Recommended by Jay Mollica
Bob Dylan said that Bound For Glory had a similar but much stronger effect on him than Kerouac’s On the Road. Can anything more complimentary have ever been said about a book? So affected by Guthrie’s book, Dylan famously went to visit the ailing activist and folk singer suffering from Huntington’s Disease in a New Jersey hospital.
Guthrie embodies an America too often forgotten in historical narratives too often preoccupied with wars, presidents, and scandals. The traveling storytelling artist is not as strange as many would imagine, and in Bound for Glory, Woody Guthrie details his life and the lives of many others who also traveled through America, meeting people, singing songs, working when necessary, and promoting freedom. The ills of capitalism and the struggles for TRUE freedom are often taught and promoted in America’s ivory towers, but Guthrie (along with Wendell Berry today) reminds us that our most liberal and freedom-loving Americans often exist within the middle of the country and struggle every day to maintain human dignities in an industrial society.
“This guitar kills Fascists” Guthrie had written on his guitar. To him, songwriting and story telling was both an active testament of freedom and necessary to freedom. I can make no claim about this book’s worth compared to Kerouac’s, but I can say, that along with On the Road and Bob Dylan’s own Chronicles, this book forms a triumvirate of the stories of traveling artists who are at the core of our American culture and and a testament to America’s artistic worth.