TULSA, Okla. — Oklahoma has always had a troubled relationship with her native son Woody Guthrie. The communist sympathies of America’s balladeer infuriated local detractors. In 1999 a wealthy donor’s objections forced the Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma City to cancel a planned exhibition on Guthrie organized by the Smithsonian Institution. It wasn’t until 2006, nearly four decades after his death, that the Oklahoma Hall of Fame got around to adding him to its ranks.
But as places from California to the New York island get ready to celebrate the centennial of Guthrie’s birth, in 2012, Oklahoma is finally ready to welcome him home. The George Kaiser Family Foundation in Tulsa plans to announce this week that it is buying the Guthrie archives from his children and building an exhibition and study center to honor his legacy.
Ken Levit, the foundation’s executive director, said he thought of doing something for Guthrie after the Hall of Fame induction. Nowhere in Tulsa, he said, is there even a plaque paying homage to this folk legend, who composed “This Land Is Your Land”; performed with Pete Seeger and Lead Belly; wrote the fictionalized autobiography “Bound for Glory”; and sang at countless strikes and migrant labor protests in the 1930s and ’40s. Mr. Levit began a more than three-year campaign to win the consent of Ms. Guthrie, who had taken custody of the boxes that her mother, Marjorie Guthrie, had stowed away in the basement of her home in Howard Beach, Queens.
Woody Guthrie’s music has also had added play time this year as Arlo Guthrie, Mr. Seeger, and other musicians have sung his protest songs at Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in New York and elsewhere.
“There is no doubt there will be some voices in opposition to the way Guthrie is being emphasized — Oklahoma is about the reddest state you can have,” Mr. Hosmer explained, referring to its conservatism. “And when Woody Guthrie was a boy, Oklahoma was also the reddest state because we had more socialists elected to public office than any other.”
Dee Jones, Sharon’s husband, explained that Guthrie “was kind of taboo because some influential people in this town thought Woody Guthrie had communist leanings.” But once the community realized that the 3,000 or so attendees brought in business, everyone got behind it, Mr. Jones said.
Double heh. Heh.
Here's a lazy blogger's Thursday Bonus Woody. Bears a family resemblance to "The Ballad Of Jesse James" written in 1924. Jesse left the moneychangers in the temple and just took the money.
Jesus Christ, written and performed by Woody Guthrie, 1940