The Music Business According to Woody Guthrie

477px-Woody_Guthrie_NYWTSWow! That’s the first thing I said – out loud – when I read these words spoken by Woody Guthrie. Then I read them again. Wow! He was so right. Music is meant to inspire us, to lift us up, to energize us, to make us feel good. Music shouldn’t demean a group of people because of race, gender, creed, or any other attribute, nor should it need to rely on profanity and vulgarity to get our attention or make a point. Or, as Woody put it:

“I hate a song that makes you think you are not any good. I hate a song that makes you think that you are just born to lose. Bound to lose. No good to nobody. No good for nothing. Because you are too old or too young or too fat or too slim. Too ugly or too this or too that. Songs that run you down or poke fun at you on account of your bad luck or hard traveling. I’m out to fight those songs to my very last breath of air and my last drop of blood. I am out to sing songs that will prove to you that this is your world and that if it has hit you pretty hard and knocked you for a dozen loops, no matter what color, what size you are, how you are built, I am out to sing the songs that make you take pride in yourself and in your work. And the songs that I sing are made up for the most part by all sorts of folks just about like you.

Then he turned on the music industry itself and proceeded to dress it down:

“I could hire out to the other side, the big money side, and get several dollars every week just to quit singing my own songs and to sing the kind that knock you down farther and the ones that poke fun at you even more and the ones that make you think you’ve not got any sense at all. But I decided a long time ago that I’d starve to death before I’d sing any such songs as that. The radio waves and your movies and your jukeboxes and your songbooks are already loaded down and running over with such no good songs as that anyhow.”

Woody had values, and he wasn’t afraid to let his music reflect those values. Nor was it necessary for him to tell anyone what they were – you could hear it in his music. We would all do well to take and abide by Woody’s advice. ________ Image credit:


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