The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, September 08, 1971, Page PAGE 6, Image 6

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    Guthrie's Bound for Glory
A Book Review by Alan Boye
There was a time when Woody Guthrie, the
man and not just the name and legend, traveled
with thousands of other jobless and homeless
men across the United States looking lor work,
or a home, or just plain looking. That was
before Woody Guthrie, the name and legend,
was associated with the revival of the American
folk ballad, labor movements and "Pusi Howl
Hound hot- (i lory is Guthrie's autobiography
and covers the period in his life tllIM'U.2)
before his recognition as the most important
creator of songs of America. In it he spends
over half the book (perhaps too much) talking
about the first twelve years of his .life in
Okemah, Oklahoma and neighboring oil boom
towns. The details of his fights, schooling, and
watching his first home burning to the ground;
and his realizations that thinking and believing,
alone, do not change the nature of things, fill
the section. His continual recognition that most
people considered his mother insane, and his
coping with his great love for the lady is weaved
excellently through-out the first half of the
The Oklahoma section, although
inconsistent in terms of style, and often times
unbalanced in form, is the most haunting,
piercing and revealing writing ever done about
the dust bowl days of Oklahoma. What it lacks
in literary talent it makes up for in enjoyahility
and effectiveness. In fact, in over-all effect it
surpasses John Steinbeck's Civhs lV4f.
Not only do 1 now find myself remembering
Guthrie's Oklahoma instead of Steinbeck's, but
the details of how that Oklahoma left its
psychological imprint on a man and a nation
are, although not as well done, more vivid and
lasting than Steinbeck's.
Given the Guthrie childhood, the remainder
of the book, (which for no evident creative
purpose, skips around in time and sequence),
explains Guthrie's actions, inactions and values.
Once, while in New York, he turns down a high
paying job in a swank nightclub because the
people he would work for do not fit his ideal of
honesty and sincerity. He sneaks out a back
door and walks through the streets of New
York singing and playing his old guitar. Soon
there is an entire blockfull of kids, old men.
women, blacks and whiles, walking and singing
along with him. To Guthrie, this performance
was worth countless others at the nightclub.
The unity of the people on the street was more
genuine than he could have ever found in a
Guthrie is always searching lor. and finding
that ideal in all corners of America, later that
same evening when he is drinking "coffee and
likker" on a houseboat with some new found
friends, he excuses himself and Ik- and a friend
walk outside and sit on a barge Lo talk. Altera
while they realie that the barge has started to
move. His friend jumps off and runs along side:
"Jump! Jump quick! I'll catch
your guitar! Jump!" He was now
trotting along side at a pretty fair gait.
I set myself down on the hind-end
of the moving load of gravel and lit up
a cigarel and blowed the smoke up
toward the long, tall "Rockerfeller
Building. Will had a big grin in his face
there by the light of the moon, and he
said. "Got any money on ya'.'"
I flipped a rock into the water and
said. "Mornin' comes. I'll feel in my
pockets an' see."
"But where'll ya be?"
"I dunno."
And he is off once again looking for that
ideal that he was convinced existed in America.
HiHinJ I'or (ilory is not dishonest or too
idealistic. Guthrie does not leave out a bit of
the horror, corruption and evil in what he has
seen. However, the picture one is left with is
that the good will overcome the evil in
America, and that the country will survive or be
born again from the frankness and earnesty of
the people of its roots. And in them alone
exists the freedom of all our innerselves:
It's always we've rambled, that river and I.
All along your green valley I'll work till I
My land I'll defend with my life if it be,
For my Pastures of Plenty must always be
A vagabond with silver
comes begging at your door
Pleading for your soft lips
and a place to sleep on your floor
You bring him hidden beauty
of sunrise and the moon
But now you are asleep
and he must leave too soon
And I've begged at this backdoor
too often to know that your hands
are only silver, your body only gold.
A wanderer at your window
a ribbon in your hair
A cat to sleep for drifters
and a bunk for those who care
Walking alone at midnight
you beg the poorest to stay
While cats yawn in the morning
the trainmen walk away
But I've climb up this window
too often to know that your hands
are only silver, your body only gold.
A begger at your bedside
his silver at your feet
You whisper to call your tenants
to the place where the lovers meet
You bring them hidden beauty
of sunrise and the moon
But now you are asleep
and they must leave too soon
And I've begged at this bedside
too often to know that your hands
are only flesh, your body only cold.
Attention writers, photographers, reviewers and
other people: The Lowlands Reader is now considering
all types of creative work for publication. Make your
work come to The Lowlands Reader co The Daily
Nebraskan, Nebraska Union, and find yourself famous
Two Poems by AAurry Stafford
found your face dissapearing
As each quiet night was hardly crowded.
To your once glad grin
Any adventure I'd suppose was gone
I knew the noisy day
at your address in long rooms,
But many strong shoulders
stand at me
As baggage in a line
and never have helped.
It is all so american.
A thought that I won't
express however,
so only one knew.
A vagabond with silver
A song in favor of
the smile
that I will remember
most of all
in past days of childlike
lost if I will be not
finding the way
finding the way
without even feathers
when you felt you were flying
from the days we spent
you smiling at birds
over clouds
over even
my head
counting on you
to go
and praying that
you wouldn't
while a razorblade wind
slashes through my hair
with the lust of a half-crazed murderer
i burglarize the
early morning space
with moves that couldn't
be matched even by
Billy the Kid