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Woodrow Wilson Guthrie


Born: July 14, 1912
Died: October 3, 1967

Pitcher, Delta Dragons

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Woody Guthrie

@ the Cosmic Baseball Association

Woody Guthrie was a Delta Dragon first round draft pick in 1997 and has pitched with the Delta Dragons since then.

Guthrie has been a dominant right-handed pitcher for the Delta Dragons. He is first a strikeout pitcher that keeps batters forever guessing what pitch he is sending down the pike. His menu of pitchers is phenomenal including a remarkable fastball, a clever slider and a breaking curveball that few batters can master.

Guthrie has also been an inspiration to many Dragon players, notably Bob Dylan, who played with Guthrie on the Dragons until Dylan was traded to the Woodsox in exchange for John Lennon.

Guthrie is, as befits a man who penned an autobiography entitled Bound for Glory a clubhouse leader. No one tangles with his intensity or his ego. On days he is the starting pitcher he arrives at the ball field early and after his pitching preparation he frequently walks into the stands to meet the fans and sign autographs.

Artist: Charles Banks Wilson


A Convert to Disenfranchisement
Related Links & References

On July 2, 1912 the Democratic National Convention concluded its business at the 5th Maryland Regiment Armory after having nominated Woodrow Wilson of New Jersey as the party's candidate for president of the United States (Thomas Marshall of Indiana was the vice-presidential nominee.)

In Okemah, Oklahoma, twelve days after the Democratic convention, Nora Guthrie, wife of Charles Guthrie gave birth to her third child. The newborn boy was named Woodrow Wilson Guthrie in honor of the Democrats' presidential nominee. At the time of his son's birth, Charles Guthrie was a prosperous real-estate speculator and aspiring politician (a conservative Democrat and vehement anti-Communist) in Okemah, Oklahoma, a boomtown in the oil territory of the newly annexed state[.] [A]t one time, he and his wife...owned as many as thirty rental properties, and they were the first people in town to purchase an automobile...

[However,] the hard times of the early nineteen-twenties devastated the Guthries, claiming the family's property and the children's buying privileges. Unpersuaded by his parents' faith in capitalism, Guthrie eventually fell sway to the socialist utopianism that was attracting the attention of intellectuals, the young, the poor, and other disillusioned or idealistic Americans during the late nineteen-twenties and early thirties. He was a convert to disenfranchisement and always advocated the underprivileged with a proselyte's zeal.

Woody Guthrie, a wiry man with a great big mob of hair and a guitar slung on his back, tramping all over the nation, singing his songs of protest. Childlike in his innocence and naiveté, a road-man even in the big city, but intense like only he could be with that innocence and bum-attitude . He was born in the heart of the Dust Bowl. His father was impoverished in 1929 and Woody left home, singing his way from Oklahoma, through the South to California. And from California he started to travel the land, from the Pacific to the Atlantic seaboard. Till he finally ended in New York where he died in 1967.

Guthrie died in Creedmore State Hospital having been ravaged by the disease Huntington's Chorea. He married three women and fathered eight children. One child, daughter Cathy, was killed in an electrical fire when she was four years old echoing an earlier tragedy, the death of Woody Guthrie's sister Clara Edna who burned to death at age 14 in 1914 after a fight with her mother, Nora Belle Tanner Guthrie. In 1927, Nora seriously burns her husband Charley as the genetically transmitted disease inside her body begins to manifest itself. Nora dies at age 44 of the disease she passed on to her son Woodrow. In 1930, Charley Guthrie moves his three children, including his son Woody to Pampa, Texas.

Woody married Mary Esta Jennings in 1933 in Pampa, Texas. Woody and Mary divorced in 1940. In 1942 in Brooklyn, New York, Guthrie married Marjorie Greenblatt, a dancer with the Martha Graham troupe. Marjorie's father was a banana seller and her mother, Aliza Waitzman "Bubby" Greenblatt was active in the Zionist movement and a Yiddish poet. Marjorie and Woody have four children and get divorced in 1953. That same year Woody married his third wife, Anneke Marshall, she was 20, and Guthrie was 40. A daughter, Lorina Lynn was born in 1954. After Lorina was born, Woody and Anneke separate.

By 1952, Woody was diagnosed with the disease that will disable and then kill him in 1967.

In 1988, Woody Guthrie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 1997, The Woody Guthrie Award established to recognize the year's most distinguished monograph in popular music studies was initiated by the US Branch of The International Association for the Study of Popular Music.

