Song was written by Ry Cooder.
When he released the album, there was a fairly extensive interview with him on Radio 2 in the UK about it - the concept behind the album is of a cat (that's of the feline variety, not the "hey you crazy cats" variety) travelling across the US. This might explain the "character" voice in the song.
Lindisfarne used the phrase relatively recently on their song "This guitar never lies". The verse could refer to either Dylan or Guthrie, and goes:-
There was a man before me, and he was the living proof
Of just how far a boy can get with three chords and the truth
Sure he had had his share of low-down ways you might despise
But everywhere he played they all said, this guitar never lies