Saturday, November 23, 2013

The toads' weekend challenge from Susie

I want the job my friend Susie's daughter has. She works at the The Guthrie Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The center houses the museum and archives for the American folk singer Woody Guthrie.
Susie introduced Woody to the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads today, and I think he'd be very comfortable in our garden. Even though his father had been a member of the KKK, Woody was a man of the people, all the people. He didn't just talk about equality, and he didn't just sing about it. He lived it. Many of the songs he wrote became part of the folk song genre almost immediately. Although the lyrics changed over time, as folk song lyrics do, at the heart of each of his many songs is the heart of a man who cared.
Many of you may not recognize his name but you'll recognize the name of his son, Arlo Guthrie, who followed in his father's footsteps. I was fortunate, however, to be raised by a musician who admired Woody and taught me about him before Arlo hit the music scene.

“A folk song is what’s wrong and how to fix it.”
Woody Guthrie


I wonder what Woody Guthrie would say
if he could see our countries today,
all of Canada, and the whole USA.
He’d be wondering why conservatives say
poor people don’t matter
the rich should get breaks
cut down all the trees
don’t care about spills
from pipelines and fracking
and other new ills.
He’d see we’ve got solar
and wind power, too,
and he’d wonder why
we aren’t using them more.
Why oil? Why gas?
Why take chances with that?
When better’s available
at the drop of a hat?
He’d probably lead us
in a march of protest
'til the RCMP
had us under arrest.
There are border patrols
south and north of the U.S.
while both armies are fighting
in the middle east,
and from the west
the Pacific so blue
is radioactive
for fish, whales and you.
The planet is warming,
which the right wing denies,
and if we talk about it
the government spies
will arrest us tomorrow
just because we despise
the way things are going,
the things that are wrong,
and we simply can’t fix them
with another folk song.
Kay Davies, November, 2013                                  
Woody Guthrie's guitar wore
a sign that said,
"This machine kills fascists."

"I hate a song that makes you think that you are not any good. I hate a song that makes you think that you are just born to lose. Bound to lose. No good to nobody. No good for nothing. Because you are too old or too young or too fat or too slim too ugly or too this or too that. Songs that run you down or poke fun at you on account of your bad luck or hard traveling.
"I am out to fight those songs to my very last breath of air and my last drop of blood. I am out to sing songs that will prove to you that this is your world and that if it has hit you pretty hard and knocked you for a dozen loops, no matter what color, what size you are, how you are built.
"I am out to sing the songs that make you take pride in yourself and in your work."
Guthrie on songwriting


Kerry O'Connor said...

we despise
the way things are going,
the things that are wrong,
and we simply can’t fix them
with another folk song...

This is such a powerful message, Kay, start to finish. There have been big changes in the last 50 years, not all of them for the better, and the sinister elements are becoming more overt.
I still believe in the basic goodness of any country's population, however, who remain hopeful albeit powerless to effect the changes they would like to see in their homelands.

Kay L. Davies said...

Thanks, Kerry. I believe in the basic goodness of a country's people, but I don't know about its population. The population can be led to believe any number of lies. Individuals who are basically good are swept up in and misled by false promises on television and radio.
Our prime minister lies. His cabinet ministers lie. Some of them get caught, and who knows how many of them don't.
Anyway, Susie invited us to kvetch, and kvetch I did, loud, long and hard. I really have been a Woody Guthrie fan since I was a child, and I'm sure he wouldn't like what's happening now.

Jo said...

What a strong message, Kay. I didn't know the meaning of the word, kvetch, so I looked it up. Thesaurus didn't know it either and sent me to a link in its sidebar. Now I know what kvetch is! Even though I know it, I read again on FB that you love words, and this word above made me sit up. I think your poem will make people sit up too! I hope you're having such a wonderful day. (((Hugs))) Jo

brudberg said...

So much wrong today... and politicians have made sure we are all held hostage to their decision.. marketing paid for by the corporations... no free thinking any more..

Tammy said...

Even your kvetching is poetic! Love it. And I had no idea Woody was such a cool guy.

Penelope Notes said...

What a great and forward thinking guy Guthrie was! You have written some thought provoking lines here yourself and I do not know where to begin so I will just start:

Although not all conservatives could care less about poor people I know what you are getting at. There is a theory that if the rich are taken care of they will create more jobs and, as a consequence, there will be less poor. I have been hearing a lot about another theory lately … jobs are so important that they are the prime reason for allowing oil companies and such (that create the jobs) to continue. Those who promote this idea while fudging the toll some projects take on the environment, ignore that the ice caps are melting and the oceans are rising causing extremely dangerous weather patterns. If this attitude continues there will be many clean up jobs after buildings, infrastructure, the ground and air are destroyed. But there will be few people to fill them since most will have died due to floods, hurricanes, earthquakes and pollution.

It seems the best jobs right now are the creative ones that respect and protect the environment and work towards solving what ails our troubled but beautiful world.

Helen said...

Kay, this is so wise .. full of insight .. so true.

Maude Lynn said...

I love this, Kay.

Sumana Roy said...

the same scene everywhere....politicians wear the same cloak and speak the same language no doubt...a very powerful write up

Marian said...

i love this post, Kay. i do sometimes think Woody Guthrie must be rolling over in his grave for our lack of progress.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Sing it, Kay !! Woody Guthrie would give you a thumbs-up!

Susie Clevenger said...

"the government spies
will arrest us tomorrow
just because we despise
the way things are going,
the things that are wrong,
and we simply can’t fix them with another folk song." This is so powerful have written such a strong piece about what is so wrong with our world. I can't believe the garbage coming out of the mouths of politicians. Thank you so much for taking part in the challenge!!

Susan said...

You let out the stream of what you know and I believe Guthrie's standing right there saying "Go, Kay!" More and more we need Guthrie's approach--let people know we are not powerless, tell the real stories and keep on going! Your poem rocks, my dear. I'd love to hear it in your voice.

Unknown said...

SOund like a battle cry. Great write.

Kay said...

What a wonderful man he was!

Anonymous said...

Various issues are voiced in your words- well-penned. I certainly liked it. :-)

Jenn Jilks said...

There is a wonderful era, when musicians sung their hearts out for good.