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Jack Guthrie's 'Oklahoma Hills'

02 Dec 20 - 02:54 PM (#4081695)
Subject: Jack Guthrie's 'Oklahoma Hills'
From: GUEST,Truman Price

I have a copy of a 1946 songbook, "K6 Wranglers Present the Jack Guthrie Song Book" ...
   The page on Jack Guthrie begins, "When Jack Guthrie wrote "Oklahoma Hills" he wasn't indulging in the usual idle fancy of the members of the song writing profession. Jack actually hails from the hills...."

   Question: What changes, if any, did Jack make before he copyrighted his cousin Woody's creation in his own name? Who would know?

02 Dec 20 - 04:28 PM (#4081701)
Subject: RE: Jack Guthrie's 'Oklahoma Hills'
From: GerryM

I don't know the answer, but I would be surprised if the question hasn't come up on this website some time in the last 25 years. Have you tried searching this website for Oklahoma Hills?

02 Dec 20 - 05:54 PM (#4081708)
Subject: RE: Jack Guthrie's 'Oklahoma Hills'

The third paragraph down may help explain why both Jack and Woody are named as writers of the song.

02 Dec 20 - 09:51 PM (#4081722)
Subject: RE: Jack Guthrie's 'Oklahoma Hills'
From: GerryM

Here's an earlier discussion here:

03 Dec 20 - 06:50 PM (#4081832)
Subject: RE: Jack Guthrie's 'Oklahoma Hills'
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

Skimmed through that and the other threads. Too much reading for too little info. Some of the following is covered elsewhere:

“Jack Guthrie also was a stage performer who entertained audiences with a whip act. His wife participated in it until their marriage became rocky and Guthrie started missing the items she held, accidentally hitting her with the whip. His friend Ruth Crissman then joined the act, and when he was injured in a fall from a bucking horse and had no other career, in 1944 she provided funds to buy him a demo recording session at Capitol Records's studio. Capitol offered him a contract, and "Oklahoma Hills" was the first song he recorded. Released in 1945, it quickly became a Number One country-western hit. When Woody Guthrie heard it on a jukebox, he called Capitol and claimed it as his song. Because Jack had recorded it, made it popular, and had made a few changes to improve it, he and his cousin decided to share the copyright.” [OK Historical Society]

“Although the labels listed 'Jack Guthrie & His Oklahomans' as the artist, in reality Guthrie had no working band. The studio brought in some of its better musicians to back Guthrie. Many of them, like Porky Freeman, Red Murrell, Cliffie Stone, and Billy Hughes were recording artists in their own right.” [J. Guthrie wiki]

Oct. 16, 1944: Jack Guthrie, vocal; Porky Freeman, lead guitar; Red Murrell, rhythm guitar; Cliffie Stone, bass; Billy Hughes, fiddle.

03 Dec 20 - 07:00 PM (#4081833)
Subject: RE: Jack Guthrie's 'Oklahoma Hills'
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

“Born in Stockton, California, Stone's father was country musician Herman the Hermit. The family moved to Burbank, and early in his life, he played bass in the big bands of Freddie Slack and Anson Weeks in Southern California, as well as working at local radio stations KXLA, KFI, KFVD*, KFWB and KFOX-AM 1280 in Long Beach. Starting in 1935, Stone appeared on the Los Angeles-based radio shows Covered Wagon Jubilee, Hollywood Barn Dance, Dinner Bell Roundup, and Lucky Stars, singing as well as performing comedy routines and acting as host and DJ in the mid-1940s. In 1939, he married his first wife, Dorothy, and they had four children.

Stone began working at Capitol Records in 1946, and became an A&R man there;...” [wiki]

* Clifford "Stonehead" Snyder was the trade union rep trying to organize KFVD-AM when management “hired” both Guthrie cousins and Lefty Lou at zero wages.

03 Dec 20 - 07:13 PM (#4081835)
Subject: RE: Jack Guthrie's 'Oklahoma Hills'
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

If Oklahoma Hills was already in distribution under cousin Jack Guthrie's Capitol Records recording contract, the only way for Woody to share in the future royalties was to co-sign a revised Capitol Records contract. And it's unlikely any 1940s major American record label or publishing house would agree to a one song/one shot deal unless it was a monster-mega-hit. Oklahoma Hills was not. If Woody didn't sign on the dotted line, they'd just cut their losses, bin it and move on.

I suspect Jack Guthrie's original recording contract is how Mickey Goldsen (1912-2011) became associated with many of Woody Guthrie's other songs.

Much of what you're hearing in terms of country/western/swing genre is the team of Mercer, Goldsen & Snyder.

03 Dec 20 - 07:32 PM (#4081836)
Subject: RE: Jack Guthrie's 'Oklahoma Hills'
From: Joe Offer

The message in the previous thread, was that information about the authorship was inconclusive. It was written by Woody Guthrie, Jack Guthrie, or a combination of the two.
It appears that Phil d'Conch came to the same inconclusion, but won't admit it.
-Joe Offer-

03 Dec 20 - 10:26 PM (#4081844)
Subject: RE: Jack Guthrie's 'Oklahoma Hills'
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch

Joe: What is orange minus eleventeen? I took it from the other threads & interwebs the Woody Guthrie “original” is an unrecoverable fake book supposedly left in the back of Jack Guthrie's car. There are other fake books but they were not the fake book left in Jack's car. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Lyrics: The other threads cover the IMO very minor differences in what we can compare. Typical stuff for popular song creative process.

Music: What original Woody Guthrie thing shall we compare the Goldsen sheet music or the Capitol recording to?

Arrangement: And again, what is the comparison you would make here? Anywho, if the Capitol A-Team was credited in any of the other threads, I plumb missed it, but I did warn you now didn't I?

C'est la vie.

04 Dec 20 - 05:51 PM (#4081949)
Subject: RE: Jack Guthrie's 'Oklahoma Hills'
From: leeneia

'Oklahoma Hills' is a very simple, naive song, not much like Woody Guthrie. I say let Jack have his little bit of fame.