The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #281 Message #1057557
Posted By: GUEST,Dale
20-Nov-03 - 02:19 AM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Oklahoma Hills (Jack & Woody Guthrie)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Oklahoma Hills (Woody Guthrie)
Ah, Dick, but those lyrics predate the DT version by more than a year. Gene posted them in July of 1997 and the DT says October 1998 by AJS ~~ at the moment, I can't think who that is.
I wrote the following in a thread in 1999. I'll re-enter it here, since this is the active thread.
Leon Jerry Guthrie was born November 13, 1915 in Olive, Oklahoma. He was always Leon to his family, Oke (pronounced Oak) to his friends, but took the name Jack when he made his first recordings on October 16, 1944. The very first song he cut was Oklahoma Hills. Now I've heard a couple of different stories as to how he came into possession of the song. One version goes that he wanted the song, so Woody said he could have it. In fact, Woody often stated publicly, that anyone could have any song he wrote. In the other version, in about 1937, Woody wrote the rough draft of what was to become Oklahoma Hills. Jack took the song from a fake book that Woody had made, modified it, and smoothed it into the version we are familiar with today. They performed together frequently in these early years, so I would think it would be highly unlikely that Woody was unaware that Jack had done this, and was performing the song on a regular basis. In any case, it was not until after the song became a hit in 1945 that Woody claimed ownership. The dispute was resolved by attributing the song to both of them. As to the question of to who did what to the song, I'm not sure that has ever been made clear. Folk process in operation, I guess.
Jack Guthrie recorded only a small handful of wonderful songs, (available on Bear Family CD 15580) . He had contracted tuberculosis in the Army, and was too obsessed with the music business to take care of himself. He died on January 15, 1948, aged 32.
Information above from my own memory, various readings, and most specifically from the notes to the Bear Family CD by Guy Logsdon.
If you haven't heard Oklahoma Hills by Jack Guthrie, then you really haven't heard it. I first heard it on the jukebox in my Dad's tavern in 1945. I am sure that I would have pestered him constantly for nickels to play the song, but as it was very popular at the time, the patrons of the tavern kept me from provoking my father too much! It was and is one of my all time favorite songs.
Since I wrote that, more of the works of Jack Guthrie have been made available on Bear Family ~~ bet you can get them from Camsco!