Perhaps best known for his song This Land Is Your Land
, Woodrow Wilson Guthrie was a larger-than-life figure in the development of folk music as a commercially viable genre.
He was born in July of 1912 in the oil boomtown of Okemah (Okfuskee County) in east central Oklahoma. When the boom went bust in 1931, Guthrie set off for Texas. His first performing group was the "Corn Cob Trio" but, due to the Depression and, in 1935, the Great Dust Storm, he was forced to follow other migrant "Okies" to California. His music reflected the socio-economic ethos prevalent in those times. Titles such as I Ain't Got No Home and Talking Dust Bowl Blues were typical of his work.
Guthrie was a social activist, throwing his energies into Union activities, criticising corrupt politicians and lawyers, strengthening the American Communist Party and fighting Fascism.
"Bound for Glory", a semi-autobiographical account of Guthrie's Dust Bowl years, received some literary critical acclaim.