The dust from the Okemah celebration may have settled, but the Guthrie commemorations will keep on coming for a few more months, and fans can revel in “Woody at 100: The Woody Guthrie Centennial Collection” well beyond the century mark of the footloose folk singer's birth.
This 150-page large-format book/album is a veritable freight train of song carrying 57 tracks on three CDs, from essentials such as “This Land Is Your Land” (both standard and alternate versions), “Pastures of Plenty,” “Riding in My Car,” “Hard Travelin',” “Pretty Boy Floyd,” “Jesus Christ” and “I Ain't Got No Home (in This World Anymore),” to 21 previously unreleased tunes and four of his earliest known, recently discovered recordings from 1939.
These titles, including two originals, “Them Big City Ways” and “Skid Row Serenade,” were cut while he was working for KFVD radio in Los Angeles that year.
The hard-bound volume is lavishly illustrated with photographs from Guthrie's life from the Depression era through the '50s, handwritten lyrics, poetry and music from Guthrie's notebooks, and a large selection of his visual art, including pen-and-ink and graphite drawings, watercolors, and an amazingly masterful oil portrait of Abraham Lincoln painted in February 1937 in Pampa, Texas, for the local librarian, Mrs. Todd, who was related to Mary Todd Lincoln.
The book also features revealing essays on Guthrie and his music and art by co-producers Robert Santelli, executive director of the Grammy Museum and author of “This Land Is Your Land: Woody Guthrie and the Journey of an American Folk Song,” and Jeff Place, Grammy-winning archivist for the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. In addition, the book contains an in-depth biography of Guthrie and fascinating background information on each track.
It's a bounty of Dust Bowl glory worthy of the yearlong occasion.
— Gene Triplett