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Overtaking Woody

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Janice in NJ 07 Mar 02 - 10:12 PM
Rick Fielding 08 Mar 02 - 12:13 AM
Rick Fielding 08 Mar 02 - 12:14 AM
Suffet 08 Mar 02 - 06:47 AM
greg stephens 08 Mar 02 - 07:50 AM
Uncle_DaveO 08 Mar 02 - 10:28 AM
Lonesome EJ 08 Mar 02 - 12:20 PM
Little Hawk 08 Mar 02 - 01:51 PM
Art Thieme 08 Mar 02 - 05:18 PM
X 08 Mar 02 - 05:26 PM
Uncle_DaveO 08 Mar 02 - 05:44 PM
Peter T. 08 Mar 02 - 06:15 PM
McGrath of Harlow 08 Mar 02 - 06:44 PM
McGrath of Harlow 08 Mar 02 - 06:45 PM
Janice in NJ 11 Mar 02 - 06:46 AM
Janice in NJ 11 Mar 02 - 06:46 AM
Stilly River Sage 11 Mar 02 - 11:37 PM
Steve-o 12 Mar 02 - 05:05 PM
Mr Red 12 Mar 02 - 08:08 PM
McGrath of Harlow 12 Mar 02 - 08:24 PM
GUEST,Barbara in D.C. 13 Mar 02 - 02:21 PM
Francy 13 Mar 02 - 02:31 PM
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Subject: Overtaking Woody
From: Janice in NJ
Date: 07 Mar 02 - 10:12 PM

Legend has it Woody Guthrie composed 1,000 songs. Maybe that number is apochryphal, but I have already counted more than 500. That includes the nearly 300 songs that appear in the Ludlow Music collection published in the sixties. It also includes all the songs that appear in the various Guthrie songbooks, in Born to Win, in Pastures of Plenty, in the Columbia River collection, in the Peoples' Song Book, on the Folways records, on the Smithsonian Folkways CDs, and on the CDs that Billy Bragg recorded (Woody's words, Billy's tunes). So maybe 1,000 isn't that far fetched. I have taken care not to double count minor variants of the same song, but I have included major variants, such asWoody's original So Long It's Been Good to Know You and the more refined version he later wrote for the Weavers to record.

Is there anyone out there on the folk scene who has a realistic chance of overtaking Woody? At one time I thought the Rev. Frederick Douglass Kirkpatrick would eventually do it, but unfortunately he died relatively young.


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Subject: RE: BS: Overtaking Woody
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 08 Mar 02 - 12:13 AM

Interesting thread. I've read on numerous occasions about the "1000" songs as well. What might even be more interesting is to estimate how many "good" songs he wrote (everyone's judgement will be different of course). He wrote a huge amount of forgettable verse, and tons of doggerel, but my guess is that you could cull about twenty to twenty five real gems from his repertoire....which is a VERY substantial number for a songwriter.

If we stick to the folk world, it could get interesting....in the pop world it would be hard to find anyone more prolific than Gershwin, or maybe Richard Rogers. I'd go for Tom Paxton or even Neil Young (who I don't personally like)...Gordon Lightfoot would have to be in there somewhere, and certainly Pete Seeger. Try to figure out twenty REALLY classic songs from yer favourites.

Woody may well still head the list though. Bears thinkin' about.

Rick


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Subject: RE: BS: Overtaking Woody
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 08 Mar 02 - 12:14 AM

Or does Bobby D. trump them all? I think maybe so.


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Subject: RE: BS: Overtaking Woody
From: Suffet
Date: 08 Mar 02 - 06:47 AM

Eubie Blake supposedly wrote more than 2,000 songs, but only about 350 have been catalogued from his published and recorded works. Eubie, of course was a jazzman during the very earliest days of jazz when it was much more of a folk music than it later became. Like Woody, Eubie recycled riffs, phrases, and whole tunes, so maybe 2,000 is a realistic number, with the proviso that a good number of those songs were only performed once or twice. In any event composing 350 "keepers" ain't at all bad. Out of Woody's 500 to 1,000 songs, does anyone believe there are even 350 that are more than historical curiosities? And that's asked by someone who has spent 35 years resurrecting some of Woody's forgotten gems, such as Blow Big Wind Blow, Boomtown Bill, Highway 66 Blues, The Many and the Few, Sally Don't You Grieve, and Down In O-klay-homa.

