Saturday, July 14, 2012


Woody Guthrie, songwriter, guitar player, union organizer, rail rider, troublemaker, was born a hundred years ago today, on July 14th, 1912.  Riding the rails in the Great Depression, Woody earned the nickname "The Dust Bowl Troubadour," and is most famous for writing "This Land is Your Land."  For his trouble, Woody made plenty of good friends, helped many good causes, and was beaten, jailed and blacklisted by crooked cops, company goons and right wing politicians.  Woody often performed with a guitar that displayed the slogan, This Machine Kills Fascists.  He died from Huntington's Disease, and was visited often in his New Jersey hospital by a very young and infatuated Bob Dylan, who knew every Woody song by heart.

Bob Dylan and Joan Baez perform Woody Guthrie's Deportees, Fort Collins, Colorado, May 23, 1976. 

Perhaps it's fitting that today is also Bastille Day, In France, Le quatorze juillet (the fourteenth of July) celebrates the 1789 storming of the Bastille, a fortress-prison known for holding political prisoners critical of the monarchy, and a symbol of the absolute and arbitrary power of Louis the 16th's Ancient Regime.

Today is a good day to celebrate rebels.

 "This Land is Your Land" -- including the words they left out of your school book--performed by Bruce Springsteen, with his friends Arcade Fire, Joe Ely, Tom Morello, Alejandro Escovedo and Eric Burdon. Live at SXSW, March 15, 2012.

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