Here and There

Friday, March 23, 2007

"I ain't a communist necessarily, but I been in the red all my life." --Woody Guthrie

It all started when I got my hands on an Elizabeth Mitchell CD and she did 3 or 4 Woodie Guthrie songs. I realized there was this whole other chunk of music I liked. He writes songs for kids perfectly- crazy, fun, simple and great rhythms, AND he uses nouns turned into adjectives to describe themselves. (Grassy grass grass, Milky milk, Sunny sun sun sun, Washy wash etc.)

Anyway, then I got a Dan Zanes kids CD and he covers Woody Guthrie's "So Long (It's Been Good to Know Yuh)" and I found it perfectly heartbreaking. Not one of his kids' songs, still great. Waltz-like in tempo but so sad. Here are a few verses that show the gist of it.

I've sung this song, but I'll sing it again,
Of the place that I lived on the wild windy plains,
In the month called April, in a county called Gray,
And here's what all of the people there say:

So long, it's been good to know yuh;
So long, it's been good to know yuh;
So long, it's been good to know yuh.
This dusty old dust is takin' my home,
And I got to be driftin' along.

A dust storm hit, an' it hit like thunder;
It dusted us over, an' it covered us under;
Blocked out the traffic an' blocked out the sun,
Straight for home all the people did run,

Singin' so long, it's been good to know yuh;
So long, it's been good to know yuh;
So long, it's been good to know yuh.
This dusty old dust is takin' my home,
And I got to be driftin' along.

The lovers sat in the dark and sparked,
They hugged and kissed in that dusty old dark.
They sighed and cried, hugged and kissed,
Instead of marriage, they talked just like this:

Honey, so long, it's been good to know yuh;
So long, it's been good to know yuh;
So long, it's been good to know yuh.
This dusty old dust is takin' my home,
And I got to be driftin' along.
..


I did a little research on the fellow and found myself re-immersed in the world of Grapes of Wrath. Why don't I remember that book more clearly? Why didn't it hurt me more to read it? I don't remember; it was one of the first Steinbeck novels I read after The Pearl. I definitely read it before East of Eden, which is the book that made me love Steinbeck.

I decided I need to learn more about Guthrie, and re-read Grapes of Wrath. You know when something you happen upon grips you, and you have to learn more about it? I feel that way.

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