Daughter of HOUSE OF EARTH author Woody Guthrie

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Unread postby Liz » Wed Jun 12, 2013 11:47 pm

Liz: The whole Guthrie family seems to be so musical. As a family did you entertain yourselves with music? Did Woody have a chance to teach you about music?

Nora: Yeah. Everyone in the family plays instruments – multiple, probably. We were all forced to take music lessons (laughter all around), as children, classical, as well as guitar, and all the other instruments, as well. I think the first instrument we were all started on was the recorder when we were in nursery school. We learned how to play simple songs but also how to read music, with the recorder. And then we all kind of kept going from there. I play piano, my brothers play guitars and clarinets and all kinds of other instruments. So, it was very much part of the daily life, but not just music. It was all the arts, actually. We were taken to musicals on Broadway all the time. We were taken to operas. We were taken to modern dance concerts, ballet concerts. I think it was kind of across the board. Our family life was heavy with folk music, obviously within the house, but both my parents made absolutely clear that we were to become versed in all the arts. It wasn’t just about playing the guitar. And I know they felt that it was important that every person have a means to be expressive, and anyway you want to do that is OK. You want to be an artist? You want to do it through painting? You want to do it through music? You want to do it through dance? You want to do it through acting? You want to do it through speaking? They believed every single person on the planet needs a form of expression. Again, that’s your freedom. Your job is your job; you have responsibilities. But your absolute freedom -- to breathe -- and I’m using that metaphorically. Everyone needs to breathe freely, and that’s what the arts are. So we all had to make sure that we had something under our belts to breathe with. (laughter)

Liz: Going back to art, his artwork, but including songs, writings, whatever, are there any unpublished works that are going to be made available other than through the archives? Is there a book of Woody’s letters or anything like that?

Nora: I’m working on that right now, actually – with Douglas Brinkley, as a matter of fact. His letters are some of his best writing, in my opinion, and Douglas wanted to do an anthology or something to do with his letters because they’re great narratives, they’re great anecdotes, and they’re very good writing, as well. So, we’re actually working on the next book – it will be a collection of Woody’s love letters. (oohs and ahhs and laughter) Yeah. Again, people don’t realize what a lover he was. I don’t mean that in just a lover way. I mean that in a very, BIG BIG way. One of the ideas that really comes across in his love letters that I think a lot of people should know about is that when he thought of what love is, it was very holistic. It was like a big 360 degree thing. So in other words, when he whispers sweet nothings into her ear, he says “I can’t wait to go down to the union hall with you, honey.” (chuckles) And I thought, what a wonderful, juicy connection. Not just individual love but collective love. And I think he’s a great teacher in that sense of connecting individual love and collective love. He doesn’t see any difference between going down to the union hall and kissing his sweetie. (big laughs) And I think these days we’ve become so weird, actually, when it comes to love. I think the society is in a very weird place (laughs) when it comes to love. And I would like to remind people that people don’t love each other because they have super large breasts or not or because they wear certain kinds of shoes or not or because they do their hair a certain way or not, and we are so heavily inundated with these images of what love is – the Kardashian love. And I am so sick of that, and I just want to remind people.

For me, anyway, my father has been a great teacher in that sense and the man who loves me also loves the collective world. There’s no difference. And not only that but he’ll love you because you love the collective world. There are also relationships that highlight that. And it’s in all of Woody’s love letters to my mother, actually. It’s just filled with big ideas about collective love. And he expresses it and shares it with an intimate individual in love. But for him it’s all one big plate. (chuckle) So that’s why I wanted to publish his writings on love.

Liz: I’m looking forward to that.

Nora: And it makes you feel good. I know, as a woman, it just makes you feel good that someone loves you because of what you care about in life – not whether you do your nails or your hair. Those things you can do or you can not do, but that’s not why someone really loves you.

Liz: Right

Nora: And Woody is very, very eloquent on that, over and over and over again. It’s like he looks into her soul and says “I love you because you’re a fighter, you’re a hoper, you’re involved, you care,” all these kind of things. And I think people need to be reminded of that these days. It’s a very, very different kind of love story. It’s a very profound and a very, very lasting kind of love story, as well.

Liz: Sigh, Yeah.

Nora: So, I like it. (chuckles) So that’s why I wanted to do it.

Fireflydances: One of the books I read had a little excerpt of one of his love letters, and it was really beautiful.

Nora: Yeah, they really bring me to tears. There’s one thing that he….I can’t even go into it….it’ll be in the book. He’s writing about what to give her for a Valentine’s present; and you know what he comes up with? After he writes this beautiful thing he says “I wanted to have the passion of a gospel church,” and he describes everything what he wants this gift to be. And it’s very out of the ordinary, but it has to have the passion of a church, and he goes into a beautiful explanation. And do you know what he comes up with as the gift? And this is a Valentine’s present to someone he loves. He comes up with a Led Belly album. And he explains why – what Led Belly means to him, what gospel music means to him, and what SHE means to him, and how it’s all the same thing. And I read that, and I cry every time I read it. I thought if a guy every said that to me, I would just, you know, the poetry of it, the expression of it. And to know that you’re loved in the biggest possible way, and not in the smallest possibly way. It’s just so amazing. And I just don’t hear that kind of expression of love these days much anymore. And I thought, well, Woody will show us how to love.

Liz: Love it!

Tune in tomorrow for the final part of our interview with Nora Guthrie.....
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Unread postby Buster » Thu Jun 13, 2013 5:37 am

I spent all day yesterday thinking about how passionate Woody was - in the general sense of pursuing his dreams, believing in his vision - and then today, this beautiful revelation from Nora!
What a moving tribute...and what a thing to aspire to. If we could all love as holistically, think of the powerful changes we could make in the world.
And to grow up knowing she was loved for who she was, a part of the collective world - no wonder Nora is so awesome!

And this:
Everyone needs to breathe freely, and that’s what the arts are.


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Unread postby Theresa » Sun Jun 16, 2013 9:52 pm

I wonder if Infinitum Nihil will be publishing the new book that Nora and Douglas Brinkley are compiling?

This is such a good interview!

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Unread postby fireflydances » Sun Jun 16, 2013 10:25 pm

Theresa wrote:I wonder if Infinitum Nihil will be publishing the new book that Nora and Douglas Brinkley are compiling?

This is such a good interview!

I know what you mean Theresa. It kind of stuns me a little bit, as it's an interview worth any magazine, any major online publication. And she shared all of this with us, our club and the Zone.

I can't help it, I think about Woody and his methods of dissemination. I do believe that what's good gets found.

With regard to Woody's book of letters, I think it would fit well. The only think we know about for sure is the Dylan biography that Doug Brinkley is working on with a publication date of 2014 if I remember correctly. Waiting for books, waiting for movies....we are always waiting, aren't we? :lol:
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies

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