top of page

Woody sez...

No New Year resolutions for me.

I’m just going to borrow some of Woody’s.

Eighty years ago, Woody Guthrie wrote down thirty-three resolutions for the coming new year.

Thirty-three is a lot and seems ambitious, but they weren’t all world shattering. Number 4 was “Shave.”

He was also determined to “eat more fruits and vegetables,” “take baths,” and “drink less.”

Since it was 1943, it made sense that “beat fascism” made the list. Understandable, because it was the middle of WWII, but I think many of us can still agree fascism is a bad thing. Sadly, that one needs to stay on the list.

He aspired to “work more and better,” “work to a schedule,” and “write a song every day.”

That part is interesting, because while Woody was a big fan of the working man, he wasn’t much of an actual, you know, worker. He’s the type of guy who could write a catchy tune about baling hay on a hot day without ever being up between the rafters of a haymow. He was diligent as a song writer, though. In 1943 he was twenty-nine and had already written “This Land is Your Land,” plus a half-dozen other songs you’re familiar with and hundreds more you probably aren’t.

Number 13 was “read lots of good books.” I can do that. In fact, some people would say I do little else.

Others that resonate with me are “learn people better,” “don’t get lonesome,” and “have company but don’t waste time.” Tough ones, at least for me. I’m often lonesome and perhaps that’s because I need to learn people better, since I’m 68 years old and the way humanity acts is still a substantial mystery to me.

The nineteenth and twentieth resolutions are “dream good,” and “keep the hoping machine running.”

Woody Guthrie was a genius. He wasn’t a particularly good husband or father, kind of a pain in the neck as a friend, and never did learn people better. But people have been singing his songs for nearly a century, they’ll probably still be singing them in another century, and there’s a reason for that. I have no idea what a hoping machine is, but I want one. I want everyone to have one. When I think about it, we have a serious lack of hoping machines.

Here’s the thing, though. I don’t know anything about Woody’s hoping machine, but I was a farmer for thirty years and know a lot about machines in general. I know they need to be fixed, maintained, and repaired with new parts as needed. I know it’s best if you keep them in a protected place and don’t overuse them. Even the best machine needs proper maintenance in order to function correctly. In that respect, I don’t think a hoping machine is different than a tractor.

It’s my opinion that a lot of hoping machines out there are in a sad state of disrepair, flashing warning lights and making bad noises. What are we to do?

Woody has us covered. The last items on his list of resolutions are “love mama,” “love papa,” “love Pete,” “love everybody,” “make up your mind,” and, most importantly, “wake up and fight.”

It’s a whole new year. There’s a lot to do.

Copyright 2023 Brent Olson

bottom of page