On Woody Guthrie’s Centennial, Celebrating the Life, Politics & Music of the "Dust Bowl Troubadour"
Today a Democracy Now! special on the life, politics and music of Woody Guthrie, the "Dust Bowl Troubadour." Born a hundred years ago on July 14, 1912, in Oklahoma, Guthrie wrote hundreds of folk songs and became a major influence on countless musicians, including Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Pete Seeger and Phil Ochs. While Guthrie is best remembered as a musician, he also had a deeply political side, speaking out for labor and civil rights at the height of McCarthyism.
Amidst commemorations across the country marking Woody Guthrie’s centennial, we’re joined by Guthrie’s daughter, Nora Guthrie, author of the book "My Name Is New York: Ramblin’ Around Woody Guthrie’s Town"; his granddaughter Anna Canoni; and musician Steve Earle. We hear stories from Woody Guthrie’s family life and his time in New York City, where he lived from 1940 until his death in 1967 after a long battle with Huntington’s disease. Guthrie’s wife Marjorie later dedicated her life to finding a cure for the disease, inspiring young doctors to pursue genetic research and founding what became the Huntington’s Disease Society of America. Earle, a three-time Grammy winner, performs two of Guthrie’s songs and discusses how the singer inspired him as a musician and activist. "I never separated music and politics, which kept bringing me back to Woody, over and over and over again," Earle says. "I still don’t consider myself to be a political artist; I’m just an artist that — I think like Woody was — that lives in really politically charged times."