Archive for the ‘Woody Guthrie’ Tag

A Lyric by Woody Guthrie — Reuben James   2 comments

Reuben Jane- blogA Lyric by Woody Guthrie — from DoubleTake  Spring 1999

4107060-1x1-700x700Woody Guthrie in NYC’s old Irish tavern McSorley’s Old Ale House
(Images may be subject to copyright.)

“This Land Is Your Land, . . .” — Let’s Stop Letting The Best Of Us Slip Away!   5 comments

The WaveVermillion Cliffs National Monument Located on the Colorado Plateau in Northern Arizona — Image by kenne

words and music by Woody Guthrie

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California, to the New York Island
From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me

As I was walking a ribbon of highway
I saw above me an endless skyway
I saw below me a golden valley
This land was made for you and me

I’ve roamed and rambled and I’ve followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
And all around me a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me

The sun comes shining as I was strolling
The wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
The fog was lifting a voice come chanting
This land was made for you and me

As I was walkin’ – I saw a sign there
And that sign said – no tress passin’
But on the other side …. it didn’t say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!

In the squares of the city – In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office – I see my people
And some are grumblin’ and some are wonderin’
If this land’s still made for you and me.



Poetry That Echoes Around The Room, Out the Door And Into The Fields   9 comments

NogalesImage by kenne

I love the music of Tom Russell, he is a singer-songwriter who is in touch with those who ramble the earth. In the introduction to his 2012 book, “120 Songs” Russell writes about how songs beckon you to move a little closer, “Let me tell you a story.”

“They beguile us with their sing-song rhyme and tinkle-down melodies, yet they are imbued with trued feel for human history, poetry, emotion and cold hard facts of life, than a thousand dusty tomes from social scientists, poets, politicians, theologians and academic historians. Songs travel.”

Russell’s songs are about real people, their suffering and survival, and times when whiskey needs to be drank like wine — songs for as long as forever is.


There are ghosts out in the rain tonight,
high up in those ancient trees
Lord, I’ve given up without a fight,
another blind fool on his knees
and all the Gods that I’d abandoned,
begin to speak in simple tongue
and suddenly I’ve come to know,
there are no roads left to run

Now it’s the hour of dogs a barking,
that’s what the old ones used to say
It’s first light or it’s sundown,
before the children cease their play
when the mountains glow like mission wine,
then turn gray like a Spanish roan
ten thousand eyes will stop to worship,
then turn away and head on home

She is reaching out her arms tonight,
lord, my poverty is real
I pray roses shall rain down again,
from Guadalupe on her hill
and who am I to doubt these mysteries?
Cured in centuries of blood and candle smoke
I am the least of all your children here,
but I am most in need of hope

She appeared to Juan Diego,
she left her image on his cape
five hundred years of sorrow,
cannot destroy their deepest faith
so here I am, your ragged disbeliever,
old doubting Thomas drowns in tears
as I watch your church sink through the earth,
like a heart worn down through fear

She is reaching out her arms tonight. . . 

When you read the words in Russell’s songs, you can see the influence of Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Dave Van Ronk, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Federico Garcia Lorca and Charles Broskoski. The words and songs, “. . . suck  us in, slap us around, kick us in the belly and heart, and then push us back out into the world with a memory we’ll never purge from our blood.”




“The Man From God Knows Where” — Revised from December 8, 2005   Leave a comment

First Entered December 8, 2005


My Recommendation for CD of the Year!
Although times are rare when I’m not listening
to music, or when it’s not the sound in my space,
2005 has afforded little opportunity to review
and buy new music.

I could blame it on my iPod, now containing
my complete collection of CDs making for
easy listening. Whatever the reason,
I still feel qualified to share my pick
for album of the year, Tom Russell’s

Tom has written and produced a
Ken Burns-style audio journey in an
America where misfits, the other side
of Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wraft,”
troubadours, lost heroes, street people
and poets, bemused by corporate America,
provide a scene of what remains of our soul.

A soul trying to exist in “ . . . a system
where our guts and heart and creativity
are wrenched from us and we become
a nation of domesticated animals.”


Post Script — December 19, 2008

The Hotwalker release was the second part of a planned
“Americana trilogy”. The first part was “The Man From
God Knows Where” 
released in 1999. Recently, Russell

released, The Tom Russell Anthology – Veteran’s Day, 
and as it did with Lawrence Ferlinghetti, one song again
rang true to my ear – “Man from God Knows Where.”

“I’ve always said the real poets in this country are the folk
singers like Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Johnny Cash,
Bob Dylan, John Denver, Tom Russell– not the poets of
the written word. I’ve just listened again to your
“Man from God Knows Where,” and it’s a true American classic.
It’s the real voice of the American experience, down on
the ground, sounding through old time America.” 

– Lawrence Ferlinghetti

The song tells of Tom Russell and the 1798 Rebellion.

Oh, they hung me in Downpatrick,
Up near St. Patrick’s tomb,
But my ghost rose up in the peat fire smoke
Toward the rising of the moon.
Now as I drift through your villages,
All the maidens stop and stare,
‘There goes old Tom, the vagabond,
The Man From God Knows Where.’

To learn more about Russell’s first “folk opera” read
Bill Nevins’s 1999 interview with Tom Russell.
then listen to Phil Coulter – The Man from God Knows Where –
Tom Russell, 1798 Rebellion.

Tom Russell still remains one of my favorite folk musicians
and even more during these times of challenge for so many.

Here’s one of Russell’s latest songs: “Whose Gonna Build Your Wall.”


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