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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Frank Hamilton Songwriters: tried Woody Guthrie plan? (35) RE: Songwriters: tried Woody Guthrie plan? 02 Jul 06

I'm wondering whether it's fair to evaluate an artist's output by judging his/her behavior.

Some of the greatest musical artists, whether writers, composers, performers etc. have all had personality flaws or at least lived outside the confines of what some consider to be the bounds of decency.

In fairness to Woody, I don't believe that his lifestyle influenced the quality of his artistic output. How an artist conducts their personal affairs seems to have little bearing on the value of their output.

i think it's appropriate to decry the actions of a brilliant pianist like Geisiking (sp?) for performing and supporting the Nazis. But what Woody did was certainly not nearly as reprehensible.

Marjorie loved Woody and understood his situation. She was sensible enough to protect herself as well. She did not dismiss Woody as a "homewrecker" but saw a man in mental trouble trying to help himself in whatever way he could. Her love for him was special.

Woody's gift was to consolidate a story or complex social problem into a simple, direct and honest statement in a song. It set a model for all of us. This is why many of us consider him a great artist.

He kept his focus. He knew who he was singing to and just as important, who the person in the song was singing to. His song told stories whereby you could find a line that stands out and glitters.

"Some will rob you with a six-gun and some with a fountain pen".

"In the shadow of a steeple"........................

"Take a trip with me in 1913"...............a simple lead-in to a great song.

He wrote simply based on music that he knew and loved. He loved the Carter Family, Cajun music, blues, early country music such as Jimmie Rodgers, and the labor songs of Aunt Molly Jackson. He also loved the sound of a five-string banjo.

A songwriter has to find his/her original voice. To do this, a certain personal integrity must be present and honored.

Frank Hamilton

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