Happy July 4th… And…

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First of all I want to hope everyone has a good day on this important national holiday. 240 years ago a bunch of rebels got the idea to make a nation based on freedom of choice. The exact right group got together to hash out the details and those details have allowed us to for the most part flourish since then. I thank God for the wisdom of our founders. If only we could get a little of that today, especially in our presidential campaign… but that is another story.

Now comes the “And” part of the title.  In yesterday’s post I talked about the strange, at least to me, fascination with our country’s wars. Some make it a major part of their lives to recount every battle in our biggest failure as a country and that was the Civil War. They celebrate our biggest failures? Some, especially in the south, look back at the pre-Civil War days as the time when America was at its greatest.

Too many are too fascinated with our wars!  Even our national anthem glorifies the little-known war of 1812 and particularly the battle of Fort McHenry in the Baltimore harbor. Some say that war was chapter two of our war for independence. I believe we as a nation of immigrants are much greater than our wars.  For that reason, I would love to see a drive to replace our current national anthem with “This Land Is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie.

Our National Anthem should celebrate the beauty of our land and our success as a people who cherish our land everyone who fills it.  Woody Guthrie’s song epitomizes that feeling.  I will close out here with the lyrics to again say:

Happy July 4!!!

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 that ribbon of highway
I saw above me that endless skyway
I saw below me that golden valley
This land was made for you and me.
I roamed and I rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
While all around me a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me.
When the sun came shining, and I was strolling
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
A voice was chanting, As the fog was lifting,
This land was made for you and me.
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.

(Original 1944 lyrics)

I’m Dreaming About … Folk Music

I guess you could say that folk music is an acquired taste and it seems to have fallen out of favor these days. In my earlier hearing years I almost lived and breathed folk music.  One of the original founders of that music genre was Woody Guthrie and one of my favorite museums is the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa OK. The museum is small but packed with the archive of all his music.

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His most famous song “This Land Is Your Land” should be our national anthem. It relates more to the character of America than a naval battle some one hundred fifty years ago.

Woody Guthrie Center – Tulsa OK

I was so excited to see that Woody Guthrie finally had his own museum I couldn’t wait to visit.  Here is a gallery of pictures for your pleasure. There wasn’t any Internet in Woody’s day so the two men wearing placards trying to find word during the Depression was the best they could do. If you are ever in Tulsa plan on a visit to this museum and take the time to stroll through the rest of the Brady District where it is located.

Click on any image of the gallery to see a larger version of the pictures.

One Big Soul…

WoodyI’lI try not to do it too often but I am gonna get kind of philosophical here. I ran across the following quote from my hero Woody Guthrie a while back.

Ever’body might be just one big soul. Well it looks that a-way to me.

Woody wrote thousands of poems in his life. Some he called lyrics and some he didn’t. This one, whichever it is, got me to thinking pretty deep. With ISIS and all that other terrorist stuff going on it seems like a big part of the world problems today is one religion fighting against another or one group of people hating another for whatever reasons. Everyone thinks they are the only ones to get it right. What if what Woody said it true?

What if all of us have just one big soul?  That seems to say to me that when we get to heaven we will be judged on how we treat the other parts of the united soul, in other words how we treat each other. It won’t really matter what religion you believe in. We are all just part of one big thing spiritual thing so as the old saying goes we sink or swim together.

Woody was a plain speaking man. I don’t know how much formal education he got but he was a very “wise” and simple guy. Another one of his sayings was the anyone who played a song with more than two chords was just showin off.

I kind of like Woody’s simplicity and how he thought….

Bound For Glory

2015-05-18_19-56-18I can’t get very far along with this new blog before I bring in the folk music category. Folk music, particularly Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, PP&M, is what formed many of my attitudes toward life and made me realize that I am to some degree an empath. But it was not until I discovered Woody Guthrie that I came to see the true origins of folk music.

When I recently visited the Wood Guthrie Center in Tulsa Oklahoma I was totally struck by the breadth of his talents. I am now reading a book entitled Bound For Glory which is an autobiography by Woody. The book sparks new imaginations in me. Here is a little about him from the forward in the book by Pete Seeger.

