Woody Guthrie’s New Year resolutions
31 December 2021
FROM THE READER’S CATALOGUE
| New York Review of Books
NEW YORK - Woody Guthrie wrote the heartfelt and playful resolutions below on New Year’s Day, 1943.
From 29 December 1942 until 1 January 1943, Woody filled a 72-page composition book with a letter to his love, Marjorie.
This little gem, in the middle of the book, provides insight into his daily concerns at the time — the large and the small.
The resolutions (which are reproduced in full at the end of this piece) articulated his hopes of being at his best before the birth of their first child together, Cathy Ann Guthrie.
Resolution #30 LOVE PETE refers to ‘Railroad Pete’, the playful nickname Woody and Marjorie gave their unborn child.
Woody wrote The Rulin’s at 74 Charles Street, New York City, one of his many addresses in Greenwich Village.
There is a plaque on the building commemorating his time there, during which he wrote This Land is Your Land. The plaque reads in part:
Woodrow Wilson ‘Woody’ Guthrie, composer of This Land Is Your Land, is considered a father of American folk music.
Known as The Dust Bowl Balladeer, he was born in Okemah, Oklahoma, and spent years traveling throughout the US before moving to New York City in 1940.
Guthrie lived here from December 1942 to May 1943 where he wrote patriotic, anti-Fascist songs supporting the US role in WWII, and played music with such friends as blues icon Lead Belly; Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee.
Guthrie helped popularize a new approach to songwriting, telling stories of hardship and hopes; where topics including workers' rights, social injustices, historic events, civil rights, and political issues became the foundation for his musical creativity and expression.
He wrote more than 3000 songs, and his influence has inspired generations of musicians in every genre of music.
NEW YEARS RULIN'S
1. Work more and better
2. Work by a schedule
3. Wash teeth if any
5. Take bath
6. Eat good — fruit — vegetables — milk
7. Drink very scant if any
8. Write a song a day
9. Wear clean clothes — look good
10. Shine shoes
11. Change socks
12. Change bed cloths often
13. Read lots good books
14. Listen to radio a lot
15. Learn people better
16. Keep rancho clean
17. Dont get lonesome
18. Stay glad
19. Keep hoping machine running
20. Dream good
21. Bank all extra money
22. Save dough
23. Have company but dont waste time
24. Send Mary and kids money
25. Play and sing good
26. Dance better
27. Help win war — beat fascism
28. Love mama
29. Love papa
30. Love Pete
31. Love everybody
32. Make up your mind
33. Wake up and fight
Not to eulogise leadership, which just is any spark of imagination perceived as a stimulant to the occasion to which it is applied.
Leadership. The advancing edge of society's lava flow, sometimes dangerously pyroclastic.
It can be recognisably rubbly or smooth.
'New Years Rulin's' has few adjectives, many verbs of hope.
Posted by: Lindsay F Bond | 31 December 2021 at 11:53 AM
“Some men rob you with a six-gun - others rob you with a fountain pen” - Woody Guthrie
Posted by: Bernard Corden | 31 December 2021 at 09:03 AM