As Woody Guthrie said, "All you can sing about is what you saw, and if you look hard enough, you can see plenty to sing about." Woody Guthrie saw a lot in his relatively short life. He and his wife Mary lived through the dust storms of the 1930s. He watched as Dust Bowl refugees were driven out of their camps along California's highways by vigilantes and sheriff's deputies, watched them bury infants who'd succumbed to disease and malnutrition. Moved by these experiences, he took on the role of troubadour and spokesperson for the dispossessed. His songs "So Long It's Been Good To Know Ya" and "I Ain't Got No Home" speak of their plight with a haunting lyricism.
In 1940, in a grimy hotel in midtown Manhattan, using a borrowed Martin guitar, he wrote a song that is both a tribute and a challenge to a country that had largely turned its back on the folks whom Guthrie called "my people."
"By the relief office I saw my people. As they stood there hungry, I stood there wonderin', if this land was made for you and me" is one of the largely forgotten verses to "This Land Is Your Land."
Join Tim Holt as he shares the life story of Woody Guthrie, and sing along with him on songs that include "This Land," "So Long," and "I Ain't Got No Home."
John Steinbeck, who watched Guthrie perform in California migrant camps, said this about him: "There is nothing sweet about Woody, there is nothing sweet about the songs he sings. But there is something more important for those who will listen. There is the will of a people to endure and fight against oppression. I think we call this the American spirit."