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Woody Guthrie: American Radical Patriot

The Complete Library of Congress Interview & Musical Performance Recordings
–to be released  in their entirety for the very first time on October 21st 2013

Limited edition six-CD set is packaged with 78-rpm vinyl record, DVD and 60-page booklet (258-page PDF version also included). Contains complete Library of Congress recordings released in their entirety for the first time. 

78 disc features Bob Dylan performing Guthrie’s “VD City” backed with Guthrie singing “The Biggest Thing That Man Has Ever Done.”

Woody Guthrie may be more popular in the 21st century than he ever was in the 20th. The unexpected success of Mermaid Avenue — the 1998 and 2000 albums of Woody Guthrie lyrics set to music by Billy Bragg, Wilco and others —have sparked a resurgence of interest in Guthrie’s own recordings. Several fine anthologies have been released in this new century, but only this year has the ultimate treasure trove of the songwriter’s earliest recordings been unlocked and shared with the wider world.

Woody Guthrie: American Radical Patriot, set for release on Rounder Records on October 21st, 2013, will prove a revelation to even the most devoted Guthrie fan, for it unveils hours of songs, interviews and even radio dramas that the general public has never heard.

In 1940, a 27-year-old Guthrie recorded his music for the first time (other than some radio airchecks) when he visited the U.S. Government’s Library of Congress and taped five hours of singing and talking with the legendary folklorist Alan Lomax. Here were many of the classic compositions that Guthrie would soon record for Folkways and RCA Victor: “So Long, It’s Been Good To Know Yuh,” “Do Re Mi,” “Pretty Boy Floyd,” “I Ain’t Got No Home” and “Hard, Ain’t It Hard.” But the stories Guthrie told Lomax about his life created a rich context for the songs, and the songs put an emotional charge into the stories.

The three-hour version of those sessions (released as The Library of Congress Recordings by Elektra in 1964 and reissued by Rounder in 1998) was justly hailed by critic Bill Friskics-Warren as “three volumes of conversation, songs and humanity that offer the most complete portrait of America’s greatest folksinger.” Now it’s an even more complete portrait. Here for the first time is the full five-hour session, presented in cleaned-up audio with a word-for-word transcript in the 258-page book (available as a PDF) that anchors this boxed set.

But the Library of Congress sessions take up only four of the six audio CDs in American Radical Patriot — and the box also includes the book, a DVD and a 78-rpm vinyl disc. Much of the material has never been encountered by any but the luckiest researchers, and taken as a complete package, the set broadens and deepens our understanding of the singer-songwriter who so profoundly influenced Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Pete Seeger, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, Richie Havens, Neil Young, Ani DiFranco, Taj Mahal, U2, the Byrds, the Band and many more.

This exclusive set, limited to 5,000 copies, also includes the 17 songs Guthrie composed and recorded while an employee of the Pacific Northwest’s Bonneville Power Administration (including a never-before-released version of “Pastures of Plenty”), the five songs he composed and performed with the Almanac Singers to support the anti-fascist effort in World War II, two radio dramas that Guthrie helped write and perform for the U.S. Office of War Information, three songs from broadcasts of Jazz America, 10 songs he composed and performed for the U.S. Public Health Service’s anti-venereal disease campaign and a health-themed radio drama that he helped write and perform for Columbia University. The 78 disc contains Bob Dylan’s 1961 home recording of Guthrie’s “VD City” and Guthrie’s 1951 home recording of “The Greatest Thing That Man Has Ever Done.”

A connecting thread runs through this material: It’s all tied to the American government in some way, either commissioned directly by a federal agency or created to support a national military or health effort. This may surprise people who know of Guthrie as an agitator for unions, the poor and the marginalized and as a columnist for two different newspapers published by the U.S. Communist Party (though he was never a party member).

Yet Guthrie was named after a U.S. president (Woodrow Wilson) and was a consistent supporter of collective action (whether through left-wing organizations or the government’s New Deal programs like the dam-building along the Columbia River). He served more than a year in the Merchant Marine and was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army in 1946.

“Was it a paradox that a ‘radical’ would record songs for a government he opposed?” asks Bill Nowlin, the co-founder of Rounder Records who wrote the essays and notes that fill up much of this set’s book. Nowlin answered his own question by coming up with the package’s title: American Radical Patriot. But it’s the paradox of that title that Nowlin explores in depth in the full-length book that’s as central to this boxed set as the DVD or any of the CDs.

