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I just finished reading Joe Klein's insightful book titled "Woody Guthrie: A Life" published by Dell Publishing. It is not a new work but simply the most definitive book I have found about the life the legendary folksong writer and political activist Woody Guthrie. Klein's volume is more than a biography; it is a rich, well-written portrait to be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in Texas history as well as those wanting to better understand Guthrie's tremendous influence on folk music.

In 1931, nineteen-year-old Woody packed his bags and set out from Oklahoma to Texas. He arrived in the panhandle oil boomtown of Pampa just in time for the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. Since I was born and grew up in Pampa, I found the story of Woody's life in my hometown fascinating. It is only in the last few years that Pampa has embraced Woody Guthrie. When I was growing up in Pampa during the 1950's and 60's Woody's unequaled contributions to folk music were completely swept under the table because of his political leanings. These days Pampa celebrates Woody and that fact for a decade, Woody called Pampa home. Today, you can drive the Woody Guthrie Memorial Highway or take the Woody Guthrie walking tour in Pampa. You can hear musicians at the Woody Guthrie Folk Music Center of Pampa, Texas. A magnificent 150 foot long sculpture of Woody's classic song "This Land Is Your Land" by Rusty Neef can be seen near the M. K. Brown Civic Auditorium.

For more on Woody and Pampa, check out these links: ... g_tour.htm


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