When I lived in Tulsa, OK in the '80s, I learned more about Woody Guthrie than I had ever known, more than all the songs I learned as a kid. Tulsa was just up the road from where Woody was born, in Okemah on July 14, 1912.
This would have been a good year to go to Okemah for the Woody Guthrie Festival. It is going on right now, through Sunday.
When I lived in Oklahoma, I went on a sort of pilgrimmage and learned that some people in Okemah were ashamed to be associated with him and branded him a Communist. It was shocking to me that someone of his accomplishment would not be embraced by his town.
He was one of the greatest contributors to America's culture, artistic and otherwise. As a troubadour, he championed the little guy and sang out for the right of workers to organize. He described with humor and with pith the suffering of the Depression and the Dust Bowl.
These days, Okemah's web site has the tag line "Home of Woody Guthrie."
Well howdy. It's about time.Happy 100th Birthday, Woody.