For my Grandmother
My grandmother turns 99 today. She is such a loving and remarkable woman and I am proud and honored to have her as the matriarch of our family. She is still witty and smart and absolutely adorable, and the love she has for my daughter and her other grand daughters is so strong and true. I can only hope to posses that much love in my heart, that much class in my spirit and body, that much wit in my brains and that much goodness in my soul. She is simply a good, good person. That is rare.
One of my favorite stories is one I obviously do not remember, but have heard over the years… Apparently when I was born, my grandmother was giving me an inspection from head to toe, and when she got to my… special parts… she stopped, took a moment and exclaimed… “He has a nice little business.”
For the record, “little” is not the adjective most of us would like to hear when someone is describing our wee willy willicker and its two overnight bags, but, as I have said before… it is what it is.
So, what album would I pick for today? Not to be a wise ass, but were there even recordings in 1912? I had to look it up. There were. The other things that kept popping up in my Google Searches were Woody Guthrie and Studs Terkel, both born in 1912. So that opened up some possibilities… Lots of Woody albums I like… and the musical Working is one of my favorite recordings… Decisions, decisions…
Apparently 1912 is the first time the term the “Blues” was ever used, when Hart Wand’s “Dallas Blues” became the “first copyrighted blues composition.” (Thanks, Wikipedia).
Wikipedia struck again with this list of songs from 1912, which includes titles like “If It Wasn’t For the Irish and The Jews” (That is now a must find), and the still very famous “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.”
Instead of digging through the bins of a used record store and happening upon something actually recorded in 1912, I decided to make it a little easier on myself and listen to a Woody Guthrie album. So Grammy (we now call her GG for Great Grandma) this one is for you.
First off, let me just say that this site is great… albums, lyrics… and a ton of great info. and resources!!!
His centennial celebration is coming next year, so all thoughts, prayers and wishes are for us to have something similar for my Grammy!
I am just going to quote the Wikipedia page here… “Recorded in 1944 and 1945, The Asch Recordings are possibly Woody Guthrie’s most famous recordings, conducted over a series of days by Moses “Moe” Asch in New York City. The songs recorded by Asch comprise the bulk of Guthrie’s original material and several traditional songs. They were issued on a variety of labels over the years since under the labels Asch, Asch-Stinson, Asch-Signature-Stinson, Disc, Folkways and Verve/Folkways.”
With 27 tracks, this is a great place to start, as you will find a lot of his most famous songs, and some of my personal treasures…
“This Land is Your Land” of course… his most famous.
“End of the Line”
“New York Town”
“Going Down the Road Feeling Bad” – I love to play harmonica to this one! Love it!
And if I had to pick my three faves…
“Jesus Christ” – Yeah, I know… the Jewish guy digs this one!!! But listen to U2’s cover on the amazing Folkways: A Vision Shared.
“Do-Re-Mi” – This one and all of these still stand up and have had great cover versions… See the note above.
“Jesse James” – Yes, Bruce’s cover is fantastic. But obviously Guthrie knew how to write a tune.
One of my all-time favorite joys was seeing Arlo Guthrie and Pete Seeger in concert at… Agh… blanking on the name… some outdoor amphitheatre… stage on a lawn kind of deal, in the middle of nowhere… It was like basically seeing a show in someone’s back yard… a very large back yard, but still. I so have to remember the name of this place… So great.
Anyway… as you can see 1912 gave the world an amazing, beautiful soul, who would go on to make people happy and joyous and would put music in their hearts… That’s right… My Grandma Mildred… and oh yeah, Mr. Woody Guthrie, too.
Happy, healthy, wonderful birthday.