Thursday, 21 June 2007

Woody Guthrie serenades children, battles syphilis, invents R. Kelly

Woody Guthrie’s CV is sick. Sicker than you thought, in fact:

1945: transatlantic wartime pedagogue

Here’s Woody rocking Children’s Hour on the BBC Home Service in 1945. At the time, Woody was washing dishes for the US Merchant Marine. Soon after, he was removed from this crucial service due to his communist beliefs, and drafted into the military. You work it out. Anyway, dig the frisson between him and the presenter.

Woody Guthrie – ‘Children’s Hour Introduction’

Woody Guthrie – ‘Wabash Cannonball’

Woody Guthrie – ‘900 Miles From Home’

Best ever collaboration between government, academia and rock

And here’s Woody performing ‘The Lonesome Traveller’, a radio-play / musical infomercial, scripted by folk-song archivist Alan Lomax, and sponsored by the US Department of Health and the Communication Materials Centre of Columbia University, warning of the dangers of syphilis. Bound for gory?

Woody Guthrie – ‘The Lonesome Traveller’

Singing while waiting for a train, bumping into a good-time gal from your old home town, nearly getting your ass handed you by a deranged syphilitic named Moxie, learning a valuable lesson about sexual health? At a stretch, Woody can be blamed for ‘Trapped in the Closet’, and for this incredible piece of work:

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