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This Land Is Your Land: Woody Guthrie and the Journey of an American Folk Song [Hardcover]

Robert Santelli

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Book Description

15 Mar 2012
100 years after the birth of folk singer Woody Guthrie, "This Land is Your Land" tells the story of his most famous work. "This Land Is Your Land" is the most iconic folk song in American history, and the masterwork of one of the country's greatest singer/song-writers, Woody Guthrie. Written in 1940 and first recorded in 1944, the song became an instant hit, and then a point of controversy, and finally a cross-generational anthem. It has been covered by numerous artists in many genres. Published to coincide with Guthrie's centenary year, "This Land Is Your Land" is a remarkably detailed account of the journey of America's most celebrated folk song. It also details Guthrie's legendary journey from Oklahoma across the Heartland to New York City, where he wrote many of his works including "This Land Is Your Land". With more than forty rare black-and-white photographs from the Woody Guthrie archives, a removable poster, plus original interviews with Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nelson, Pete Seeger, John Mellencamp, and more, "This Land is Your Land" delivers a revealing portrait of an American treasure.

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This Land Is Your Land: Woody Guthrie and the Journey of an American Folk Song + Bound for Glory (Penguin Modern Classics)
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Running Press; Har/Pstr edition (15 Mar 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0762443286
  • ISBN-13: 978-0762443284
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 22 x 3 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 143,237 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Santellis is convinced of Guthrie s genius, but acknowledges that he wasn t an easy man to know; his faults aren t omitted, but neither do they overwhelm the tale... Rounding off this well-told tale is a selection of rare photographs and some of Woody s brilliantly naïve artwork, making for recommended reading in conjunction with Guthrie s own Bound For Glory. --Record Collector

About the Author

Robert Santelli is Executive Director of the Grammy Museum, and Co-Chairman of "Woody at 100" - a partnership between the Grammy Museum and the Woody Guthrie Archives producing numerous events celebrating Woody Guthrie's 100th birthday throughout 2012 across America and internationally. He lives in Los Angeles, California. For further information please visit the "Woody at 100" website at

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars That song was made for you and me 23 Jun 2012
By wogan - Published on
This is a book that tells the tale of a song, one that started out with the name `God Blessed America' and then became `This Land is Your Land'...a song, even though it is so thoroughly American is sung around the world.
The story begins in November 1939 and ends with the legacy of the song and of Woody Guthrie.

Even if you are a confirmed folkie, you will probably find something new within the pages of this book. There is a chapter covering Irving Berlin's `God Bless America', the mood of the time and how Woody wrote this embodiment of America. The story of the verses that are seldom heard and, his son, Arlo's story of the song itself are just some of the fascinating details that fill these pages.

The book is extremely well researched; interviews were done with many of the Guthrie family, including a daughter, granddaughter, Arlo, Pete Seeger and others in the folk community. Intertwined is the story of Woody's life and problems, his music and the political/economic climate of the time he lived in. Illustrations are included of pages of his lyrics and drawings and large sepia photographs. An index is lacking, which would have been a bonus, but a poster of Woody and his 'this machine kills fascists' guitar is included.

This is a book that truly shows and celebrates both the life of Woody Guthrie and his music and especially of `This Land is Your Land. A book that those interested in history, America, music in general and folk in particular should not miss.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars God Blessed America 15 May 2012
By Dr. Wilson Trivino - Published on
The tale of America is rich and full of the lives of individuals who have given it character and legacy that encompass community. No matter who you are, the land is sprinkled with hope and opportunity.
The song This Land is Your Land lyrics capture a certain essence of the magic and hope of America. Written as a counter to God Bless America, this song original title was God Blessed America. These folksy lyrics are well known today, but few know the back story. Who wrote them, what was their inspiration?
Now in This Land is Your Land: Woody Guthrie and the Journey of American Folksong, author Robert Santelli has written a rich bold book to fill in the details. It chronicles not only the life of Woody Guthrie, it also touches on a period of American history.
Santelli has taken an odyssey to chronicle Woody Guthrie's life, he is currently the executive director of the Grammy Museum, and co-Chairman of "Woody at 100".
As we enter the centennial celebration of Woody Guthrie, this book delves back to that fateful day in February 23, 1940, when Guthrie in a fleabag hotel on 43rd Street in New York City wrote this song.
Guthrie was not an extraordinary individual, he was just a man who was full of hope and optimism and did what he loved, chronicled his life in verse.
I was surprised by the many unrelated facts of folk music. How it was considered subversive and Guthrie was marked as a community. How this song has influenced so many artist, singers, and even presidents. Even after so many years this song is relevant and President Obama used the song to kick off his historic inauguration.
The book is beautifully done, looks more like a coffee table book than a traditional biography and is a fitting addition to any library.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pleasurable Americana history book 18 Dec 2012
By Kermit - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Written for fans of middle and working class America, as well as those who love and cherish the Guthrie legacy. This includes little known facts about Woody's time in Los Angeles, and his radio program there. Lots of information on Woody's life, the Dust Bowl era, and other pieces of American history too often ignored by our ahistorical society. Phenomenally enjoyable and highly approachable, definitely a book to be treasured!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Land is Your Land 6 Oct 2012
By Poetone - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Wonderful read. Have to wonder how many people understand how hard it was to live in those times. His music made if more tolerable. Great read.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book 18 Aug 2012
By fernando - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was very pleased to find this book on Amazon and read it on my ipad. The book is very well written with good detail about Woody's life, travels, interactions, etc. I now have a much better appreciation for what Woody accomplished in his short life. It has stimulated my interest in learning more and finding other resources to examine and listen to.
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