Woody Guthrie’s "Songs Against Franco"

  • Will Kaufman School of Humanities and Social Science. University of Central Lancashire


In 1952 Woody Guthrie wrote a series of songs condemning the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. These songs were never published or recorded. The present article, based on research at the Woody Guthrie Archives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is the first study of Guthrie’s anti-Franco writings, situating them in the context of Guthrie’s abiding anti-fascism amidst the repressive political culture of McCarthyism. Guthrie’s Songs Against Franco are also placed within the broader history of the songs of the Spanish Civil War as they were adopted and perpetuated in American leftist circles following the defeat of the Second Spanish Republic. Written coterminously with the onset of Guthrie’s fatal Huntington’s disease, they are the legacy of his final assault on what he perceived to be the transplanting of embryonic fascism into the US, a small but coherent body of work yoking the Spanish past to Guthrie’s American present.Keywords: Woody Guthrie; Spanish Civil War; Franco; folk music; McCarthyism; anti-communism

Author Biography

Will Kaufman, School of Humanities and Social Science. University of Central Lancashire
Will Kaufman is Professor of American Literature and Culture at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston, England. He is the author of the first political biography of Woody Guthrie, Woody Guthrie, American Radical (Illinois, 2011). His other books include The Civil War in American Culture (Edinburgh, 2006) and American Culture in the 1970s (Edinburgh, 2009). His next book, Woody Guthrie’s Modern World Blues, is currently in press (Oklahoma, 2017).


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