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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Counting stars with Woody

95 years ago today, folk-singer Woody Guthrie began the first stanza of his life's ballad. His songs are well known for their depression era stories and working-man sympathies, and he's had a great influence on all folk rockers to follow.

Guthrie gained renewed popularity when a set of unpublished songs were put to music by Wilco and Billy Bragg on their Mermaid Avenue CDs. Below are the lyrics for one of those tracks, which is my personal favorite of the collection. It's full of some wonderful images and captures a mix of weariness and hope, romance and sentiment that to me is perfectly representative of Woody Guthrie's music.

It's amazing how much inspiration we can take from Nature's simple beauty, and the love of another. It's enough to propel us to great deeds, even against heavy fatigue and long odds.

California Stars
Words by Woody Guthrie

I'd like to rest my heavy head tonight
On a bed of California stars
I'd like to lay my weary bones tonight
On a bed of California stars

I'd love to feel your hand touching mine
And tell me why I must keep working on
Yes, I'd give my life to lay my head tonight
On a bed of California stars

I'd like to dream my troubles all away
On a bed of California stars
Jump up from my starbed and make another day
Underneath my California stars

They hang like grapes on vines that shine
And warm the lovers glass like friendly wine
So, I'd give this world
Just to dream a dream with you
On our bed of California stars
Addendum: I neglected to mention the Official Woody Guthrie website in my original post. It has a lot of great information, including all the lyrics to his songs and great photos. I'm particularly partial to the shots that include his guitar with its slogan: this machine kills fascists. Sometimes music can be a very potent weapon. Thanks to Jeane at Binding Ink for the comment that spurred me to put up the link.
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