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Lot # 1619 (of 1673)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

Woody Guthrie's Signed Annotated Copy of Forty Thousand Quotations

Starting Bid - $10,000.00 , Sold For - $21,150.00

Folk musician Woody Guthrie was one of the most prolific and influential songwriters of the twentieth century and is best known today for his song This Land is Your Land. Guthrie was an original American songwriter characterized by a strong sense of social and political activism that captured the pulse of his times, and whose great influence can be clearly seen in the work great of the great American songwriters who followed him, including Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, and Bruce Springsteen. Offered here is a remarkable body of work, compiled by Guthrie over a period of many years, at least from 1947 to 1955 (the years of his handwritten entries), which provides incredible insight into his creative process. This volume was obviously an integral tool in Woody Guthrie's songwriting process. In addition to being unique and containing hundreds of handwritten notes and signatures by Guthrie, this work might be the single most historically significant Guthrie document in existence. The 2,000-page book, titled Forty Thousand Quotations - Prose and Poetical (compiled by Charles Douglas, Halcyon House, Garden City, N. Y., 1940), features hundreds of handwritten notes made by Guthrie, each inspired by the subject listed, for his personal use. Guthrie has prefaced the volume in his own inimitable style, inscribing the interior front cover and opposite pages "Woody Guthrie bought this book for his own use in the same year the tidal wave come, 1944 and I don't know which one jumped the highest me or that tidal wave - 200 back water proverbs for each and every penny to make you think yes, think what your lord and owner wants you to think - all quotations marked by my hand as W.G. was wrote by me of me for me to me about me from me & towards me... Woody Guthrie" The interior front cover also bears his handwritten address: "3520 Mermaid Avenue — Brooklyn, 24, New York." That same address and his name are also boldly printed along the bottom edge of the pages. As noted by Guthrie himself, most of the entries are either signed by him or bear his initials, and while we haven't examined the volume page by page, we would estimate that there are a few hundred entries and well over one hundred full Woody Guthrie signatures in the book. Guthrie was at the peak of his powers in the 1940s, but by the end of the decade his health was in serious decline (he was suffering from Huntington's Disease) and much of his time was spent in hospitals. It was during his various hospital stays that we believe a great majority of the entries found in this book were written (a number are even dated 1955). While it is impossible to list all of the many insightful, humorous, pensive, and didactic entries contained in this volume we can at least offer a brief sampling of Guthrie's writings, each preceded by the key word that triggered the response(s):

ADVERSITY: "When you burn to get richer than you need to be, you spread the poison called adversity." AUTHORSHIP: "A cultured author sleeps with as many words as he does women/Your writing is no good till some capitalist comes to be the owner of your words/What happens to me is a thing of last importance what you keep alive in my words & songs is what counts." BALLADS: "My saddest ballads I wrote from actual tales — and sung to folks that needed to hear it most." BACKSLIDING: "About backsliding I'll say this: it all depends on whose back you slide and where." BATTLE: "The battle is between the open minds $ir, and the closed ones." BEAUTY: "The beauty of life is more the crying baby than the great orchestra/The beauty of music is to see the worker healed to march and sing again/My son, arlo dubuck, is a hansome winsome teller & friendly in the bargain/My wife Marjorie is a beauty and brainy and warm along with it/My new son, joady ben, he's a cutter and smarter than all git out besides." BOOKS: "The best fate can happen to my book is for you to love it good enough to steal it." CAPITALISM: "Its one big big long long crime." CAPITALIST: "The capitalist system has a big pile of ability but no jobs or work for most all of us." CHILDREN: "My kids taught me all I ever knew/My best college is my kids / My kids is my angels bringing me my best news straight out from god." CHRIST: "God shows me how to be like jesus/Save me jesus save me/Christ shows me how to die and live on/All my songs flow out of Christ." CHRISTIANITY: "I see my Christianity as an everyday fight." DEATH: "I'm not afraid to die/I pray every little passing minute to die die die/Death is my best day/Death is my best friend." FREEDOM: "We are all bornd free and equal and we all get robbed every morning/we've gotta make every kind of a mortal mistake possible before we know how to fight for our freedom or how to hold onto it after I die to miss it for you." HATE: "What other kind of a tool has built my jim crow city except your nails of hate and screws of hatred?" HEAVEN: "Trying to make heaven my home/gointa sing with alla gods angels and leadbelly once more and jacky Guthrie some more up around heaven/I hate this whole darnd world I'm trying to walk around on/sweet heaven its not my home/I see it's a lot bigger job to go to hell than it is to go to heaven." LIBERTY: "I'll sure be glad to shake your hand, liberty, I never met you before."

The majority of the entries are for letters A through M, but Guthrie's writings can be found throughout the book. Given both the quality and sheer volume of handwritten entries and in the extremely well-worn condition of the book, its obvious that this book was Guthrie's constant companion for many years. A portion of the outer spine is missing, but both covers remain attached. The pages also remained anchored to the spine, but display normal age toning. A light water stain is apparent in the upper right corner. Good condition overall. All of the entries, penned in either ink or pencil, are all bold and well preserved; grading "9" overall. 6 x 8.75 x 3.5 inches. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $10,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $21,150.00


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