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Woodie's Radical Box

02 DEC 13 DAVID SHANNON

American Radical Patriot, Rounder’s recent Woody Guthrie compendium, peers deeply into the life and music of the bard of the proletariat, his Oklahoma origins and chronicling of the Dust Bowl migration and the songs he wrote traveling around the country as a performer and developing political activist.

Including five fascinating hours of the 27-year-old Guthrie storytelling and performing for famed musical archivist Alan Lomax at the Library of Congress in 1940, this limited release (only 5,000 copies) is a trove, also featuring a range of Guthrie ephemera such as radio dramas, songs written while working for the Bonneville Power Administration, public service announcements, and a host of other recordings that paint a vivid portrait of the man both as political rabble rouser and loyalist, all told through his own words and songs. This collection comprises six discs, a DVD, a 60-page booklet, a 78-rpm vinyl pressing, unpublished photos and Guthrie artwork, and a free 258-page download (in PDF format).

In terms of impact on American music, you’d be hard-pressed to find a musician as influential as Guthrie. He inspired a generation of songwriters in the '60s to change forever the way Americans listen to music, to understand how it could become a vehicle for protest and defiance and emblemize a social movement. Yet even that great legacy has humble beginnings, which is probably the whole point of Guthrie’s music and which this set celebrates.