Americana Highways proudly presents this YouTube documentary Even If Your Voice Shakes, a creation by Ryan Harvey covering a project that has produced songs by Woody Guthrie as a 4- song EP companion to the video. The album, I Don’t Like the Way This World is A-Treatin’ Me (Omnivore), will be available during Record Store Day events on April 13th.
The EP presents two songs written by Woody Guthrie, each performed/interpreted twice. The title track recorded by Guthrie is one track, with a second version played by Woody Guthrie with new guitar parts by Jeff Tweedy.
The second has two instantiations, both arranged by Ryan Harvey. The first song is “Old Man Trump,” performed by Ryan Harvey and featuring Ani DiFranco and Tom Morello; while a second version, “Beach Haven Ain’t My Home,” was done by Johnny Irion’s (Woody’s granddaughter Sarah Lee Guthrie’s spouse) U.S. Elevator — the latter two versions are played to lyrics Woody Guthrie wrote but never recorded. We premiered the “Beach Haven Ain’t My Home” track here: Song Premiere: “Beach Haven Ain’t My Home” by U.S. Elevator on Upcoming Woody Guthrie Tribute Record.
“Old Man Trump” is the one on which this documentary is focused. In the documentary, Ryan chatted with Woody Guthrie’s daughter, Nora, as she recounted the story of the song “Old Man Trump.” Woody wrote the lyrics in 1952 while the family was actually living under landlord Fred Trump, Donald Trump’s father, in a segregated apartment building named Beach Haven in Brooklyn. The timeliness of this lyrical discovery (and these recordings) is striking.
Nora reminds us on camera that Woody’s writing was so prolific that it wasn’t a complete shock to learn this song had been found. The conversation takes brilliant twists and turns though differentiating economic and political systems, the group the Weavers, and her recollection as a child of living at the Beach Haven apartments and the way the Guthrie family was denied permission to vacate their lease even when there was a fatal illness diagnosis. Tom Morello makes an appearance as well. Watch to see more for yourself, and get ready to find your copy this Saturday during Record Store Day!