Jesus Christ

Album: This Land Is Your Land: Asch Recordings Volume 1 (1961)

Songfacts®:

  • Woody Guthrie had a talent for taking historical events and turning them into thought-provoking songs. Here, he sings about how Jesus Christ stood up for the poor and downtrodden. Guthrie never had much money, stood up for the working man, and traveled the country spreading his message through his songs. While he was never associated with a specific religion, you can see why Guthrie felt an affinity with Jesus Christ. (Thanks to Anna Canoni at the Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archives. Read more in her full interview. Learn much more at the official Woody Guthrie website.)
  • Guthrie performed this at a 1949 concert in New Jersey that was recorded using wire, which is an obscure technique used in the '40s and '50s. These wire recordings were restored and released by the Woody Guthrie Archives as the album The Live Wire: Woody Guthrie in Performance 1949. This is the only known recording of Guthrie performing live.

Comments: 2

  • Ken from Philadelphia, PaThis song was used to great effect during the end credits of Michael Moore's documentary, "Capitalism, A Love Story".
  • Ken from Philadelphia, PaWhat a great song! So simple, so thought-provoking, and as meaningful in today's world as it was when it was written 70+ years ago. One doesn't need to do much parsing of the lyrics to see what Guthrie is saying: Jesus Christ's ministry (and, thus, by definition, Christianity) was all about helping and empowering the poorest of his people, and, when the rich and powerful realized this and, moreover, realized it was a threat to their own wealth, they saw to it that Jesus Christ was crucified. Given that we live in a time where the very richest among us exert enormous influence on our laws and lives, perhaps we would be smart to heed Guthrie's words before it is too late.
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