An exploration of the history and intent behind the song lyrics of a great American folk singer
Prophet Singer: The Voice and Vision of Woody Guthrie examines the cultural and political significance of lyrics by beloved songwriter and activist Woodrow Wilson "Woody" Guthrie. The text traces how Guthrie documented the history of America's poor and disadvantaged through lyrics about topics as diverse as the Dust Bowl and the poll tax. Divided into chapters covering specific historical topics such as race relations and lynchings, famous outlaws, the Great Depression, and unions, the book takes an in-depth look at how Guthrie manipulated his lyrics to explore pressing issues and to bring greater political and economic awareness to the common people.
Incorporating the best of both historical and literary perspectives, Mark Allan Jackson references primary sources including interviews, recordings, drawings, and writings. He includes a variety of materials from the Smithsonian Institution, the Library of Congress, and the Woody Guthrie Archives. Many of these have never before been widely available. The result provides new insights into one of America's most intriguing icons. Prophet Singer offers an analysis of the creative impulse behind and ideals expressed in Guthrie's song lyrics.
Details from the artist's personal life as well as his interactions with political and artistic movements from the first half of the twentieth century afford readers the opportunity to understand how Guthrie's deepest beliefs influenced and found voice in the lyrics that are now known and loved by millions.
Mark Allan Jackson is currently an assistant professor of English at DePauw University. His articles and reviews have been featured in Popular Music and Society and American Music.
Photograph--Woody Guthrie by Robin Carson, courtesy Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archives
JANUARY, 320 pages (approx.), 6 x 9 inches, 18 b&w illustrations, index