Listen To A Previously Lost Woody Guthrie Recording Of ‘Hoodoo Voodoo’


A previously unheard recording of Woody Guthrie singing “Hoodoo Voodoo” – one of the songs recorded by Wilco and Billy Bragg on Mermaid Avenue – was recently found. Guthrie’s recording is believed to be from 1954.

Wilco and Billy Bragg were granted access to Guthrie’s notebooks of lyrics by his daughter Nora Guthrie who at the time headed the Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archive. The resulting collaborative Mermaid Avenue album was issued in 1998, with volumes two and three following in subsequent years. Prior to the recent discovery, it was believed Guthrie, who died in 1967 at the age of 55, had not recorded the songs found in his notebooks.

Writing for Variety, Mitch Myers described finding the Guthrie tape at the Shel Silverstein Archive. The Woody Guthrie Foundation later verified the recording’s authenticity, which included two additional songs. Here are more details from Myers:

Upon being given the tape of “Hoodoo Voodoo” and the other two songs recently, Smithsonian-Folkways Guthrie expert Jeff Place authenticated the performance, placing the session as likely being from 1954 when Woody, bluesman Sonny Terry and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott taped a number of tunes for Folkways honcho Moe Asch. The performances don’t represent peak Guthrie, by any means: Woody was ill with Huntington’s disease by that time; he had also burned his arm quite badly, and they all got drunk while making the recordings. But for fans not just of the folk legend but the musicians who honored him in 1998, it’s a kick to have “Hoodoo” in any form, as an unexpected chance to “A/B” different versions of the tunes at 20- and 60-year distances.

Listen to Woody Guthrie performing “Hoodoo Voodoo” via Variety below:

[Hat Tip – Pitchfork]