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Dirty Linen's Guthrie Family article

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GUEST 29 May 02 - 10:13 AM
GUEST,Bill Kennedy 29 May 02 - 12:47 PM
Mark Ross 29 May 02 - 01:29 PM
Roger in Baltimore 29 May 02 - 05:20 PM
GUEST 29 May 02 - 06:38 PM
Justa Picker 29 May 02 - 07:40 PM
IanN 30 May 02 - 03:17 AM
GUEST,Bill Kennedy 30 May 02 - 09:00 AM
GUEST 30 May 02 - 10:46 AM
greg stephens 30 May 02 - 10:53 AM
catspaw49 30 May 02 - 11:00 AM
GUEST,Les B. 30 May 02 - 11:10 AM
Ron Olesko 30 May 02 - 11:16 AM
GUEST,Bill Kennedy 30 May 02 - 11:23 AM
GUEST 30 May 02 - 12:07 PM
Ron Olesko 30 May 02 - 01:11 PM
GUEST 30 May 02 - 01:17 PM
Ron Olesko 30 May 02 - 01:24 PM
GUEST 30 May 02 - 01:27 PM
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Subject: Dirty Linen's Guthrie Family article
From: GUEST
Date: 29 May 02 - 10:13 AM

Anyone read this month's issue with this article? Enquiring minds would like to know if there are any new revelations in it.
Click for excerpt


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Subject: RE: Dirty Linen's Guthrie Family article
From: GUEST,Bill Kennedy
Date: 29 May 02 - 12:47 PM

depends on what you already know! Nothing new about Woody, from my point of view, except Nora saying there is a lot more in the archive to process and release, but basic facts of life the same as written previously. Arlo is going to release the two other versions of Alice's Restaurant he lused to sing, both comical, but 'not related to anything' as the Massacree song is related to the draft and the war. Good discography of whole family, background of Abe and Sara Lee's careers, haven't heard too much of either, but will give it a listen. I really detest the Billy Bragg stuff that came out with Woody's lyrics set to ridiculous melodies, completely un-Folk, un-Woody and un-Good, in fact, really bad, to my ear, but, that's just my opinion. I think someone could try to suss out what old songs Woody might have had in mind for each lyric, or at least try to achieve some of Woody's sound, like maybe Ramblin' Jack should have a shot at them, or at least try to find out if anyone ever heard Woody do any of these songs that weren't recorded, and recall what they might have been like. But the Billy Bragg stuff will all end up in landfills somehwere, as far as I can tell, not to be sung by anyone else like that, in public or private. I mean does anyone out there actually do any covers of Guthrie/Bragg material? I doubt it. Anyway, BUY the magazine and read it yourself, then tell me what you think!


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Subject: RE: Dirty Linen's Guthrie Family article
From: Mark Ross
Date: 29 May 02 - 01:29 PM

I haven't seen the article yet. Nora Guthrie says that there is something like 3000 bits & pieces of Woodys' that have never seen the light of day, and eventually the Archives plan to put them on line. I can't wait.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Dirty Linen's Guthrie Family article
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 29 May 02 - 05:20 PM

I agree with Bill in reviewing the article. There is not much new information for people who have "read up" on Woody.

I've never heard the work Billy Bragg did, so I have no opinion. The idea to put some of his unpublished lyrics to music must be enticing for all concerned.

Woody certainly was a prolific writer and he was focussed enough to preserve what he wrote. I remember SingOut! published some of his writings decades ago. As you might expect, the artistic worth of it varied depending on your own opinion of music as art.

I like Dirty Linen, but I wouldn't run out to buy it just for that article. However, if you've never bought one, this issue would be a fine introduction to the magazine (published in my home town, Baltimore).

Roger in Baltimore


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Subject: RE: Dirty Linen's Guthrie Family article
From: GUEST
Date: 29 May 02 - 06:38 PM

Thanks for the heads up on the article. I don't normally buy DL--but I'll check in the shop to see if the discography or anything is something I might like to have.

If I can get there soon enough, I'll revive the thread and give a review of it.


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Subject: RE: Dirty Linen's Guthrie Family article
From: Justa Picker
Date: 29 May 02 - 07:40 PM

Bit of thread creep but still poignant.
Click.


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Subject: RE: Dirty Linen's Guthrie Family article
From: IanN
Date: 30 May 02 - 03:17 AM

The Bragg/Wilco stuff may not be exactly "Woody" but it shouldn't be dismissed. I really like some of it and to say it's "un-folk" seems a bit odd. Surely folk music is all about taking lyrics and tunes and reinterpretating them in different styles. This is what Guthrie did, Dylan does and exactly what Billy Bragg & Wilco have done here. I would recommend to anyone out there getting hold of the Mermaid Avenue albums (especially the first one) as they make a worthy addition to any CD collection!

