Woody recorded for a variety of labels, but the real meat of his repertoire rests in the 300 or so songs he recorded for Mo Asch's Folkways label. And now that classic material is finally coming out on CD in four volumes, of which this is the first and probably the best witness this list of songs: This Land Is Your Land (unreleased and "hit" versions); Grand Coulee Dam; Philadelphia Lawyer; Hobo's Lullaby; Pastures of Plenty; Do-Re-Mi; Hard, Ain't It Hard; Going Down the Road Feeling Bad; Jesse James; I Ain't Got Nobody , and 15 more. 72 annotated minutes.
What's most astonishing about Woody Guthrie is the way he created a whole, complete, living world of song. People, places, great and small events, nature, poetry, visions: He was so much more than a working class spokesperson, though, as this collection shows, he was the greatest one America has known. This first volume in the historic reissues of Guthrie's Smithsonian recordings is one of the finest: Guthrie's voice and verbal brilliance were at their peak in the 1940s and songs like "Do-Re-Mi," "Jesse James," and "Jesus Christ" continue to influence songwriters a half-century later. --Roy Francis Kasten