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This Land Is Your Land: Woody Guthrie and the Journey of an American Folk Song Hardcover – March 13, 2012
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The story begins in November 1939 and ends with the legacy of the song and of Woody Guthrie.
Even if you are a confirmed folkie, you will probably find something new within the pages of this book. There is a chapter covering Irving Berlin's `God Bless America', the mood of the time and how Woody wrote this embodiment of America. The story of the verses that are seldom heard and, his son, Arlo's story of the song itself are just some of the fascinating details that fill these pages.
The book is extremely well researched; interviews were done with many of the Guthrie family, including a daughter, granddaughter, Arlo, Pete Seeger and others in the folk community. Intertwined is the story of Woody's life and problems, his music and the political/economic climate of the time he lived in. Illustrations are included of pages of his lyrics and drawings and large sepia photographs. An index is lacking, which would have been a bonus, but a poster of Woody and his 'this machine kills fascists' guitar is included.
This is a book that truly shows and celebrates both the life of Woody Guthrie and his music and especially of `This Land is Your Land. A book that those interested in history, America, music in general and folk in particular should not miss.
The song This Land is Your Land lyrics capture a certain essence of the magic and hope of America. Written as a counter to God Bless America, this song original title was God Blessed America. These folksy lyrics are well known today, but few know the back story. Who wrote them, what was their inspiration?
Now in This Land is Your Land: Woody Guthrie and the Journey of American Folksong, author Robert Santelli has written a rich bold book to fill in the details. It chronicles not only the life of Woody Guthrie, it also touches on a period of American history.
Santelli has taken an odyssey to chronicle Woody Guthrie's life, he is currently the executive director of the Grammy Museum, and co-Chairman of "Woody at 100".
As we enter the centennial celebration of Woody Guthrie, this book delves back to that fateful day in February 23, 1940, when Guthrie in a fleabag hotel on 43rd Street in New York City wrote this song.
Guthrie was not an extraordinary individual, he was just a man who was full of hope and optimism and did what he loved, chronicled his life in verse.
I was surprised by the many unrelated facts of folk music. How it was considered subversive and Guthrie was marked as a community. How this song has influenced so many artist, singers, and even presidents. Even after so many years this song is relevant and President Obama used the song to kick off his historic inauguration.
The book is beautifully done, looks more like a coffee table book than a traditional biography and is a fitting addition to any library.