The melodies aren't "ridiculous" either!


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Subject: RE: Dirty Linen's Guthrie Family article
From: GUEST,Bill Kennedy
Date: 30 May 02 - 09:00 AM

as I said, it is just my opinion! Ian may have more authority to make pronouncements of fact, but to me, the melodies ARE ridiculous in the context of Woody's body of work. They are totally and completely un-Woody, and for a Woody Guthrie song, that, to me, is ridiculous. To me. I mean that's my opinion. You can have your own opinion, and maybe you will disagree, but that is my opinion. Which in this context I offered. It is not a bit of information or factual background about a song, just my opinion. But in the context of the Dirty Linen article, it seem appropriate to offer my opinion, on something Nora has done with Woody's matierial that I feel I have no right to have an opinion about, I do however have a right to an opinion of the finished project, and my opinion is it is pretty worthless.

Taking music and tunes and re-interpreting them in different styles MAY be part of the Folk process, but it is also sometimes Muzak, the Hollyridge Stings, Tiajuana Brass, and the like, I would say un-Folk, even if it's a Muzak version of Barbara Allen, or the Hollyridge Strings do the conmplete Child Ballads. My question still stands, does anyone, including Ian, think any of these Billy Bragg versions will be taken up and sung by anyone else? I don't think so, and THAT, TO ME, is the Folk process.


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Subject: RE: Dirty Linen's Guthrie Family article
From: GUEST
Date: 30 May 02 - 10:46 AM

I'm with Bill Kennedy.

I really don't think the Mermaid Ave work "fits" in with Woody's style in his recorded body of work either, and to my ear, a lot (not all) of the stuff is painful to listen to--it just grates for me.

I'm not a huge fan of Billy Bragg's voice or playing, though I try to keep liking his stuff because I think he writes fair to decent political songs. But musically, Billy Bragg isn't high on my list of artists I'd like to see covering Woody to begin with, much less take on lyrics with no music.

And no, I don't think the Mermaid Ave work will stand the test of time. Though eventually we may end up with somebody else's reworking of the tunes, or (more likely IMO) writing new tunes because they like the lyrics. But lyrically, IMO, those lyrics aren't Woody's best.

I don't know if this is the way you feel about it Bill, but for myself, I really wanted to love the Mermaid Ave stuff. The Guthrie family is certainly the US' first family of folk, but I didn't want to be elitist about the whole thing because an Englishman was doing it. I mean, we see that sort of scathing criticism of American artists covering British folk all the time. I own the Mermaid Ave stuff, but I've filed it away with other CDs bought "for posterity sake" (like the Clan Alba CD, for instance). I've certainly enjoyed Dick Gaughan and Andy Irvine's covers of American folk artist's material, so I hope I'm not guilty of reverse elitism here. But I have never replayed any of the Mermaid Ave stuff since the first several listens (I bought it all at once, not as released).

I dunno. I've loved getting some of the archived stuff of Woody's released. I've enjoyed many an artist's cover of Woody's material. But maybe there is a reason why Arlo doesn't cover his dad's stuff much, and leaves that to Nora?


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Subject: RE: Dirty Linen's Guthrie Family article
From: greg stephens
Date: 30 May 02 - 10:53 AM

Billy Bragg had fun wth the project, fair play to him. But I'm with Bill Kennedy, I can't imagine many Woody lovers taking up the Bragg material. Any Woody type can cobble together a Guthrie-ish tune for themselves quite happily, without need of help from Billy Bragg.


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Subject: RE: Dirty Linen's Guthrie Family article
From: catspaw49
Date: 30 May 02 - 11:00 AM

Just adding another vote vote to the "No More Bragg" column. I really don't care for him anyway and his adaptation of Woody's words was tragic at the very least.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Dirty Linen's Guthrie Family article
From: GUEST,Les B.
Date: 30 May 02 - 11:10 AM

Who the heck is Billy Bragg ??


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Subject: RE: Dirty Linen's Guthrie Family article
From: Ron Olesko
Date: 30 May 02 - 11:16 AM

"Way Over Yonder in A Minor Key" is pure Guthrie - lyric and music. Bragg & Wilco nailed that one. I know of at least one other group that is now performing that song.

As for the music being "un-Woody" I don't find that to be a problem. Woody wrote so much material and some of it was not intended as music but rather verse and poetry.

