The Fellow Traveler

The Kerry Campaign chose Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” as their theme song. Here’s more on the political leanings of leftist singer/songwriter.

In Ramblin’ Man–The Life and Times of Woody Guthrie, biographer Ed Cray concludes that Woody Guthrie was not a Communist Party member, but “a ‘fellow traveler,’ a nonmember who generally agreed with the Communist Party’s platform but was not subject to party discipline.”

The following quotes from Guthrie and friends are found in Cray’s book.

“I wish I knew what I could do to make all of the thoughts of Marx and Engels and Lenin and Stalin and Willkie and Roosevelt and [Communist Party USA General Secretary] Earl Browder fly down and roost in my brain.”

–Woody Guthrie,
writing on the flyleaf of his copy of
V.I. Lenin’s Theory of the Agrarian Question.

“The man that writes our best ballad will read this book from cover to cover. . . . I’d like to try and write all of these things down in short words.”

–Woody Guthrie,
writing on the flyleaf of his copy of
Karl Marx’s Das Kapital

“If he [Guthrie] wasn’t a member of the party, he was the closest thing to it.”

–Dorothy Healey,
agricultural worker organizer
for the Communist Party

“Woody never was a party member, because he was always considered too eccentric by the party apparatus. . . . But he was a convinced socialist, positive that this country had to be socialist.”

–Actor Will Geer

“We [Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger] read the Daily Worker, and took it as our main guideline in what our politics should be.”

–Folksinger Pete Seeger