Lost Woody Guthrie Hoodoo Voodoo recording discovered after 64 years

The previously unreleased 1954 tape has been shared online by US entertainment magazine Variety after being found in the Shel Silverstein Archive.

It features US folk hero Guthrie, who died in 1967, performing alongside Sonny Terry and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, who were regular collaborators.

Until now, it had been believed that Hoodoo Voodoo was one of many unfinished songs Guthrie wrote lyrics for but never recorded.

Wilco and Billy Bragg put the song to music, believing at the time that they were first to do so, on their 1998 album Mermaid Avenue, which featured new interpretations of what were thought to be previously unrecorded Guthrie songs.

After learning of the discovery, Bragg posted a message on Twitter to say he had always wondered what a Guthrie recording of the song might have sounded like.

Variety music writer Mitch Myers, who discovered the rare tape, said its authenticity had been verified by the Woody Guthrie Archive.

“It was quite a surprise when I stumbled upon the recording of Woody singing this cute little children’s song – a far cry from Wilco’s frantic version, to be sure,” he wrote.

“The performance is rougher than we might wish, as Guthrie and his cohorts, bluesman Sonny Terry and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, had been doing a fair amount of drinking when they made the informal recordings in 1954.”

Guthrie is one of the most significant musicians in US folk history, cited as an inspiration for many artists, from Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen to Johnny Cash and John Mellencamp.

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