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Album Review

In 1984, Warner Bros. Records dropped Arlo Guthrie and 30 other artists (including Van Morrison and Bonnie Raitt) from its roster in a cost-cutting move. In Guthrie's case, he had submitted a new album to the label, his follow-up to 1981's poor-selling Power of Love, and Warner had rejected it. Guthrie asked to have the album back, and the company complied. Business is business, but if Someday was the album Guthrie wanted Warner to release — two years later, it was the album with which he launched his own independent label, Rising Son Records — then somebody at the company missed a bet. Someday is one of Guthrie's most impressive collections. From a corporate point of view, maybe it flew in the face of the current political Zeitgeist of the mid-'80s; not surprisingly, this is not a record that would have gotten much play in the Ronald Reagan White House, beginning as it does with "All Over the World" (one of the nine out of ten Guthrie compositions or co-compositions on the disc), which finds liberal political movements alive and well on a global basis. Guthrie is uncompromising in his utopian politics, singing "we know that what we do is right," and musically he had created an anthem for his fellow liberals to sing along to on their picket lines. Of course, he was also a clown, as he demonstrated immediately afterward on "Russian Girls." And he was not unaware that his ‘60s idealism had begun to seem unfashionable more than a decade later, setting music to the lyrics of his drummer Terry Hall on "Oh Mom," sung in the character of a contemporary teenage child of an activist who laments, "Mom, your universal love is such a drag." Maybe so, but as Guthrie quickly reminded listeners with his cover of Robb (Rabbit) Mackay's "Unemployment Line," the conditions that inspired the movements of the ‘60s hadn't gone away; far from it. Perhaps Someday did not fit into Warner's bottom-line considerations for major-label profit in the mid-‘80s, but Guthrie's fans should look for it, perhaps especially so at a time when the political viewpoint they espouse seems out of favor.


Born: July 10, 1947 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Is it possible to be a one-hit wonder three times? The question is provoked by the recording career of Arlo Guthrie, which is best remembered for three songs in three different contexts. There is "The City of New Orleans," Guthrie's only Top 40 hit, which earns him an entry in Wayne Jancik's The Billboard Book of One-Hit Wonders. There is also "Coming into Los Angeles," which Guthrie sang at the legendary Woodstock music festival, and which featured prominently in both the Woodstock movie and multi-platinum...
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Someday, Arlo Guthrie
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