Monday, October 03, 2005

LEARNING TO LIVE

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I know I said I was done with this Dylan thing, that you all are losing interest, or were never interested anyway. Maybe you're too young. Maybe you're saying Bobby who? Maybe you think the only Dylan song that was ever worth a damn was "Like a Rolling Stone. It's okay. Cause this isn't really about Bob anymore. This is about learning to live. And Bob says he learned to live by listening to Woody Guthrie.

I know. I know. There's lots of literature that will learn you to live (pardon my vernacular) but I've just spent the last couple of days immersed in Woody-speak.) There's all those holy books, and I don't think Woody ever claimed to be in their league. But that doesn't mean you can't learn something by poring over the lyrics of some of his songs over at the Woody Guthrie Website. You can learn about joy and humor and decency and about the refusal to judge others.

You can also learn that despite all the hollarin done by both sides, the issues are pretty complex. And maybe what we all need to focus on is developing a little character. And demanding our leaders do the same. At least, that's what I learned this morning when I had a cup of coffee with Woody Guthrie. Which come to think of it, is a lot of learnin to do on a ordinary Monday morning in October.

THIS IS OUR COUNTRY HERE

This is our country here as far as you can see no matter which
way you walk or
No matter what spot of it you stand on
And when you have crossed her as many times as I have you will
see as many ugly things about her as pretty things
You will hear whole gangs of travelers and settlers arguing
about her.
What she is, how she come to be, what you are supposed to do here.
and you will hear some argue at you
That she is so beautiful you are supposed to spend your life just
feeling her pretty parts,
Sucking in her sweetest breezes and tasting her fairest odors,
looking at her brightest colored scenes,
And I would say that gang has the wrong notion.
And there are some bunches that tell you she is all ugly and all
dirty, that there is nothing good about her, nothing free, nothing
clean, that she is all slums, shacks, rot, filth, stink, and bad
odors, loud words of bitter flavors,
Well, this herd is big and I heard them often and I heard them loud,
but I come to think that they too was just as wrong as the first
outfit,

Because I seen the pretty and I seen the ugly and it was because I
knew the pretty part that I wanted to change the ugly part,
Because I hated the dirty part that I knew how to feel the love
for the cleaner part,

I looked in a million of her faces and eyes, and I told myself there
was a look on that face that was good, if I could see it there,
in back of all of the shades and shadows of fear and doubt and
ignorance and tangles of debts and worries,

And I guess it is these things that make our country look all lopsided
to some of us, lopped over onto the good and easy side or over
onto the bad and the hard side,

I know that the people that run our desks and offices got so full
of the desire to grab enough money to run away and hide on, that
they let this thought run them, instead of the bigger plan,
well, this has always been a hard word to say, but
It could very truly be that our office people are doing the best they
know how to do,
But we had ought to teach ourselves better and higher than this
before we run ourselves and put ourselves into our offices.


Words by Woody Guthrie
Copyright (C) 2001 by Woody Guthrie Publications
Used with permission.

19 comments:

lucky said...

Every once in a while some one comes along with Wisdom worth listening to.Woody Guthrie just happened to be one of those. He was blessed with a gift of opening peoples hearts to seeing the good that resides in all of us. He also was one of the modern day prophets who cried out like Isaiah or Jeremiah did warning us that time is too short to be wasted on greed,hatred, and self-centerness. You too have been given a gift to inspire people with your pen. Keep it rolling.
xxxxx

ainelivia said...

Coincidence that after the Bob Dylan week on BBC, to too began to look for info about Woody Gutherie. The one that who's tune is always in my head is The Deportees. And I found it. Not the least bit bored patry. I am a Bobhead. Always will be. And Woody Gutherie was a part of that; oh I almost cried to see Liam Clancy sing. Especially with Odetta in the concert.

You could be writing about this for a year and I will not be bored. I feel very young again just listening to this music. I feel the way I did then, knowing that I was hearing something special.

ainelivia said...

Sorry some terrible structural errors in the first few sentences of my comment above. This is not due to cobwebs on my brain, or booze, just typing too fast.

Patry Francis said...

ainelivia: I didn't notice any jumbled sentences; what I noticed was the heart in your post.I vaguely remember the song "The Deportees." Will have to go searching for it.

Just got an email from Woody's website informing me that it is a particularly appropriate day for this post since it is the 38th anniversary of his death from Huntington's disease.

I was completely unaware of this salient fact when I posted. A coincidence? Or is Woody just stopping by with a cigarette dangling from his lip and that wise, ironic look in his eyes, to remind us that some people never die.

Perfect Virgo said...

I taped the Dylan documentary and will eventually make the time to view it. Suffice for now to say I am in awe of the man's poetry and presence. I understand why you are prompted to return to this theme and to his early influence Patry. I was lucky enough to see him at a small (2500) venue 4 years ago and found it a mesmerising experience.

Patry Francis said...

P.V.: When you watch the doc., I'll be curious about what you have to say. Meanwhile, I envy you the opportunity to see him in a relatively small venue. He played near here recently, but in a stadium like setting. I'd been there before and unless you were in the front, you were watching the act on monitors.

rdl said...

Found yesterday and today's posts very interesting. Good fodder for us boomers. went to the Woody Guthrie site and discovered it was the anniversary of his death today. So you honored him well.

easywriter said...

You are expressing yourself well regarding this documentary, so, no, I'm not losing interest.

Laylah Queen of the Night said...

Hey, just stopping by again. Dig your essays and writings.

ainelivia said...

Hi patry, tried the Woody website though did not find Deportees. Later I found it at www.geocities.com/Nashville/3448/deportee.html. There is an audio clip there too.

Patry Francis said...

easy: that means a lot, esp. coming from you.

Laylah: You came back!

Ainelivia: I'm going to check out that site right now. I've been walking around singing "Hard Traveling" for three days and my family's getting pretty sick of it. Maybe I can replace it with "The Deportees."

Dave Clapper said...

Patry, have you heard the CD's that Billy Bragg cut with Wilco a few years back? They worked with the Guthrie estate to set music to a ton of lyrics he'd written that (apparently) had no accompanying music. The CD's that resulted are a serious treat.

finnegan said...

If great artists are defined by how much they influence others, Guthrie is a giant.

finnegan said...

Oh, I meant to say that the time I saw Dylan was during his great tour of 1974 at The Forum in Los Angeles, with The Band. They put on the single greatest concert I've ever seen, with everyone not only inspired, but in top form. A couple of years later and The Band were doing their swan song in front of Scorcese's cameras.

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