Tag Archives: Folk Music

Arlo Guthrie and Friends

Arlo Guthrie came to my town in March 2013 on a concert tour labeled “Here Comes the Kid.”  It might seem funny for a sixty-something man to call himself a kid, but Arlo of “Alice’s Restaurant” will always seem like a kid to me, despite the gray hair.  And Arlo is the son (kid) of iconic folk musician Woody Guthrie, whose music Arlo is celebrating on his tour, including Woody’s iconic song “This Land is Your Land.”  The centennial of Woody’s birth was in 2012.  Woody’s autobiography Bound for Glory received several Academy Award wins and nominations in 1977.

Arlo Guthrie

Arlo Guthrie

Arlo said that just like every historical location takes on more history the more it’s visited, every song takes on more layers whenever it’s played.  This is particularly true of Woody’s and Arlo’s music. Folk music of old, poetry and even news clippings inspired Woody’s music, which others also performed and made their own. Arlo is continuing this tradition. He  performed solo in Kansas City, but he brought with him the influences of friends, family and fellow musicians.

When I told my friend Jan that I was going to see Arlo in concert, she emailed me:  “Oh, how I’d love to hear Arlo Guthrie sing ‘City of New Orleans.’ A tonic for my soul.”

The song was a tonic for Arlo, too.  Before he sang “City of New Orleans” in the concert that night, Arlo told the audience that he first heard the song after a night of performing at a club in Chicago.  Weary, he was in no mood to listen to any song, but reluctantly he agreed to listen to Steve Goodman sing his song for the price of a beer. Arlo promised grumpily that he’d listen as long as the beer lasted.  Soon, however, Arlo forgot his fatigue as he marveled at this hymn to a train called “City of New Orleans” that traveled between Chicago and New Orleans. Arlo recorded Goodman’s “City of New Orleans” song in 1972, and it became a hit for Arlo.  Goodman won a posthumous Grammy in 1985 for the song in Best Country song, performed by Willie Nelson. The song has been performed by many others, as well. (Be sure to listen to Goodman’s funny country song at the bottom of this post.)

Arlo rode the “City of New Orleans” train in 2009 from Chicago to New Orleans raising money along the route in concerts to help musicians displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Read about  Arlo’s Train Tour.

 

This October 9, 1969, photograph shows Arlo Guthrie singing "Amazing Grace" to his new bride Jackie Hyde, at their wedding ceremony on Guthrie's farm in Washington, Massachusetts. The couple shared a chocolate wedding cake made by Alice Brock, for whom Arlo Guthrie's iconic film "Alice's Restaurant" (released in November that year) and song is named. Jackie Guthrie died on October 14, 2012, at the couple's winter home in Florida. They had recently celebrated their 43rd wedding anniversary. (AP Photo/Steve Starr, file)

This October 9, 1969, photograph shows Arlo Guthrie singing “Amazing Grace” to his new bride Jackie Hyde, at their wedding ceremony on Guthrie’s farm in Washington, Massachusetts. The couple shared a chocolate wedding cake made by Alice Brock, for whom Arlo Guthrie’s iconic film “Alice’s Restaurant” (released in November that year) and song is named. Jackie Guthrie died on October 14, 2012, at the couple’s winter home in Florida. They had recently celebrated their 43rd wedding anniversary. (AP Photo/Steve Starr, file)

Arlo dedicated his song “Coming into Los Angeles” to his wife of 43 years, Jackie. He described how he first saw fell in love with Jackie not long after he arrived in California at age eighteen.

“I saw a woman ride by on a horse at the head of a rodeo parade.  I thought she was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen, but she didn’t even look at me,” he said.  Three years later they met and later married.  Sadly, Jackie died in October 2012, not long after Arlo, Jackie, their children and spouses and grandchildren — a group of almost 20 — had traveled across the United States and Canada on a tour celebrating Woody’s centennial birthday.  Jackie recorded every Guthrie Family show during the years and posted more than 250 clips on her “Mrs. G’s Videos” YouTube channel, which can also be viewed on the family’s company website Rising Son Records as Mrs. G’s Homegrown Videos.

Woody Guthrie’s song “This Land is Your Land,” featuring Arlo, Bono, Bruce Springsteen, Little Richard, John Mellancamp and many others.

About the song City of New Orleans.

