“Unfinished Business”

Mike Ragogna interviews Nora Guthrie today on Huffington Post about her father and his music.

MR: Were there certain topics brought up in his material, such as the plight of the Mexican worker in “Deportees,” that resonated with you more than others?

NG: Woody wrote over 3000 songs for every aspect of life, a song to sing at each moment of the day, for every mood, for every step of life’s journey. So it’s impossible to single out any, as so many resonate at different moments in time…I grew up to understand what “Pretty Boy Floyd” was all about, and really began to appreciate his ability to tell a story that exists for all time, like “1913 Massacre.” Funny you should mention “Deportee.” On Labor Day, there was a dedication ceremony in Fresno, California, at the mass grave where the migrants who lost their lives were buried with no names. A young musician, Tim Hernandez, spent the last two years researching the story and actually found their names! So the dedication ceremony will finally list all their names. I’m so moved when moments like this happen. Woody wrote the song more than sixty years ago, but it was unfinished business. “All they will call you will be deportees” was his lament. Now, that is no longer the case. The same thing happened recently when two young filmmakers researched the story behind “1913 Massacre,” and made a documentary about the incident, also including all the names of the children and families that died. That film is currently being shown on some public television stations and film festival, and hopefully many people will want to learn more about what took place when the copper miners of Calumet, Michigan, decided to strike in 1913, and the consequences they suffered for their cause. “Pastures of Plenty” is just about the most singular piece of poetic writing ever in a lyric. A total work of art. Springsteen once said, “Nobody can write songs like that anymore.”

3 Responses to “Unfinished Business”
  1. Ray Muzzin
    September 13, 2013 | 9:10 am

    I would like to know when the next showing of this will be in Michigan. My Grandmother was at this party with 2 of her sisters,(she was 13 at that time) they had gotten out safely. Her name was Aurelia Goodroe then, she was married Frederick A. Rintala. They live in Dodgeville untill 1941 then move to Redford Township, then in 1962 moved back up north to Lake Linden.
    As a kid I remember hearing the story several times from her and my Mother her Daughter.
    My Mother tells me that Grandma was interviewed about this back in the late 50s or 60s
    Thank you Ray Muzzin

    • Louis Galdieri
      September 24, 2013 | 11:27 am

      Hi Ray, The next screening in Michigan is in October, at the DeVos Art Museum in Marquette. Details for this and all upcoming screenings are posted pretty regularly on the “News” page of our site. We do our best to keep it up to date.

      • Ray
        September 26, 2013 | 2:51 pm

        Thanks

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