359. Woody Guthrie – “The Early Years”

The leap from the Gunners to Guthrie is an enormous one. From hair-obsessed bacchanalian rockers of the late 1980s to a politically active folk icon of the 30s and 40s.

But Guthrie was certainly a rabble-rouser and a big fan of life on the road.

We’ve seen a bit of his work around here as covered by others, but it’s enlightening to hear the man himself.

His song-writing is a real treat. He mixes the simple with the quite complex. He’s not afraid of some saucy innuendo.

Disappointingly this particular collection doesn’t have much of his political stuff. Also, the recording quality varies dramatically.

At its clearest and freshest he pretty much out-Dylans his apprentice Dylan, with similar phrasing and delivery. His guitar work is effective while sparse.

This is ‘roots’ music in the purest sense. This material has influenced so much of the music I’ve been reviewing on here, whether it be country or rockier singer-songwriter stuff.

It was a big thrill to find some live footage of the man himself:

And here’s a recent interpretation of said track by my recent mancrush Justin Townes Earle:

File under: Woody’s Wonder Years

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