Do Re Mi

Album: Dust Bowl Ballads (1937)
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Songfacts®:

  • Guthrie didn't know music notation, but he had a way with words and found clever ways to communicate his ideas in his songs. The "Do Re Mi" is a system of learning music, but here Guthrie uses the "Do" as slang for money ("Dough"). Anna Canoni of the Woody Guthrie Foundation talks about the meaning of this song: "It's all about the migrants being illegally kept out of California in the Dust Bowl time in the '30s. So if you ain't got the do-re-mi, then you'd better go back to beautiful Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Georgia, Tennessee. Because you won't be able to get into the Garden of Eden: California. So it's all about that time period, and the illegal border." (Anna is Woody Guthrie's granddaughter. Read more in her full interview. Learn much more at the official Woody Guthrie website.)
  • Artists to record this song include Blodwyn Pig, Ry Cooder, Will Geer, Cisco Houston, Tom Rush and Ani DiFranco. Tim McMullen also did it as part of his musical lectures "The Music of Woody Guthrie" and "Songs of the West" for the last thirty years.

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