Finally, Woody Guthrie Comes Home: Tulsa Center Opens

Tulsa Center. Copyright: Tulsa Center

Tulsa Center. Photo copyright: Tulsa Center

Guthrie was, above all, a philosopher who gave a voice to the masses. His fearless take on the woes of working people taught his peers — and later generations — that, indeed, artists could change the landscape for the rest of us. His many songs, essays and poems often were considered subversive, but he wrote and sang as a true patriot.” ~ Tulsa World

It took Oklahoma a few decades (try four) to catch on to that Dust Bowl “upstart,” Okemah’s Woody Guthrie, and his folk legacy. But when it happened, Guthrie’s name, image and lyrics were branded onto t-shirts, festivals, media and parks.

Tulsa continues to give the traveling troubadour, poet and activist his due with the opening of the Woody Guthrie Center, 102 E. Brady St. At 1 p.m. Saturday, April 27.

The center of the center is the life of Woody Guthrie, the Oklahoma-born, left-wing songwriter who is best remembered for his song “This Land Is Your Land.” The original lyrics sheet for the song is centrally displayed in the center’s permanent gallery along with exhibits of Guthrie’s writings, drawings and instruments.

The 12,000-square-foot center will be the permanent home of these and other items and memorabilia for exhibition, education and research as well as a permanent exhibit on the Dust Bowl.

Wayne Greene (Tulsa World) wrote “for ordinary visitors, there are tunes and flashy interactive gewgaws. For scholars, there are 10,000 pieces of source material, including song lyrics, rare books, letters, manuscripts, journals, photographs and personal papers.”

Opening weekend events were free and open to the public. After the weekend, regular admission is $6-$8 with children under 5 admitted free.

Get a sneak peek with a photo slideshow

Visit the website that The Tulsa World dedicated in honor of Woody Guthrie’s 100th birthday in 2012.

Woody Guthrie performing in a NYC subway circa 1943

Woody Guthrie performing in a NYC subway circa 1943

Sources: Tulsa World, Woody Guthrie Archives, Wikipedia, Google

“Along Sun & The Rain” feat. Jackson Brown; “Do You Realize”- Flaming Lips’ Woody Tribute Part 3

At “This Land Is Your Land,” a Woody Guthrie tribute concert on March 10th in Tulsa, The Flaming Lips reimagined Guthrie’s songs with iPads. This is the final two of the three songs they played, “Along the Sun and The Rain” – with their pal Jackson Brown – and Oklahoma state rock song “Do You Realize?”

Born in 1912, this year would mark Woody Guthrie’s 100th if he was alive today. So, as people tend to do on big and small anniversaries, The Flaming Lips and Jackson Browne performed a little tribute to the folk legend at the This Land Is Your Land concert in Tulsa, Okla. Together, the pair of artists played Guthrie’s “Along in the Sun and Rain.”

Browne held onto guitar duties, but the Lips took a more modern approach, with each member–except Wayne Coyne, also on guitar–rocking out on iPads. Pretty interesting way to celebrate Guthrie’s music, no? The video quality is fine, and the audio is listenable. Check out the clip below, where they also do a rendition of the Flaming Lips’ “Do You Realize?”


The maddest I’ve been in my whole life was when I rode on a troopship with more than three thousand men headed for France and we got about half way out on the ocean and a big storm come up. The ship rocked and rolled and made a lot of us sick. We hadn’t been across before. We turned on our radio and a song blubbered out over the loudspeaker, “Born to Lose!” Ain’t that some hell of a damned song for the United States Army to have poked down its throat on its way into a battle?
I couldn’t rest easy till I run and grabbed my pencil and wrote this one down. “Born to Win.

Woody Guthrie, as quoted in Robert Shelton (ed.), Woody Guthrie, Born to Win, New York, NY, 1976, p. 91
© 1965 The Guthrie Children’s Trust Fund

Lyrics as reprinted ibid., pp. 90-91
© 1965 The Guthrie Children’s Trust Fund

I had my fun and my troubles
I had my hard luck and blues
Been up and been down and been sober and drunk
But I know that I’m not born to lose.

Born to win. I know I’m born to win.
It’s a funny old world that I am in.
I’ll fight to change it like it ought to be.
Born to win. I know I’m born to win.

I had women all kinds and all colors
In every land where I have been
I saw all the people in trouble like me
And I know that we’re not born to lose.


You robbed us and beat us and bled us.
You worked us and paid us like slaves.
I know we’re all born to work and to fight
And to win or go down in our grave.