Slipknot (Woody Guthrie)

This is one of Woody’s less familiar songs — at least, I’ve never heard anyone else sing it — but I always thought it was one of his most powerful, because it’s so simple. Like “Vigilante Man,” it’s just a string of questions, a decent man asking what this thing is, and why.

woody slipknot drawingI also like the rhythm, rhyme, and reason of “who says who’s going to the calaboose…” I’ve just been reading a life of Eugene V. Debs and thinking a lot about that question, and Woody and Debs have about the same answer, which is that it’s the rich and powerful, defending the property they and their ancestors stole from everybody else.

I know a lot of people think that answer is simplistic, but money seems to be talking louder today than ever in my lifetime, and the prisons are fuller, and more people are killing more other people… and money managers and  war profiteers are doing very nicely, and as I’ve written before, I wish Woody’s songs weren’t still so damn timely.