WOODY GUTHRIE - AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT SIGNED 08/12/1945 - HFSID 279701
Sale Price $6,375.00
Folk singer and songwriter Woody Guthrie wrote this manuscript for a proposed series of albums with Asch Record Company, only one of which, Struggle: Documentary #1, was ever released. This rare document, signed with Guthrie's rank in the U. S. Army and his service number, chronicles a confrontation with a racist soldier and gives insight into this reluctant soldier's time in the Armed Forces during World War II!
Autograph manuscript signed "Pvt. Woody W. Guthrie, #42234634." 2 pages, 7x10½, 1 sheet, front and verso, two columns. Written at "Scott Field", Aug. 12, 1945. Titled: "American Document/art number one". In part: "I met a soldier out on a rifle range down in Texas that was telling a gang of men, 'There's good and bad in every church and every race. They just got to be put in their place and made to stay in it. I say give every color his part of town and make him stay in it. My home town had a fight or a killing just about every few days. I'm as good a trade union man as the next one, but I just can't go in for this mixture of every kind and every color! They'll always have hell in the unions as long as they try to break the laws of mama nature!… I told them, 'Well, I think you're both wrong because it just so happens that I make my living making up trade union songs and singing around picket lines, at meetings, rallies, stuff like that. And I'd really like you to see you try to run your town with everybody in a hole of his own color'… We had to line up, march to our rifles and face our targets out across the field. I didn't have time right then and there to answer that man. We fired our carbines, our submachine M3's, drove away singing in our buses… We remembered a few days ago in a lecture hall a Captain, a psychiatrist, has said, 'You hear the negro out sing, you see him out march all of the other squadrons because he feels looked down on, and he shows you more friendly spirit out of unity than the other'… The Captain answered the racial expert pretty well, but of course on the subject of the fighting history of our trade union, the pregnant woman, the thirteen children, he did not have the time nor the authority to tell us about… I know that this album of Records, 'American Documentary Number One' is just a little answer to that soldier out there on that rifle range. It takes all night to sing the whole answer. But it can be sung…". Guthrie appears to have written this after being drafted into the United States Army on May 7, 1945, which also happened to be V-E Day. Guthrie had served in the Merchant Marine, shipping out on four voyages on cargo ships or troop transports between 1943 and 1945; one cargo ship was torpedoed, and the other, a troop transport, hit a mine after discharged its cargo of troops during D-Day. This manuscript appears to be for a planned series of albums with Asch Record Company; Guthrie recorded over 150 songs with Asch between merchant marine voyages. Only the first of these albums, Struggle: Documentary #1 (1946), was ever released. Asch could only release a fraction of the songs recorded by Guthrie before the company went bankrupt in 1947. The most important American folk singer and songwriter of the first half of the 20th Century, Woody Guthrie (1912-1967) wrote more than 1,000 songs, many of them standards such as "This Land Is Your Land" (1940), "Grand Coulee Dam" (1941), "Talking Dust Bowl" (1950), and numerous others, many of which are still covered by folk, country, rock, and even pop musicians. Guthrie left home at 15 to ride the rails as a hobo, and his songs are fed by his many experiences in hobo and migrant worker camps and among the dispossessed of the Great Depression. Guthrie's songs are strongly left-leaning, with great sympathy for labor unions and farmer groups; he even wrote for Communist newspapers in the 1940s. Guthrie was especially popular as a recording artist in the 1940s, with many live performances as a member of the political folk group the Almanac Singers. Folk singers like Bob Dylan rediscovered his recordings in the 1950s and 1960s and revived his popularity. By this time, Guthrie was suffering from the effects of Huntington's disease, the illness that eventually caused his demise. Lightly toned, soiled and creased. Random ink stains, which touch handwriting but not signature. Folded thrice and unfolded. Otherwise, fine condition.
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