House of Earth

Album: The Ghosts of Highway 20 (2016)

Songfacts®:

  • This slow-building Woody Guthrie song is about a prostitute bragging to a married man about what she has to offer. Woody Guthrie was a very prolific writer, and many of his songs were never recorded, but the lyrics exist in the legendary folk singer's archives.

    Nora Guthrie, who is responsible for her father's archive, unearthed the track and sent Lucinda Williams the original typewritten lyrics asking her to complete it. According to Williams, Nora said in the accompanying letter: "I thought if anyone could handle this song, you could."
  • The lyrics are unusually racy for Woody Guthrie. "At first I went, 'oh my God, this is definitely not your average 'This Land Is Your Land' Woody Guthrie song,'" Williams recalled to The Independent. "And, to be honest, it seemed to me that the lyrics hadn't been really worked on that much. Some of the lines were a little forced; I feel like I'm treading on sacred ground here but I tried to fix some things a little, and did a little bit of editing."
  • Lucinda Williams performed the song for the first time at the Kennedy Centre in Washington DC during the October 14, 2012 tribute concert to Woody Guthrie. She recalled: "Nora said, 'this has got to be the first song sung about a prostitute at the Kennedy Centre'. She got a real kick out of that."

    The song was included on the Woody Guthrie at 100! Live at the Kennedy Center CD and DVD.
  • Woody Guthrie's one and only novel was also titled House of Earth. Penned in 1947, the book tells the story of a young couple struggling in the Texas Panhandle during the 1930s.

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