The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #13282   Message #109302
Posted By: Frank Hamilton
28-Aug-99 - 03:35 PM
Thread Name: Woody Guthrie quote?
Subject: RE: Woody Guthrie quote?
I admire Ramblin' Jack a great deal! Of all of the folk revivalists, Alan Lomax liked him the best, so he said in print, one time. Bob Dylan's early photos showed him in a merchant marine cap and a harmonica rack around his neck. This is how Woody used to dress. (Bob also used to wear top hats, London style to parties for a joke). The harmonica rack is definitely vintage Woody who played it rather well. Jack rarely if at all did this. I know Woody played harmonica well because he taught me to play cross-harp style. Jack is a extremely talented natural actor-performer with a gift for mimicry. He can make you believe that Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger are talking together in the next room if you close your eyes. I think that Bob Dylan had known Jack and may have copped a few licks like we all do but I think also that Bob's original inspiration was Woody. Jack didn't write songs. Talking Subway Blues is in the talking blues form that Woody used for years and I think Woody popularized that at least in the folkie community. Woody used to do one of the first ones, "If you want to get to Heaven, I'll tell you how to do it, Just grease your feet in a little mutton suet"..... I think that Bob left his association with folk music some time ago in exploring his original voice which is wonderful.....but not folk. Some day, maybe a Dylan song will go through the changes and become a part of the American folk fabric but at present, his early style is a stylistic performance patterned after folk music and later more toward rock and roll. But in MHO he has not written folk music yet. Woody stuck with the folk idiom and was a lot closer to the tradition of it than Dylan because of his association with rural country music from Okemah Oklahoma where he grew up. It came down to him in his family and environment whereas Dylan would be like most of us interpreters, came to it second hand. This is no way intended to diminish Dylan's prodigious talent but to bring into focus the difference between traditional folk music and what Dylan does.

I'm one of those guys who will ocntinue to bring up the "what is folk" debate because I believe that not enough is known about traditional American folk music and more is known about American popular music of the late fifties through the seventies.

Frank Hamilton