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Hard Travelin': The Asch Recordings Vol. 3

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Album Review

This 27-song collection focuses on Guthrie's topical songs, though not all of the topics are political; there is, for instance, a "Hanukkah Dance" and an excerpt from his variation on the "Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam," the children's song "Howdjadoo," and the gospel number "I Ain't Got No Home in This World Anymore." Progressives will find plenty to cheer along with here, though, whether it's a labor anthem like "Farmer-Labor Train" or "Ladies Auxiliary"; there are also a few tunes specifically directed toward the anti-fascism war effort in World War II. Despite the nominal topical anthology theme, this is really just a decent sampling of Guthrie's 1940s recordings (most done for Moe Asch), some of it socially conscious, some not. Some of these are among his better-known songs ("1913 Massacre," "Hard Travelin'," "So Long It's Been Good to Know You"); major folkys like Cisco Houston, Sonny Terry, and Pete Seeger help out occasionally, though it's usually just Guthrie alone with his guitar. The sound quality is good (especially considering that some of these have been transferred from fragile acetates), and the quality of the material and performance is strong; a few of the performances were previously unreleased.


Born: 14 July 1912 in Okemah, OK

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s

Woody Guthrie was the most important American folk music artist of the first half of the 20th century, in part because he turned out to be such a major influence on the popular music of the second half of the 20th century, a period when he himself was largely inactive. His greatest significance lies in his songwriting, beginning with the standard "This Land Is Your Land" and including such much-covered works as "Deportee," "Do Re Mi," "Grand Coulee Dam," "Hard, Ain't It Hard," "Hard Travelin'," "I...
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