"Art is not what you see, but what you make others see." Edgar Degas

Friday, March 30, 2018

Woody Sez - Babies



I found out yesterday that Woody Guthrie died when he was 55 - my age. The last decade or more of his life was spent battling the Huntington’s disease that eventually devoured him but he packed a lot into his short life and left a songwriting legacy that is impossible to overestimate. His influence on generations of writers continues to plant seeds that will be blooming far into the future.

He was an honest man - some times brutally so – and honesty was as rare in the popular music of his day as it is in ours. In addition to his songwriting he kept journals and wrote for newspapers, including the communist newspaper People’s World which in 1939 and 1940 published 174 columns under the title “Woody Sez.”

The first of his writings that I’ll be sharing relates to the first part of life – infancy. He wrote this in 1943, inspired by his baby daughter Cathy Ann:

 
My own uncanny machine


"Who has ever seen, who even ever hopes to see a machine made by the hands of men which grows each day into a living soul, or looks at you and knows you, answers your motions and responds to your call, which is warm as you are warm, living as you are living, growing and learning, hurting, and hoping the same as you. People will mould fine metals into uncanny machinery to do their work, but man will never invent a machine that knows him or hopes with and like him.

The only thing that people have that bugs, fish, animals, and machines do not is hope.

Possibly you and all who read this will remark how childish are my thoughts because all of us have thought all of these old things a thousand days and a thousand nights. Yet I must write things down as though I were the first man on earth to think them. Otherwise I would get lost in a maze and couldn’t write a word."

About the specific songs he wrote on two albums for children, he wrote, "I don't want you to use these songs to split your family apart, to give the kids something to do while you do something else. I want to see you throw down your book, your paper, magazine, your worries and your troubles, and to come and join in with the kids.

Let your kids teach you how to act these songs out, these and a thousand other songs. Get the whole fam damily into the fun. Get papa, mama, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, grandma, grandpa, all your neighbors, friends, visitors, and everybody else in on it.

My songs are not to be read like a lesson book nor a text, but to be a key to sort of unlock all of the old bars in you that keep the family apart or the school apart. I'm not trying to lure, to bait, to trick, nor to teach the little fellers how to do because the kids have taught me all I ever will know.

Watch the kids. Do like they do. Act like they act. Yell like they yell. Dance like they dance. Sing like they sing. Work like the kids do. You'll be plenty healthy, and feel pretty wealthy, and live to be wise, if you put these songs or any earthly song, on your radio, record player, or on your lips, and do like the kids do. I don't want the kids to be grown up, I wan to see the grownups be kids."





Here's a song that only a mother can love. And a child. And everyone in between - from Woody's album Songs to Grow On For Mother And Child.

I'll eat you, I'll drink you
Yum yum yum yum yum.
I'll drink you, I'll drink you
Slip slop slippy slippy slop.

Well, I'll eat you and you'll eat me
And I'll eat you and you'll eat me
Sody pop, ice cream, sugar in my tea
1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3.
Ho ho ha ha hee hee hee,
And I'm a-gonna eat you up.
I'm a-gonna drink you down.

I'll bite you, I'll chew you
Yum yum yum yum yum.
I'll gulp you, I'll slurp you
Slip slop slippy slippy slop.

Well, I'll eat you and you'll eat me
And I'll eat you and you'll eat me
Sody pop, ice cream, sugar in my tea
Ha ha ha ha 1, 2, 3,
Ho ho ho ho hee hee hee.
And I'm a-gonna eat you up.
I'm a-gonna drink you down.

I like you, I love you
Yum yum yum yum yum.
I smell you, I taste you
Slip slop slippy slippy slop.
Well, I'll eat you and you'll eat me
And I'll eat you and you'll eat me
Sody pop, ice cream, sugar in my tea
1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3.
Ho ho ho hee hee hee,
And I'm a-gonna eat you up.
And I'm a-gonna drink you down.

I touch you, I feel you
Yum yum yum yum yum.
I pat you, I rub you
Slip slop slippy slippy slop.
Well, I'll eat you and you'll eat me
And I'll eat you and you'll eat me
Sody pop, ice cream, sugar in my tea
1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3.
Ho ho ho ha ha hee,
And I'm a-gonna eat you up.
I'm a-gonna drink you down.
I'm gonna eat you up.
I'm gonna drink you down.