"As I was walkin' I saw a sign there, and that sign said 'No Tresspassin', But on the other side it didn't say nothin', now that side was made for you and me."
- Woody Guthrie from 'This Land Is Your Land'
Woody Guthrie (1912-1967) was born in Okemah, Oklahoma and very proud of his “Okie” heritage. Woody was “born to ramble” and he would often leave his family behind to hitchhike or hop a freight train to one coast or the other. On his journeys he would paint signs for extra cash and literally sing for his supper. Early in his musical career he got a job for a local radio station in California where he would play guitar, sing, tell stories, and share his opinions on the latest news. His fellow transplanted “Okies” listened fervently to his show where he would advocate for better treatment of migrant farm workers. Woody would spend his entire life writing and singing songs advocating for human justice.
In the early forties Woody started to record his music including an album of his own original songs. He ended up recording hundreds of songs during his career including songs that we all know like ‘This Land Is Your Land’ or ‘Union Maid’ with the line, “You can’t scare me I’m stickin’ to the union”. He belonged to an influential acoustic folk group with Pete Seeger where he continued writing social activist songs which served as a touchstone for the folk musicians of the sixties.
Sadly, Woody inherited Huntington’s Chorea from his mother and died at the age of 55. Even with all his rambling he found time to get married three times and have many children including musician Arlo Guthrie.
- So Long, It’s Been Good To Know Ya, 1940
- Pretty Boy Floyd, 1958
My 1941 Gibson L-0 – The “Jumbo” sized Gibson acoustic guitars are most prized, but their slightly smaller L-sized little brothers are also wonderful guitars. The first L model guitar appeared in 1926 and the last one was built in 1945. Gibson can be dizzying with their many model names, features, and color schemes – and this model is certainly no exception. Shown above is a super cool all black 1941 L-0 with a “firestripe” pickguard, but another very popular version of this model was the sunburst L-00. But to really confuse things those names and features flipped back and forth over the years.