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Ramblin' Man: The Life and Times of Woody Guthrie
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Ramblin' Man: The Life and Times of Woody Guthrie

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  134 ratings  ·  18 reviews
Ed Cray creates a haunting portrait of the larger-than-life folk singer who influenced Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and popular music itself, and who captured the spirit of his times in his enduring songs: This Land is Your Land, Going down this road feeling bad, and many more.
Hardcover, 488 pages
Published 2004 by W. W. Norton & Company
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adrian anderson
Going into Ramblin' Man as someone not very familiar with the music of Guthrie, but aware of his influence (especially on Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan, as well as newer "folk punk" artists like Pat the Bunny and Chris Clavin, who cite Guthrie as an influence), I still enjoyed it immensely. It's impressive how Guthrie was able to produce a prolific catalog of songs, writings, and art. Cray also tends to focus on (as a previous reviewer pointed out) separating the folk legend that Guthrie has beco ...more
Evanston Public  Library
Had Shakespeare written a Great American Tragedy, it might have read a lot like the biography of Woody Guthrie. Stalked almost from birth by fire, madness, and disease, Guthrie lived through times of amazing hardship and change in our nation, and chronicled much of those times in song. Cray’s excellently researched biography trails Woody from his modest Oklahoma upbringing, through his years of productivity and (modest) success, and into his steady decline and final days, wracked with Huntington ...more
I received this book free from Goodreads' first reads.

It took me awhile to get through this book. I don't usually read biographies, and when I do, I don't usually like them. I entered to win this book because I like Woody Guthrie's music, but knew very little about him. I wanted to know more.

I'm an even bigger fan now! I want to be exposed to more of his music. I also learned that he wrote a couple books that I plan to look up. I appreciate his life and beliefs so much more now. He may even rep
One of the best biographies I have ever read although I have heard that the one by Joe Klein on Woody is also good.

Being a huge Bob Dylan fan, I always wanted to know more about Woody and why he was such an inspiration to America and Americans, even helping to spur a whole Folk Movement which enveloped the country in the late 50s and 60s.

Personally, I really don't like Woody's voice that much but in terms of the quality of his lyrics and the messages inherent in his songs, I think he is an amaz
I don't often read biographies, but this one is definitely worth reading. It is very informative and well written, telling many interesting stories about the life and times and music of Woody Guthrie. Guthrie was a folk singer, a poet, a writer, a union activist, and maybe could be called a people's musician. His music has been very influential to folk, country, blues, and rock music, influencing Pete Seeger, Rambling Jack Elliott, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Bruce Springsteen, Jerry Garcia, Lennon an ...more
Elle Druskin
I really enjoyed this book and it was interesting reading it at the same time Ken Burns' wonderful documentary on The Dust Bowl screened on television. I thought I knew a fair amount about Woody Guthrie but I learned so much I didn't know about him because this book has significant detail. The author doesn't gloss or try to paint a better portrait of the man than he was and like everyone, Guthrie had his faults, but it was fascinating reading for anyone interested in Woody Guthrie and his music ...more
Steve Gillway
This book is, I think, a real warts and all biography. One person lays it down- he may have been a great musician, but not really a nice person. His rise from abject poverty paints a kind of social history of the USA. The insights into his primitive socialism, or the simple unfair predudice he railed against, show him as a product of his time. In the end he had to pay twice before the house of unamerican activities and a long lingering death from Huntingdoms. Read it and hear his music in a clea ...more
Gina Morrill Olson
I'm not sure I would like Woody Guthrie if I met him after reading this biography. Intense creativity and brilliance doesn't always make for a nice person. But I do appreciate his contribution to music and society. It was all with the best intentions. He was a lovable character at his very best. I don't think any detail was left out about Woody Guthrie's life.
Little bit of spooky irony, the very day that Pete Seeger died was the day that I read about Woody meeting Pete.
I started this book thinking I knew all about Woody Guthrie. By the time I was done I realized how little I really knew. This is a fascinating read and it's very well researched, but it took me longer to get through it than is typical for me, largely, I think because I knew so little about Guthrie and the landscapes he traversed for most of his life.
Megann Filios
My husband picked this book out for me, I really didn't know to much about Guthrie, but this book was amazing. He also gave me a CD by Jonatha Brooke called 'The Works' that is Guthrie lyrics to her music. Listening to Guthrie's own words set to Jonatha's beautiful music and reading this great biography was a great gift.
Joan Colby
A fairly exhaustive study of Woody Guthrie’s life. Cray had access to new materials which may have added information, but not enhanced readability. An earlier biography of Guthrie by Joe Klein (Woody Guthrie: A Life) was more readable and vivid while handling much of the same source material.
Really more than you ever wanted to know. Hasn't kept me from putting 2 documentaries on my NF queue, however.
Well written, thorough and many perspectives, opinions presented. One thing I learned: hadn't realized he was a fellow traveler to such a degree of commitment.
Woody Guthrie had quite a life. He was plagued by medical problems and alcoholism, but left a huge mark on folk music. I enjoyed this bio of his troubled life, and his influence on America's music.
Jolene Adkins
What character. This book lead me to eventually read Grapes of Wrath which set off my recent Steinbeck kick. And to think I just opened Ramblin' Man to sneek a peak of Arlo. Yes, He's in there.
Sometimes it's hard travellin in the valley of the now. But search for what you know is right. Woody went crazy. But kind people comforted him.
More than you ever want to know about the folk hero/hobo!
Rita Halfscatch
life is short and I only need to know so much about WG.
The man and the myth sanctified.
Axel marked it as to-read
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Cray is a longtime freelance writer who has been published in many of the country's leading newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and The Washington Post. Cray is the author of 18 published books, including General of the Army, a biography of George C. Marshall; Chief Justice, a biography of Earl Warren; and most recently Ramblin' Man: The Life and Times of Woody Guthrie. ...more
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