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The Truth About Woody Guthrie at 100

The point which escapes Mr. Downes is that today, the well-heeled and wealthy elites regularly pay good bucks to have their consciences assuaged, as they listen and recall their radical youth in the New Left and drive away in their Lexus to feel so good about themselves, before going to work the next day in their corporate offices and top-tier law firms. In their hearts, they’re still revolutionaries, but their pocketbooks show that only they can afford the price to listen to Woody’s songs in concert.

Mr. Downes is very angry. Woody’s son Arlo, himself a singer-songwriter who picked up his dad’s talent and is a much better musician than his father, is a subject of Mr. Downes’ anger. “Arlo,” he writes, “is a Republican; he endorsed Ron Paul in 2008.” I wrote about this first at the time, and Arlo responded with a comment in PJM’s comments page, pleased that others would learn how he felt about radical Islam (he’s against it) and Obamacare, which he also opposes. Arlo thinks for himself, and this independence is what irks Mr. Downes, who thinks Arlo has some obligation to adopt his dad’s outworn politics.

Of course, Pete Seeger remains dependable, endorsing whatever horrendous far-left cause is announced, to which Mr. Downes says “bless him,” but Downes also complains that he is “very old.” What really makes him angry is that no one pays attention to Springsteen’s pedestrian new songs (even worse, Chris Christie loves Bruce). Evidently, songs may be a weapon -- as the comrades used to say, their fire dies stillborn. He doesn’t mention it, but evidently Paul Ryan loves the far-left band Rage Against the Machine, whose hero is Che Guevara, whom they call their fifth band member. This is a group that cut a CD some years back with Noam Chomsky speeches included (they blasted this to audiences during intermission). Perhaps Ryan, too, likes the beat and the melodies and, like everyone else, ignores the words.