25 Insights from Iconic Woody Guthrie Quotes

Get connected and feel inspired with our Woody Guthrie quotes

Woody Guthrie left a legacy that inspired many generations of fans and musicians.

Learn more about this American icon with our Woody Guthrie quotes. 

Who was Woody Guthrie?

Woody Guthrie was an Oklahoma musician who helped pioneer American folk music. 

Much of his content is centered on anti-fascism.

His most famous song is This Land Is Your Land

Check out these Woody Guthrie facts below:

  • Guthrie was passionate about American socialism. 
  • His career inspired the likes of Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Garcia.
  • Guthrie’s Dust Bowl Ballads is recognized as a top 100 record that changed the world. 

Was Woody Guthrie a Communist?

Guthrie was openly associated with many United States communist groups but never officially identified as a Communist. 

He wrote a column for People’s World, a Communist paper, in 1939. 

He is quoted as saying, “If you call me a Communist, I am very proud because it takes a wise and hard-working person to be a Communist.”

Later he shared, “I’m not a Communist, but I’ve been in the red all my life.”

Woody Guthrie’s battle with Huntington’s disease

Huntington’s disease is an inherited condition that causes nerve cells in the brain to break down; most people contract it in their thirties or forties.

The disease limits physical movement, cognition and can cause psychiatric episodes. 

There is no cure for Huntington’s disease, but therapy can help mitigate some of the symptoms. 

As he got older, Guthrie’s health failed him. 

His behavior changed, and some thought it was due to schizophrenia or alcoholism.

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In the end, he was suffering from Huntington’s disease.

Woody Guthrie’s legacy

Guthrie left a legacy that is larger than life. 

As a musician, he never backed down from challenges and was unafraid to stand on his beliefs. 

He was blacklisted from certain radio platforms and could not perform at some venues due to his support of Communism. 

Despite these setbacks, Guthrie kept recording and even created opportunities for other banned musicians to work together. 

To learn more, check out our Woody Guthrie quotes below. 

Short Woody Guthrie quotes about life

Let’s start our list with these short and sweet Woody Guthrie quotes about life’s challenges. 

1. “Life’s pretty tough.” — Woody Guthrie  

2. “You’re lucky if you live through it.” — Woody Guthrie 

3. “This land was made for you and me.” — Woody Guthrie 

4. “Love is the only medicine I believe in.” — Woody Guthrie 

5. “All of my words, if not well put or well taken, are well-meant.” — Woody Guthrie 

The best Woody Guthrie quotes about music

Check out Woody describing his taste in music and what he likes in a song. 

6. “It takes a genius to make it simple.” — Woody Guthrie

7. “Any fool can make something complicated.” — Woody Guthrie 

8. “Anyone who uses more than two chords is just showing off.” — Woody Guthrie 

9. “I hate a song that makes you think that you are not any good.” — Woody Guthrie 

10. “I hate a song that makes you think that you are just born to lose.” — Woody Guthrie 

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The top Woody Guthrie quotes about politics and growth 

Below is a great selection of Woody Guthrie quotes delving into his political stance. 

11. “Left-wing, right-wing, chicken wing.” — Woody Guthrie 

12. “If you want to learn something, just steal it.” — Woody Guthrie 

13. “I’d give my life just to lay my head tonight on a bed of California stars” — Woody Guthrie 

14. “I ain’t a Communist necessarily, but I have been in the red all my life.” — Woody Guthrie 

15. “If a day goes by that don’t change some of your old notions for new ones, that is just about like trying to milk a dead cow.” — Woody Guthrie

Famous Woody Guthrie quotes about weapons and society

Here are some Woody Guthrie quotes relating to the human experience and war.

16. “All about a human being is, it’s a great big hoping machine.” — Woody Guthrie 

17. “Some men rob you with a six-gun; others rob you with a fountain pen.” — Woody Guthrie 

18. “If we fix it so’s you can’t make money on war, we’ll all forget what we’re killing folks for.” — Woody Guthrie 

19. “Say, nope, I ain’t a gonna kill nobody. Plenty of rich folks wants to fight. Give them the guns.” — Woody Guthrie 

20. “I would like to see every single soldier on every single side, just take off your helmet, unbuckle your kit, lay down your rifle, and set down at the side of some shady lane.” — Woody Guthrie

Woody Guthrie quotes and sayings about powerful stories

We finish our list with these Woody Guthrie about telling stories through songs. 

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21. “If you walk across my camera, I will flash the world your story.” — Woody Guthrie 

22. “The best way to get to know any bunch of people is to go and listen to their music.” — Woody Guthrie 

23. “One day we’ll all find out that all of our songs was just little notes in a great big song!” — Woody Guthrie 

24. “It’s a folk singer’s job to comfort disturbed people and to disturb comfortable people.” — Woody Guthrie  

25. “A song ain’t nothing but a conversation fixed up to where you can talk it over and over without getting tired of it.” — Woody Guthrie 

Let your favorite song tell your story 

Woody Guthrie was a real straight shooter. 

What is your favorite Woody Guthrie quote?

Be sure to let us know in the comments below. 

Clifton Sankofa has Master's degrees in English, Teaching, and School Leadership. He is a veteran educator and school leader. Clifton has built his career around teaching language arts, social-emotional learning, hip-hop(e), and vegan cooking. Across the country, Black and Brown communities die over preventable diseases. Clifton's aim is to help reverse this trend through cultural shifts. Using hip-hop and cultural-centered activities, he educates young people on how to reclaim their health and heritage through sustainable vegan eating, cooking practices, and literacy skills.
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