God Blessed America

In the summer of 1918, when Woody Guthrie was six years old, Irving Berlin wrote a song, inspired by his mother, to be used in a risqué comedy musical (Yip Yip Yaphank) Berlin was writing for the U. S. Army. However, the song was not used and lay dormant until it was revised by Berlin in 1938. On November 11, 1938 ("Armistice Day") the popular singer, Kate Smith, sang the revised Berlin song called "God Bless America." Smith recorded the song in 1939 and it became the country's unofficial national anthem.

While hitchhiking across the country in 1939 and 1940 Guthrie repeatedly heard Kate Smith's ubiquitous rendition of the Berlin song. Guthrie wrote a song to counter the smarminess of Smith's rendition of "God Bless America." Guthrie moved to New York in 1940 and while staying at a flophouse on 43rd and 6th Avenue he wrote the words down on paper. "This Land is Your Land" was originally a polemical parody of "God Bless America." Essentially Guthrie was expressing the attitude that this is your country if you can afford it. Not everyone could.

Ironically, Guthrie's truculent "God Blessed America" was revised and released as "This Land is Your Land" and has become, along with "God Bless America", an unofficial national anthem.

God Blessed America

This land is your land, this land is my land,
From California to New York
From the Redwood Forest, to the Gulf Stream waters
God Blessed America for me.

As I went walking that ribbon of highway
And saw above me the endless skyway
And saw below me that golden valley, I said
God Blessed America for me.

I roamed and rambled and followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
And all around me, a voice was sounding:
God Blessed America for me.

Was a big high wall there that tried to stop me
A sign painted said: Private Property.
But on the back side, it didn't say nothing--
God Blessed America for me.

When the sun come shining, then I was strolling
In the wheat fields waving, and dust clouds rolling
The voice was chanting as the fog was lifting:
God Blessed America for me.

One bright sunny morning in the shadow of the steeple
By the relief office I saw my people--
As they stood there hungry,
I stood there wondering if
God Blessed America for me.

Props to The Carter Family July 29, 2004
Turns out Woody Guthrie lifted the melody of "This Land Is Your Land" essentially note-for-note from "When the World's on Fire," a song recorded by country/bluegrass legends, The Carter Family, ten years before Guthrie wrote his classic song. Here's a short snippet (380k mp3) of the song (the song can be found on the box set, The Carter Family: 1927-34). You don't need to be a musicologist to hear what we're talking about. Now we've got nothing against Woody's borrowing. In fact, it's a part of the "folk process" that Woody himself championed. I can't imagine that The Carter Family minded. But in the letter threatening copyright litigation over JibJab's animated political parody, "This Land," Ludlow's lawyer goes out of his way to attack JibJab for copying "the entire melody, harmony, rhythm and structure of the [sic] Mr. Guthrie's song." Er, sorry there Ludlow, but actually, the entire melody, harmony, rhythm, and structure of "This Land Is Your Land" doesn't belong to you. And I'd like to think Mr. Guthrie would never have claimed credit for them, if he were still alive to ask.

Do Re Mi

Dust Bowl Ballads

Lots of folks back East, they say, is leavin' home every day,
Beatin' the hot old dusty way to the California line.
'Cross the desert sands they roll, gettin' out of that old dust bowl,
They think they're goin' to a sugar bowl, but here's what they find
Now, the police at the port of entry say,
"You're number fourteen thousand for today."

Oh, if you ain't got the do re mi, folks, you ain't got the do re mi,
Why, you better go back to beautiful Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Georgia, Tennessee.
California is a garden of Eden, a paradise to live in or see;
But believe it or not, you won't find it so hot
If you ain't got the do re mi.

You want to buy you a home or a farm, that can't deal nobody harm,
Or take your vacation by the mountains or sea.
Don't swap your old cow for a car, you better stay right where you are,
Better take this little tip from me.
'Cause I look through the want ads every day
But the headlines on the papers always say:

If you ain't got the do re mi, boys, you ain't got the do re mi,
Why, you better go back to beautiful Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Georgia, Tennessee.
California is a garden of Eden, a paradise to live in or see;
But believe it or not, you won't find it so hot
If you ain't got the do re mi.

This song was recorded by Woody Guthrie on April 26, 1940 in Camden, New Jersey. The collection of songs known as the Dust Bowl Ballads was released in July 1940.

The songs are liberal as the dickens and as progressive as the angels... They came out of the hearts and mouths of the Okies. On no occasion have I referred to myself as either an entertainer or a singer and I'd better not start now.... [If I'm] most proud of anything... [it's] the fact that I seem to have been born a shade pink, and didn't have to read too many books to become a proletariat [sic], and you can guess that when you hear the records.... What I'm glad to see is working folks' songs getting so popular. I'm sure Victor never did a more radical album. (Woody Guthrie, in the Daily Worker newspaper, 1940.)

Related Links & References

Woody Guthrie 2006 Cosmic Player Plate
Published: July 1, 2006