“Woody Guthrie loved his country,” asserts Nowlin. “He didn’t agree with all of the policies of the government, or the ways in which some people took advantage of
others . . . But he appreciated and understood and embraced the imperfections and he seemed to have a fundamental faith that people would see to it that things got fixed, if only more people realized that there really could be better ways.”

The story of how Guthrie was born and raised in the oil-boom town of Okemah, Oklahoma, how he watched his family destroyed by fires, illness and bankruptcy, joined the Dust Bowl migration to California, and began singing for camp dances, union rallies and local radio shows has been told in multiple biographies and films as well as in Guthrie’s own three autobiographical books: Bound for GlorySeeds of Man and House of Earth. But none of them can match the experience of hearing that story told by Guthrie himself and embellished with his own songs.

Perhaps it’s ironic that it took an American government agency, the Library of Congress, to document this oral history of a self-described “lonesome traveler.” Perhaps it’s ironic that it took another, the Bonneville Power Administration, to spur Guthrie to the most productive songwriting month of his career —“probably the best time of his life,” according to his son Arlo. Or maybe it’s not so ironic, after all. Maybe, as Nowlin suggests in his provocative essay, a democratic government was the only vehicle that could realize Guthrie’s vision of the people working together to create “the biggest thing that man has ever done.”

Track Listing:
[capitalized titles = song; lower cased titles = spoken word/interview]

THE COMPLETE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS RECORDINGS
Discs 1-4

Disc 1
1. LOST TRAIN BLUES
2. Growing up in Oklahoma
3. THE RAILROAD BLUES
4. More talk of growing up in Okemah
5. The gang of kids Woody hung around with
6. RYE WHISKEY
8. OLD JOE CLARK
9. Alan Lomax asks for a tune
10. BEAUMONT RAG
11. Alan asks for another one
12. GREEN VALLEY WALTZ (a.k.a.) Who’s Gonna Shoe Your Pretty Feet?
13. The troubles and tragedies that fractured Woody’s family in Okemah
14. GREENBACK DOLLAR
15. Lomax asks about the boll weevil
16. BOLL WEEVIL
17. Jailhouse songs
18. THE MIDNIGHT SPECIAL
19. When the great dust storm struck

Disc 2
1. The end of the world
2. SO LONG, IT’S BEEN GOOD TO KNOW YUH
3. Dust storms devastate the farmland
4. TALKING DUST BOWL
5. Migrants arrive in California
6. DO RE MI
7. HARD TIMES
8. Songs about hard times
9. BRING BACK TO ME MY BLUE-EYED BOY
10. Songs about outlaws
11. BILLY THE KID
12. Billy the Kid and Pretty Boy Floyd
13. PRETTY BOY FLOYD
14. Jesse James
15. JESSE JAMES AND HIS BOYS
16. Takin’ it from the rich and givin’ it to the poor
17. JESUS CHRIST
18. Songs about bankers
19. THE JOLLY BANKER
20. Another song about the depradations of the bankers
21. I AIN’T GOT NO HOME
22. Hundreds of thousands made homeless
23. DIRTY OVERHAULS
24. The story of Mary Fagan
25. MARY FAGAN
26. The origins of the song

Disc 3
1. Origins of the song, continued
2. CHAIN AROUND MY LEG
3. Let’s sing some blues
4. NINE HUNDRED MILES
5. WORRIED MAN BLUES
6. About the “Worried Man Blues”
7. LONESOME VALLEY
8. Railroad blueses
9. WALKIN’ DOWN THAT RAILROAD LINE
10. Interlude
11. GOIN’ DOWN THE FRISCO LINE
12. Riding the rails
13. GOING DOWN THE ROAD
14. Interlude
15. SEVEN CENT COTTON
16. WISH I’D STAYED IN THE WAGON YARD
17. Interlude
18. DUST BOWL REFUGEE
19. Contractors duping the desperate
20. The dust storm of April 14, 1935
21. DUST STORM DISASTER / FOGGY MOUNTAIN TOP*
*Foggy Mountain Top listed as separate track # 22 in package liner notes

