G is for the Guthrie family

Arlo Guthrie, and his father Woody
Woodrow Wilson Guthrie (July 14, 1912 – October 3, 1967) was an iconic American individual – songwriter, musician, political activist. He had a huge effect on Pete Seeger, whose group the Weavers, recorded So Long, It’s Been Good To Know Yuh [LISTEN to Woody’s version]. He also hosted a young Bob Dylan in his hospital room, after he had been diagnosed with the Huntington’s disease that would kill him. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 as an early influence.

I saw a video of Michael Feinstein, who tended to Ira Gershwin’s papers the last six years of the lyricist’s life. Feinstein was asked who is missing from the discussion of the Great American Songbook, musical standards written by Gershwins, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington, and the like in the first half of the 20th Century. Feinstein suggested Woody Guthrie, whose This Land Is Your Land is at least as beloved as Someone To Watch Over Me.

I wrote about Woody previously HERE.

One of his sons, with his second wife Marjorie, was Arlo Davy Guthrie, who became noteworthy from his performance of “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree”, a satirical talking blues song about 18 minutes in length [LISTEN], which was the basis of a movie in which he played himself; it’s now a Thanksgiving tradition. He performed at Woodstock; LISTEN to the studio version of Coming Into Los Angeles. He was not a singles artist, but did have a modest hit with Steve Goodman’s train song City of New Orleans, #18 in 1972. Here is his version of his father’s Oklahoma Hills. Arlo has toured with Woody’s old chum Pete Seeger. (Arlo on the late Pete Seeger.)

The Guthrie family is musical. Arlo’s “sister is record producer Nora Guthrie.” Arlo’s children “have also become musicians. Annie Guthrie writes songs and performs, and also takes care of family touring details. Sarah Lee performs and records with her husband Johnny Irion. Cathy plays ukulele in Folk Uke, a group she formed with Amy Nelson, the daughter of Willie Nelson. Abe Guthrie was formerly in a folk-rock band called Xavier, and now tours with his father. Abe Guthrie’s son, Krishna, is a drummer and toured with Arlo Guthrie on his European tour…”

So music is a Guthrie family affair.


ABC Wednesday – Round 14

24 thoughts on “G is for the Guthrie family”

  1. Great post. My favorite verses from Woodie Guthrie’s song this land is your land often get skipped by covers of that song. They are:

    As I went walking I saw a sign there
    And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
    But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
    That side was made for you and me.

    In the squares of the city, In the shadow of a steeple;
    By the relief office, I’d seen my people.
    As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking,
    Is this land made for you and me?


  2. Folk dynasties like this are so fascinating. The days seem to have passed when singers were politically active like Woody, or perhaps you will prove me wrong as you take us through the alphabet.


  3. My dad and I both enjoyed the music of the Guthrie clan, they have that special knack of touching people as if they are neighbors conversing over the fence, a tale is told that all can identify with and say”yep, mmhhmmm, yes indeed, that is so” now I must go off to fix supper with Alice’s Restaurant playing in my head!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s