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Erica K

Erica K
New Jersey, USA
September 26
I have a new blog: Grew up in Jackson Heights, New York, but now live in Jersey. Married and the proud owner (servant?) of 4 cats, including a little blind guy named Quincy. Jobs have included: English teacher in U.S. and abroad, cabaret performer and member of a NYC sketch comedy troupe; now a legal secretary and freelance writer. Other jobs: canvasser for NYPIRG/cannery worker in Naknek, Alaska (a fisherman told me it was "the ugliest part of Alaska")/dog kennel cleaner/member of the swine and poultry crew on a California farm. "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better." Samuel Beckett


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JUNE 18, 2012 4:38PM

Gonna Get Through This World (the Best I Can)

Rate: 27 Flag

“Well I’m gonna get through this world
the best I can if I can.

And I’m gonna get through this world

And I think I can.”

                        Woody Guthrie


The Clearwater Revival Concert was held this past weekend in Croton-on-Hudson, New York, and as usual, it did not disappoint.  Inspired by Pete Seeger’s desire to clean up the once-declared “dead” Hudson River in the 1960’s, the festival has grown into the country’s largest environmental festival, which showcases incredible musicians, storytellers, activists and artists.  All proceeds go directly to support Clearwater’s environmental research, education and advocacy efforts to preserve and protect the Hudson River and its tributaries and well as communities in the river valley .


Pete Seeger is always a presence at the festival.  Last year we stood about 5 feet from him as people gathered for a blessing of the river.  That year he sang with Arlo Guthrie, Taj Mahal and other musicians in the final act of the evening.  This year we saw him talking to one of the men working the grounds.   He blends in and never calls attention to himself.


My husband and I went on Saturday, although the festival runs both weekend days.  Among the performers were The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Joan Osborne, The Holmes Brothers, banjo virtuoso Bela Fleck and Arlo Guthrie and the Guthrie Family.  It was the Woody Guthrie Centennial so there was a special feel to the festival, at least for me.  When I was a teenager living in Los Angeles with my Dad, I went through a Woody Guthrie “phase,” in which I read his biography (procured from the local library), learned his songs on guitar and dreamt of being a roaming activist / musician / hobo.  I was 15 at the time.


woody guthrie with guitar
Woody Guthrie (photo by Lester Balog, circa 1941)



the river
The River


big fish 
Big Fish

art project 
Hands-on art booth

The final performers on Saturday were Arlo Guthrie and the Guthrie Family, including children.  Arlo sang “Pretty Boy Floyd,” which, like so many of Woody’s songs, is timeless:


If you'll gather 'round me, children,

A story I will tell

'Bout Pretty Boy Floyd, an outlaw,

Oklahoma knew him well.


It was in the town of Shawnee,

A Saturday afternoon,

His wife beside him in his wagon

As into town they rode.


There a deputy sheriff approached him

In a manner rather rude,

Vulgar words of anger,

An' his wife she overheard.


Pretty Boy grabbed a log chain,

And the deputy grabbed his gun;

In the fight that followed

He laid that deputy down.


Then he took to the trees and timber

To live a life of shame;

Every crime in Oklahoma

Was added to his name.


But a many a starving farmer

The same old story told

How the outlaw paid their mortgage

And saved their little homes.


Others tell you 'bout a stranger

That come to beg a meal,

Underneath his napkin

Left a thousand dollar bill.


It was in Oklahoma City,

It was on a Christmas Day,

There was a whole car load of groceries

Come with a note to say:


Well, you say that I'm an outlaw,

You say that I'm a thief.

Here's a Christmas dinner

For the families on relief.


Yes, as through this world I've wandered

I've seen lots of funny men;

Some will rob you with a six-gun,

And some with a fountain pen.


And as through your life you travel,

Yes, as through your life you roam,

You won't never see an outlaw

Drive a family from their home.



All I could think of as I was listening to him was the big banks bailed out on Wall Street and how they have become our new robber barons. 


For me, the most moving and haunting song was performed by one of the Guthrie women (sorry, I didn’t get her name), entitled “Gonna Get Through This World.”  I will include a version of the song as performed by the Klezmatics, who appeared at the festival on Sunday.  The lyrics speak to everyman/woman: a message of hope and strength in difficult times.  Keep your tissues handy. 


God bless Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger (turned 91 this year)!


For more information on the festival, go to this link:


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All I could think of as I was listening to him was the big banks bailed out on Wall Street and how they have become our new robber barons.

yeah i guess this is why my hero bob dylan
sat by his dying body
and sang to him
his own songs:

"Others tell you 'bout a stranger
That come to beg a meal,
Underneath his napkin
Left a thousand dollar bill."

of course bob had more of a..temper...

Come you masters of war
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks.

You that never done nothin'
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it's your little toy
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain.

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul.

And I hope that you die
And your death'll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I'll watch while you're lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I'll stand over your grave
'Til I'm sure that you're dead.

masters of war.
Erica, very nice to see you attended the concert! I remember the early days of the Clearwater, in fact, it was my cousin who had just graduated from Hamilton College who first told me about what Pete Seeger was doing to clean up the river, etc. While I didn't see the festival this year, I was at the park a couple of months ago with my son and I think there were no more than 20 people there on that particular weekday afternoon! The Hudson River has come a long ways since the '60s and Pete Seeger certainly stands out as the leader in the movement to clean it up!
James, yes, Bob got a lot of songs from Woody's widow, that's what Arlo told us too. Woody is eternal.

designator, he is such an inspiration! I started going to the concert back in the 80s when I was a young thing. Always so enjoyable. Didn't do the contra dancing this year--my knees were bothering me. :(
I love the spirit here. I wish I could have gone to this concert, too - especially to see Joan Osborne, one of my favorite singers.
Always been a fan. This is why I love NY, the entertainment capitol of the world, period. Glad you had that chance, Erica, and thanks for sharing. R
Nice report and photos on this festival, staged for a great reason. I remember seeing the Holmes Brothers a few times many years ago and was knocked out each time.
Very cool! I definitely need an education in Woody Guthrie - he's inspired too many great musicians to count. And man how I miss the Hudson Valley! R.
Wish I coulda been there. Thanks for bringing a little of it to us.
I sell music and the first time I found a Klezmatics CD I had to listen to it. I was hooked. Guthrie.. well.. cannot even begin I am going to PM you about something.

