Woody Guthrie Centre Revisited

Read about our return to the Woody Guthrie Centre in Tulsa Ok


Woody Guthrie Centre, Tulsa Oklahoma 2 October 2018

Images – Jim Jacob

Words – Rob Dickens


“I am an educator, not any entertainer”

“If you play more than two chords, you’re showing off”

– Woody Guthrie


To Woody Guthrie, words were more important than music.  This childlike, adventurous rebel had a big heart, a love for and an affinity with working people.  His message was hope and an uplifting one – take pride in yourself – and his mission and legacy encouraged not hundreds but thousands of singers/songwriters that followed.

Guthrie had plenty of vivid and dark experiences in his life – a poor farming background, the great ecological disaster that was the Dust Bowl and his time in the merchant marines during World War II.  At the forefront of this was the rise of capitalism, expansionist zeal and fascism that he detested and devoted his life to rail against in the most vehement, yet peaceful, fashion.



You can read more background information about the Woody Guthrie Centre during OUR FIRST VISIT.

A recap of the Centre’s excellent presentation of the key periods in Guthrie’s life:

  • 1920s Okemah – born in 1912, his formative years were spent in rural Oklahoma where he developed his deep love of music, storytelling skills and a commitment to human struggles.
  • 1930s Pampa – he moved to this Texas panhandle ‘oil boom’ town in 1929 where he married and began a family, experiencing first hand the economic pain of the Great Depression and the disaster of the Dust Bowl.  He was heavily influenced by the songwriting skill of Jimmie Rodgers and the harmonies of The Carter Family – see more about the Big Bang of Country Music HERE
  • 1930s Los Angeles – he headed west, settled in L.A., wound up on radio, wrote songs reflecting the plight of the Okies and cemented his political principles.  It was here he penned some of his greatest songs
  • 1940s New York – despite regular absences he made New York his home for the rest of his life.  He remarried and started a new family.  His greatest musical and literary achievements occurred during this creative period
  • 1950s and 1960s – The Final Years.  He was diagnosed with the degenerative Huntington’s disease in the early 1950s but it was here where he informed Bob Dylan and the wave that became known as the Folk Revival in the 1960s.  Guthrie died in 1967.



A wall devoted to folk troubadour Phil Ochs was also notable on this, our second, visit to pay homage to this giant of American music and literature.

This time around there was also the special John Mellencamp exhibit – an artist with a conscience, co-founder of Farm Aid and a deep appreciation of Woody’s enduring work.  There were Mellancamp instruments, clothes, posters, substantial art work, mementos, hand-written lyrics and the centre-piece, his 1965 Honda CL77 motor bike.

The Bob Dylan Centre is to be built in Tulsa, fittingly almost side-by-side to the WGC – GO HERE for info.




Read about our return to the Woody Guthrie Centre in Tulsa Ok



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Author: Rob Dickens

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