Woody’s fan letter to Cage

As a coda to yesterday’s post, here is what one of my greatest heroes, Woody Guthrie wrote about John Cage and Alan Hovhaness, at the same time showing just what a wonderfully clear thinker and straightforward man Woody Guthrie was.

Woodrow WilsonWoodyGuthrie (July 14, 1912 – October 3, 1967) was an American singer-songwriter and folk musician whose musical legacy includes hundreds of political, traditional and children’s songs, ballads and improvised works. He frequently performed with the slogan This Machine Kills Fascists displayed on his guitar.

Odd and unusual are two words that spring to mind when imagining Guthrie writing a letter in praise of Cage. (He also praises Armenian composer Alan Hovhaness). Written in 1947, it is the kind of text one wants to quote in its entirety. Fortunately, we have the reproduction above, and you can read it for yourself. What isn’t reproduced is the postscript, in which Guthrie wrote: “I need something like this oddstriking music to match the things I feel in my soul tonight.” He also wrote that that morning, his wife, Marjorie, had “given birth to a big 7-pound boy”—Arlo.

Guthrie’s letter references a (now extremely rare) two-disc set entitled Piano Compositions by Alan Hovhaness and John Cage played by Maro Ajemian and Alan Hovhanes, featuring a hand-drawn cover by acclaimed jazz-record illustrator David Stone Martin. According to LA Times music critic Mark Swed, the Cage composition on Guthrie’s 78-rpm record was the prepared piano solos from Cage’s Amores, composed in 1943. Below, watch a performance of the “oddstriking” Amores by Spanish ensemble Neopercusión.

Thanks to Stool Pigeon. via Open Culture

Read the original article here
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