name a GREAT AMERICAN HERO? Would it be an astronaut? A movie
star? Perhaps the shortstop for the NY YANKEES? In my view, one of the
greatest men that has lived in modern times was named Woodrow Wilson Guthrie
(1912-1967). I read his autobiography, Bound For
Glory, several months ago. This book was his only published work of
literature (to my knowledge) and is a literary masterpiece (in my opinion). He wrote it himself,
without the aid of a ghostwriter, OR a word processor.
Woody Guthrie was a modest man, an unassuming man, a man who walked out of the Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Center - and also the recording contract he was being offered - because somebody said, "Maybe we should dress him in a cowboy outfit".
He walked out, and went back to riding the rails with the other hobos (which he makes you understand is NOT the FUN time it sounds like). And this was after he had already become famous.
I can't adequately express my admiration for this man. He courageously denounced the fantastically popular Charles Lindbergh as a fascist and a friend of Adolph Hitler. He stood up for the little guy, the working guy, the poor guy, and refused to be considered a big guy himself. He stood up against the great and powerful, with his mind and his voice and his songs. He illustrated the book himself, might have been a successful artist instead of a folksinger/fighter, shunned fame and fortune, had scads of amazing thoughts and wrote them brilliantly. He wrote the songs that everybody knows by heart, created the style that generations of singers copied, was the major influence for Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, and almost every other folk singer that followed him. His singing style, like his personality, was unassuming and unpretentious and at the same time, unbelievably powerful.
He died gracefully in 1967, while suffering one of the most brutally debilitating diseases known to medical science.
Read Bound For Glory. It will change you.
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