Review Archive

‘Woody Guthrie And The Dust Bowl Ballads’ by Nick Hayes - a true pictorial experience

(November 12, 2014)

If ever a singer-songwriter needed no introduction to anyone remotely aware of folk music it’s Woodrow (better known as ‘Woody’) Guthrie - American folk musician with a musical legacy that ranges across hundreds of political and traditional songs, ballads and children's songs.Woody Guthrie bookProbably, his most-recognised song, ‘This Land Is Your Land’ has become a true classic of tis kind and is credited as being among the most oft-recorded songs in human history. The artists who cite his work among their influences are legion.

Now there’s a new book that offers a visual biography of his time and experiences living through America’s harrowing Dust Bowl era during the Great Depression. It’s a wholly absorbing graphic novel by Nick Hayes called ‘Woody Guthrie And The Dust Bowl Ballads’. Using beautifully created images coupled with lyrics and narrative, this hardback book explores the life and times of a man living the life of a train-riding hobo along with many other displaced farmers from Oklahoma to California. These experiences coloured much of his music, as he quite literally soaked up an eclectic mix of cultures, traditional music and song from a whole range of immigrant traditions. It offers an insight into how Woody turned a plethora of setbacks and hard times into music that has become anthemic to generations beyond his own.

With this book, Nick Hayes presents the reader with a detailed and realistic insight into the world that made Woody Guthrie. The striking illustrative style is a mixture of ochres and umbers, browns and blacks that recall old woodcuts, handmad prints or sepia photgraphs to perfectly match their subjects. You can feel the heat, smell the dust and touch the despair. The artwork and style make ‘Woody Guthrie And The Dust Bowl Ballads’ an incredibly easy read, and yet lifts it way beyond a hardback comic into the realm of a true pictorial experience. For those that know Guthrie and his music it’s a’ must have’, for those who want to know more about the man it’s a great place to start.

‘Woody Guthrie And The Dust Bowl Ballads’ by Nick Hayes is available from Amazon and other retailers.

Reviewer: Tim Carroll

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