Woody Guthrie Audio Book Spotlights New York Years

Posted on July 14, 2014 | by Jason Walsh

You’ve heard the Dust Bowl Ballads… now try the 43rd Street ballads. That’s where Woody Guthrie wrote his signature song, “This Land Is Your Land,” and is one of several locations that are the focus of My Name Is New York, a new audio book paying homage to Guthrie’s nearly three decades in the Big Apple.

Set for release September 23, the three-disc audio book, subtitled “Ramblin’ Around Woody Guthrie’s Town,” takes an in-depth look at the influence the city had on the folk legend, who, from the early 1940s to his death in 1967, wrote hundreds of songs while raising his family in various locations around Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn. Narrated by his daughter Nora Guthrie, the first two discs present a virtual tour of nearly 20 locations in New York, brought to life through song, as well as interviews with friends and family such as Peter Seeger (in one of his final interviews), Arlo Guthrie, and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott.

The third disc features many of Guthrie’s New York City songs, such as the first recording of “This Land Is Your Land,” two previously unreleased home demos including the title track “My Name Is New York,” and the premiere of five never-before-published lyrics voiced by artists carrying on the Guthrie tradition.

Nora Guthrie, who also served as a producer for the audio book, says it’s been a “precious adventure” culling together the stories of her father’s New York City friends, many of whom, she points out, “are now gone.”

“And, just as for thousands of artists who have migrated here,” she says, “you can see how New York City was absolutely critical in significantly chiseling my father's destiny."

For a taste of her father's destiny, check out the above clip of Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land."

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