Recalling Great Songs: Woody Guthrie and Wilco’s “California Stars”

Jul 7th, 2012 in Music

One of the great “posthumous collaborations” of all time transpired when Billy Bragg and Wilco wrote music for lyrics long-ago written by Woody Guthrie (and later discovered by Woody’s daughter in an attic).  What resulted was the phenomenal Mermaid Avenue album in 1998.  The highlight of that album was the music written by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and the late Jay Bennett for what became the song California Stars.  If there was any justice, California Stars would be the California State Song and schoolchildren across the State would be required to sing the song in unison on Woody Guthrie’s birthday.

But until that finally happens, check out (via American Songwriter) The Farewell Drifters‘ fabulous cover of the song below.   “We’ve been fans of this song for a long time,” the band told American Songwriter. “Woody is probably best known for his politically charged folk songs, but I love the imagery he uses as he captures a hopeful kind of longing in this one. And Wilco captured that same spirit as they set it to music. I hope we did too. It seemed like the perfect song for us to do as we embark on our west coast tour this month.”  The dates for The Farewell Drifters’ tour follow the videos below.

Below it, check out the original version of the song by Wilco themselves.

7.11    Knuckleheads Saloon        Kansas City, MO
7.12    Strings & Wood Concerts            Denver, CO
7.14    Bluegrass on the Bay       Great Falls, MT
7.15    Pilgrim Church                       Bozeman, MT
7.17    Downtown Crossing                  Sandpoint, ID
7.18    Tractor Tavern                     Seattle, WA
7.19    Green Frog Cafe                    Bellingham, WA
7.20    Dante’s                            Portland, OR
7.21    Axe & Fiddle                   Cottage Grove, OR
7.22    Les Schwab Amphitheater      Bend, OR
7.25    The Palms Playhouse         Winters, CA
7.26    Hotel Utah                         San Francisco, CA
7.27    McCabe’s Guitar Shop        Santa Monica, CA
7.29    Music Near the Hearth       Sunnyvale, CA
8.01    Steve’s Guitars                   Carbondale, CO
8.02    Avogadro’s Number                 Fort Collins, CO
8.03    Keystone Bluegrass Festival   Keystone, CO
8.04    Conifer Community Park      Conifer, CO



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