On the other hand, Eubie lived to 100 and was up and about until the very end. Woody died at 55, and suffered from a devastating illness the last 15 years of his life. Eubie thus had about four times as many productive years than Woody.

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: BS: Overtaking Woody
From: greg stephens
Date: 08 Mar 02 - 07:50 AM

Maybe McGrath from Harlow?


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Subject: RE: BS: Overtaking Woody
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 08 Mar 02 - 10:28 AM

I've read that Woody would not infrequently write three songs before breakfast. As someone mentioned, that's not to say GOOD songs, necessarily. But the rhymes, the couplets, the verses came tumbling out; it seems to have been a compulsion. Remember, though, even Shakespeare wrote quite a lot of potboilers.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: Overtaking Woody
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 08 Mar 02 - 12:20 PM

Yes, Shakespeare wrote some real garbage. Consider his 1589 attempt to pander to the teen audience, Dude, Where's my Bodkin?


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Subject: RE: BS: Overtaking Woody
From: Little Hawk
Date: 08 Mar 02 - 01:51 PM

The youthful Bill Shatner did some Shakespearian stuff at one time. He would have been good for that one.

- LH


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Subject: RE: BS: Overtaking Woody
From: Art Thieme
Date: 08 Mar 02 - 05:18 PM

Janice,

I hadn't realized that Fred Douglas Kirkpatrick had written so many songs. Were they all religious? Any ballads in that large number of songs you mentioned. He and Pete did a fine concert in the mid '60s at Orchestra Hall-Chicago. Later, in the 70s, it was great to share a stage with them in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.


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Subject: RE: BS: Overtaking Woody
From: X
Date: 08 Mar 02 - 05:26 PM

I think that guy named Traditional has everyone beat. :o)


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Subject: RE: BS: Overtaking Woody
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 08 Mar 02 - 05:44 PM

He's about tied with Ibid and Anon.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: Overtaking Woody
From: Peter T.
Date: 08 Mar 02 - 06:15 PM

Beatles are tied with Schubert with most good songs in a short period for me. I think in terms of overall quality and quantity simultaneously Schubert has everyone beat -- about 350 of them, and almost all of them are not potboilers by any means, but quite wonderful classics. Astonishing. Of course Bach churned out something every week, and they are in a class of their own; but Schubert's songs are songs.

Malvina Reynolds sure churned out almost a song a day for awhile there, and she has at least 10 that are still well known.

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: BS: Overtaking Woody
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 08 Mar 02 - 06:44 PM

Well, a song a day over three years and you'd top 1,000. I suspect there are a fair numnber of people who've written a thousand or so songs. But the thing isn't just numbers, it's quality, and there's not many could top Woodu on that.

One pretty prolific lad is Leon Rosselson, both numbers of songs and quality.

But for real productivity, see this correction from the Guardian today: "In our obituary of the country songwriter Harlan Howard, page 22, March 6, we said he had 400 songs in his catalogue. The total is much closer to 4,000."

(Myself, I think I've got something over 200 - just scatching around.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Overtaking Woody
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 08 Mar 02 - 06:45 PM

Well, a song a day over three years and you'd top 1,000. I suspect there are a fair numnber of people who've written a thousand or so songs. But the thing isn't just numbers, it's quality, and there's not many could top Woody on that.

One pretty prolific lad is Leon Rosselson, both numbers of songs and quality.

But for real productivity, see this correction from the Guardian today: "In our obituary of the country songwriter Harlan Howard, page 22, March 6, we said he had 400 songs in his catalogue. The total is much closer to 4,000."

