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Monday, March 12, 2012

Arlo Guthrie, Rosanne Cash, the Flaming Lips and More at the Woody Guthrie Centennial Concert

Posted By on Mon, Mar 12, 2012 at 9:16 AM

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Next, John Mellencamp didn't veer from his wheelhouse, giving "This Train is Bound for Glory" the solid rock treatment with an accordion on the side . "I'm just telling the truth in Woody's words up here," he told the crowd before inviting them to sing along with "Do Re Mi". For his finale he made the bold assertion, "Some songs get passed down. Some call it stealing. Some call it creation. I stole this from Woody," before bringing the crowd - especially the VIP section - to their feet with "Pink Houses". A little disheartening to see the most enthusiastic response of the night go to a song that wasn't Woody's. Still, "Pink Houses" is a populist anthem. Guthrie embraced populism as much as individuality. Presenting a song everyone knows so soon after the uniqueness of the Flaming Lips juxtaposed Guthrie's complexities of balancing personal innovation with group accessibility.

Arlo returned for an acoustic, solo performance of Ledbelly's "Alabama Bound" and his father's "1913 Massacre". He told how he loved how his father could take a story he'd been told, or read in the newspaper, and have it be accurate. After his father wrote "Tom Joad," Arlo said his father received a letter from The Grapes of Wrath author John Steinbeck that simply read "You little bastard. You said in twelve verses what it took me an entire book to say."

Since Guthrie continued to write long after he was able to perform, many artists have taken his unrecorded lyrics and set them to music. Arlo ended his solo set with "I Hear You Sing Again," one of the unrecorded songs that was given music by Janis Ian, lamenting the loss of the parent who gave the child music.

Mellencamp joined Arlo to trade couplets on "Oklahoma Hills" before the other musicians filled the stage for "Hard Traveling".

You know what the grand finale was, of course. Everyone on stage for "This Land is Your Land" with every voice in the audience singing along. And yes, it was as moving and goosebump-inducing as it should be.

But that wasn't the end. In true folk fashion, Arlo opted to teach everyone a song that hadn't been rehearsed. The two-verse "My Peace" was one of his father's final compositions. With just his guitar, he led superstars and cheap seat denizens alike in the simple melody Woody Guthrie left as one of his final messages:

I pass my peace around and round To hands of every hue. My peace, my peace, is all I've got That I can give to you.

Woody Guthrie gave his peace to the world, but it certainly wasn't the only thing he gave. He gave the world over 3000 songs and poems. He gave affirmation to the odd and downtrodden. He gave his children - Arlo and Nora, who oversees his massive body of work, making his words available for musicians to bring to life. He gave the inspiration to every musician on that stage to find new and personal ways to retell his timeless stories that still touch hearts, engage brains, and ignite the human spirit.

He gave a reason to celebrate the birth of an American icon a century ago, in a way he should have been celebrated while he was still with us.


1. Arlo Guthrie - Talking Dust Bowl Blues 2. Arlo Guthrie with Old Crow Medicine Show - Howdjadoo 3. Old Crow Medicine Show - Union Maide 4. Tim O'Brien with Old Crow Medicine Show - Sun Jumped Up 5. Jimmy LaFave - Woody's Road 6. Jimmy LaFave with Rosanne Cash - Deportee 7. Rosanne Cash - Pretty Boy Floyd 8. Rosanne Cash - Motherless Children 9. Rosanne Cash - I Ain't Got No Home in This World Anymore 10. Arlo Guthrie and HANSON - Blowin' Down the Road (I Ain't Gonna Be Treated This Way) 11. Tim O'Brien with the Del McCoury Band - Philadelphia Lawyer (Reno Blues) 12. Del McCoury Band - Pastures of Plenty 13. Del McCoury Band - So Long, It's Been Good to Know Ya

14. Jackson Browne - You Know the Night 15. The Flaming Lips - Vigilante Man 16. The Flaming Lips with Jackson Browne - The Sun and the Rain 17. The Flaming Lips - Do You Realize? 18. John Mellencamp - This Train is Bound for Glory 19. John Mellencamp - Do Re Mi 20 John Mellencamp - Pink Houses 21. Arlo Guthrie - Alabama Bound 22. Arlo Guthrie - 1913 Massacre 23. Arlo Guthrie - I Hear You Sing Again 24. Arlo Guthrie with John Mellencamp - Oklahoma Hills 25. Everyone - Hard Travelin' 26. Everyone - This Land is Your Land 27. Everyone - My Peace

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