Song Of The Day 7/3/2015: Woody Guthrie – “Talkin’ Dust Bowl Blues”

Talkin' Talkin' Blues Blues Week: April 14, 1935 is known as "Black Sunday" to historians of the Midwest and residents of the flyover states. It was the most devastating dust storm on record. This storm, coming at the high point of what would be a decade-long drought in the region, was a real son of a bitch. It destroyed crops. It paralyzed small farms, leveled the local economy, drank up all your whiskey, insulted your daughter's modesty and asked embarrassing personal questions of your wife.

Complicated by the mechanized over-plowing of once-fertile prairie grasslands, Black Sunday and storms like it fed on the eroded soil left behind by gas-powered tractors and overeager land speculators. Since the late 1800's those suits assured investors that, should they have chosen to invest their capital in the industrialization of the region, the "rain followed the plough." Meaning that the "improvements" the wild tractors facilitated would actually change the climate and entice Windy the Weather Goddess to throw more precipitation on the area. This theory was debunked after, you know, the drought.

Black Sunday survivor Woody Guthrie was always itinerant, and like thousands of other "Okies" from the newly emasculated farmlands, he headed to California, where people could get jobs picking fruit, digging for oil, starring in cheap movies and making semiconductors. Native Californians did not care for their new arrivals and subjected them to linguistic and mathematic humiliation. Woody's "Talkin' Dust Bowl Blues" captured that short-sighted treatment and the economic malaise many of the Okies still encountered. For more information on this story, read The Grapes of Wrath.
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