If he were still alive, Woody Guthrie — the dust bowl balladeer whose guitar killed fascists — would be turning 100 next year. Guthrie’s music has influenced everyone from Bob Dylan to Joe Strummer, and his musical legacy has penetrated the heart of American life (we all had This Land Is Your Land drilled into us in elementary school… and good luck getting that out of your head now). So, to celebrate the seminal folk singer’s would-be birthday, numerous concerts and albums are planned for 2012.
For example: Nonesuch Records announced that they will be reissuing Wilco & Billy Bragg’s Mermaid Avenue, which set original compositions to lost Guthrie lyrics. Originally released as two separate recordings in 1998 and 2000, the deluxe box set will include both albums, plus a bonus disc with unreleased outtakes and Man in the Sand — the 1999 documentary chronicling the process of making the album.
Other planned Guthrie albums include New Multitudes, which, like Mermaid Avenue, sets Guthrie’s previously unpublished lyrics to new music (this time from Jim James and Jay Farrar), and Note of Hope, an all-star tribute album featuring Lou Reed, Pete Seeger, Tom Morello, and Jackson Browne.
For a full listing of Guthrie-related releases & events go to the Woody 100 website. With books, films, exhibits, concerts, and records coming out next year, Guthrie’s birthday looks like it’s going to be epic, with celebrations from California to the New York island.
[Drawing: Craig Baxter]