Woody Guthrie on Automation and A/I.

The result of automation and artificial intelligence is to put people out of work and concentrate the wealth in a smaller number of hands.

It can end up with a divided nation – the extremely wealthy and the destitute.

However, in the right hands it could end up with a three day week, job sharing, a sharing of the increased wealth and greater leisure and prosperity for all!

I wonder which it will be?

Here’s so Woody Guthrie thoughts on the matter:

‘I went to work in a big steel mill

And I guess I’d have been there still:

But they invented a big machine

And a million men went over the hill

To the poor house – unwanted,

Unneeded, unwelcome guests.’


‘I always thought of a big machine

As the way the Lord his people blessed;

But in the hands of the selfish man,

The more you’re blessed, the worse it gets.’

Woody Guthrie quote on socialism and pollution!

I’m presently reading this book on Woody Guthrie – it’s got some great quotes:

‘If I was President Roosevelt

I’d make the groceries free –

Give away new Stetson hats

And let the whiskey be.

I’d pass out suits of clothing

At least three times a week –

And shoot the first big oil man

That killed the fishing creek,’

My kind of sentiments!!

Woody Guthrie on Capitalism.

This is a short extract from the book on Woody Guthrie that I’m presently reading – Woody Guthrie’s Modern World Blues by Will Kaufman.

I’m enjoying it – even if at times it reads like a document submitted for a PhD.

‘Woody Guthrie even viewed the Capitalist system, which he hated, as an automobile.

This private profit machine

Has got eight cylinders

Greed. Fear. Lies. Hate.

Jail. Court. Asylum. Tomb.

Woody sure had a way of summing things up!

Woody Guthrie’s guitar slogan – This Machine Kills Fascists’ – An extract from the book ’53 and Imploding’ that I am currently rewriting.

Woody Guthrie’s guitar slogan – This Machine Kills Fascists’ – An extract from the book ’53 and Imploding’ that I am currently rewriting.

UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Woody Guthrie Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
UNSPECIFIED – CIRCA 1970: Photo of Woody Guthrie Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Guthrie’s guitar slogan ‘This machine kills fascists’ is fascinating. First it highlights that a musical instrument is merely a machine and secondly it suggests that the power of reason is sufficient to change someone’s deep held views. I don’t know if that is true. Fascism is a corruption that spreads like pus from a burst appendix. It corrupts and degrades and produces the most terrible fevers and stench. It has to be disinfected or contained. Once it has caught hold it twists minds and eats away kindness until all that’s left is rancid hatred. Can love and reason turn that around? I guess you have to catch it young and educate those minds so that you inoculate them against this rancid cancer. It doesn’t stop me wanting to kill the bastards! I have to remind myself that violence begets violence, hatred breeds hatred and revenge merely creates cycles of revenge. As individuals and as a race we need to control our endocrinal urges and supersede them with cortex power – brain over glands – head over heart. Woody Guthrie knew that. He knew that you couldn’t kill fascism with a gun; you had to use education.

Quote 7 – Woody Guthrie – This machine kills fascists

Quote 7 – Woody Guthrie – This machine kills fascists

Woody Guthrie rambled round in the thirties, forties and fifties in America. He travelled with black and white alike. He stood for fairness and justice. He stood on picket lines with working men striking for a fair wage and fair treatment. He opposed injustice, racism, sexism and elitism.

He wrote songs like nobody had ever heard before.

The quote I am going to give from him is the one he painted on his guitar –

‘This machine kills fascists’

It is a simple concept for a complex issue. He was saying that you do not destroy poisonous ideology like fascism and fundamentalism with guns – you destroy them with music, with words, with education. You change the minds not blow up the bodies.

That has informed my life.

Music is a powerful tool for changing people’s minds and awakening their humanity and love of their fellow men and women. The guitar was Woody’s weapon and a powerful one it was too.

Education is the other tool.

We won’t defeat ISIS on the battlefield alone – we need to educate the fools who believe in violence.

If you would like to try one of my books they are all available on Amazon.

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Billy Bragg/Woody Guthrie – Way over Yonder in the Minor Key – lyrics about individuality and self-belief.

Billy Bragg/Woody Guthrie – Way over Yonder in the Minor Key – lyrics about individuality and self-belief.

