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Ramblin' Man: The Life and Times of Woody Guthrie Paperback – March 17, 2006
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Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
In a curious way, the people who come across as the real heroes of this biography are the less celebrated types such as Pete Seeger and Will Geer, both victims of the McCarthy witchhunt, and Marjorie Greenblatt Mazia, Arlo's mom and Guthrie's second wife, who nursed Woody during the final years, long after they were divorced. Compared to them, Woody both lived a pretty comfortable life and was less committed to the farmers and laborers he sang about. Touchingly, it was these same people whose loyalty to Guthrie helped make him into one of America's folk heroes after his death.
Guthrie, despite his claims to the contrary, had a middle-class upbringing. His father was, of all things, a successful real estate dealer, who was too busy to pay the boy much attention. His mother was distant and uninterested. He was a dedicated student only when he wanted to be; he would listen to local singers and imitate guitar records for hours. In 1937, the 25-year-old Guthrie lit out for California (leaving his wife), by freight train or hitchhiking, as did other migrants.Read more ›
Guthrie himself seems a knotty reflection of the troubled times in which his music first arose: the struggles of the working poor during the Great Depression, followed by the paranoia of McCarthyism in the late 40s and beyond. Both Guthrie and his music showed a kind of restless, kinetic energy until this second period set in, but then dissolve in a kind of undisciplined confusion.
We know now of course that this change in Guthrie was caused by his disease, Huntington's chorea, which hospitalized him for the last decade or more of his life. Cray does an exceptionally good job of showing the gradual increase of the disease from the point where its earlier symptoms just seemed like a quirky part of Guthrie's personality to the point where his internal fight against it made him violent, and finally to the point where he was rendered speechless and immobile. Guthrie's second wife Marjorie (Arlo's mother) comes off fairly saintly, visiting Guthrie with their kids weekly in the hospital for years even after their divorce.
In sum, the book is inspirational, informative, and poignant as well. The only thing that keeps me from giving it five stars is its length, which fans of Guthrie will not find daunting but which may be more than you are looking for it you are only a casual reader.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is simply the best Life of Guthrie. I didn't know him, but I loved him, but I'm glad I didn't have to live with him. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Michele F. Marlowe
Great look into one of the greatest Americans there's been. Reading this gave me a different perspective of his life however good or bad.Published on January 2, 2014 by kyle doxstader
A great American story. A man who still touches the American spirit with his raw, heartfelt music. One of my herosPublished on November 25, 2013 by cowboy at heart
This is a gritty, sometimes uplifting, sometimes sad look at the man behind the legend. Definitely worth reading. Woody was a legend and a man of the people.Published on November 6, 2013 by Lyn Townsend
Woody was one of the most interesting characters to ever cross the American Folk Music scene.Although he passed away in 1965 at the age of 53,and very sick for the last 15 years of... Read morePublished on September 12, 2013 by Jerry Guild
For a foreigner from the Netherlands, travelling the USA with my band, this is a great book to have as a compagnon.
History lessons of american folk music on the go... Read more
he was a communist I don't agree with this political point of view and will not support Woody Guthries agenda
I'm surprised Americans tolerated this at one time