Arlo Guthrie
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

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Buon interprete atmosferico, ma debole autore, Arlo Guthrie (figlio del grande Woody che invento` la figura moderna del cantautore) ebbe una carriera incerta e confusa, per lo piu` imitando Dylan.

Arlo Guthrie era cresciuto all'interno dell'ambiente del Greenwich Movement. Le sue canzoni avevano pero` ben poco della disperata laconicita` del padre o dell'apocalittica brutalita` di Bob Dylan. Arlo Guthrie si mise in luce con lo stile di un entertainer da musichall, capace di instaurare con il pubblico un rapporto simile a quello dei comici. Lontanissimo dalla figura dell'hobo, Guthrie era soprattutto un narratore di barzellette, un menestrello gioviale che ironizzava sulle vicende contemporanee.

Il suo forte erano ironiche ballate monologo che raccontavano storie paradossali di adolescenti ribelli: Alice's Restaurant (1967), una recita lungo diciotto minuti che alterna il ritornello-tema a una serie di storielle comiche sulla vita nel Village, un incrocio fra Woody Allen e Jack Kerouac; e Motorcycle Song (1968), il satirico ritratto dell'"easy-rider". Alice's Restaurant (Reprise, 1967) e Arlo (Reprise, 1968) avevano poco altro di digeribile. Running Down The Road (Reprise, 1969) sfruttava semplicemente la popolarita` dei reduci di Woodstock (comprende Coming Into Los Angeles, un'elegia country). Washington County (Reprise, 1970) affondava nel sound e nella filosofia del "realignment" (riflusso).

Guthrie, che in fondo era un conservatore, riusci` meglio nelle sommesse elegie con il pathos, la nostalgia e l'affetto del loner e del loser. Il successo gli arrise comunque con una canzone di Steve Goodman, City Of New Orleans, tratta da Hobo's Lullaby (Reprise, 1972), la malinconica celebrazione della fine di un'era (un'era che sua non era mai stata). Last Of The Brooklyn Cowboys (Reprise, 1973) e` una raccolta eclettica piu` o meno a tema, ma, ancora una volta, le canzoni migliori sono scritte da altri. E` probabile che i suoi album migliori siano stati gli ultimi del decennio, Amigo (Reprise, 1976), che recuperava il sound del primo folk elettrico di Blonde On Blonde, e Outlasting the Blues (Reprise, 1979), ispirato dal country-rock latino di Desire, ma ormai non interessava piu` a nessuno.

Convertitosi al cattolicesimo, continuo` a registrare ogni cinque o sei anni: Power Of Love (1981), Someday (1986), All Over The World (1991), Son Of The Wind (1992).

Best (WB, 1977) contiene i suoi hit, ma non i suoi brani migliori.

(Translated by Ornella Grannis)

Arlo Guthrie, the son of legendary folk auteur Woody Guthrie, became part of the militant Greenwich Village scene heralded by the likes of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez a few years earlier, but his vein was rather "comic" than "tragic" and his liberal values were ambiguous at best. He was probably misunderstood as a champion of innovative songwriting when he was merely an old-fashioned pop singer.

With good entertaining skills and poor authorship, Arlo Guthrie, (son of the great Woody, the man who created the contemporary image of the singer-songwriter) had a confusing and uncertain career, mostly spent imitating Dylan.

Arlo Guthrie grew up within the surroundings of the Greenwich Village Movement. His songs had very little of the melancholic transience of his father and none of the apocalyptic brutality of Bob Dylan. Thanks to his ability to establish a rapport with his audience much like a comedian would, Arlo Guthrie distinguished himself with a style that resembled that of a music hall entertainer. Very far from the image of the hobo, Guthrie was mostly a joke teller, a jovial minstrel who found irony in current events.

His specialty were ironic ballad-style monologues describing paradoxical stories of rebel adolescents: Alice's Restaurant (1967), an 18-minute piece that interspaces the refrain between little comical stories about life in the Village, a cross between Woody Allen and Jack Kerouac; and Motorcycle Song (1968), a satirical portrait of the "easy rider". Alice's Restaurant (Reprise, 1967) and Arlo (Reprise, 1968), had nothing else worth noting. Running Down The Road (Reprise, 1969) took simple advantage of the popularity of the Woodstockers (it includes Coming Into Los Angeles, a country eulogy). Washington County, (Reprise, 1970) drowned in the sound and philosophy of the "realignment".

Guthrie, who was a conservative at heart, fared better with his subdued eulogies full of pathos, nostalgia and love for the loner and the loser. Success came to him with a song written by Steve Goodman, City Of New Orleans, from Hobo's Lullaby (reprise, 1972), the melancholic celebration for the end of an era (which had never been his). Last Of The Brooklyn Cowboys (Reprise, 1973) is an eclectic mix, more or less within the nostalgic theme, again with the best songs written by others. In all probability his best albums came at the end of the decade, Amigo (Reprise 1976, which recaptured the sound of the electric folk of Blonde on Blonde, and Outlasting the Blues (Reprise, 1979), inspired by Desire's Latin country-rock, but by then nobody really cared.

He converted to Catholicism and continued to record every five or six years: Power Of Love (1981), Someday (1986), All Over The World (1991), Son Of The Wind (1992).

Best (WB, 1977) contains the hits but not his best songs.

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