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Woody Guthrie: Hard Travelin' Documentary (1984)

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This is a rare documentary and a must see if you're a folk music or Woody Guthrie fan. Some songs had to be removed entirely to make the video available and small edits made to sync sound.
Here's what the New York Times had to say about it back in 1984: https://www.nytimes.com/1984/03/07/arts/woody-guthrie-hard-travelin.html
''WOODY GUTHRIE: HARD TRAVELIN' '' is a warmhearted memorial to the folk singer whose songs galvanized organizers and guitar-pickers across the United States. Part biography, part travelogue and part hootenanny, it follows the singer's son, Arlo Guthrie, as he retraces his father's steps and collects reminiscences from his father's family, friends and musical partners. It will be shown tonight at 9:05 on Channel 13.

Among those who talk about Mr. Guthrie's impact and exploits - and sing his songs as homespun duets with Arlo Guthrie - are Pete Seeger, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Sonny Terry, Joan Baez, Ronnie Gilbert, Holly Near, Judy Collins and Hoyt Axton.

The 90-minute documentary includes part of the only film of Woody Guthrie singing, in a trio with Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee. And even those who know Mr. Guthrie's music well have probably never heard the recently rediscovered ''Roll, Columbia, Roll,'' written for the Bonneville Power Administration in Oregon.

Arlo Guthrie and the director Jim Brown (who made the film ''Wasn't That a Time,'' which follows at 10:35) found Woody Guthrie's first wife and his youngest sister, such early collaborators as the Texas fiddler Matt Jennings and Maxine (Lefty Lou) Crissman, and Rose Maddox, who sings her 1930's hit ''Reno Blues '' a Guthrie song.

By now, after the movie based on Mr. Guthrie's autobiography, ''Bound for Glory,'' and Joe Klein's Guthrie biography, the outlines of the Oklahoma-born songwriter's life are well-known. ''Woody Guthrie: Hard Travelin' '' fleshes out the story with songs and with eyewitness accounts, for the same down-to-earth specificity that makes Mr. Guthrie's pro- underdog songs so durable.

Mr. Guthrie wandered from place to place, cause to cause. He wrote ''So Long, It's Been Good to Know Yuh'' as dust storms forced Okies off their family farms. He wrote ''Deportee'' when he arrived in California and was drawn to the battle for migrant workers' rights. In New York, he joined Pete Seeger and the Almanac Singers, who were helping to organize workers for the C.I.O., and he came up with ''Union Maid.'' And during World War II, after his Merchant Marine ship was torpedoed, he wrote ''Reuben James.''

Ironically, his songs may have had their greatest impact in the 1950's, when they spurred a folk revival while Mr. Guthrie wasted away as a victim of Huntington's chorea, a degenerative brain disease.

Continue reading the main story
The documentary stops just short of hagiography, showing all three of Mr. Guthrie's wives (but not mentioning any divorces) and revealing that he drank heavily and was not always fond of bathing. Mostly, however, it is a reminder of just how good a songwriter he was. His protest songs and singalong anthems, like ''This Land Is Your Land,'' still sound natural, forthright and well-nigh universal.
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