I wasn't blown away by many of the interpretations on Mermaid Avenue but I appreciate the effort and care that went into it. Bragg was very respectful of the music and between him and Wilco they opened up the music to a new generation and audience that normally would not be exposed to Guthrie's music.

Also, the Guest statement that Arlo doesn't play Woody's music is false. Arlo has covered a number of his father's songs and ALWAYS includes a couple in concert. I don't think anyone would expect Arlo to do more than that.

Ron


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Subject: RE: Dirty Linen's Guthrie Family article
From: GUEST,Bill Kennedy
Date: 30 May 02 - 11:23 AM

and I should say that I have nothing but love and respect for Nora and Arlo. Have met Nora, or better said have seen/heard her in public, she wouldn't remember me, but I am all for her archival project, and Arlo seems to be, in his music, and his appearances, and his interviews, and as people who know him have talked about him, one generally all round likeable and fun and caring person. all the best to the clan, but that doesn;t mean I can pretend that Mermaid Avenue was worth Bragg's effort, or Nora's trust. Others may do better in future in writing tunes to go with his words, or alter the words some, and some of Woody's writing may do better to inspire songs, when they are available to be read, than be converted to songs directly. Here's to the future of Woody's music.


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Subject: RE: Dirty Linen's Guthrie Family article
From: GUEST
Date: 30 May 02 - 12:07 PM

Ron, I didn't say Arlo doesn't perform anything of Woody's. Please read more carefully next time. I've seen Arlo a number of times, and I'm aware of the covers he does of Woody's.

The point I made was that he hasn't caved to the temptation of doing an entire album of covers the way Natalie Cole did, for instance. It was that sort of thing I meant. Of course, as soon as you say something like that, then somebody like Arlo could come along and do an album of covers that is absolutely divine.

What I was referring to was that it seems that Nora does most the archive sort of work, and I love her for doing it. I love that the family has continued to try and get stuff out to people like me, who have an insatiable interest in the musical and artistic doings of my favorite American musical family. I don't doubt for an instant that the Mermaid Ave project was done with a tremendous amount of love and care. But musically, it really did leave me cold. But that's just my opinion.


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Subject: RE: Dirty Linen's Guthrie Family article
From: Ron Olesko
Date: 30 May 02 - 01:11 PM

Sorry Guest, I suppose we both should be more careful about how we word our notes and interpret the notes of others - the intended message doesn't always come across. I wasn't accusing you of saying Arlo NEVER plays Woody, but I did interpret your message to say that Arlo isn't playing enough when you said "maybe there is a reason why Arlo doesn't cover his dad's stuff much." I think that his performances and recordings keep a perfect balance. Even if he wasn't Woody's son, Arlo would have had a successful career. There are a number of artists who are the offspring of famous parents that seem to ride on their name instead of making one of their own. Arlo is not like that. He honors his father's memory while producing his own creative work.

Incidently Arlo IS working on an album of Woody Guthrie songs that will be called "32 Cents". The CD will supposedly be released this year.

Ron


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Subject: RE: Dirty Linen's Guthrie Family article
From: GUEST
Date: 30 May 02 - 01:17 PM

See! I knew I was right to qualify that "has never done an album of Woody's songs" thing! And I look forward to that one--thanks for the heads up.

I agree totally about Arlo being a creative force of his own. In my youngster years, I was totally into Arlo as Arlo, not as Woody's son. It wouldn't be until later that I really got into listening to Woody's stuff.

Clams ahoy!


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Subject: RE: Dirty Linen's Guthrie Family article
From: Ron Olesko
Date: 30 May 02 - 01:24 PM

I'm with you Guest - I've always enjoyed Arlo for being Arlo. I can't remember though who I was listening to first - Arlo or Woody. I guess it would be Woody since I remember singing "This Land" and some of his children's songs when I was in grade school, a few years before Arlo emptied the garbage on that fateful Thanksgiving day!

Incidently, this year marks the 90th anniversary of Woody's birth. (I haven't read the Dirty Linen article yet, but I assume that is one of the reason's they chose to run the article.) Later this year Arlo will be performing some concerts with Pete Seeger, The Dillards (who will be on the 32 Cents CD) and other family and friends. I know they will be at the NJPAC and Carnegie Hall in November, but I assume that there will be other celebrations planned.

Ron


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Subject: RE: Dirty Linen's Guthrie Family article
From: GUEST
Date: 30 May 02 - 01:27 PM

Yah! Celebrations like a tour to go with the album? One can only hope and pray--Arlo with the Dillards? Dunno if Pete could stand the rigors of a full blown tour, though. Well, maybe he could sit in and play even if he couldn't sing all the time.


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