Arlo Guthrie

The Warner/Reprise Years

By (author) Hank Reineke Foreword by Ronald Cohen

Publication date:

01 June 2012

Length of book:

348 pages


Scarecrow Press

ISBN-13: 9780810883314

Arlo Guthrie, the son of America’s legendary dust bowl troubadour Woody Guthrie and Martha Graham dancer Marjorie Mazia Guthrie, was reared in the rarefied atmosphere of New York City’s remnant Old Left culture, a period that brought together art, political action, and folk music. Music was part of Guthrie’s life from the very beginning and his self-confessed earliest childhood memory was standing knee-high next to Lead Belly, the blues legend and “King of the twelve-string Guitar.” Arlo's earliest mentors were his father’s friends, and the youngster would learn his craft from the giants of American folk music: Pete Seeger, the Weavers, Cisco Houston, Josh White, Oscar Brand, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Brownie McGhee, and Sonny Terry.

Arlo Guthrie: The Warner/Reprise Years revisits Guthrie’s fifteen-year ride as a recording artist for the prestigious record label. Hank Reineke guides readers through the colorful history of Guthrie’s most creative period, when the droll, shaggy-haired troubadour promised in song that a “new world" was surely coming. In his thoughtful consideration of Guthrie's career as a popular, if idiosyncratic, recording artist for the Reprise/Warner Bros. label, Reineke regales readers with stories behind the remarkable success of Guthrie’s talking blues-turned-movie Alice’s Restaurant and his celebrated appearance at the 1969 Woodstock festival. Guthrie’s time at Reprise/Warner Bros. from 1967 to 1982 saw twelve critically acclaimed solo albums, two staple singles of FM radio (“Coming Into Los Angeles” and “City of New Orleans”), and a pair of treasured folk-music recording collaborations with Pete Seeger.

With a look at Guthrie’s life and times before and after this prolific period of his career,
Arlo Guthrie: The Warner/Reprise Years is the first biography dedicated solely to this gifted artist. A goldmine of information on the Guthrie family's legacy to American music, the counterculture of the 1960s, and the record industry of the 1970s, this work also features a detailed bibliography as well as the first comprehensive discography of Guthrie’s recordings through the present day. Arlo Guthrie: The Warner/Reprise Years will appeal to popular music historians, folk-rock fans, and readers interested in the American counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s.

In this unauthorized study of Arlo Guthrie, Reineke (Ramblin’ Jack Elliot: The Never-Ending Highway) documents the musician’s 15 years of recordings on the Warner/Reprise label (1967–82). Guthrie, son of legendary folksinger Woody Guthrie, began his career singing at concerts with his father’s friends. He made his own break with the clever and politically charged song-story “Alice’s Restaurant” in 1967. In the next 15 years, Guthrie played at Woodstock, toured extensively with his friend and mentor Pete Seeger, and produced 14 albums. Throughout his career, Guthrie has frequently played at Woody Guthrie tribute concerts and events. Reineke uses extensive interviews, album reviews, and concert reviews and has compiled a thorough discography, covering Guthrie’s entire career, which will be extremely useful to fans and newcomers to the music. VERDICT This well-researched work is recommended for anyone interested in the Guthrie family and American folk music. It may be of special interest as Woody Guthrie’s centennial birthday nears in July 2012.