Travel writing classics: Bound For Glory by Woody Guthrie
June 23, 2015
Bound for Glory, by Woody Guthrie (1943)
"I could see men of all colors bouncing along in the boxcar."
So begins Woody Guthrie's "autobiography" (it's debatable quite how much embellishment he gives certain incidents) which has at its heart an account of his time as a wandering hobo, quite literally singing for his supper as he travelled the railroads of America during the depression.
This is a very special book. Not only is it a rare example of a musical legend successfully working in another artistic mode, but there is sense of synchronicity about this individual passing through these specific places and being witness to a particular time in American history. Guthrie's experiences made him the political artist he was to become - the man who would define American folk-protest music and be the single greatest influence on future musicians like Bob Dylan.
But above all this is a book about wanderlust and where it can take you, both literally and metaphorically. You must pick it up if you're a fan of Guthrie's music, but equally don't dismiss it if you're not, since it is both linguistically and narratively rich. As travel writer Jasper Winn said, Bound for Glory is "as if James Joyce and John Steinbeck had collaborated with Kerouac on On The Road."