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The Times on a Boxed Set of Woody Guthrie from the Smithsonian

The New York Times offers an interesting article on Woody at 100, a three-CD boxed set from the Smithsonian Institution. The story mentions Guthrie’s best known song, This Land is Your Land (originally This Land), includes the second verse of the song that isn’t often sung. The lyrics aren’t startling by today’s standards, but the stanza isn’t clearly the patriotic crowd-pleaser of the first.

Bruce Springsteen and Pete Seeger sang the song–including that second verse–at President Obama’s inauguration (here it is). It’s a bit ironic. Springsteen’s Born in the USA, like This Land is Your Land, often is mistakenly thought to be a blindly patriotic ode. Both are anything but.

Here is Guthrie’s transcription of This Land, courtesy of Wikipedia Commons:

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The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

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Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.