Thank you for sharing this, Erica. I'm so glad you went and had a good time. You needed this.
Alysa, yes, the community spirit at the festival is wonderful. We always leave joyful.

Thoth, yes, New York is chock full of great entertainment.

VA, oh, yes, the Holmes Brothers blew my mind--amazingly talented and make you want to get up and sing and dance!

Chiller, Woody was peerless.

Matt, thanks for stopping by.

Linda, how cool! I'm sorry we missed the Klezmatics yesterday. We are definitely buying at least one CD. xo
Fusun, thanks. We always leave with full hearts. xo
Erica, it seems that you had a beautiful time, from your story and images. Music to me is such an escape. And I totally agree with Fusun,

Sounds like you had a great time and that's what it takes to get through this world. In small groups and in festivals we get through things best together. We need this place to get through our troubles and inspire each other. It's nice to see you sharing some of the happy things you do. I'm glad you had a good weekend and hope your whole week is good.
As I wrote in my tribute to my father last week, he always whistled "Crawdad Hole" by Woody Guthrie and now, I've learned to play it on my guitar. (Yes, cats seem to want to jump out of the windows)
Thanks so much! I was hopeful you'd have a report of the festival for us! Sounds really important as a bastion of hope against the darkness.
Klezmatics playing and wondering how Woody would have sounded singing with them? Was Pete at the festival?
Tissues, indeed.
Sounds like a great festival Erica. I only started getting into Woody's music a few years ago when a friend brought a great compilation CD to the family cottage. I've been a fan ever since.
Very neat. My mom used to live in Croton. Wilco sang some of Woody Guthrie 's songs that never were published the album was called Mermaid Avenue.
Sounds like you had a great time! And do the Klezmatics play the Klezmer? I'm not being a smart ass this time, I'm seriously asking. :)
Darn it....never got into any of these vocalists....spent my time with Mozart and Beethoven,,, I missed out!
Stathi, yes, music can be an escape, but for me, it's as important as the air that I breathe- a necessity.

L'Heure, You're right. We all need happy events to get us through. I want to expand on this piece a bit--was a bit rushed when I wrote it.

Jmac, yes, he's always there, like a guardian angel. We saw him talking to a guy on a cart who was working the grounds. He sang last year with Arlo and Taj Mahal.

Midwest, yes, I believe they do play the klezmer.
Scanner, cool!

PW, exactly. A bastion of hope and peace in our mad, mad world.

Abra, I'm glad you discovered his music. It's timeless and always gives me hope.

Snarky, I'm no familiar with Wilco.
Cathy, I cry at the drop of a hat these days, but beautiful music seems to really bring on the waterworks.

JD, Mozart and Beethoven are terrific too! I'm a folkie from way back.
Always happy to read about Pete Seeger. Happier to read that you had some real fun. Nice. Keep it up as much as you are able.
Mary, he is such an inspiration. A true force for good in the world. Thanks for stopping by.
Yes, as through this world I've wandered
I've seen lots of funny men;
Some will rob you with a six-gun,
And some with a fountain pen.

And how! Your analogy to the treachery of the big banks is on target. Thanks for describing this wonderful festival. Wish I could have been there. Hurrah for Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie! R.
Margie, unfortunately we have no Pretty Boy Floyd to bring a hungry family a Christmas dinner whilst the bank evicts them!
My favorite has always been "Alice's Restaurant" by Arlo; that might be because I was familiar with it. I should listen in on some of the other stuff all three of them did; I'm probably familiar with some of it but don't match up names too well.

What I've heard about them has always been good.
Zachery, "Alice's Restaurant" is also a favorite of mine.
My husband was there too, on Saturday! We are in awe of Pete Seeger. Mark also noted that, here he (Seeger) was, a cultural icon, wandering through the crowd with absolutely no fanfare. A people's hero. The lyrics to “Pretty Boy Floyd,” sure do make us look at who the real thugs are.
Midwest, I gave you the wrong answer. "Klezmer" is a style of music, not an instrument. Sorry, brain died for a few minutes.
[r] belatedly here, erica! so glad. what an awesome experience. i remember going to see seeger years ago at some small town mountain top (ski town) and discovering as the car full of my young college age friends were near the lip of the mountain we were encircled by angry townspeople screaming expletives at us and banging on the car and windows. i thought i was going to hear a concert of a folk singer. i had no idea that seeger was so vilified as a pinko cuba lover by such locals,.

it was a memorable experience -- rolling up the windows but looking upon so many agitated faces of intense hate, the mouths working away at us, eyes flashing, fists waving. what an ambush. sobering.

it was a great concert of course and i was hungry to learn more of this seemingly gentle and lively man.

your pics and the song are a great addition! best, libby xxx
Maria, small world! Maybe you can go next year. It's a great experience---have been going to the festival since the late 80s.

Libby, wow!! Who would have thought it. It doesn't surprise me, though. The message of peace, humanity and equal rights is seen as a threat to the Establishment, always has been. xo
A good friend of mine was there. Her comments and your post convince me that I'd better go next year.
Paul, it's an event not to be missed. Truly uplifting. Best, Erica
That song made me teary Erica.. So beautiful! It sounds like a great time!!! Xxo