I never did make up many songs about the cow trails or the moon skipping through the sky, but at first it was funny songs of what all’s wrong, and how it turned out good or bad. Then I got a little braver and made up songs telling what I thought was wrong and how to make it right, songs that said what everybody in that country was thinking.
And this has held me ever since. - “Boy in Search of Something” from “Bound for Glory”
It all boils down to those songs, which continue to inspire and, unfortunately, are often still relevant. In all the Guthrie tributes I’ve attended, not one sounded like a throw-back, nostalgic hootenanny. It’s all here and now.
July 12 – Drove the long way to Okemah. Met Woody Guthrie’s sister. Hung out with my busker pal, Peter. Stole stuff (and have since been busted. Thanks, Internet!). Drank beer with my elders. Had another Billy Bragg encounter. Drove back to Salpulpa. When I was back at my hotel, I had to do the math to understand that no, I hadn’t met Woody’s sister three days earlier; it just felt like it because so much had happened.
July 13 – Yelled at a reporter, drove the seven hours to St. Louis, went straight to Corey Woodruff’s “New Years Rulin’s” Woody Guthrie photo exhibit opening. Was a social butterfly until my exhausted husband, who was falling asleep at our table despite having led a normal, rational day, drug my ass home at midnight because honestly Robin, you have got to get some sleep because you’re delirious and can’t shut up.
July 14 – I should sleep in. Take it easy. Maybe entertain the notion of a really, really long shower to wash all those miles, 100+ degree heat, and Oklahoma dirt off me. Not that I hadn’t bathed in that time, but when you run at that rate, it all just digs in deeper.
I did sleep. But with it being Woody’s actual birthday, I had to write. So I wrote. A great big dump of my brain and my soul, trying to articulate why I’m doing this project. And I’m glad I did. That little bit of groggy afternoon writing has landed in some pretty amazing hands.
That wasn’t all I had to do. For months I’d had Woody’s birthday marked on my calender for “Just One Big Soul: Woody Guthrie’s 100th Birthday Party.”