Biography of Modern Music Composer Woody Guthrie Part 3

About the famous country musician and composer Woody Guthrie, his history and biography.

Woody Guthrie (1912-1967)

In 1937, Woody headed out to California. According to biographer Robert Shelton, "For a time, he had a radio show for $1 a day on WKVD in Los Angeles. With Will Geer the actor and the late Cisco Houston the singer, he traveled to the migratory labor camps and helped raise some money for the workers there." On a later radio show, this one in New York City, Woody described these years:

I've followed all kinds of big work jobs all over the country, like the oil fields, coal mines, big timber jobs, the Grand Coulee Dam, the TVA in the State of Tennessee, the harvesting of all kinds of crops like cotton, wheat, spuds, beets, and grapes and fruits and berries and vegetables. I've followed the building of the big highways like the Lincoln and the 66. And the hard rock tunnels and the WPA roads and streamlined speedways, and the building of the big ships, and the places where ferryboats land and where the subway trains and all of the other trains load up full of people, and I sang in roadhouses, hotels, messrooms, churches, union halls, saloons, and night-clubs and taverns. . . . I sing religious songs. I sing union songs. . . . I sing songs about the outlaws that the people loved and the ones the people hated. I sing any song that was made up by the people that tells a little story, a little part, of our big history of this country, yes, or that tells a part of the history of the world.

In addition to all this, Woody cut 2 records for Victor called the "Dust Bowl Ballads," joined the Merchant Marine during W.W. II (carrying a guitar bearing the words, "This Machine Kills Fascists"), was a member of the Almanac Singers with Pete Seeger, Lee Hayes, and Millard Lampell, and with them and other singers began the hootenannies of the 1940s. He was married 3 times. He suffered the death of his daughter Cathy in the late 1940s (also a death by fire). Woody was hospitalized in the early 1950s with Huntington's chorea and when he died on October 3, 1967, he was survived by 5 children and millions of people the world over to whose lives his songs such as "This Land Is Your Land," "Hard, Ain't It Hard," "Hard Traveling," and "So Long, It's Been Good to Know Yuh" had made a difference.

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