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Woody Guthrie's Biography

    1912 - Childhood

    1931 - The Great Dust Bowl

    1937 - KFVD Radio Years

    1940 - New York Town

    1941 - Columbia River

    1942 - World War II

    1946 - Coney Island

    1954 - The Hospital Years

    I Ain't Dead Yet

    Where's Woody Now?

    Song & Life Timeline

    Bibliography

    Discography

    Filmography

    Woody Sez Quotes

 

Woody Guthrie's Biography

Page 8 of 10

WOODY SEZ...

"The note of hope is the only note that can help us or save us from falling to the bottom of the heap of evolution, because, largely, about all a human being is, anyway, is just a hoping machine." - Source: Pastures of Plenty, pg. 247

LISTEN TO WOODY

This Train Is Bound For Glory

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Download a free copy here.

Performed by-
Jimmy LaFave, Eliza Gilkyson, Slaid Cleaves, Ellis Paul, Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion

Woody at Greystone Hospital, New Jersey, 1958. Photo by Lou Gordon.

“Woody is just Woody. Thousands of people do not know he has any other name. He is just a voice and a guitar. He sings the songs of a people and I suspect that he is, in a way, that people. Harsh voiced and nasal, his guitar hanging like a tire iron on a rusty rim, there is nothing sweet about Woody, and there is nothing sweet about the songs he sings. But there is something more important for those who still listen. There is the will of a people to endure and fight against oppression. I think we call this the American spirit.”

-John Steinbeck

HOSPITAL YEARS (1954-1967)
Huntington's Disease

The late 1940’s and early 1950’s saw a rise in anti-Communist sentiments. Leftist and progressive-minded Americans were subjected to Red-scare tactics such as “blacklisting”. Many people, particularly in the arts and entertainment fields, either lost their jobs or were prevented from working in their chosen careers. The Weavers, along with Woody, Pete Seeger and others from their circle, were targeted for their activist stances on such issues as the right to unionize, equal rights, and free speech.

Woody headed south to Florida, where friend and fellow activist Stetson Kennedy offered blacklisted artists living space on his property. While in the South at Kennedy’s “Beluthahatchee”, Woody worked on a third novel, Seeds of Man, and composed songs inspired by a heightened awareness of racial and environmental issues.

Becoming more and more unpredictable during a final series of road trips, Woody eventually returned to New York with Anneke, where he was hospitalized several times. Mistakenly diagnosed and treated for everything from alcoholism to schizophrenia, his symptoms kept worsening and his physical condition deteriorated. Picked up for “vagrancy” in New Jersey in 1954, he was admitted into the nearby Greystone Psychiatric Hospital, where he was finally diagnosed with Huntington’s Chorea, the incurable degenerative nerve disorder now known as Huntington’s Disease or HD.

During these years, Marjorie Guthrie, family and friends continued to visit and care for him. A new generation of musicians took an interest in folk music bringing it into the mainstream as yet another folk music revival. Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, The Greenbriar Boys, Phil Ochs, and many other young folksingers visited Woody in the hospital, bringing along their guitars and their songs to play for him, perhaps even to thank him.

Woody Guthrie died on October 3, 1967 while at Creedmoor State Hospital in Queens, New York. His ashes were sprinkled into the waters off of Coney Island's shore.

A month later, on Thanksgiving 1967, Woody’s son Arlo Guthrie released his first commercial recording of “Alice’s Restaurant”, which was to become the iconic anti-war anthem for the next generation.

In his lifetime, Woody Guthrie wrote nearly 3,000 song lyrics, published two novels, created artworks, authored numerous published and unpublished manuscripts, poems, prose, and plays and hundreds of letters and news article which are housed in the Woody Guthrie Archives in New York.

READ LYRICS ABOUT THIS TIME:

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