Jackie and Arlo Guthrie's weddingThe Official Arlo Guthrie Website.
Jackie Guthrie Obit.
Jackie Guthrie.
Steve Goodman.

About Arlo Guthrie and Family Tour to Celebrate Woody Guthrie’s Centennial.

What Jackie Guthrie wrote about Mrs. G’s Family Archives in 2011. (Jackie’s user name is JGuth3)

“Mother and grandmother of a bunch of folk singers! I married that wandering folk singer, Arlo Guthrie, 42 years ago.

I love shooting and editing videos. Especially when The Guthrie Family Rides Again tours, when most all of our kids and grand kids play together.”

From the concert program in March 2013: Throughout his own career, Arlo Guthrie has honored his father in song as well as in life. With the centennial of Woody’s birthday in 1912, Arlo embarked on a new solo tour, ‘Here Comes the Kid,’ continuing the celebration of Woody Guthrie’s immeasurable contributions to the landscape of American folk music.

Since childhood, Arlo was amazed by the creative genius of his father and his friends who would drop  y: Leadbelly, Brownee McGee and Cisco Houston, to name a few. Not surprising, Arlo drew from those experiences and he in turn became a delineative figure for a new generation. Arlo has long paid homage to his dad with his own renditions of Woody’s songs, but of equal importance – Woody’s legacy is well defined in Arlo’s own works: in his humor, his political and social activism, and his undeniable gift for storytelling…”

In a video below, Goodman sings a comical “country” song, “You Never Even Call Me By My Name,” he wrote with John Prine, which includes all of the essential elements. 

You Never Even Call Me By My Name

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Flight of the Conchords

I’ve just discovered the Flight of the Conchords television show.  I know, I know.   What took me so long?   Well, for one thing I’m too cheap to pay for HBO.  Another is that I count on my children to tell me about what’s fun in the entertainment world.  By the time they think to clue me in, the coolness of a show is already starting to wear off, so I hope that doesn’t happen to this duo that describes itself as  “formerly New Zealand’s fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo a capella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo.”   If so, I’m sorry, guys.

This past week, I’ve tried to make exercise more appealing by only allowing myself to watch the Flight of the Conchords show while on my exercycle or lifting weights.  Instead I stop so often to hear and decipher what the guys are singing or saying that I barely break a sweat.   Hey, exercising my laugh muscles is better than no exercise at all.

Flight of the Conchords Official Band Picture.

Flight of the Conchords Official Band Picture.

I can understand what drives Mel, the obsessive stalker/groupie, who is the band’s sole fan on the show.  Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie are so endearingly odd and weirdly sweet, even their names fall just a bit short.  No “r” in Jemaine or extra “t” in Bret.  They’re laid-back and unflappable, genial and don’t take themselves too seriously, which seems to be a Kiwi trait. (I could be wrong. I was only there for eight days.)

My daughter gave me the first season to watch when I got home from New Zealand.  She knew I’d love it, if only to hear the accents again.  West rhyming with East, so that it sounds like “weest.”  Eeg for egg and Leeft for left.  The universal greeting of  “Hey, guys”  or just “guys”.   We say that, too, but it’s just different. 

There’s also the tongue-in-cheek rivalry with the much larger neighbor Australia.  (Maybe it isn’t tongue-in-cheek.  In New Zealand, I heard an Aussie and a Kiwi cordially discussing their rivalry (big brother and little brother) until the the Kiwi said, “At least my ancestors chose to come here.”  The Aussie replied, “Being transported to Australia was the best thing that ever happened to my great-great-great grandfather. He did his time and then prospered.”  They both smiled.)

It’s fun to watch clueless  Murray, the band manager, who tries to manage the band surreptitiously from his office in the New Zealand consulate in New York City.  My daughter and her boyfriend are music business graduates, so they particularly enjoy Murray, played by Rhys Darby.  I asked, “Where have I seen Murray before?”  

” ‘Yes Man’ with Jim Carrey.”  Right, Rhys Darby plays Norman, a clueless bank manager in that movie.

I love Jemaine and Bret’s oddball and brilliant music.  I can’t explain it.  You’ll just have to watch! 

 Here’s what Greg Royal, who blogs as Kiwi Bloke, has to say about “Flight of the Conchords.”

More about Flight of the Conchords including links to other sites.

The video below combines the Flight of the Conchords with one of New Zealand’s other passions, “The Lord of the Rings.”  The “Business Time” video at the time isn’t suitable for young children…..

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