A patriot and a political radical, Woody Guthrie captured the spirit of his times in his enduring songs. He was marked by the FBI as a subversive. He lived in fear of the fatal fires that stalked his family and of the mental illness that snared his mother. At 42, Woody Guthrie was cruelly silenced by Huntingdon's disease. The first biographer to be granted access to the Woody Guthrie archive, Ed Cray has created a haunting portrait of an American who profoundly influenced Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and American popular music itself.
Winner of ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award 2005.
"With unprecedented access to Guthrie's personal letters, Cray illuminates all areas of a short but important life. A human being, Guthrie said, 'is just a hoping machine'. He couldn't have hoped for a better tooled biography than this." The Sunday Times "Cray meticulously reconstructs Guthrie's incessant peregrinations, shedding new light on every phase of his life. He makes good use of his access to the family archives and spices up his account with rich dollops of Guthrie's vivacious prose... that confirm his genius in the medium..." The Guardian "A welcome and important work." Robert Santelli, Rolling Stone "...thoroughly readable... Guthrie's picaresque life makes for captivating reading..." The Economist "...meticulous and often moving..." The Independent"
A professor of journalism at the University of Southern California, Ed Cray is the author of biographies of General George C. Marshall among others.