Craig Werner's Reviews > This Land Is Your Land: Woody Guthrie and the Journey of an American Folk Song

This Land Is Your Land by Robert Santelli
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May 27, 12

bookshelves: music
Read from May 25 to 27, 2012

Nothing new here for anyone who's read either the Klein or Cardy Guthrie bios. It's almost always a stretch to get a book out of a single song (David Margolies' book on Strange Fruit runs into similar problems). Santelli, who's a really good music writer and intimately familiar with the story (his efforts were a big reason the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's first Music Masters even focused on Guthrie), does a decent enough job bringing in all of the tangents that surround one of the greatest American songs--nice little bits on God Bless America (This Land was written in response to the patriotic standard); on Dylan and Springsteen and Pete Seeger. Ultimately, however, there's just not enough here. Wobbling back and forth between two and three stars; in deference to Santelli's career, I'll bump it up.

If you haven't read a Guthrie bio and don't want to invest in one of the long ones, this is a decent enough boil-down.

On another note, the box set of Guthrie's music Santelli put together, coming out in the near future (summer 2012) looks like a monster. There's some recently uncovered material from Woody's radio broadcasts and an absolutely first-rate overview of his career.
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