Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

6

Various Artists: Woody Guthrie - The Tribute Concerts

Jakob Baekgaard By

Sign in to view read count
Tribute concerts are often a mixed bag, especially if the idea is to bring a group of stars together to pay homage to an influential musical figure. The recent tribute to the wonderful singer, Tony Bennett, Tony Bennett Celebrates 90 (Columbia, 2016) is a sad case in point. There is no shortage of stars on that particular album, but the aesthetic understanding of Bennett's music is so limited that it reduces rather than expands the scope of his musical legacy. A good tribute does the opposite of this. It shows the many aspects of an artist and paints a nuanced portrait that goes beyond the easy clichés. It shows the connection between the artist's own story and the musical narrative that he or she has helped to build.

The reason why the tribute concerts to the famous folksinger and activist, Woody Guthrie, recorded in 1968 and 1970, were so successful was that the musicians involved had a genuine connection to Guthrie's musical legacy. They carried on the torch in different ways. Arlo Guthrie, Woody's son, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, Country Joe McDonald, Odetta, Jack Eliot, Richie Havens, Judy Collins, Tom Paxton and the brightest star of them all, Bob Dylan, were all folksingers in their own way. Like Guthrie, they built their songs on the rich tradition of American folk music and Guthrie showed them how the manifold sounds of the American soil could be transformed into a personal voice. Songs like "Oklahoma Hills," "Vigilante Man" and "1913 Massacre" still resonate today with strong storytelling and "Pastures of Plenty" and "This Land Is Your Land" have become national anthems. Listeners searching for a song that describes the harsh condition of migrants need not look any further than "Plane Wreck at Los Gatos (Deportee)," a song that feels like it was written for today.

Guthrie was a political singer, but he was not a moralist. He did not stand high on a hill preaching to others from a safe position, but he spoke clearly with humanity. His was a voice that had known hardship, but refused to give up. Instead, there was optimistic defiance in his songs. A lengthy quote from him sums it up:

"I hate a song that makes you think that you're not any good. I hate a song that makes you think you're just born to lose. Bound to lose. No good to nobody. No good for nothing. Because you are either too old, too young or too fat or too thin or too ugly or too this or too that. Songs that run you down or songs that poke fun at you on account of your bad luck or your hard travelling. I am out to fight these songs to my very last breath of air and my last drop blood. I am out to sing songs that will prove to you that this is your world and that if it has hit you pretty hard and knocked you down for a dozen loops, no matter how hard it's run you down, and rolled over you, no matter what color, what size you are, how you are built; I am to sing the songs that will make you take pride in yourself..."

This exact quote was a part of the manuscript that accompanied both of the concerts in Carnegie Hall in 1968 and in the Hollywood Bowl in 1970. The narration with Woody's words, read out loud by Will Geer, Robert Ryan and Peter Fonda, was an integrated part of the concerts and brought his charismatic personality to life. Arlo Guthrie has said that the script was not able to catch Guthrie's spontaneity. While this is true, the power of Woody's words is still there, along with his music interpreted in all its glorious nuances from the rough diamond voice and battered, percussive guitar of Richie Havens to the ethereal siren song of Judy Collins on "Plane Wreck at Los Gatos (Deportee)." Dylan is the star, but he is just one out of many. The real star of the concert is Woody's songs and they shine in this context.

The concerts were originally released on two albums, A Tribute to Woody Guthrie, Part One (Columbia, 1972) and A Tribute to Woody Guthrie, Part Two (Warner Bros., 1972). It was a rare collaboration between Columbia and Warner.

Now, the premier reissue label, Bear Family, has gathered both of the concerts and several unreleased cuts in a lavish box with extensive documentation. Besides three compact discs, the box includes two hardbound books: a reprint of the original concert book that accompanied the release, with transcription of songs and the concert manuscript with the narrations. The other book contains essays, eye witness accounts, press clippings, an overwhelming discography and a bounty of photos. It is an impressive artifact, but most of all, it is a testament to Guthrie's enduring legacy. Here is a set that makes you want to listen to Woody Guthrie all over again, and perhaps pick up a guitar and sing new songs of protest.

