Woody Who Never Left Us

BY AARON BARLOW

One Flew East

Woody Guthrie towered over us Baby Boomers. The sticker on his guitar, “This machine kills fascists,” underpinned our idealism and our activism. Our own ‘troubadours,’ the likes of Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs, grabbed Woody’s falling banner and carried it in the van of our new generation. Like many, I suspect, I didn’t go to school the day he died of the Huntington’s disease that had long debilitated him, in 1967. He was gone, I knew, but (like Joe Hill) he never left us.

Already, both Dylan and Ochs had written songs to him. Ochs wrote:

And it’s “Pastures of Plenty” wrote the Dust Bowl Balladeer,
And “This is Your Land,” he wanted us to hear.
The rising of the unions will be sung again,
And the “Deportees” live on through the power of his pen.

Those of us from families even slightly left-leaning would have recognized all of the titles…

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