Woody Guthrie
I’m an individual. There ain’t nobody who can write like me.
When I was a kid my favourite track was the Kinks – ‘I’m Not Like Everybody Else’. I still love it.
My blog is full of whatever takes my mind. If it’s in there it will come spilling out. I live to write.
My books are full of my knowledge and imagination. I give it full vent.
Woody Guthrie is one of my heroes. Not just because of the brilliant legacy of songs that he left us – which are devastatingly brilliant and unique. He invented the topical song story – protest song and social commentary. I love him for it. But I admire him as much for his stance.
Woody stood for something and never held back. He said what he believed. He lived the way he spoke.
Woody believed in equality. He lived with the poor and blacks and fought for justice, civil rights and equal pay. He stood on the picket lines and was defiant in the face of threat and violence. He took the blows.
He was a communist who believed that trade unions were the means for working people to gain a fair wage from selfish, exploitative bosses.
He painted ‘This Machine Kills Fascists’ on his guitar. He believed education and reason would win over fascist views. He thought that violence creates more violence. You oppose fundamentalist ideology with reason and intelligence.
Fascism and fundamentalism by the likes of ISIS and creationists was bound to thaw in the heat of intellectual examination.
He was a great man
Billy Bragg was asked by the Guthrie Estate to take some of Woody’s lyrics and put them to music. The result was brilliance.
Billy is another of my heroes. He is ideologically sound, a brilliant songwriter, performer and warm individual. He cares.
I chose ‘Way over Yonder in the Minor Key’ because I liked the story and the picture it creates. Being an ugly kid yet full of gusto I could relate to the lyric. I had my tanglewood days too.
This song resounds with me.
Thanks Woody and Billy. Genius!

Billy Bragg/Woody Guthrie – Way Over Yonder In The Minor Key

I lived in a place called Okfuskee
And I had a little girl in a holler tree
I said, little girl, it’s plain to see
Ain’t nobody that can sing like me
Ain’t nobody that can sing like me

She said it’s hard for me to see
How one little boy got so ugly
Yes my little girly that might be
But there ain’t nobody that can sing like me
Ain’t nobody that can sing like me

Way over yonder in the minor key
Way over yonder in the minor key
There ain’t nobody that can sing like me

We walked down by the Buckeye Creek
To see the frog eat the goggle-eye bee
To hear the west wind whistle to the east
There ain’t nobody that can sing like me
Ain’t nobody that can sing like me

Oh my little girly will you let me see
Way over yonder where the wind blows free
Nobody can see in our holler tree

And there ain’t nobody that can sing like me
Ain’t nobody that can sing like me


Her mama cut a switch from a cherry tree
And laid it on the she and me,
It stung lots worse than a hive of bees
But there ain’t nobody that can sing like me
Ain’t nobody that can sing like me

Now I have walked a long long ways
And I still look back to my Tanglewood days
I’ve led lots of girls since then to stray
Saying ain’t nobody that can sing like me
Ain’t nobody that can sing like me


Ain’t nobody that can sing like me

Billy Bragg and Wilco-“California Stars” from “Mermaid Avenue”

Billy Bragg & Wilco-“California Stars” from “Mermaid Avenue”

Woody – a tribute to Woody Guthrie.



‘This machine kills fascists.’

So clever. How did you think of that?

There’s not many men that done the things that you’ve done. Bob Dylan said that about you.

I was only a kid when you died in 1967 – just eighteen years old and you were just fifty five. But I was already besotted with a lot of your work. I had a whole bunch of your records that I played incessantly. That was the year that I bought your autobiography Bound For Glory.

We couldn’t have been much more different could we? – Separated by the best part of forty years, an ocean and a world of experience.

You were born in Okema Oklahoma and I was born in Surrey England. We did not have wide open plains, tornados, Indian reservations, black slaves or rattle snakes in Walton on Thames. We did not have guns, dust storms or dusty old hobos who rode the blinds. There were no lynchings, shootings or crooked Southern politicians who solved problems with their fists or bosses who employed vigilantes to get their own way. Walton was very provincial and English. Yet Woody – your songs still spoke to me. You painted the pictures in my mind. I lived it through you.

My family was pretty ordinary too. None of them were burnt to death, or died of madness or ran for office. My father wasn’t involved in lynchings, or dubious property deals and he did not join the Ku Klux Klan.

Our worlds could not have been more different could they? But I could still relate to what you said and I did.

You were a one off.

What made you that way Woody?

How come you were brought up in a prosperous conservative family, full of racism and violence, and you developed the mind-set you had? Where did you get your sensibilities from?