(Myself, I think I've got something over 200 - just scratching around.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Overtaking Woody
From: Janice in NJ
Date: 11 Mar 02 - 06:46 AM

Art, I really believe if Brother Kirk (Rev. Kirpatrick) had lived, he would have been a candidate for overtaking Woody's putative total. I knew Kirk intimately for a brief period in 1968 (in Resurrection City and right after) and -- good Lord -- could he crank 'em out! Songs that is. :-) I saw him write four or five songs a day at times, often adding his own words to an existing song, but sometimes turning out an original (or what I thought was an original). I was there when Kirk wrote Farewell Mr. Charley to the tune of Bob Dylan's Farewell Angelina, and it was amazing. He had it all done in half an hour. Those were the days of Kirk's partnership with Jimmy Collier, and the two of them, had they stayed together, could have made one of the greatest songwriting/performing teams ever, and I don't mean just among folkies.


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Subject: RE: BS: Overtaking Woody
From: Janice in NJ
Date: 11 Mar 02 - 06:46 AM

Art, I really believe if Brother Kirk (Rev. Kirkpatrick) had lived, he would have been a candidate for overtaking Woody's putative total. I knew Kirk intimately for a brief period in 1968 (in Resurrection City and right after) and -- good Lord -- could he crank 'em out! Songs that is. :-) I saw him write four or five songs a day at times, often adding his own words to an existing song, but sometimes turning out an original (or what I thought was an original). I was there when Kirk wrote Farewell Mr. Charley to the tune of Bob Dylan's Farewell Angelina, and it was amazing. He had it all done in half an hour. Those were the days of Kirk's partnership with Jimmy Collier, and the two of them, had they stayed together, could have made one of the greatest songwriting/performing teams ever, and I don't mean just among folkies.


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Subject: RE: BS: Overtaking Woody
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 11 Mar 02 - 11:37 PM

Though they don't probably strike anyone as songs of merit, if one considers the vast number of advertising jingles and such that are out there, people like Barry Manilow have quite a long list. Bacharach writes prolificially, as did (does?) Dory (sp?) Previn. I've heard about them in the context of programs like 60 Minutes or 20/20 when they interview these folks.

Schubert, Mendelssohn, Bach, were all quite prolific, but not all they wrote were songs, of course. Look at the sheer volume of Symphonies Haydn wrote. Something around 100. But this thread is creeping too far if I follow that idea.

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: Overtaking Woody
From: Steve-o
Date: 12 Mar 02 - 05:05 PM

Rick F. answered his own question- no sweat picking 25 Bobby D. songs....probably more like 50 really good ones. He wins hands-down for those in a "folky" vein. As for most songs of all, the answer, my friends, is Steve Allen. Yep.


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Subject: RE: BS: Overtaking Woody
From: Mr Red
Date: 12 Mar 02 - 08:08 PM

When I read the biog (or the autobiog) Woody's number was put at 1500.
Cole Porter wrote 5000, and Irving Berlin 15,000. I don't necessarilly believe the last figure but I have seen it more than once, and even if it is 100% overstatement it is still impressive.
BTW FWIW Irving Berlin only ever played in the key of F (or F# I am not sure which) but he had a special piano with a moveable keyboard and he just notched it left/right a semitone at a time until he had the key he wanted.
Anyone know the make/type of piano that could do this?


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Subject: RE: BS: Overtaking Woody
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 12 Mar 02 - 08:24 PM

A piano with a capo! That deserves a thread of its own.


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Subject: RE: BS: Overtaking Woody
From: GUEST,Barbara in D.C.
Date: 13 Mar 02 - 02:21 PM

Janice in NJ: You probably realize you are not the only one who knew the Good Reverend Kirkpatrick intimately in those days. The one thing that could be said is that he was an equal opportunity womanizer. His behavior took a temporary turn for the better when his wife from back home in Louisiana showed up unannounced in Washington D.C. one day. Too bad, though, that he died young. His personal life aside, Rev. Kirkpatrick was a truly gifted performer, a real natural. Take that any way you want!


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Subject: RE: BS: Overtaking Woody
From: Francy
Date: 13 Mar 02 - 02:31 PM

Townes van Zandt and my favorite Tom T. Hall....Look upon the works of Shel Silverstein.......Frank of Toledo


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