Track Listing: CD 1: At Carnegie Hall: Pete Seeger & Arlo Guthrie (harmonica) with Full Cast: Intro This Train Is Bound For Glory; 2. Robert Ryan: Narration; Will Geer: Narration; Arlo Guthrie: Oklahoma Hills *; Will Geer: Narration; Judy Collins: So Long, It’s Been Good To Know Yuh (Dusty Old Dust); Robert Ryan: Narration; Woody Guthrie: Riding In My Car; Will Geer: Narration; Pete Seeger: Curly Headed Baby; Robert Ryan: Narration; Odetta: Ramblin’ Round *; Will Geer: Narration; Pete Seeger, Judy Collins & Arlo Guthrie: Goin’ Down The Road (I Ain’t Gonna Be Treated This A-Way) *; Robert Ryan: Narration; Tom Paxton: Pretty Boy Floyd *; Will Geer: Narration; Richie Havens: Blues For Woody *; Will Geer: Narration; Judy Collins: Plane Wreck At Los Gatos (Deportee); Richie Havens: Vigilante Man; Tom Paxton: Pastures Of Plenty; Bob Dylan: Grand Coulee Dam; Bob Dylan: Dear Mrs. Roosevelt; Bob Dylan: I Ain’t Got No Home; Judy Collins: Roll On Columbia (Part 1); Robert Ryan: Narration; Judy Collins: Roll On Columbia (Part 2); Pete Seeger & Richie Havens: Jackhammer John; Tom Paxton: Biggest Thing That Man Has Ever Done (The Great Historical Bum); Judy Collins & Pete Seeger: Union Maid; Robert Ryan/Will Geer/Judy Collins: Narration; Odetta, Will Geer, Arlo Guthrie with Full Cast: This Land Is Your Land. CD 2: At The Hollywood Bowl, Part 1; Full Cast: Intro This Train Is Bound For Glory; Peter Fonda & Will Geer: Narration; Arlo Guthrie: Oklahoma Hills; Will Geer: Narration; Joan Baez & Pete Seeger: So Long, It’s Been Good To Know Yuh *; Peter Fonda: Narration; Country Joe McDonald, Arlo Guthrie, Jack Elliott & Pete Seeger: Goin’ Down The Road (Ain’t Gonna Be Treated This A-Way) *; Peter Fonda & Will Geer: Narration; Joan Baez: Hobo’s Lullaby; Peter Fonda: Narration; Odetta: Ramblin’ Round; Will Geer: Narration; Pete Seeger & Arlo Guthrie: I Ain’t Got No Home (Woody Guthrie) *; Peter Fonda: Narration; Country Joe McDonald: Pretty Boy Floyd *; Richie Havens: Nine Hundred Miles *; Will Geer & Peter Fonda: Narration; Joan Baez: Plane Wreck At Los Gatos (Deportee) *; Peter Fonda: Narration; Odetta: John Hardy *; Will Geer: Narration; Jack Elliott, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Earl Robinson, Country Joe McDonald & Arlo Guthrie: Hard Travelin’ *; Will Geer: Narration; Richie Havens: Vigilante Man *; Peter Fonda: Narration; Jack Elliott: 1913 Massacre; Arlo Guthrie: Do Re Mi (Woody Guthrie); Will Geer: Narration; Joan Baez: Pastures Of Plenty (Woody Guthrie) *; Peter Fonda: Narration; Earl Robinson & Pete Seeger: Roll On Columbia *. CD 3: At The Hollywood Bowl, Part 2 / Bonus Tracks: Will Geer: Narration; Odetta with Will Geer & Peter Fonda: Why Oh Why & Narration; Earl Robinson: Mail Myself To You; Jack Elliott: Howdido; Peter Fonda: Narration; Country Joe McDonald: Woman At Home (Woody Guthrie – Country Joe McDonald); Will Geer: Narration; Pete Seeger: The Sinking Of The Reuben James *; Will Geer: Narration; Arlo Guthrie: Jesus Christ; Arlo Guthrie & Joan Baez (Background vocals: Odetta, John Pilla & Gib Guilbeau): I’ve Got To Know *; Arlo Guthrie, Country Joe McDonald, Odetta, Joan Baez & Pete Seeger: This Train Is Bound For Glory *; Peter Fonda & Joan Baez: Narration; Full Cast: This Land Is Your Land / So Long, It’s Been Good To Know Yuh *; Arlo Guthrie: ”The only thing I really remember…”; Arlo Guthrie: ”These events with a multitude of people…”; Judy Collins: ”First of all, your mom…”; Jack Elliott: ”I received an invitation…”; Jack Elliott: ”I was very excited about the whole thing…”; Rick Robbins: ”It was a mob scene…”; Rick Robbins: ”When he came out…”; Judy Collins: ”I was very nervous…”; Rick Robbins: ”I was very moved by…”; Tom Paxton: ”I was invited by…”; Tom Paxton: ”We all went on stage together…”; Tom Paxton: ”Oh, I look at pictures of me…”; Rick Robbins: ”And then after the show was more memories…”; Phil Ochs: ”The Woody Guthrie concert was my last straw…”; Arlo Guthrie: ”The second time I had more of a hand…”; Country Joe McDonald: ”Well at the rehearsal…”; Country Joe McDonald: ”The soundcheck for the show I was sitting…”; Arlo Guthrie: ”One of the great things…”; Arlo Guthrie: ”I was with Warner Brothers at the time…”; Arlo Guthrie: ”The records were made taking bits and pieces…”; Pete Seeger: “Woody lives on…”; Bob Dylan: Last Thoughts On Woody Guthrie. * Previously Unreleased Songs.

Personnel: Rick Danko: bass; Levon Helm: drums; Garth Hudson: organ; Richard Manuel: piano; Robbie Robertson: guitar; Richard Grinag: bass; Bill Lee: bass; John Beland: dobro; Ry Cooder: guitar; Chris Ethridge: bass; Gib Guilbeau: fiddle; Thad Maxwell: acoustic guitar; John Pilla: acoustic guitar; Stan Pratt: drums.

Title: Woody Guthrie - The Tribute Concerts | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Bear Family


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Bad Hombre CD/LP/Track Review Bad Hombre
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Aladdin's Dream CD/LP/Track Review Aladdin's Dream
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Glow of Benares CD/LP/Track Review Glow of Benares
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Magic Circle CD/LP/Track Review Magic Circle
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: December 12, 2017
Read A Gathering Foretold CD/LP/Track Review A Gathering Foretold
by Geannine Reid
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Swinging In The Holidays CD/LP/Track Review Swinging In The Holidays
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 11, 2017
Read "Lattice" CD/LP/Track Review Lattice
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 25, 2017
Read "Rags And Roots" CD/LP/Track Review Rags And Roots
by James Nadal
Published: April 25, 2017
Read "Cross-Platform Interchange" CD/LP/Track Review Cross-Platform Interchange
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 4, 2017
Read "Gin & Moonlight" CD/LP/Track Review Gin & Moonlight
by James Nadal
Published: August 26, 2017
Read "Happy Juice" CD/LP/Track Review Happy Juice
by David A. Orthmann
Published: July 31, 2017
Read "Yequm" CD/LP/Track Review Yequm
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 24, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!