Woody Guthrie was a true original, one of those guys who emerge from the most unlikely of environments with a creative genius that comes from “God knows where”. Shakespeare, son of a glove merchant in 16th century England. Dickens, with the worst of fathers and starved provincial upbringing. Bob Dylan, raised in the mining wilds of Hibbing, Minnesota. And Woody, from a debt-ridden, small-town Oklahoma family, touched by disease and tragedy. But something within Woody Guthrie produced scores of some of the most evocative songs of the people ever written, and a life that was itself a page-turning novel. Would there have been Bob Dylan without his early idolatry and the inspiration of Woody Guthrie? Maybe not.

Woody never hit the big time as did Jimmy Rodgers, Hank Williams and a few others of his ilk. It’s not hard to figure out why. He was often chaos in motion, he hated Tin Pan Alley, and he was a man of the left, far more at home on the picket line than in a recording studio. He was content to scuffle through life, doin’ what came naturally.

Since it’s that time of year and better than the pop of champagne corks: herewith, Woody Guthrie’s homespun New Year’s Resolutions for 1942, a dark time when fascism had overrun virtually all of Europe. He called them his “New Years Rulin’s”. Some would not be out of place today. Happy New Year!

  1. Work more and better.
  2. Work by a schedule.
  3. Wash teeth if any.
  4. Shave.
  5. Take bath.
  6. Eat food – fruit, vegetables, milk.
  7. Drink very scant if any.
  8. Write a song a day.
  9. Wear clean clothes – look good.
  10. Shine shoes.
  11. Change socks.
  12. Change bed clothes often.
  13. Read lots good books.
  14. Listen to radio a lot.
  15. Learn people better.
  16. Keep rancho clean.
  17. Don’t get lonesome.
  18. Stay glad.
  19. Keeping hoping machine running.
  20. Dream good.
  21. Bank all extra money.
  22. Save dough.
  23. Have company but don’t waste time.
  24. Send Mary and kids money.
  25. Play and sing good.
  26. Dance better.
  27. Help win war – beat fascism.
  28. Love mama.
  29. Love papa.
  30. Love Pete.
  31. Love everybody.
  32. Make up your mind.
  33. Wake up and fight.




  1. Woodie’s most famous rulin’ may have been “This Land is you Land”. Thanks to the Canadian folk group, The Travellers, we’ve even adopted it as our own

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