrie’s reflection on her father’s love for, and unconventional approach to, family life.
VERDICT Light on commentary and context, this is a book to browse for insight and inspiration. Enthusiasts of American folk could open this book to any page and find something of interest, and it’s sure to delight Woody Guthrie fans. Recommended for public and academic library collections.
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