'Woody Guthrie In Dust Bowl Refugee'

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Woody Guthrie was a complicated man. When one compares his legend to the man himself, it is immediately obvious that there were stark contrasts between the Woody Guthrie depicted in his songs, and Woody Guthrie of real life. On one hand, he was a man of the people, fighting for the rights of the poor and destitute. On the other, he was selfish, irresponsible, and in some cases objectively detestable. Woody Guthrie isn’t an anomaly in this regard. Many great artists and musicians weren’t people many would want to spend time around. Jackson Pollock was a wife-beater (Usborne, 2007), Jack Kerouac was a miserable alcoholic, and Charlie Parker was a heroin addict, absentee husband and father. When asked about Bird, Miles Davis said, “If I said something about Bird, you wouldn't believe it… He was a big hog. A pig. No such thing as no with him… I suppose geniuses are like that”(Cook,…show more content…
He, “Takes on the persona of the refugee, putting himself right in the middle of the dust storm or highway” (University of Virginia, 2009). The majority of the song is written in the first person, differing from the classic folk ballad. This serves the purpose of making the song more personal. It is often easier to feel empathy when a voice or a face is attached to it rather than a people at large. However, in doing so Guthrie beautifully depicts the hardships of an entire people, and he is clear in his point that his experience isn’t uncommon. He routinely switches back and forth between “I” and “We” throughout the song. Guthrie highlights the suffering that comes with displacement, but in doing so shows the solidarity and community that comes along with it. “Dust Bowl Refugee” serves two purposes, it brings attention to hardships that were most likely neither fully understood, nor appreciated by those who were unaffected. Simultaneously, it serves to unite a
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