My first encounter with the song was through my tuning to Emmylou Harris’s songs. The slow melody and Harris’s soft voice complemented the sad story. It was only after some digging when I’ve found out that it was first the signature song of Woody Guthrie, a folk singer whose legacy of songs dwell mostly on social justice and political themes. Nevertheless, that did not stiffen his talent in crafting some ballads and children’s songs.
Both amazing singers and performers, there is no need to compare which one is better. Just sit back and enjoy the following two videos of Emmylou and Woody singing Hobo’s Lullaby.
Of course, this article would not be complete without giving the composer his due credit. Woody Guthrie may have brought the Hobo’s Lullaby into the music scene, but Mr. Goebel Reeves experienced firsthand what it was like to be a hobo for some time. That would later inspire the writing of the song. Noting the lyrics below, it could be a recounting of the things he went through or had been a witness of.
And though policemen they cause you trouble
And they cause trouble everywhere
When you die and you go to Heaven
Then you’ll find no policemen there
Though born in a middle-class family, he opted to turn his back from it and he joined the army as a teen during the WWI. After doing some action in the war zones, he finally returned to the U.S but not to his family. He wandered around the country living as a hobo and as a drifting poet. Soon, he heard of Jim Reeves fortune in selling records and that moved him to audition in New York. Luckily, he passed and started making records though it did not do well in sales. Still, his breakthrough came when he got absorbed in Rudy Vallees’ radio show. From 1930 onwards, he had been active with his musical career until he slowly drifted again and finally laid to rest in 1959.
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