how to check out Woody Guthrie
* Smithsonian Folkways has recently re-released some early recordings, including five CDs (sold separately or as a box set) of the Moe Asch recordings of the early 1940s, when Woody first moved to New York City.
* LPs are somewhat uncommon, but a wonderful experience.
* Billy Bragg and Wilco teamed up for two fantastic and critically acclaimed albums: Mermaid Avenue and Mermaid Avenue Vol. II (Elektra). With the cooperation of Woody's estate, they accessed the over 2,000 lyrics that Woody never set to music. The music wonderfully preserves Woody's spirit in a variety of styles, from simple ballads featuring just a singer and a guitar, to more fully rounded rock songs, to the talking blues that Woody and Leadbelly made popular. These albums are perhaps the most accessible introduction to Woody's ideas, lyrics, and personality.
* James Talley, an Oklahoma folk singer, recorded a beautiful album of Woody's songs called Woody Guthrie and Songs of My Oklahoma Home (Cimarron Records). Its strength lies in its modern production capabilities (compared to the scratchy Asch recordings or LPs of Woody's own work) and in Talley's simple and pure voice.
* Woody Guthrie: A Life by Joe Klein (Delta Books). This biography reads well. Klein, best known as the "Anonymous" author of bestselling political novel Primary Colors, avoids footnotes and scholarly distractions to form this well-crafted narrative, but the endnotes, quotations, and high-level of research make this work as respectable as any academician's.
* Bound for Glory by Woody Guthrie (Plume Books). Straight from the horse's mouth, in Woody's signature folksy prose. Engrossing tales of treasure hunting, rail-riding, seamanship, and singing.