The New York Times: John Mellencamp’s Poetic Tribute To Woody Guthrie

In this week’s Arts & Leisure section, Larry Rohter writes about “Woody at 100,” a new collection released on Tuesday. The three-CD set commemorates the centennial of Woody Guthrie’s birth on July 14.

John Mellencamp, a fan of Guthrie’s since his childhood in Indiana, has recorded Guthrie compositions like “Do Re Mi” and “Johnny Hart.” For the 100th anniversary of Guthrie’s birth Mr. Mellencamp has written this poem as a tribute:

You know there’s a certain kind of individual

Who always takes the rough side

The side that nobody else wants to take

Most folks are content to take the path of least resistance

To sit on the sidelines and watch the world go by

And yell obscenities from the dark

Not this bird

He has no desire to take the easy way out

He sees the world through a long lens

And through that lens he knows

How out of kilter this place really is

He has no desire for riches

For ass-kissing, for fitting in

Or being at the right place at the right time

No, for him it’s just the opposite

Quite the contrary

It seems like he’s always in the wrong place

At the wrong time

He knows the world is full of hypocrisy

And is hyper aware of his own

This bird is not afraid to fight

To love

To get so far out there in the bones

That it would hurt our feet just to walk down his highway

But this bird soars wings on

This bird keeps us on guard

And honest

As the rest of us can be

This bird don’t mind volunteering

Is not afraid to lose

Is too moral to be a whore

And too honest to steal

But cares enough to write it all down in song ….

This bird is Woody Guthrie

And he dares you to fill his footprint

And so do I