Personalities | Woody Guthrie | West Coast Scene | Country

(Vocals, songwriter, author, 1912–67)

Arguably the most influential of all folk singers (Bob Dylan is one of his greatest admirers), Oklahoma-born Woodrow Wilson Guthrie experienced life’s adversities in his early years, with his mother committed to an insane asylum, and facing the severity of the Dust Bowl with his father in Texas. Such emotional and environmental surroundings provided the basis for a vast song repertoire that included social comment and protest, hobo lifestyles and cowboy songs, coming to life via the lyrics of such classics as ‘This Land Is Your Land’ and ‘Oklahoma Hills’. The latter was much covered, including a 1945 chart-topping version by cousin Jack Guthrie (with whom Woody worked as a country duo during the 1930s). The imagery of the Dust Bowl is best defined in his classic RCA album Dust Bowl Ballads (1940), at which time he departed for New York and commenced his socialist activities.

Styles & Forms | West Coast Scene | Country
Personalities | Merle Haggard | West Coast Scene | Country

Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Country Music, consultant editor Bob Allen


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