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Jonatha Brooke, The Works – and Woody Guthrie

Jonatha Brooke had a new album come out in 2008, The Works – I was out of the country which is probably why I am only hearing about it now. Here’s what she has to say about it over on her website:

I don’t think I’ve ever had such a creative high working on a record. I was inspired from the first trip to the Woody Guthrie Archives. Something magical happened and the melodies and the combinations of lyrics and prose just came together. I loved researching and hanging out with Nora, hearing stories about her dad. I definitely found a very different Guthrie than I expected. There is just so much nuance and beauty. And the musicians took the music beyond anything I could have dreamed. I know this record will speak to everyone. (via Jonatha Brooke.)

One of the songs on the album is “There’s More True Lovers than One.”

The Works features words by the folk musician Woody Guthrie that Jonatha Brooke has set to her own music, and with it  Brooke joins a long line of folk and rock singers who’ve engaged productively with the legacy of Woody Guthrie in recent years. In 1998, Billy Bragg and Wilco released Mermaid Avenue – an album of music based on previously unrecorded lyrics by Guthrie. And Ani Difranco included a terrific cover of his song “Do Re Mi” on her 2000 EP Swing Set.

The songs and words of Woody Guthrie have always been powerful and compelling, but in these difficult times – which seem increasingly to resonate with the Great Depression – they have particular relevance, as in “Do Re Mi” when Ani/Woody sings:

California is a garden of Eden / a paradise to live in or to see / but believe it or not / you won’t find it so hot / if you ain’t got the do re mi.

Those of us having trouble keeping body and soul together in a state with one of the highest unemployment rates in the country – 12.4% in October – will find those lines particularly poignant and painful. Here’s some of Guthrie’s original music:

“This Land is My Land” “I Ain’t Got No Home” “Hobo’s Lullaby” “Red Wine” “Pastures of Plenty”

Woody Guthrie (July 14, 1912 – October 3, 1967) is best known as an American singer-songwriter and folk musician, whose musical legacy includes hundreds of political, traditional and children’s songs, ballads and improvised works. He frequently performed with the slogan This Machine Kills Fascists displayed on his guitar. His best-known song is “This Land Is Your Land”, which is regularly sung in American schools. Many of his recorded songs are archived in the Library of Congress. Such songwriters as Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Tom Paxton, and Mike Ness have acknowledged their debt to Guthrie as an influence. (via Wikipedia.)

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zerode by nick chapman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Oh - and hello to Jason Isaacs.

The 400 Blows

zerode

is an over-caffeinated and under-employed grad school dropout, aspiring leftwing intellectual and cultural studies academic, cinéaste, and former poet. Raised in San Francisco on classic film, radical politics, burritos and soul music, then set loose upon the world. He spends his time in coffee shops with his laptop and headphones, caffeinating and trying to construct a post-whatever life.

 

What's in a name... The handle "zerode" is a contraction of Zéro de Conduite, the title of Jean Vigo's 1933 movie masterpiece about schoolboy rebellion.

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