This song was part of a trove of previously unheard Woody Guthrie lyrics, which Billy Bragg and Wilco set to music several years ago for an album called Mermaid Avenue. I can’t think of anybody it suits better than Bob Seger (although I wouldn’t complain if Bruce Springsteen or maybe Neil Diamond wanted to have a go at it).
This might be the saddest song ever written — and as we approach Labor Day next week, a stark reminder of why the labor movement was (and is) necessary. The first time I heard this was at a Woody Guthrie anniversary concert at the Brady Theater in Tulsa a few years ago. It made me mad then. It makes me mad now. If it doesn’t make you mad, I have serious questions about whether you could pass Philip K. Dick’s empathy test.
On a cold January night in Southeast Missouri, I might be juuuuuuuuust a little inclined to daydream about hot July evenings in Okemah.
A little “Oklahoma Hills” at Woodyfest should warm me right up.