The first songs that singer-songwriter Joel Rafael learned on guitar were Woody Guthrie’s – the standards of the ’60s folk revival scene, like “This Land Is Your Land.” Rafael never really got over them, and has spent his entire career paying tribute to Guthrie.
Now, with the ongoing centennial celebration of Guthrie’s birth, other artists – stars like Jackson Browne, Graham Nash and Tom Morello among them – are joining Rafael in showing Woody’s influence. The centennial comes to a peak this weekend with Guthrie’s actual birthday on July 14th, and the Woody Guthrie Folk Fest in his hometown of Okemah, Oklahoma.
However, Rafael’s dedication goes beyond mere covers. On his new album, America Come Home, he shares a co-writing credit with Guthrie on the song “Dance Around My Atom Fire.” But how exactly does one co-write a song with someone who died in 1967? Rafael recently sat down with CBS Local to explain the process, which involved him being invited by the Guthrie family to look through his journals. Watch below.
Rafael’s America Come Home, which features David Crosby and Graham Nash, will be released this Tuesday (July 17).
– Jillian Mapes, CBS Local