Woody Guthrie and Songs of My Oklahoma Home
James Talley did not grow up in the dustbowl of the Great Depression, but his 80+ year old Momma did, and she has relayed many stories about her personal experiences to him over his 50-plus years. Talley did grow up in Oklahoma under circumstances not unlike those of Guthrie. It seems that some things don’t change as fast in some parts of the world. In some cases, Talley basically lived some of Guthrie’s songs. In any case, it is evident that he understood exactly where Guthrie was coming from. This probably accounts for the incredibly natural and spontaneous feel of this release of mostly Guthrie covers.
Talley, who has released a number of very fine albums over his on-again off-again almost thirty-year career, has injected a little bit of
personal experience into these mostly Guthrie-penned songs. Talley has exercised a tiny bit of literary license with the songs by simply updating them slightly to reflect his own experiences. In the end, he has emerged with a collection of songs that are absolutely the freshest sounding treatments of Guthrie’s songs that I’ve ever heard. After listening to this double-CD a dozen times, I cannot for the life of me understand why he was not included on the Folkways: A Vision Shared tribute to Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie. Short of Doc Watson, I don’t know of a single performer who could do more justice or sound any more real covering these songs. I also cannot understand why this recording remained unreleased for almost six years. If you like Guthrie’s songs, or would just want something to possibly spur your interest in him, this is the place to start.