Wednesday, July 18, 2012

In praise of... Woody Guthrie

This year is the centenary of Woody Guthrie's birth and he's been quite prominent in the media. Last night I watched a documentary about his life and they showed this photo, which I found very striking. It's a photo of a rebellious rock star before rock 'n roll rebels were invented.
   Taken in 1943 during WWII, when Guthrie was a merchant sailor, it shows a hand painted slogan on his guitar. It instantly reminded me of the Rock Against Racism and Anti-Nazi League campaigns of my youth in the 1970s and 80s.
   It turns out that the slogan was originally painted on planes in the Spanish civil war. However, Guthrie's use of the slogan has inspired many musicians. Joe Strummer of the Clash would have been proud to stand beside Guthrie I think.