Woody Guthrie’s “Peace Call”

“Peace Call” is one of Woody Guthrie’s lesser-known songs, perhaps because it was lost for awhile. I discovered the song not too long ago on the excellent Guthrie tribute CD, Ribbon of Highway Endless Skyway (2008).

The CD is a live recording of performances of Guthrie’s songs and songs in his spirit, inter-cut with some narration of quotes from Guthrie. And all of the performances are great, perhaps because the organizers sought out performers who capture Guthrie’s spirit instead of going for big-name artists, although there are names you may recognize like Pete Seeger, Ellis Paul, and Slaid Cleaves.

One of the many highlights on the CD is singer-songwriter Eliza Gilkyson‘s performance of “Peace Call.” Guthrie’s lyrics had survived in his archives.  But if he wrote music for the song, it was lost when he died.

So Nora Guthrie, Woody Guthrie’s daughter, asked Gilkyson to put music to the words. And Gilkyson did an excellent job. The song contains some of Guthrie’s most beautiful lyrics, reminding us how he was a genius with the language.

I’ll clear my house of the weeds of fear,
And turn to the friends around me;
With my smile of peace, I’ll greet you one and all;
I’ll work, I’ll fight, I’ll sing and dance,
Of peace of the youthful spirit;
Get ready for my bugle call of peace.

The artists from the Ribbon of Highway CD performed the songs on tour together.  So, here is Gilkyson performing the song on December 12, 2008 at the University of Texas’ Union Ballroom in Austin, Texas. Other artists join her, including Joel Rafael, Ray Bonneville, Jimmy LaFave, Slaid Cleaves, Kevin Welch, and Michael Fracasso.

If you do not know this wonderful song, check it out below.

{Woody at 100 is our continuing series celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the birth of American singer-songwriter Woody Guthrie on July 14, 1912. Check out our other posts on Guthrie and the Woody Guthrie Centennial too. }

What do you think of “Peace Call”? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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