Disc 4
1. Breathing in dust
2. DUST PNEUMONIA BLUES
3. Leaving the Dust Bowl
4. CALIFORNIA BLUES
5. Jimmie Rodgers
6. Migrants arriving in California
7. DO RE MI
8. Refugees pouring into California
9. DUST BOWL REFUGEE
10. California as one of the 48 states
11. WILL ROGERS HIGHWAY
12. The flood that took over 100 lives
13. LOS ANGELES NEW YEAR’S FLOOD
14. A good horse
15. STEWBALL
16. Interlude
17. STAGGER LEE
18. Interlude
19. ONE DIME BLUES
20. Interlude
21. GIT ALONG LITTLE DOGIES
22. Interlude
23. THE TRAIL TO MEXICO
24. GYPSY DAVY
25. Introducing an old song
26. HARD AIN’T IT HARD

THE BPA RECORDINGS + WAR EFFORT SONGS
Disc 5

THE BPA RECORDINGS
1. Introduction
2. PASTURES OF PLENTY
3. OREGON TRAIL
4. ROLL ON COLUMBIA
5. NEW FOUND LAND
6. TALKING COLUMBIA
7. ROLL, COLUMBIA, ROLL
8. COLUMBIA’S WATERS
9. RAMBLIN’ BLUES
10. IT TAKES A MARRIED MAN TO SING A WORRIED SONG
11. HARD TRAVELIN’
12. THE BIGGEST THING THAT MAN HAS EVER DONE
(a.k.a. The Great Historical Bum)
13. JACKHAMMER BLUES
14. SONG OF THE GRAND COULEE DAM
15. GRAND COULEE DAM
16. WASHINGTON TALKIN’ BLUES
17. RAMBLIN’ ROUND
18. PASTURES OF PLENTY
19. End of My Line

WAR EFFORT SONGS
20. SINKING OF THE REUBEN JAMES
21. TAKIN’ IT EASY
22. RECKLESS TALK

WAR EFFORT SONGS + THE V.D. SONG DEMOS + “THE LONESOME TRAVELER”
Disc 6

WAR EFFORT SONGS
1. THE GIRL IN THE RED, WHITE, AND BLUE
2. Labor for Victory
3. FARMER-LABOR TRAIN
4. Jazz in America, No. 93
5. WHOOPY TI-YI, GET ALONG, MR. HITLER
6. Jazz in America, No. 116
7. SALLY, DON’T YOU GRIEVE
8. Narrator
9. DIG A HOLE

THE V.D. SONG DEMOS
10. VD AVENUE
11. Intro
12. THE VEEDEE BLUES
13. Intro
14. BLESSED AND CURST
15. A CASE OF VD
16. VD SEAMAN’S LETTER
17. VD CITY
18. VD DAY
19. A CHILD OF VD
20. V.D. GUNNER’S BLUES
21. BROOKLYNE TOWNE
22. Narrator

“THE LONESOME TRAVELER”
23. THE BIGGEST THING THAT MAN HAS EVER DONE
(a.k.a. The Great Historical Bum)
24. THE OLD CRACKED LOOKING GLASS
25. HARD TIMES IN THE DURANT JAIL
26. EMPTY BOXCAR, MY HOME
27. THE BIGGEST THING THAT MAN HAS EVER DONE

DVD:  ROLL ON COLUMBIA

THE SONGS
1. OREGON TRAIL
2. IT TAKES A MARRIED MAN TO SING A WORRIED SONG
3. HARD TRAVELIN’
4. GRAND COULEE DAM
5. ROLL ON, COLUMBIA
6. THE BIGGEST THING THAT MAN HAS EVER DONE (a.k.a. The Great Historical Bum)
7. JACKHAMMER BLUES
8. PASTURES OF PLENTY
9. TALKING COLUMBIA
10. RAMBLIN’ ROUND
11. WASHINGTON TALKIN’ BLUES

78 RPM RECORD

VD CITY
Sung by Bob Dylan, 1961 Minnesota hotel recordings
“VD City” by Bob Dylan appears courtesy of Columbia Records and Under License From The Sony Music Commercial Music Group,
a division of Sony Music Entertainment.

THE BIGGEST THING THAT MAN HAS EVER DONE
(a.k.a. The Great Historical Bum)
1951 home recording

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/woody-guthries-drawling-pastures-of-plenty-song-premiere-20130821For further information please contact:Sara Silver sara@silverprojects.com  –  Tel +44 208 265 0772

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