The Boxing Lesson

Box sets grow up and out

The Boxing Lesson

Woody Guthrie

American Radical Patriot (Rounder)

Capping the centennial commemoration of America's folksinging godfather, American Radical Patriot assembles a coffeetable collection of six CDs, a DVD, and a heavy vinyl 78 uncovering Woody Guthrie's government labors. Bill Nowlin contextualizes the commissions: Library of Congress sessions, songs for the Bonneville Power Administration, war ballads, and a public health series about venereal disease. In doing so, the author reveals an unbleached truth-teller who rallied for the common man alongside seven whopping hours of audio. One 1940 session with musicologist Alan Lomax sequentially yields outlaw odes "Billy the Kid," "Pretty Boy Floyd," "Jesse James," and another about taking from the rich and giving to the poor: "Jesus Christ." "I suppose in his own day and time he was called an outlaw," muses Guthrie. Patriot pays special attention, particularly on the DVD documentary, to Guthrie's one-month 1941 tenure with the BPA, for whom he wrote 26 songs capturing the nature and humanity along Oregon's Columbia River with Whitman-esque prose like "the misty, crystal glitter of that wild and windward spray" in "Grand Coulee Dam." The 78 features the Okie's 1951 home recording of "The Biggest Thing That Man Has Ever Done" and protégé Bob Dylan singing Guthrie's syphilis warning "VD City" a decade later.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More by Kevin Curtin
New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
What we’re listening to

Jan. 22, 2021

New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
What we’re listening to

Jan. 15, 2021

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Woddy Guthrie

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle