As the world gets ready to mark the centennial of the birth of his iconic father, Arlo Guthrie isn’t yet read to describe precisely what Woody Guthrie’s music still means to America. “There’s more left to tell,” he told me last month. “In the next coming 100 years, before we celebrate the 200th birthday, our version of Woody Guthrie and his songs will undergo more and more changes. I’m pretty sure it’ll be a favorable future, although there’s nothing quite like having been there. For that I remain thankful and inspired.”
Surely he is not alone.
Woody Guthrie, born on July 14, 1912 in the Okemah, Oklahoma, remains one of the most revered singers, songwriters and social activists in American history, a man whose gritty songs about the nation’s also-rans have been translated into dozens of languages, covered by scores of other famous and talented musicians, and sung alongside a million smoky campfires between mouthfuls of coffee, whiskey or S’mores. And it all starts and ends with his masterwork, “This Land Is Your Land.”