Woodrow Wilson Guthrie was born on this day, July 14, in 1912. He was the third of five children of Charley and Nora Guthrie of Okemah, OK. It wasn’t long before family and friends started calling him “Woody.”
Many years later, The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music called songwriter, singer and guitarist Woody Guthrie: “The Dean of American Folk artists.”
Bob Dylan called him: “The true voice of the American spirit.”
In his Chronicles, Volume One (2004), Bob Dylan describes the first time he really listened to a Woody Guthrie record: “When the needle dropped, I was stunned – didn’t know if I was stoned or straight… It made me want to gasp. It was like the land parted… It was like the record player itself had just picked me up and flung me across the room…It was like I had been in the dark and someone had turned on the main switch of a lightning conductor.”
One of the Woody Guthrie records that was most likely among those that had such an impact on the young Bob Dylan was Dust Bowl Ballads.
Dust Bowl Ballads contained Woody Guthrie’s first commercial recordings. Made and released by Victor Records, the first recording session took place on April 26, 1940 in Camden, NJ. The second session was in New York City on May 3, 1940. Dust Bowl Ballads was released in July, 1940 as two, three-record albums – six, 78-rpm discs in all.
“Do Re Mi” was one of the songs on Dust Bowl Ballads. Written in 1937, Woody had previously recorded the song for Alan Lomax and The Library of Congress on March 21, 1940. He again recorded “Do Re Mi,” probably in late April, 1947 for Moses Asch and his Folkways Records. Folkways released it in 1956 on an album called Bound For Glory.
Here, in celebration of the anniversary of Woody Guthrie’s birthday, is his Asch recording of “Do Re Mi.”