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While he was a prodigious writer -- when he was healthy, he wrote pages and pages of letters and songs nearly every day of his life -- Guthrie was notorious for reusing melodies. The use of the word "notorious" here isn't necessarily pejorative because nobody then or now really cared that he did it.

 

Sometimes he'd use others' melodies and sometimes he'd reuse his own. He often reused melodies of old hymns, believing that the audiences he was playing to (often dislocated Dust Bowl farmers) would know the melodies and his songs would be easier to sing.

 

The guy was a creative genius, and modern psychologists would have a field day with him because he exhibited some bizarre behaviors. Some of them could be attributed to the constant rewiring that was going on in his brain because of the Huntington's Chorea, but some of it was just plain narcissistic personality disorder.

The theory has been offered, as well, that the NPD symptoms were an early manifestation of Huntington's Disease. Guess we'll never know for sure.

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I guess the one I use is different. 600+ page hardcover published in 1960. In going back and looking at it, Peggy Seeger did both chords AND melodies. Phew! It did not include any of the more recent "Folk Songs" like Guthrie's "This Land" and "Union Maid".

Yeah, it's quite a good source for early folk material. The focus and dedication it took to put that one together - simply awe inspiring.

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