Lot 826: Woody Guthrie

RR Auction

2015-07-07 11:01:50

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Lot 826: TLS, signed, "Woody Guthrie," one page, lightly-lined, 7.5 x 9.75, March 19, 1946. Letter to Moe Asch and Marian Distler. In full: "I have listened to the album, Ballads From The Dust Bowl, and like the cover better than I thought I did. I think this cover will look better to a customer on a shelf or in a window than it does to me, and this is how David Stone Martin wanted it to look. Cathy had a hard time making out what the man was doing, what he was sitting in, and what he was looking at.The Letter and Words to the Songs on the inside front cover are too small to read. It is like hunting back into the archives of folk songs for something that is right there in front of you. Would like to see these words put in the backside also so as to blow up to bigger size. But I know that it takes practice to get very good at anything and even after you get good at it takes money. And even after you get money it takes time and labor. The order that I like the records are:MY NEW FOUND LANDPASTURES OF PLENTYHARD TRAVELINGRAMBLING BLUESCURFEWTALKING COLUMBIAShirley is Nineteen, she lives with us and watches Cathy, she belongs to the AYD and gets lots of Daily Worker Subs. She just now heard the recording, The Curfew Blow, and asked me what it was about. I said I didn't know. She asked did I make it up? I told her yes. She asked, 'About anything specific?' And I just stood here by the fonograf [sic] and looked down towards the floor. I guess I can criticize other folks records lots plainer than I can my own. I would for this and other similiar [sic] reasons get a big kick out of looking at all comment favorable and not so favorable that you stir up with the Ballads from the Dustbowl." Intersecting folds, one through a single letter of signature, light creasing to three corners, a bit heavier to top right, otherwise fine condition.Humorously addressed, "DEAR MOE: ASCH'S CRASHES, / DEAR MARIAN: DITSLER'S DISCS," this letter to the founders of legendary Folkways Records reads as pure Woody Guthrie from start to finish. When the musician found Victor RCA unwilling to reissue his first commercial album, Ballads From the Dust Bowl, he authorized Folkways to copy the discs and put out its own version. After acknowledging the famous artist David Stone Martin's customer-friendly cover art—"I think this cover will look better to a customer on a shelf or in a window than it does to me"—he moves on to a critique of what really mattered: the letter and words to the songs. Known for his 'authentically American' lyrics, he wanted them to take a prominent place, blown up and put on the backside as well. He also lists the order he likes for some of his most famous songs— including Hard Travelin' and Ramblin' Blues—and relates a quick story about his daughter's nanny, Shirley, questioning him on his own music. When asked if he made up the song The Curfew Blow and what it was about, he writes, "I just stood here by the fonograf and looked down towards the floor. I guess I can criticize other folks records lots plainer than I can my own." A rare moment of speechlessness from the quick-witted rambling folksinger. In reading this incredible letter, packed with important references, it is hard not to imagine the spirited musician punching the keys of his old typewriter in his Mermaid Avenue apartment. RR Auction's Fine Autographs and Artifacts Auction 456 Wednesday, 15th July 2015 Estimate: $3000-4000
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