When it comes to biographies of famous people, there is hardly a single detail of a celebrity’s that goes unnoticed by the crowd, yet there is an obvious and nonetheless strange gap of knowledge concerning the rest of the family members or the celebrity’s closest relatives.
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It is as if all famous people were manufactured right before they gained world recognition and had no relative attached. The same can be said about Woodrow Wilson Guthrie, known as Woody Guthrie, an American folk singer-songwriter. However, despite his family was not as famous as him, Charles and Nora Guthrie deserve just as much respect.
One of the most fascinating things about Woody Guthrie’s family was that each of its members had a very unique personality and the features of character, which, quite honestly, would, probably, be completely incompatible in any other person.
As the existing records say, Woody’s father, who was known among the neighbors and his fellow citizens as a politician, taught his son the charm and secrets of the Indian and Scottish music. Other sources, however, point at other influences that Charles Guthrie had on his son, some of them leaving much to be desired.
For example, it is a notorious fact that Charles Guthrie was a racist and that his son supported his political viewpoint (Kinchen). However, there are other peculiar facts that even this sad bit of information out.
For instance, the notorious fire, which gave Charles Guthrie severe burns, left a truly shocking impression on his son; as Woody Guthrie would say later on, this event would make him appreciate more not only the people whom he was close to, but also what these people shared with them.
Thus, Woody’s fascination with music began owing not as much to his father’s stories, as to the chain of events that led woody to appreciating these stories.
Despite the obvious strong influence of Charles Guthrie, Woody’s mother, Nora also changed her son’s life considerably with her passion for art and the willingness to share this passion with him. Unfortunately, Woody found out very soon – in fact, too soon, for a young child, – that his mother was suffering from a terminal disease, known as Huntington’s syndrome.
Allowing Woody to understand how fleeting the moments of sharing love with his parents are, the boy’s first acquaintance with the fact of inevitable death, which sooner or later attacks anyone, including his closest relatives, his relationship with his mother can also be considered as an important factor in defining Woody’s further life and the ideas that he would communicate through his songs.
These relationships between Woody and his mother, however, turned even complicated as the boy realized that the disease, which his mother was suffering from, affected their relationships greatly, seeing how it changed his mother irreversibly. Though it was not proven completely, it was believed that the fire mentioned above was set by Woody’s mother during one of her fits (Reineke 7).
The impressions that shaped Woody Guthrie’s vision and talent of a musician were not restricted to the influence of his parents, though. Apart from his loving, though definitely not quite happy, parents, Woody also built very close relationships with his uncle, which would later on be reprinted not only in his songs, but also the way in which the musician would write his songs.
Jeff Guthrie not only taught young Woody how to play the guitar, but also supported him in his darkles days, helping him get over the tragic death of his parents and the fact that his family was literally falling apart.
As for Jeff being the influence for Woody as a future musician, it will be reasonable to admit that at this point, the future folk star needed not spiritual guidance in his search for the music that he wanted to play – it was pretty much clear by then that Woody was into folk – but learning how to play the instrument.
This was when Jeff’s old guitar came in handy; thrown aside when Jeff no longer had time for getting in contact with his artistic side, it was finally put to practice. Guthrie started learning to play the instrument and started performing, slowly starting to understand that his hobby was more than a fad.
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When watching Woody cross the threshold of his house, Jeff could hardly think of who his nephew was going to become pretty soon, as well as what part he would play in this transformation (Sanders).
The parents of a musician who made folk and country music a complete craze in the USA, Charles and Nora Guthrie might not have been as well-known as their son, but they surely led very decent and nonetheless interesting lives.
In addition, it is obvious that Woody’s siblings have also contributed to his vision and shaping of his personality, which would later on be reflected in his songs. Inspired by his outstanding, though inordinately modest, family, Woody had all rights to be proud of not only the long way that he went through, but also of the people who helped him to start his journey.
Reineke, Hank. Arlo Guthrie: The Warner/Reprise Years. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press. 2012. Print.
Sanders, Craig. Ten Facts: Woody Guthrie’s Childhood. 9 Apr. 2009. Web.