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Dust Bowl Ballads

Dust Bowl Ballads

22 Jul 2008
4.8 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Dust Bowl Ballads (Restored & Remastered 2014)
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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 22 July 2008
  • Release Date: 25 Aug. 2008
  • Label: RCA Camden
  • Copyright: (P) 1998 BMG Entertainment Interational UK & Ireland Ltd.
  • Record Company Required Metadata: Music file metadata contains unique purchase identifier. Learn more.
  • Total Length: 42:43
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001UP5RS4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 113,348 in Albums (See Top 100 in Albums)
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Format: Audio CD
Woody Guthrie has never received his due recognition for his role in shaping modern music. It's no secret that Dylan owes a lot in the beginning of his career before he found his own real style; anyway, takes more than a blue workman's shirt and cap and cigarette to be a Woody Guthrie impersonator.
The scale of the DUSTBOWL BALLADS is breathtaking, and Guthrie takes a wide sweep over a broad canvas of social issues and mostly social wrongs of the 1930s. As with John Dos Passos' fantastic novel sequence 'USA' that deals with the 1900-20s, and of course THAT Steinbeck novel, here we have all the problems of America: division, poverty, dispossession, under-class, climatic adversity, failing crops, famine, vigilantes, being on the wrong side of the law for no right reason, unlistening and uncaring politicians. The album is more like a book in some ways. Whereas many of the protest songs of the 'sixties seem so dated now, Guthrie of the 'thirties sounds so fresh (and this quality Dylan also fortunately took). For example, 'Do Re Mi' is timelessly apt for any age.

Musically, the delight of the album is Guthrie's guitar playing. I'd hitherto assumed that it would all be just a bit of strumming over simple open chords, but he actually demonstrates some pretty nimble picking on some songs, such as 'Talking Dust Bowl Blues', 'Blowin' Down This Road', and 'Dust Pneumonia Blues'. Then there is the harmonica, which he uses to great effect (which as mentioned, Dylan also adopted). Along with the fiddle and banjo, the guitar and harmonica are the real backbone of American twentieth-century music; and let's face it, only Americans can make this kind of music so well, partly because of the themes that the songs describe, and the sense of wide-open space and horizons of such a huge country.
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Woody Guthrie(1912-1967) recorded these remarkable songs for RCA in New York on April 26, 1940.
The 14 tracks paint a vivid picture of the devastating dust storms that brought misery and poverty to many people in the Southwest of the USA during the 1930s.
Woody Guthrie was a massive influence on Bob Dylan & Bruce Springsteen among others, and these moving and heartfelt songs deserve a place in any comprehensive record collection.
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Great CD
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"Dust Bowl Ballads" was apparently the most successful album Woody Guthrie ever made, especially since it gained him public acclaim. This reissue of the 1940 album contains Guthrie's original liner notes in which he declares: "This bunch of songs . . . are 'Oakie' songs, 'Dust Bowl' Songs, 'Migracious' songs, about my folks and my relatives, about a jillion of 'em, that got hit by the drought, the dust, the wind, the banker, and the landlord, and the police, all at the same time . . . and it was these things all added up that caused us to pack our wife and kids into our little rattletrap jalopies, and light out down the Highway--in every direction, mostly west to California."
What stands out most for me on this album are the two parts of "Tom Joad." Obviously Guthrie was impressed by both John Steinbeck's novel "The Grapes of Wrath," and John Ford's motion picture, which followed quickly on the heels of publication. In just under 7 minutes time Guthrie relates the story of Tom Joad, in many ways a story song similar to "The Great Dust Bowl (Dust Storm Disaster)" or "Pretty Boy Floyd." What strikes me is that there is no explicit argument as to the meaning or import of the story, as if in telling the tale the point is obvious. Like reading scripture or even the old poets reciting the epic poems, the audience (or congregation if you will), recognizes the moral of the tale. Of course the Oakies would not have to be told the lesson of their lives. Singing the songs and hearing them sung validates their pain and suffering by making sure it is remembered and not blown away on the winds. Once you start thinking along these lines it is hard not to think of Guthrie's folk songs as the most sacred of our secular music.
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Format: Audio CD
"Dust Bowl Ballads" was apparently the most successful album Woody Guthrie ever made, especially since it gained him public acclaim. What stands out most for me on this reissue of the Guthrie's 1940 album are the two parts of "Tom Joad." Obviously Guthrie was impressed by John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath," (as well as John Ford's motion picture, which followed quickly on the heels of the publication of the classic novel). In just under 7 minutes time Guthrie relates the story of Tom Joad, in many ways a story song similar to "The Great Dust Bowl (Dust Storm Disaster)" or "Pretty Boy Floyd." What strikes me is that there is no explicit argument as to the meaning or import of the story, as if in telling the tale the point is obvious. Like reading scripture or even the old poets reciting the epic poems, the audience (or congregation if you will), recognizes the moral of the tale. Of course the Oakies would not have to be told the lesson of their lives. Singing the songs and hearing them sung validates their pain and suffering by making sure it is remembered and not blown away on the winds. Once you start thinking along these lines it is hard not to think of Guthrie's folk songs as the most sacred of our secular music. In many ways an album like this, where there is a clear thematic unity, represents Guthrie at his best better than a greatest hits collection. If you all you have head of the American folk tradition are Dylan and Springsteen, those who carry on the tradition, then it is about time you went back to the beginning and listed to the stories and songs of Woody Guthrie.
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