He was a short, wiry guy with a mop of curly hair under a cowboy hat, as I first saw him. He’d stand with his guitar slung on his back, spinning out stories like Will Rogers, with a faint, wry grin. Then he’d hitch his guitar around and sing the longest long outlaw ballad you ever heard, or some Rabelaisian fantasy he’d concocted the day before and might never sing again. His songs are deceptively simple. Only after they have become part of your life do you realize how great they are. Any damn fool can get complicated. It takes genius to attain simplicity. 

Of course Woody’s most popular poem/song was This Land Was Made For You And Me.  In my opinion it should be our national anthem. Here are the words from the first two verses:

This Land Lyrics

There will be many more articles about Woody here as I believe he is the true heart of America.

Are there any other folk music fans out there that want to chime in here?

This Land Is Your Land…

This Land Is Your Land

Song by Woody Guthrie

This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me

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

I’ve roamed and rambled and I 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

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting
This land was made for you and me

Woody Guthrie has been on my mind lately. Maybe that is because in a few weeks I will be visiting The Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa Oklahoma. It will be my first visit to that city.  Another folk song hero of mine was Bob Dylan. He introduced me to Woody’s songs and I still have many of both their songs in my head.  Here is a little about  both these guys from Wiki:

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, a new generation of young people was inspired by folk singers such as Guthrie. These “folk revivalists” became more politically aware in their music than those of the previous generation. The American Folk Revival was beginning to take place, focused on the issues of the day, such as the civil rights movement and free speech movement.

Pockets of folk singers were forming around the country in places such as Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. One of Guthrie’s visitors at Greystone Park was the 19-year-old Bob Dylan, who idolized Guthrie. Dylan wrote of Guthrie’s repertoire: “The songs themselves were really beyond category. They had the infinite sweep of humanity in them.” After learning of Guthrie’s whereabouts, Dylan regularly visited him. Guthrie died of complications of Huntington’s disease on October 3, 1967.

By the time of his death, his work had been discovered by a new audience, introduced to them through Dylan, Pete Seeger, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, his ex-wife Marjorie and other new members of the folk revival, and his son Arlo.

As I have mentioned before the song above should become our national anthem. I will be talking much more about Woody in my upcoming “On the Road Reports” in a few weeks.

Woody Guthrie is very much what is at the heart of America…

From The Redwood Forests..

Sequoia National Park, CA – The Mighty Redwoods

Until you have been up close and personal with a mammoth redwood tree you just don’t understand the majesty of them. My most recent encounter with them was in the Sequoia National Forest. Yes, that is me in the picture. I don’t think redwoods grow anywhere else in the world so they are very American.  I am a firm believer that we should change the national anthem to Woody Guthrie’s This Land Is Your Land. I “From the redwood forests to the Gulf stream waters” shows the heart of America much more than a puny sea battle of an 1812 military conflict. I wonder what it would take to get that done?

Our National Anthem….

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Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

I don’t imagine there are many citizens of this country who don’t know the words above by heart. They are sung at the opening of most sporting events and other public meeting.  Some even know that Francis Scott Key wrote the words about the bombardment of Fort Henry in 1814. This war was officially called the War of 1812 where the British were once again trying to get their colonies in line. 🙂

We, like most others, are a nation who is generally defined by our wars. The War of 1812 hardly makes much notice anymore. Now to finally get on to the main topic of this post, I think it is about time for us to get a new national anthem. Maybe one that exalts our virtues as a country in the 21st century instead of our wars of the past. Maybe if we can get our minds off of all our wars we can prevent a few future ones. We shouldn’t be celebrating our wars; we should be mourning them and all the dead kids that they cause.

There are at least a hand full of very likely candidates in this area but my favorite is:

This Land Is Your Land 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 that ribbon of highway
I saw above me that endless skyway
I saw below me that golden valley
This land was made for you and me.
I roamed and I rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
While all around me a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me.
When the sun came shining, and I was strolling
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
A voice was chanting, As the fog was lifting,
This land was made for you and me.