Woody Guthrie

Woody Guthrie was the most important American folk music artist of the first half of the 20th century, in part because he turned out to be such a major influence on the popular music of the second half of the 20th century, a period when he himself was largely inactive. His greatest significance lies in his songwriting, beginning with the standard "This Land Is Your Land" and including such much-covered works as "Deportee," "Do Re Mi," "Grand Coulee Dam," "Hard, Ain't It Hard," "Hard Travelin'," "I Ain't Got No Home," "1913 Massacre," "Oklahoma Hills," "Pastures of Plenty," "Philadelphia Lawyer," "Pretty Boy Floyd," "Ramblin' Round," "So Long It's Been Good to Know Yuh," "Talking Dust Bowl," and "Vigilante Man." These and other songs have been performed and recorded by a wide range of artists, including a who's who of folksingers, among them Joan Baez, Harry Belafonte, the Brothers Four, Judy Collins, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Richie Havens, Cisco Houston, the Kingston Trio, the Limeliters, Lindisfarne, Don McLean, the Chad Mitchell Trio, Holly Near, the New Christy Minstrels, Odetta, Tom Paxton, Peter, Paul & Mary, Utah Phillips, Tom Rush, Tom Russell, Pete Seeger, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Dave van Ronk, the Weavers, and Kate Wolf; country performers such as Eddy Arnold, Chet Atkins, Gene Autry, Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash, Flatt & Scruggs, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Lee Greenwood, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Alison Krauss, the Maddox Brothers & Rose, Anne Murray, Dolly Parton, Johnny Paycheck, Jim Reeves, Tex Ritter, Red Smiley, Ernest Tubb, and Bob Wills; and rock and pop musicians like the Alarm, Paul Anka, the Band, Billy Bragg, the Byrds, Concrete Blonde, Ry Cooder, Ani DiFranco, Dion, Lonnie Donegan, Donovan, Bob Dylan, Nanci Griffith, Arlo Guthrie, Hot Tuna, Indigo Girls, Little Feat, Lone Justice, Trini Lopez, Country Joe McDonald, John Mellencamp, Natalie Merchant, Van Morrison, the New Riders of the Purple Sage, Linda Ronstadt, Doug Sahm, the Seekers, Michelle Shocked, Bruce Springsteen, the Waterboys, Wilco, and Jesse Colin Young. (For the most part, Guthrie created his songs by writing new lyrics to existing folk melodies.)