What made you so special?

You took up the guitar and set about entertaining people with your songs. You busked around the country, painted signs, carried out odd-jobs, and ran a radio show.

You rambled, lived rough and rode the trains with the poor, the down-and-outs and blacks, tramped round the country, playing to the strikers and disenfranchised, and you believed in a better world. What made you such an optimist?

How come you weren’t a racist like all the others? Where did that compassion come from? What made you believe in fairness? It seems to me that there was something special inside you. You couldn’t turn a blind eye or ignore what was going on. You were forced to do something about it and fight for what you believed. You seemed to believe it more strongly than anybody else.

It seems to me that you kept your vision simple. You believed in justice, freedom and equality. The rest followed on from there. You were a communist and pluralist because of equality. You took people as you found them regardless of the colour of their skin. Back then both those beliefs were dangerous. But they didn’t faze you, did they Woody? Where-ever there was injustice you were the first to speak up, to write songs and put your body on the line on the pickets. You fought racism and championed the underdog. You were a union man because you saw that as the only way to put a stop to the exploitation of working people.

Woody – you were a one-man political organisation, a social dynamo, a fearless radical. Compromise was not in your language, was it?

You did not court popularity did you?

You took up social issues, like the dust bowl refugees, and put forward their case for justice.

The compassion and fury poured forth from your guitar.

You loved life, nature and women. You were never happier than when outside, under the sky, with the sun, stars and mountains. I could feel that in your song This Land Is Your Land.

But you also had a dream. You could see a better world a coming. You saw science providing the answers. Electricity from the hydroelectric would turn deserts into fertile land. There would be a land of plenty in which all men and women would prosper.

All we had to do was defeat fascism.

Which brings me back to that slogan – this machine kills fascists.

It taught me a valuable lesson. You don’t defeat fascism, hatred and exploitation with violence. You defeat it with love, reason and music. A guitar is a machine that can reach into peoples’ hearts and change them. A guitar is better than a rifle. Songs are better than bullets. Words can kill fascism. Ideas hold great power. Your words still move me.

We might have been born worlds apart but I’m joined to you like I was your twin.

I just wanted to say thank you Woody.

Woody Guthrie – Roll on Colombia – a song about hydro-electric power from back in the 40s!!

Woody Guthrie – Roll on Colombia – a song about hydro-electric power from back in the 40s!!

Woody was way ahead of his time. He was hired by the Bonneville Power Administration in Oregon to provide music for a film they were making on hydroelectric power and the damning of the Colombia River. Woody saw this as a great opportunity to bring cheap power and employment to the area. He thought it would greatly benefit the working man.

To that end Woody wrote a whole stack of songs in a couple of weeks many of which came out on his wonderful Columbia River Collection.

There are problems, such as fish migration and navigation associated with damning rivers but there are ways of dealing with these.

Woody was right: sustainable power is the way forward!

Roll on Colombia
Words by Woody Guthrie, Music based on “Goodnight, Irene” (Huddie Ledbetter and John Lomax)

Green Douglas firs where the waters cut through.
Down her wild mountains and canyons she flew.
Canadian Northwest to the ocean so blue,
Roll on, Columbia, roll on!

CHORUS: Roll on, Columbia, roll on.
Roll on, Columbia, roll on.
Your power is turning our darkness to dawn,
Roll on, Columbia, roll on.

Other great rivers add power to you,
Yakima, Snake and the Klickitat, too,
Sandy Willamette and Hood River, too;
Roll on, Columbia, roll on.


Tom Jefferson’s vision would not let him rest,
An empire he saw in the Pacific Northwest.
Sent Lewis and Clark and they did the rest;
Roll on, Columbia, roll on.


It’s there on your bank that we fought many a fight,
Sheridan’s boys in the blockhouse that night,
They saw us in death but never in flight,
Roll on, Columbia, roll on.


At Bonneville now there are ships in the locks,
The waters have risen and cleared all the rocks,
Shiploads of plenty will steam past the docks,
Roll on, Columbia, roll on.


And on up the river is Grand Coulee Dam,
The mightiest thing ever built by a man,
To run these great factories and water the land,
It’s roll on, Columbia, roll on.


These might men labored by day and by night,
Matching their strength ‘gainst the river’s wild flight,
Through rapids and falls they won the hard fight,
Roll on, Columbia, roll on.