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Phillip Buehler

Woody Guthrie in ruins, the sad fate of the grandfather of American song

in Nonfiction by

If you heard Bruce Springsteen and Pete Seeger sing “This Land is Your Land” at President Obama’s 2009 Inauguration, or if you sang it yourself in school as a child, if you’ve heard Bob Dylan sing “Hard Travelin’,” or really heard of Bob Dylan at all, chances are you’re familiar with the work of Woody Guthrie, whether you know it or not. Despite the relative youth of our nation, some things within it are like that — they belong to a secret history that lives in the American subconscious, remembered clearly by only a select few. Woody Guthrie was born in 1912 and spent his childhood in Oklahoma during the Great Depression, spending much of his later life as an…

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