HOME | BIOGRAPHY | LYRICS | PROGRAM & EXHIBITS | PUBLISHING REQUEST | PRESS | STORE

 

 

COLUMBIA RIVER (1941)
Portland, Oregon

Woody in the Pacific Northwest

 

Despite his success, Woody became increasingly restless and disillusioned with New York's radio and entertainment industry. Feeling the heat of censorship he wrote: "I got disgusted with the whole sissified and nervous rules of censorship on all my songs and ballads, and drove off down the road across the southern states again."

Leaving New York, with his wife and three young children in tow, Woody headed out to Portland, Oregon where a documentary film project about the building of the Grand Coulee Dam sought to use his songwriting talent. The Bonneville Power Administration placed Woody on the Federal payroll for a month and there he composed the Columbia River Songs, another remarkable collection of songs that include “Roll on Columbia,” “Grand Coulee Dam,” and “The Biggest Thing That Man Has Done.”

When his contract expired, Woody moved his family back to Pampa, Texas.

Hoping to get back to New York City, and on the radio, he hitchhiked his way across the country. Woody's constant traveling, performing, and lack of regular work throughout the early 1940s took a hard toll on his family. Together with his increasing interest and involvement with progressive “radical” politics helped bring about the end of his first marriage.


“To Woody, poet of the rain-starved Dust Bowl, this mighty stream of cool, clear water, coursing through evergreen forests, verdant meadows, and high deserts was like a vision of paradise. He saw the majestic Grand Coulee Dam as the creation of the common man to harness the river for the common good – work for the jobless, power to ease household tasks, power to strengthen Uncle Sam in his fight against world fascism.” –Alan Lomax

 

WOODY SEZ...

"The Pacific Northwest is one of my favorite spots in this world, and I'm one walker that's stood way up and looked way down acrost aplenty of pretty sights in all their veiled and nakedest seasons.

The Pacific Northwest has got mineral mountains. It's got chemical deserts. It's got rough run canyons. It's got sawblade snowcaps. It's got ridges of nine kinds of brown, hills out of six colors of green, ridges five shades of shadows, and stickers the eight tones of hell.

I pulled my shoes on and walked out of every one of these Pacific Northwest Mountain towns drawing pictures in my mind and listening to poems and songs and words faster to come and dance in my ears than I could ever get them wrote down..."

 

*Writting by Woody Guthrie, appears in "Roll On Columbia" Songbook

SUGGESTED LYRICS:

Grand Coulee Dam

Pastures of Plenty

Roll On Columbia

 

Biography section page 5 of 10

Previous Page / Next Page

 

 

 

BIOGRAPHY SECTIONS



 

 


WOODY GUTHRIE PUBLICATIONS, INC.
125-131 E. Main Street, Suite #200 | Mt. Kisco, NY 10549
T: (914) 241-3844 | E: info(at)woodyguthrie.org

Copyright 2001-2020, Woody Guthrie Publications, Inc.
Site design by Anna Canoni.