|Whose Justice, Which Radicalism?
A Brief Review of
Woody Guthrie, American Radical.
Reviewed by Chris Smith.
I’ve long been a fan of folk music, in its literal sense of being the music of the people, and in this regard, Woody Guthrie was the quintessential folk singer. In some ways, simply being a folk musician is itself a radical act, but the new book Woody Guthrie, American Radical by Will Kaufman explores in great detail the radical aspects of Woody Guthrie’s life and songwriting. I’ve read other biographies of Guthrie, but probably still harbored some false conceptions about him that were deflated over the course of reading Kaufman’s book. It’s easy, I suppose, to misconstrue the folk singer who is renowned for writing such songs as “This land is your land,” as the peace-loving hippy sort of radical who wants little more than for everyone to get along and to live in harmony with each other and with nature. Granted, many of the next generation of folk singers after Guthrie, who interpreted and popularized many of his songs were indeed this kind of radical.